In the very early hours of this morning, our baby boy was rushed to hospital. He had woken up screaming – a horrible, animal, cry – with a very high temperature, and didn’t respond to our desperate attempts to calm him. We spent the next few hours watching and waiting for his vitals to return to normal, in what has been my most fraught and frankly, terrifying parenting experience so far.
Bizarrely, my own parents went through exactly the same experience almost 30 years ago, when I was six months old. Below is my mother’s diary entry from that day, more articulate and accurate than I could ever hope to sound right now.
Suddenly, she ceased to be our well-known, well-loved baby. She twitched and gasped, eyes fixed and she seemed to grow smaller too. Ambulance and doctor were called…She was crying a strange monotonous wail and was completely unresponsive. Still she didn’t seem to be our baby, herself any more. People arrived, Ellie cried, but moved her arms and legs too – a sign of return. The ambulance brought her here and here we are twenty seven hours and a little sleep later.
The hospital brings about its routine with no thought or care of babies trying to rest. Our poor, beautiful, bouncing baby. How tenuous is our grasp on life. Love it and have it while you can.
Now our little one sleeps in his own cot, and I am gripped by worry that we will relive the horrendous experience tonight. His temperature is still high, but not alarmingly so. I want to check on him constantly – is he still breathing? Is he too hot? Does he need us? I was reminded today of his fragility, and my own powerlessness to protect him from absolutely everything that comes our way.