My baby has the flu.
It's not fun.
It's holding someone all day, waking throughout the night, trying to keep the bigger three away from the germy places, exhausting.
Last night she screamed for an hour and a half. Not cried, not whimpered like with the high fever, but SCREAMED. Bloodcurdling, gut-wrenching, inconsolable screaming.
I tried to comfort her. I held her. We rocked, we walked, I sang, I talked. I offered water, she coughed until I thought she would vomit.
I felt overwhelemed, isolated, alone, abandoned...even though my sweet husband was nearby and would help with anything I asked.
She wanted to be close to me, but she would stiffen and push with her feet. She wanted to be on my shoulder, but she would scream in my ear. "How much longer can I bear this before I lose it?" I thought. "Can I bear it for 30 more seconds? Yes. I'll count...1...2...3...Okay, we made it. How about a minute? 1...2...3...4...57...58....59...60. She's still screaming. Loudly. I don't know what to do. I've tried everything that usually comforts her. Everything that usually comforts me."
She had literally been screaming for more than an hour. And then I remembered the wise words of a friend. "When you don't know what else to do, sometimes you just need to S.T.O.P. Stop, think, observe, pray." And so I did.
"Maybe her stomach is hurting. She's pushing against me like she did as an infant when she had gas." I collapsed onto my bed and gently put her on her back beside me, her head resting on my arm. She continued to scream as I prayed. I confessed it all...the frustration of it all, the anger that was building up because my "suitable helper" wasn't helping the way I thought he should, the fear that I was failing as a parent and there could be something terribly wrong with my child and it could be my fault, the pride that I could handle it all by myself. And then I let go. I was honest with myself and my God, and I relaxed and I released the screaming child beside me and the screaming child within me.
It wasn't immediate, but the calm came. The screaming stopped and we settled into restfulness.
Nevermind that moments after we fell asleep the newly turned 4-year-old fell out of her bed with a thump and cries.
Daddy took care of that one.