Mom guts just know stuff. Natalie suddenly cried out during church on Sunday that her hand hurt. She wouldn’t stop crying about it, so Matt had to take her out into the hall. Strangely, she was still fussy and even cried about going into nursery, so I told them to come find me if she didn’t seem to settle down. I was meeting in another room about 40 minutes later when I heard Natalie crying in the hallway. I stepped out and the Bishop told me that Matt was looking for me and Natalie was not well. We played that ridiculous circle the halls and not find each other game for a little while and finally met up in the corner of the building. Matt said, “Natalie has a fever and she needs to go home.” She didn’t look good and she had tremors going on, and I said, “Something’s not right.” I took her and started asking for directions to the nearest Urgent Care and headed out immediately. She was hot and listless, and I felt scared. I know most people don’t react to fever like I do, but when you’ve spent 3 days in Pediatric Intensive Care with a son who had a series of violent seizures that they concluded were somehow related to a (low) fever, you respond a little differently.
So with my eyes glued carefully to the rear-view mirror, I drove quickly and said prayers in my mind. I took Natalie out of the car and noticed she was quite hot. I checked her in and the nurses asked all their regular questions, and I knew that I did not land on their “must be seen quickly” list by their reaction to my description. I added, “I just know something is not right.” We waited for about 15 minutes or so before Natalie started crying out again. She threw up all over her lap and mine. I sat stunned, not knowing where to move or what to do next. (As a side note, one minor lesson I learned is that God has a sense of humor. When I was feeling really nervous about EFY and my new church assignment, I went out and bought a $100 skirt because I liked it, it fit me well, and it gave me confidence. I never spend that kind of money on an article of clothing, much less something that’s dry-clean only. I knew it was a frivolous purchase, but I bought it anyway. I was wearing it on Sunday. Ha ha, sigh.) A nice man brought me a garbage can and I threw her tights away after I used the dry half of them to wipe us off a little. After that, she fell asleep with her steamy little head on my chest. When she stirred for a while, I was able to get a small hospital gown and change her out of her soiled dress.
I sat holding her for a long time after they checked her vitals. The rise and fall of her hot little body up against mine made me feel a tight bond to her; her health was just as much a part of me as my own. My mother’s mind went through all the worse-case scenarios, and I mourned each one and ached for her. I sometimes have days where I fantasize about spending some nice quiet time away from my children for a while, but in that moment, I had a strong impression that gave me a new awareness. I realized that I would rather be there in that Urgent Care room, covered in vomit, with her than be anywhere else in the world, including a beautiful white and sunny beachfront without her. I would not trade the love I feel for her for any of the “freedom” my life might be without her. God gently reminded me how much I need my children.
When we were able to see a nurse and then the doctor, it was determined her fever was 102.5, but there seemed to be no other symptoms of sickness… minus the obvious puke residue. She tested negative for strep and didn’t respond to a body exam with any expressions of pain, so they determined it was probably just a mean virus and I should keep her hydrated and try to control the fever. The next 24 hours were spent alternating Tylenol and Ibuprofen, but the fever wasn’t dropping much below 103. I called her primary care doctor’s office, and other than lowering her fever, they didn’t seem too concerned and gave me the option of coming in or not. I questioned myself back and forth the rest of the day, but felt like I wanted more tests dones. They saw her in the afternoon and tested her blood and urine, and ran an influenza test. Everything looked okay, so they increased my doses and frequency of the Tylenol and Motrin and sent me on my way again.
Today the doctor called back and said that Natalie has a bad urinary tract infection. Apparently her urine culture grew over 50,000 units of bacteria overnight? Maybe you medical types will scoff at that, but it sounded scary to me. I’m just glad to know what is wrong. I’m glad I followed my gut and kept pushing for more testing. I’m glad I didn’t just “wait out the virus” for the next several days because her kidneys could have developed toxins, and the fever would NOT have gone away on its own. Moms just know sometimes, even when they don’t really know. Sure love that girl.