Letter to Camille: So Sorry You’re Sick

My sweet angel. I just left your bedroom after giving you some more medicine, taking your temperature (although I knew you had a fever the moment I touched you), and wiping your forehead with a cool cloth. You’ve been asleep for a couple of hours, but you started talking and tossing in your sleep and I knew you weren’t resting well. I hope the medicine will help your fever come down soon so you can sleep peacefully.
I’m sorry you’re sick. I’m sorry I can’t just magically fix it. Thank you for all the sweet laughs, hugs, smiles and kisses you’ve given us these past two days despite your discomfort. You are a wonderful soul, and it shines through even on your difficult days.
It started Friday morning. You starting mumbling and fussing at 7 a.m. as usual, but when I opened your bedroom door you weren’t in your typical spot. You are almost always standing at the foot of your crib, on top of your bumper, gripping the rail and looking at the door. Waiting for me.
But you were still lying down, wiggling and mumbling, and looked as though you weren’t sure if you really wanted to open your eyes. I patted your back and could feel your heat through your clothes.
I was almost certain you had strep throat, because we’d been around another baby earlier in the week who was later diagnosed with strep. I got you dressed, fed you breakfast (which you ate remarkably well!), and headed to the doctor’s office.
They confirmed the strep, but I was surprised to find out you also have a double ear infection. Again. We had seen a specialist on Wednesday who said your ears looked great. How, less than 48 hours later, could they be so infected and filled with fluid that the doctor said they were red and bulging? I felt so sorry for you, with so many aches and pains. And they gave you another one of those awful antibiotic shots, made even worse by the fact that you were sleeping when the nurse injected it (even though we tried to wake you) and you woke up howling.
But at least I felt the worst was over. The last time you got that shot, you rebounded quickly. So I had some decisions to make. You and I had planned a little adventure. We were booked on a flight leaving later that day for Atlanta, headed to Uncle Jeff and Aunt Michelle’s baby shower, which was very important to both of us. And I had been so looking forward to our trip because I knew you’d have fun people-watching in the airport, swimming in the hotel, shopping, and getting spoiled by your grandparents.
The doctor seemed less concerned about you traveling with strep, and more concerned about you flying with infected ears because it could be painful. Your Daddy and I talked about it, and as disappointing as it was, we decided you should not go. But Grammie was able to come into town to help care for you, so we decided I would take the trip anyway. It was a hard decision arrived at after many tears and with much accompanying guilt. I didn’t want to leave you, but I didn’t want to miss the baby shower, and I knew your Daddy and Grammie would spoil you well while I was gone.
All the way to the airport you snacked on goldfish and drank water and seemed like a pretty happy baby. But as I got out of the car and leaned over to kiss your head, it felt warm to me. But surely that was to be expected? Nothing a little tylenol wouldn’t fix?
Your silly, silly Mama forgot to charge her cell phone or bring her charger and her battery was low, so I couldn’t call to check on you every 6 minutes like I wanted to. But as I sat on the plane and buckled my seatbelt, I called your Daddy once more before I left to be sure you were okay. You were still on your way home after running a couple of errands, and you seemed sleepy but fine.
After a short flight, I landed in Atlanta and as soon as I could, turned on my cell phone. I called your Daddy.
“Hi sweetie, we just landed. How’s our girl?”
“Do you really want to know?”
“Yes – please tell me, what’s wrong?”
My heart jumped into my throat. And then my cell phone died. I felt trapped on that plane, knowing something was wrong, but not sure what it was. I wanted to demand the pilots turn the plane around and take me home. I tried to use the airplane phone mounted in the seat back, but it wasn’t functional.
So I sat on the tarmac and waited, thinking of all the different, terrifying scenarios that might be unfolding at home. When I finally got off the plane, I called your Daddy collect from the first payphone I saw.
Your fever had jumped to 104.5. Your Daddy was trying to decide if you needed to go to the emergency room. And I felt so far away, and so terrible for not being there.
I raced to baggage claim where your Nana and Granddaddy were waiting for me. It was so great to see familiar faces. We talked about the situation, and I checked with a ticketing clerk to find out if I had any options. Thanks to the nice man with Delta, they transferred my return flight to the next one out at no additional charge.
So I never even left the airport, just gave your grands a quick hug and several apologies, and then took my place in line at the security checkpoint.
It felt like a long flight, but at least I was on my way back to you. You were getting ready for bed when I walked in the door, and you started blowing kisses to me from across the room. It felt so good to hold you.
I know your Daddy and Grammie would’ve taken good care of you. They didn’t need me there, and I couldn’t do anything to help that they couldn’t do. But I needed to be there for me, so I could hold you and watch you breathe.
Saturday morning, I heard you stirring through the baby monitor and I waited to see if you were really waking up. Then suddenly, clear as could be, you said, “Mama.” At that moment, I was so glad I was there and could answer your call.
Your fever has been up and down, although not as high as 104.5 again so far, thank goodness. Sometimes you perk up and seem like yourself again. At other times I know you don’t feel well.
I hope you feel better soon, and I hope you’ll forgive me for leaving you at your sickest. If I’d known the antibiotic wouldn’t work as quickly on the strep, I wouldn’t have left.
Sleep soundly sweet angel, and if you need me, just call my name. I love you.