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The Bug’s Story

February 28, 2010

I’ve started writing this story a few times now. It’s hard. And I’m not finished. But for some reason I want to put it on paper (or “on screen”). Maybe I’m trying to get it out of my head, I don’t know. But this is the first part of “the story” of The Bug’s Life.

If you know us, you’ll probably cry, and I’m sorry to make you do that. If you don’t know us, I will give you a “spoiler” now: The Bug is fine. I’m not trying to create any false drama here. I’m just telling our story, now, almost exactly 6 years later.

I’ve separated this into parts because it’s LONG, and because I don’t want to bring you down so very much at once. And because I haven’t really finished writing it yet.

On Monday, March 8, 2004 we took The Bug to the pediatrician for her 2 month check up. I had been back at work for 2 weeks, but I was working at home full time and we were still in a “down time” because I was working for the Lt. Governor (running for Governor) and we couldn’t raise any money during the legislative session, which was dragging on, as it often does in VA. So we were managing very well. My mom had come for a few days to visit and help, and she went to the pediatrician with us.

J. met us there, coming from work, and he observed in the parking lot that he thought The Bug would have the same complexion as me and Mom, an olive tint to our skin. The Bug had a slight cold, but no fever and we had a totally normal check up that day. The Bug received her DTP (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis), polio and Hep B vaccinations. I remember being nervous about her reaction to these shots, worrying that she would cry a lot and have a fever. I recall my biggest fear being that I wouldn’t know how to take her temperature. I think my mom picked up on this, so she stayed one more night and left on Tuesday.

That Friday, March 12, J. was home sick. I don’t remember what was wrong with him, probably the same cold we had all had. I was all set to lose some “baby weight,” so I was doing an exercise video and had The Bug in her bouncy seat in the room. I was a little surprised that she didn’t laugh, or kick, or wave at all while I was doing this routine; she also hadn’t been interested in eating that Thursday night or Friday. J. held her and said, “She looks a little yellow, why don’t you put her by the window?” When she was born, The Bug was slightly jaundiced. The doctors told us to put her seat or carrier near the window, that the sunlight would help the jaundice naturally (I don’t think they say this anymore, I don’t think it actually works).

I called my mom and asked her if jaundice in a 2 month old was normal. She said she had never heard of it, and recommended that I call the pediatrician. I did and they scheduled an appointment for us late that afternoon. The doctor examined The Bug and suggested a blood test. Honestly, I didn’t really know what was going on and I didn’t ask a lot of questions that I remember. I do remember that we walked across the street to the hospital lab and they took blood from her heel. I came away thinking it was not a big deal, and that the worst case scenario was that she’d have to spend a little time under the “bili lights” (is that what they’re called?).

We got home, and The Bug seemed to get worse and worse. She was so lethargic and wouldn’t eat. About an hour after we got home she sat in her seat and vomited A LOT. I called the doctor’s office back and told them, and the nurse said as long as she didn’t have a fever, to just keep an eye on her. I’m sure that’s what the nurse tells all new parents of 2 month olds, and didn’t realize that there had been a blood draw, and that there might be something else going on. The Bug threw up like that 2 or 3 more times overnight. I remember J. cupping his hands and catching “projectile vomit” over my shoulder. I have no idea if I slept, but I know she never nursed that night; I must have pumped some.

The pediatrician called on Saturday morning, March 13, at 7:30 am. If he hadn’t I probably would have gone to the ER, but the doctor said her hemoglobin was pretty low but that he didn’t think she was at the point of “needing a transfusion” yet. The word “transfusion” scared me, and I really didn’t even know what he was talking about. Transfusion of what? What’s hemoglobin? He told us to bring her in to his office, which was packed with sick kids on a still wintry Saturday morning.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. February 28, 2010 8:15 pm

    As someone who knows you, and some of the Bug’s story, my heart is still in my throat reading this. These kinds of anniversaries are the hardest kind … reminding us of so much of what was, what could have been, and of what is now.

    Thinking of all of you during these early March days …

  2. Robin permalink
    February 28, 2010 10:42 pm

    I read the first part very quickly and almost threw up because I thought something had happened and all I could think was “she was perfect last Saturday night.”

    Not to pressure you but I am ready for part 2.

  3. March 1, 2010 7:22 pm

    Wow, this is going to be sad to go back and relive it, but it will be a good reminder of the events. I can never remember exactly how it all transpired. Luckily we know the end of the story so it will be a reminder and not something that we are terrified to read! Hugs to the healthy Bug!

  4. jec permalink
    March 2, 2010 3:08 am

    I’m glad you’re writing this–for you, the Bug, and others who might have similar experiences. Makes me cry. I’m sorry I wasn’t there with you!


  1. The Bug’s Story, Part II « The Politics of Life
  2. I Don’t Know What to Say Yet… « The Politics of Life
  3. The Bug’s Story, Part III « The Politics of Life

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