One Day I Will Rule the World

World Domination, Babies and Middle Eastern Dance

June 6, 2009

Diagnosis

I have a headache.
I have a sore back.
I also have a baby who stopped breathing today.

I wasn’t there.

“Hannah gave us a scare,” he told me as I walked in the door.

She was playing around. Rocking back and forth, banging her head on a pillow. Then lost her balance and she fell back onto her bum. But she was okay. I called her over and she came to me, I picked her up and she arched backward, like she sometimes does, and she stopped breathing.

But she wasn’t hurt? No, she was fine after the fall. She walked over, that’s how fine she was. Angry, she must have just been angry.

Ian talked to her first saying, “Hannah. Oh my god. Hannah, enough. Oh my god.” Then he turned her upside down and shook her a little. She was limp, he said and staring into space.

“Ethan was going to call 911,” Rachel chimed in. Yes, Ian told me, “I told him to call 911.”

That bad? Yes, that bad.

Ethan ran for the phone. As he ran back into the livingroom, Hannah gave a little choke and started crying.

Then both the older kids started crying with relief.

“Hey, she’s okay,” Ian told them and Ethan got defensive. “Well of course I’m going to be upset,” and Ian had to vehemently agree. No, no, I am too.

Then, “I’m glad mama isn’t here,” Ethan said. “Cause she’d be crying too. And I hate seeing mama cry.”

But I wasn’t there.

I am a master of denial. In a little way, I think it was bad that I wasn’t there. I can hear the story through a filter of absence. I can not quite believe it.

“My mind was split in two,” Ian told me. “I kept thinking. This isn’t happening. This is nothing. She’s just having a tantrum. It’s nothing. But every ‘oh my god Hannah’ was more frantic.”

I know that mind. When Ethan had an abscess in his lymph node, I waited a very long time before taking him to the doctor. In fact, his dad had to bring it up. I believed it was just swollen, it would go down. It was simply not possible for anything to be wrong with my baby.

Could it have been a seizure? I asked him.

Maybe my absence spared me from the mental extremes. While I don’t have the residual panic, I don’t have the desperate need for denial to save me from it.

Maybe I’m being overly analytical.

He feeds her some banana before bed, and his finger comes away red. Is that pasta sauce in your mouth? I corner her and prod a finger at her gums. It comes away clearly bloody. It enrages her, but then we both have to corner her. He lifts her up, tilting her head back and I hold her mouth open. It is coming from her top front teeth. We give her cold water to drink and check to see that it’s stopped.

It’s hot in our house. We’ve had the air conditioning on all day – and it’s still 76F. I turn it off and then on again – and it sits there blinking mutely at me.

Breathe.

It continues to blink.

At bedtime, Hannah takes her bottle without fussing over it like she has for the last few days. She is snuggled sweetly under my chin. And when she pushes it away, not quite empty, and I ask her if she’s done, she gives a long, solemn nod.

Are you ready to lie down? Nod.

You’re a good baby.

The blankie is pulled up to her chin and her eyes are closed before I’m done kissing her goodnight.

Downstairs Ian is looking up teething and finds that particularly when molars come in (as four of them are now doing most horrifically), pockets of blood can form and then when they burst from the tooth pressure, the blood leaks out wherever it can.

The air conditioner is still not working. The thermostat still blinking. I am packing up the remains of the supper that so heated the house. Outside, the air conditioning unit itself is not even running. Inside, the fan won’t even turn on. Nor can we get the furnace to heat. “I’m going to go check the fan,” he says, heading downstairs. And he finds the furnace’s emergency switch has been turned off. We are too tired to even lecture the children.

He finds me standing at the back window. As if in thought. But I am not really, only paused to tend a nosebleed.

There are too many things that need diagnosing.

The air conditioner is working now.  If only Hannah had an emergency furnace switch that we could find.

“That was a stupid metaphor.”

“No but I know what you mean.”

My dear friend’s, dear fiancée has newly discovered allergies to wheat, milk, soy, chicken and eggs. And probably more things that I don’t remember. At the grocery store, I am reading the labels on everything I buy (at the same time as my daughter is terrifying her dad). On impulse I buy rice chips, corn pasta, consider learning to make gnocci with rice flour (they’re mostly potato anyway).

It’s not the fiancée (though I would like to cook for her some day, when she moves here) – but a rising tide of family and acquaintances with real reasons to pay careful attention to what they eat. And I worry about my own digestive health, envision inflammation caused by my macho insistence on eating whatever I please (and damn however bad it makes me feel).

On Friday I stood next to a cubicle wall, staring at it, trying to calculate what my oldest aunt’s age would be if she were still alive.

Why do I always measure my life against hers? (Eighteen more years.)

(Shut up. Shut. Up.)

I can take her to the doctor next week, I tell him. “No, no I overreacted. I’m sure it was nothing but a tantrum.” There are too many things that need diagnosing.

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4 ResponsesLeave one →

  1. please bear in mind that I don’t live in saskatoon and am easily scared.
    also, this entry is beautiful (in its terrifyingness) and is quite a lot like “Can You Wave Bye-Bye, Baby?”
    in a good way.
    also, I love you I hope you all are well.
    as much as can be, I suppose.

    Reply
  2. Alison

     /  2009-06-07

    I second everything Meredith says, and want to add that you must take her into a doctor – tomorrow if possible. There are too many things in this story that are nothing to do with over-reacting or tantrums. Ian had time to turn her upside down and shake her and notice that she was still limp and staring. That is pretty significant. She needs to be checked out by someone who knows what they are doing.

    Love you all.
    Alison

    Reply
  3. Judith

     /  2009-06-13

    Megan —

    Please update — my heart stops every time I check back and catch sight of those first few lines . . .

    Reply
  4. Alison

     /  2009-06-13

    I second that too. Also, I think about this all the time, so you could include an update. Please.

    Reply

Leave a Reply to Alison