I mentioned last post that Hailey became very sick and that I took her to the children's emergency room. What I didn't mention was how she got better, beyond the medicine.
Her airways closed up the more agitated she became on our 20-minute drive to the hospital. By the time we arrived, tears were streaming down my face and my arms were tense. Her carseat is still rear-facing and I couldn't see how she looked. I pulled into a parking spot as close to the entrance as I could, slammed the gear into park and dove into the back seat of the van. She was wailing, barking coughs, and inhaling these acute, shallow breaths. I scooped her up into my arms, grabbed the diaper bag and RAN up to the doors.
When I arrived, I noticed that Hailey had calmed down remarkably. Her breathing was still distressed, but she was in my arms. Holding her was helping her breathe.
We still had to hold a mask with epinephrine vapours to her face and give her a steroid to help her lungs ride out the virus, but she was almost fine when I held her.
Over the rest of the weekend, as Summer came down with it, Robin got a cough and Abby needed attention, the one thing that settled them all down was holding them in my arms.
Now, maybe this isn't an earth-shattering realization, but it meant something to me. My arms, my chest and neck could cuddle my girls better.
When Hailey and Robin were born premature and teensy, the nurses told me to hold them against my skin as much as possible to help them gain weight. The logic was that the comfort of my skin, the sound of my heartbeat and that little something extra--mama magic, if you will-- would help them grow. When Summer was born and learning to handle her new stomach and breast milk, she had difficulty processing it all. I held her up against my chest, all day long in a sling or in my arms. Without so much as a whimper, she was comforted and digested her new food source.
Abby has been having a tough time adjusting to school. I can't blame her: she goes six and a half hours every school day, she lives in a transitory state and with a third new sister, she's tired and the concept of institutionalization is strange to her. I get it. We talk, we help her understand, we go over her day and talk about the challenges. but you know what helps settle her little spirit most? Leaning into the space between my arm and torso to breathe and sigh quietly. Works every time.
Mama cuddles. The best conflict resolution, medicine, safe place to fall.