My trip with the kids down to California went very well. At least until the last day. Thursday night Lauren woke me up around 2 a.m. I let her in bed with me to snuggle and after a few minutes she told me her ear hurt. She was close to tears.
I took her out to our friends living room and rocked her on the glider. I snuggled her on the couch. I gave her Tylenol. I told her stories. I covered her with cozy blankies. She couldn't sit still. She just hurt. Nothing I could do could make it better. I offered up my best mother's prayer for her. We went from one position to another trying to make it feel better. Her bottom lip quivered as she tried to be brave through the pain and exhaustion.
She wanted our "magic" Camille blanket to make her feel better. I hadn't brought it. I found a baby blanket that was soft instead. She threw it over her head. I asked what she was doing. She told me to leave her alone. A couple of minutes later she took it off. She was so sad and disappointed. "It didn't work," she said with tears and frustration oozing out of her.
We had been weathering the pain for about 45 minutes. Then I thought maybe I could distract her with some television. I turned on our friend's television to Nick Jr. I saw Kai Lan. Lauren sat in the glider and rocked with her blankie. I laid down on the couch. I dreamt I met Kai Lan and I gave her a big hug and told her how much I loved her. I woke up to the gentle tapping of my little girl.
"I am all done," she said rather matter of factly. Then she turned around and headed back to her bed. It was now close to 5 a.m. I went back to my own bed and crawled in. Before I fell back to sleep I offered another prayer.
"Dear Heavenly Father, Tonight I thank you for the person who invented television. I love that person."
The next morning when we woke, Lauren had goopy pink eyes. There would be no swimming lessons that day afterall. Her ear was still hurting as well. I took her the the CVS Minute Clinic to get some medicine and have her checked out before our drive to the higher elevation of home.
She did not want to go to any kind of doctor. I assured her there would be no shots. She still didn't want to go. I strapped the baby Bjorn on Sabrina and put Noble in it. Then I picked up Lauren and carried her into the CVS. We looked at the toy aisle as we waited for our turn. I promised her a toy of her choice if she would just let the doctor look at her.
Finally it was our turn. We all filed into the small exam room. Lauren was glued to me with face in my chest. I reminded her of her toy and that she had to look at the doctor to get it. She eased up some and let him look at her eyes. He took her blood pressure, let her take her own temperature, and listened to her heart. We were doing well. Sabrina and Annie were playing with Noble on the floor. We had been in the CVS for about 25 minutes by now though and I knew I didn't have much time left before they would be bored of watching him.
Then it was time to look in Lauren's ears. She didn't feel well, she said. He looked in own ear--infected, he said. She said she felt like she was going to throw up. Her face was white. He handed her the trash can. She threw up a little. He looked in her other ear. It was fine. She kept dry heaving over the trash can. When she finished he checked her throat. It was fine. She had more dry heaving to do.
Finally there was only paper work left to fill out -- prescriptions to send to the pharmacy. Lauren said she felt sleepy. I looked at her. Her face was... devoid of color... it was the face of death. She was limp and faint in my arms. I knew all of this was a reaction to her fear of medical things. I knew we were with a medical professional and he didn't seem to be worried. Still, I looked at her limp in my arms with her face so like that face -- that face of my other limp colorless child -- and my heart skipped a few beats.
I had to remind myself that this was Lauren and she would be fine. I just needed to get some medicine in her and get home. The nice man let me lay her down in his exam room while I went to the pharmacy side of the store to pick up her prescription. She had fallen asleep. Sabrina and Annie stayed with her. I walked the 20 feet away from the exam room to get in line at the pharmacy with Noble.
The lady at the counter was having some kind of insurance issues. The lady in front of me could see I was ... well I had my hands more than full. She let me go in front of her. 10 minutes passed. Finally the person in front of me was done. Lauren had woken up and the next person had come to the minute clinic so she had to leave. Sabrina brought her to me. She was shaking and shivering and white as a ghost.
I juggled a cranky Noble and directing the pharmacist as to our prescriptions to be filled while trying to get Sabrina to get me a bottle of Tylenol off the shelf. Some older gentleman got the Tylenol for me. I ripped open the package and poured the medicine in the cup for her (still juggling Noble and limp crying Lauren.) She didn't want to take the medicine -- I mean REALLY didn't want to take the medicine.
I threatened and bribed till she drank the medicine. I told the pharmacist we would pick the medicine up through the drive through. I grabbed the empty packaging for the toothbrush my kids had opened and given Noble to play with and the opened Tylenol and gave Noble back to Sabrina and picked up Lauren and herded my crew to the front of the store to check out.
"Man you really are superwoman," said the clerk. I didn't feel like superwoman. I felt like super needs help woman and super grateful for the small acts of help and kindness of strangers woman. I wondered how single mothers do this. How do they function when times get sticky like this? All I wanted to go was be home with Jon so he could help me. I just needed his emotional and physical strength so much.
A few minutes later, with medicine picked up and forcefully administered, we were on our way home. As we got onto the freeway I realized I needed to pee. I needed to pee, but I couldn't. I just couldn't stop and take all my kids into someplace to pee. Not with Lauren so limp and faint and Noble so tired and cranky. I just had to get home. My needs would just have to wait.
Two hours later Lauren had recovered from her medical phobia trauma and had her color back. We pulled off to get gas and go to the bathroom and get a few treats for the road. Life was better. We sang the songs to West Side Story together all the way home. I was happy to be in the car and going home to our harbor of safety, strength and peace.