It was awful. The kind of cry that makes your gut wrench. It wasn’t a “hungry cry” or an “I have a poopy diaper cry,” it was an “I’m in terrible pain cry.” At 10 months old, Olive is too young to vocalize with words so she cried. And cried some more. She wouldn’t stop crying no matter how many times I softly sang “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” while rocking her. I tried every baby soothing method imaginable to no avail. I ran bathwater and got in the tub with her. It was 1:30 in the morning and we struggled. She was uncomfortable, kicking and screaming, water splashing, her face red. I was naked and vunerable. Overwhelmed with fear that I was failing as a mother, failing her, unable to calm her or make her feel better, wiping the tears from her cheeks (and mine.)
My husband stood in the doorway of the bathroom watching us with concern and sadness. When it became obivous the bath wasn’t calming her, he grabbed a towel and gently scooped her up. I sat there for a moment, feeling exhausted and defeated. Jose stepped back in the bathroom, Olive bundled up in my favorite soft towel, cradled in his arms, still screeching. He handed me a towel. I headed to our bedroom, he headed to the living room. After drying off and getting back in to my nightgown, I warily walked down the hallway towards the living room. Olive’s howls were cracking. Her throat was dry. The walk down the hallway felt like “The Green Mile.”
They were sitting in the brown velour chair against the window. Jose was hunched, his head hanging down as he looked at Olive, inconsolable in his lap.I couldn’t see his expression but his body language told the story. By the flicker of the flame, their silhouettes danced on the wall beside them. It was beautiful. If I were a photographer I would’ve captured the image. If I were an artist I would paint it on canvas. But I’m just a writer trying to put it in words, but I can’t. Failing again.
Jose has her at the clinic right now. I wish I could be there, but at least I have that image in my mind. I hope it stays there forever.
UPDATE: Jose called me from the clinic. Olive was diagnosed with Staphylococcus Scalding Skin Syndrome. We are heading to the children’s hospital in San Antonio for treatment. Please say a prayer, light a candle, knock on wood, sacrifice a cockroach, or do whatever it is that you can do to send some good juju our way.