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Monica Bielanko
A chronicle since 2005 of my marriage & move to Brooklyn in my twenties; becoming a mother in my thirties; moving to Pennsylvania and learning to amicably coparent after divorce in my forties while living 3 doors down from my ex-husband in a small country town.
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Friday
Apr302010

Grandma Knows Best

Last night, driving home from work, I was so tired my eyes nearly crossed in the face of the nearly blinding snow storm that pelted my windshield. The kind of snow pellets that're in 3D, slamming straight into your window, straight into your eyeballs, straight into your brain. Which, by the way, April, it's so over between us. You and your son-of-a-bitching snow storms. We're breaking up. I need to see other people, namely, May.

I felt stoned. And not in a good way. When human heads morph into helium balloons floating on string necks and every action seems to take place in extremes. Slow motion or fast. Too fast. That's what a friend says it's like to be high, I mean. I wouldn't know.

Several times I caught myself focusing not on the road but on the snow zigzagging suicidally into the windshield. I'd blink. Sandpaper lids scraping down over dry eyeballs. From time to time a snow bullet would hit so hard I'd flinch. Blink. Blink, blink.

It nearly hypnotized me and for a split second I thought I might have to pull over. Like some wussy out-of-stater who wasn't raised up in the Rockies, driving through blizzards and ten feet of snow on top of ice skating rink freeways, uphill, both ways. Serge, the city boy, always tells me to drive carefully and I scoff under my breath. Pussy subway rider. Wimpy city walker. I'll out snow drive you any day of the week, Mister Philly Boy. Be careful, he says, it's icy. Although it sounds more like be careful, it's oicy. Be careful. I've been steering into the skid and pumping the brakes since before you were born, son. I can navigate a vehicle floating on a Goddamn hurricane tidal wave during an earthquake... tell me to be careful.

I'd spent ten hours racing around the newsroom only to get a text from Serge as I was walking out the door that Violet was sick. I tightly gripped the steering wheel and concentrated on getting home alive so I could begin my next shift of work.

Violet was restless, whimpering in her sleep, flipping this way and that in her desperate effort to find a comfortable position. I wanted to pick her up and rock her but felt she was still sleepy enough that it would disturb more than comfort her. Before long, though, my baby was screaming in agony and would take none of the usual suspects offered in comfort. A binky, a bottle of juice, she wasn't having it. I tried to bring her into bed with me (and Serge and Max and Milo) but she continued to cry. I'd never seen her like this.

The clock ticked past midnight and my baby became worse, her battle against the demon fever that possessed her body turned violent.

Violent Violet.

She fought every effort I made to comfort her as if I didn't exist. Helplessness consumed me like the fever that ravaged her little body and panic rose in my throat.

I swallowed hard and weighed my options. Before I could wrap my brain around a trip to the emergency room, blessedly, Grandma, that old battle axe, took charge. This baby is burning up, she said authoritatively. Together we took Violet's temperature. 103 degrees. My heart sped up and tried to jackhammer its way right out of my chest.

We stripped Violet to her diaper and still, she screamed. No matter what I did to comfort her, she screamed. Fat tears poured from velvety lids and rolled down her fiery cheeks. Grandma brought a cool cloth while I sat, like a numbskull, thinking about Little House On The Prairie and ruminating on the notion that good folks like the Ingalls used to die from fever and such.

The cool cloth did nothing in the way of calming Violet so Grandma ordered us to the bath tub. I ran luke warm, almost cool water and together we placed Violet in the tub.

I've heard talk about breaking a fever, read novels about how some weepy, delicate flower of a woman stranded on the moors in England nearly died and then, miraculously, the fever broke, but I've never seen it happen until now.

Violet was lying on her back screaming, hands inexplicably thrown behind her head like she was taking an afternoon siesta on a hammock somewhere. Splash, slash, feel the cool water, little mama. First she was sobbing, then she was crying. We sprinkled more water on her round, little belly and dampened her forehead with drips and drops of the cool liquid.

Within minutes she was whimpering and then she was staring at us with focused, wide eyes. I swear to God it was a miracle. Front row tickets to an exorcism. The fevers that hotly possessed her leaked out of her hot skins and into the cool bath tub water. Soon she wanly kicked one chubby cherub leg then the other. Splish. Splash. Realizing she was in the tub she offered us a weak splash of her hands, a bone flung to the worried mamas hovering above. A few more minutes dragged by and she sat up and, in her baby gibberish, demanded her tub toys.

That tepid tub water had the exact opposite effect of holy water on a vampire. Violet splish-splashed happily for a long while then I diapered her and put her in her crib and I'll be damned if the child didn't fall right to sleep. I still slept on the floor next to her crib, though.

Reader Comments (8)

Poor Violet. Poor you.

I used to try and avoid medication but now I'm all for the Austrian way. Fever gets too high, pull out the white bullet and let it slip into the poor kid's butthole. And voila! Kid is comfortable 10 mins later and sleeps like an angel .....for about 4 - 6 hours. Fantastic. Of course, bigger kids are just not having backdoor meds anymore.

Brilliantly entertaining post. Sorry about little Violet though. Hope she's well soon.

May 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNiedlchen

Poor baby. We do the tepid baths, too. I avoid the meds like the plague because my kids have, well, medical issues and get infection in seconds. Analgesics just make them sicker longer.

Noice Serge accent, btw. We here in philly appreciate it.

I feel for you! That is the worst when you see the 103,4,5 number. I use to get super high fevers as a kid and they used to rub me down with rubbing alcohol. I guess it evaporates and cools the body quickly.

May 1, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermeanirae

Wow, I'm holding back happy tears. I hope she's all better.

May 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAllison

Wow, you are quite the writer. I love the description of the storm. I was tucked safely in bed when the worst of it happened. Glad cute Violet is OK. It's always good to have grandma around in emergencies.

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJane

check out the recall info on tylenol and other on cnn.com

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteranila

I loved your snow description as well!! So glad that little sweetie is better (lurved your story about her independent streak <no juice>)!

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

Phew! Snowstorms and sick kids sure can keep you on the edge of your seat, but this one was a hair-raiser just to read about. Where's my Xanax?

Break a fever, bust a cold!

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGina

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