Thursday, February 16, 2012

February 7th

February 7th is one of the most special days of my life. It's the day I gave birth to my first baby, Roslyn Grace. She arrived on a blizzardy Friday morning that I'll never forget. We've had the pleasure of celebrating nine more birthdays with her since that day in 2003: some years with small gatherings of friends and some with big parties.

In 2007, Roslyn's birthday was different. We celebrated it on the 6th because Chris had to work late on the 7th. We went out to dinner to Bugaboo Creek (Roslyn's then favorite birthday place because they would sing to you and let you "kiss the moose," a big hand puppet, pictured here). Natalie had come down with a mild fever and we gave her some ibuprophen and she felt better and we had a fun family outing. (We did also have a party the following weekend.)

The next day, on Roslyn's actual birthday, I was home with the girls. We had just finished lunch. Natalie was still feverish. I was holding her in one arm while reaching to fill up a cup of water for her. She reached for the water and as I put the cup to her lips, she suddenly started convulsing. Her head arched back as her little body jerked uncontrollably. I was terrified and quickly called her pediatrician. They told me to call 911, which I did immediately. The paramedics arrived a few minutes later and by this time, Natalie's seizure had ended and she was sobbing in my arms, utterly exhausted. They checked her over and recommended we take her to the ER. I didn't have our car that day, so Roslyn, Natalie, and I all piled into the ambulance (I think they were both still in their pjs!). The doctors at the hospital told me that she'd had a febrile seizure. I had never heard of such a thing. They said it was quite common, that about 1 in 5 children have one before the age of 5. (I just read an article in Parents magazine yesterday that says now it's 1 in 4 kids.) Natalie's episode lasted for about 2-3 minutes, which they said was common. They assured me she did not suffer any brain damage and that there would be no long-term effects from the experience. They said that if she were to get another fever, to keep it under control with tylenol or ibuprophen.

It was a terrifying experience. I held Natalie for hours and hours. She sobbed and nursed and sobbed and nursed, and then finally passed out. Roslyn (then 4) was a trooper, too, and made the best of it watching TV in the ER examination room.

A little over five weeks later, Natalie died.

The doctors have all assured me that there is no connection between Natalie's febrile seizure and her death. This includes pediatricians, the Medical Examiner, and Dr. Krous from the SUDC program. I'm sure they are all right about that. Still, I can't escape the feeling that this was the beginning of the end for my precious girl. In my heart and soul, these two events are linked, and I don't think that will ever change.

I feel like the Universe keeps testing me
This year, Gabriel came down with a fever. When? On Roslyn's birthday, of course! It was 104 at one point, which caused me to: a) freak out, and b) question the accuracy of the thermometer because he didn't feel that hot or act that sick. (I still don't know if it was accurate because I couldn't find our other thermometer to compare it to. However, I took my own temperature with it and it registered 97.7 - normal.)

I couldn't help but feel that the universe keeps testing me. Why did he have to get sick with a fever on that day? Why? I know there's no answer and it's just a random coincidence. (Random, random, random - just like Natalie dieing.) Really, I do know that. But, it didn't prevent me from reliving that day in 2007 over and over again - and feel an uncomfortable sense of dread for my son. I have resigned to the fact that I will always worry for my children and I suspect that will be the case for the rest of my life.

Thankfully, Gabriel is fine. I gave him a dose of ibuprophen at bedtime. He had the fever for three days and then it went away, to be replaced by a cough and a nose that won't stop running. Bless his little heart, he comes up to me and says "nose" when he wants me to wipe it. Such a sweetiepie.