One of the perks of running a blog is you can take two days to tell a story about your children getting sick at the precise time you are supposed to be leaving for your beach vacation. I'm fully enjoying that perk right now as I conlcude the exciting story of . . . Coxsackie Family Vacation!!!!
Terza's high fever broke after twenty-four hours. We decided that we should wait another night just to be safe and also because staying in a hotel and driving ten hours would probably not be terribly fun with a still-sick-though-no-longer-feverish child. We decided we'd spend the night at home and then get an early start in the morning.
And then, after listening to the baby scream for thirty minutes on the couch, we changed our minds. We decided to get the hell out of Dodge.
Terza was clearly going to be miserable for at 2 to 3 days. Her throat was covered in ulcers and after having a 103 degree fever, she felt like shit in general. All she was going to do was watch Caillou and Clifford and Daniel Tiger for 72 hours, with brief breaks only to sleep restlessly. By the time she felt fully better, our vacation would be over. And we'd have spent it in our tiny, messy apartment, listening to her howls.
I explain this part so you understand why we thought it was a good idea to take the kid, with two other kids, in the car and go to North Carolina. It was obviously an idiotic idea. But the alternative was pretty heinous, too.
We figured that since her mouth ulcers had appeared, her diagnosis was confirmed. There was nothing you could do about Coxsackie and once the fever had broke, it wasn't dangerous really, just a pain in the ass. We were going to be miserable either way - it was only a question of whether we'd be miserable on our way to a beach or whether we'd be miserable at home. The beach called.
So, at about 5pm, in a snap decision, we grabbed all our stuff, which was packed and waiting, and got in the car, bound for DC, where we'd spend the night, en route to North Carolina. It being a Saturday, we enoucntered no traffic, which was one huge, glorious mercy. Because had we encountered traffic, I think one if not all of us would have jettisoned ourselves from the vehicle.
As soon as we secured the baby in the car seat, she started howling. Poor thing, who could blame her? I mentioned before, there is regrettably no such thing as Pediatric Percoset Mouthwash, so she was stuck with Motrin for pain relief. If she'd known about morphine, I'm pretty sure she would have asked for it.
We did the unthinkable and gave her the paci. That, along with endless cartoons on the iPad, bought us about 15-20 minutes at a time of Non-Screaming. This was useful because the other children needed a chance to vent their problems where were, as always, plentiful. But eventually Terza had to swallow her saliva and when she did, she bellowed. Which, not to put too fine a point on it, probably didn't help her throat any.
Every so often, I turned around in the front seat and tried to give her a sip of water or juice or milk and every time, she batted it away, snarling and angry, like I was trying to kill her. Frequently, this sent liquids flying all over the car. Oftentimes, it caused David to yell at me to stop forcing drinks on her. Always, I yelled back at him that if the baby did not drink anything, she'd surely get dehydrated and then we'd be forced to bring her to the hospital. Which prompted me to investigate what medical facility we should bring her to in the DC/ Maryland area, should push come to shove.
I think that when you start lining up hospitals for possible dehydration, you can probably admit that you're not having a great vacation.
At about 9pm, we got to the hotel and there, David redeemed himself with a genius idea. He thought to offer the baby water from the sygrine we used to administer her Motrin. Shockingly, this worked and I was able to squirt a sufficient amount of ccs into her parched body. She went to bed really late and the big kids didn't fall asleep until even later. David and I enjoyed our usual Bathroom Date Night -- we retired to the only room not filled with sleeping children, to stream Netflix on my iPhone. And about midnight, I decided to turn in. At that EXACT moment, the baby woke up. It couldn't have been my footsteps since a ninja could not have treaded more softly. It was just rotten luck.
She woke up and started crying and didn't stop for about three hours. There were lulls, to be sure -- periods of time where her crying subsided to a whine, and then even a soft sniffle, like it was near extinguishing, but then it would renew itself and grow in strength until it was a full-fledged sob.
It was not the most pleasant way to spend the hours between midnight and 3am. Esecialluy in a room was paying over a hundred bucks for the pleasure of "sleeping"in.
I turned on all the lights.
I turned them all off.
I played her Caillou and Clifford and Daniel Tiger.
I told her stories and sang songs and tried to pick her up and took her in bed with me and nothing worked at all.
Finally, I realized that she was bothered by the throat pain, sure, but she was also terrified. It occurred to me that she probably had no earthly idea what a "hotel" was or what we were doing in a totally unfamiliar space. She kept looking around with wide eyes and scurrying away from my arms, into the far corners of the room. She was wildly disoriented. And the piercing throat pain didn't help, either.
So I tried my hand at toddler whispering and basically narrated what had happened that day in excruciating detail, like I was trying to convince her with a barrage of details that I was her real mother instead of some impostor. Then I described what was going to happen in the morning. She still wouldn't let me pick her up but at least her crying slowed to a soft moan. Then I lured her in with photos on my cell phone and eventually, she let me scoop her up and bring her into bed with me where we scrolled through pictures of things we'd done and places we'd been for another hour until finally she was quiet and I could drift off to sleep too . . . for about two hours, at which point she'd decided enough was enough and it was time for Round 2.
David and I had the foresight to bring an air mattress which we put in the "living room" where the kids were sleeping on a fold-out couch. Normally, I'd have fought David tooth and nail for that air mattress but seeing as he'd be driving us five to nine hours the next day, I figured he needed the sleep.
In other words, I was a Christian martyr. It was not fun. I do not recommend it.
Eventually, we arrived at our destination and eventually, the baby cheered up and we all had a pretty wonderful time near the stunning Atlantic ocean. We were glad we'd powerhouses through.
But next year, come vacation time, I'm putting everyone in surgical masks and gloves. We're battening down the germ hatches. One Coxsackie Family Vacation makes for a diverting story band blog post, Two? That's just wrong.