Recently the twins had a cold, and while Reid recovered from his, Cort developed a nagging cough that hung around. One day, he woke up and the cough was persistent, not giving him a break. He didn't have a fever, so I scheduled a doctor appointment for the late afternoon, as I had a presentation to do that day for a part time marketing job I do. Cort went downhill over the course of the day, and quickly. By late afternoon, when we got to the appointment, he had spiked a fever of 101* and much more disturbing, he was wheezing, little lungs struggling to draw breath. As we walked into the patient room, the doctor and the nurse both commented over Cort's constant coughing, "That doesn't sound good!".
Indeed, after listening to his lungs, the pediatrician decided to do a breathing treatment right then and there. Being asthmatic myself, I've had my share of nebulizer treatments, and previously have always associated them with relief. But previously I have never had to administer one to a two year old. A two year old who hasn't slept in two nights, hadn't napped, and was infinitely cranky. At first, he was fascinated by the steam coming out of the holes, and he cooperated with having the mask held over his face. But 15 minutes is a long time to wait, and that novelty quickly wore off. What followed was very loooooong minutes of screaming and thrashing while I continued to attempt to hold the mask over his face as he attempted (successfully several times) to destroy this apparatus piece by piece and throw it across the room. I was glad that at least he didn't permanently destruct the machine itself.
Cort came home with 3 different prescriptions (he also had an ear infection). More medication than I am comfortable with, but necessary in this case. I thought that being so sleep deprived he would crash out. But he cried. And he coughed. And finally, after numerous trips downstairs to ineffectively soothe him, I broke a rule. I asked if he wanted to come sleep in mommy's bed, and he answered weakly, "yes". So I carried him upstairs and tucked him in beside me. He tossed and turned and coughed, but he didn't cry anymore. And then, as I lay there beside him, I caught the sweet-sticky smell of animal cracker fingers before feeling them brush gently across my face, followed by the satisfied, comforted word in a small hoarse voice, "Mama". And then, finally, reassured that I was there, he rolled onto his tummy and finally....finally slept.
Sometimes, when your kids are sick, you think that there is nothing you can do. As it turns out, that is when just being there, and being present, is exactly enough. It may not feel like much to you, but as Cort showed me, it turns out that it's everything.