I awoke to the feel of an unfamiliar hand on my leg. "Her fever is 101.7, Mom." My ears worked before my eyelids even had a chance to creak open. I gave my textbook response, "OK, order some Motrin." Inside I'm saying something else. Inside explicit four letter words are firing in rapid succession. Inside I'm screaming, "When is this going to be over? When can we go home? Why is she still sick? When can she go to the bathroom without unplugging a pump and rolling a machine along with her? When can I leave her side for more than a few minutes without feeling insanely guilty?"
Can you tell how I feel today? I match the gloomy weather outside the window. Our room is dark with a steady drum of raindrops beating on the windows. I am not depressed. I am not weepy. I am over this. So is Harper. Today is the kind of day where we will argue off and on all day because we are both tired of being in a room looking at each other. We both want to flail our arms and stomp our feet and scream to the top of our lungs until the sound fizzles out and we are left breathless. Today is a punch the pillow and kick the laundry kind of day.
So, what does any good mom do to beat the rainy day blues? We are cuddled together on the blow up mattress with markers to our right and chocolate donuts to our left, watching "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse." I know this movie is "too grown up" for her. I know. But she has done a lot of growing up in a no-fun kind of way, and this is a little more fun than needles and scans. She giggles and hides her face in the flesh of my arm when they kiss. She covers her head with the blanket when they fight. So, all in all she is really only watching about ten minutes of the movie. For a little while we are both able to forget where we are and how long we've been here.
Later we will watch "Never Say Never" for the umpteenth time. Talking about Justin "Beaver" makes her face shift into a Cheshire grin. Her dimples appear and her eyes turn into half moons. I'm desperate. I'll do whatever it takes to make her happy at this point because if she is happy then I am happy, mostly.
I am struggling to compartmentalize my feelings the way men do. I actually wish I was better at this, but my emotions tend to bleed together until I am crying, laughing, complaining all at the same time. Most of me is here, with Harper. But the other part of me cries a little every night for my other baby, Baylor Kate. For 38 days I have been by Harper's side. That means I haven't been there for her. She has been shuffled from Ruston to Longview to Houston to Ruston with friends to a babysitter to Dallas. On the few nights that we were home together I rocked her a little longer, cuddled her a little tighter and cried a few tears watching her drift off to sleep in the big girl bed all alone before I returned to the nurses station in my own bedroom. I have to keep that part of me walled off from my day to day reality. I dwell in that room a little each night around bed-time when I miss her the most. Shut the door.