Tag Archives: family

My Baby’s Sick

As a mom, the worst thing in the world is when my child is sick.  I’m a natural worrywart… but with Eve, I have a good excuse.  When she was 2, I put her down for a nap one afternoon, turned on the monitor, and called my husband.  I immediately said to him, “She’s making a funny noise.  I’m going to go check on her.”  When I picked her up, she was hot as an iron.  Her eyes had rolled back into her head, and her hand was shaking in tremor.  The sound was her choking on drool.  Within the space of two minutes, she had developed a nearly 106 fever and began to seize.  I rushed her to the ER, moaning, “Hang on, baby” the whole way.  They were unable to bring her fever down below 103, but she began to stabilize.

 

The doctors needed to rule out life-threatening conditions, like meningitis or tumor… so in the space of eight hours, they subjected my tiny girl to a CAT scan, blood tests, urine tests by catheterization (which I know as an adult was excruciating for me).  She was terrified, in pain, and horribly sick.  I thought our hearts couldn’t break into any more pieces.  But then came the spinal tap.They administered an intravenous sedative – Twilight Sleep, they called it – and said she would be semiconscious, but would not feel or remember anything.  Her face soon glazed over, and I was relieved that she was at least unconscious and could be spared further trauma.  When they inserted the catheter into her tiny spine, her little face remained expressionless and frozen… but one tiny tear slid down her cheek and dripped off her chin.  My baby was awake and feeling everything – but could not move or scream for help.  That sight, that knowledge, will forever remain etched in my memory as one of the worst moments of my life.  It never fails to crush me, every time I remember.


Almost four years later, she is now free of the inexplicable, sudden life-threatening fevers and seizures – and 911 calls and ambulances, ER visits, and multitude of tests – that plagued her for over two years.  But whenever she is the slightest bit ill – especially when she has a fever – I panic.  I can’t help it.

But Eve, almost six and very precocious and cunning, knows this… and milks it for all it’s worth.

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Our Christmas Traditions

It’s sometimes difficult for new couples to blend holiday traditions, but my situation was a little unique.  My husband Eduardo is from Peru, and his Christmas traditions are markedly different than mine.  In Peru, Papá Noel (Santa Claus) is known to bring gifts, but the baby Jesus is thought to bring presents to Peruvian children.  The children would get a few presents, usually something useful.  At midnight, the baby Jesus is placed in the manger of the family’s Nativity, and thus Christmas begins. Panetón and spiced hot chocolate are served; then the family attends Midnight Mass. When they return from church, the family eats a traditional, specially selected and spiced turkey (or chicken if turkey cannot be afforded, which is a very sad occasion!) with onion salsa and pan drippings, special side dishes, and alcoholic beverages.  In the middle of the night!  That would have been the most exciting thing to me in the world, as a child.

On the other hand, although my father is Swedish-German-English and my mother is of German descent, my family’s traditions are American with an English bent.  We had an advent calendar, and all five of us kids would fight to be the one to take the last candy off on Christmas Eve.  That night, we would have seafood for dinner – usually Seafood Newburg or Coquille St. Jacques – and would lie awake, listening for Santa’s reindeer hoofprints on the roof.  We would wait on the landing for my mother to awaken (she had to have her coffee), becoming more anxious with every minute, until we could tear into the stacks of presents and our stuffed stockings.  There was always an orange in the toe, which we never understood – but knew that no Christmas stocking was complete without it.  Then came 10:00 Mass, then a big breakfast of bacon and eggs, a warm, fragrant onion bread from the German deli, and perhaps some smoked salmon.  We weren’t hungry when dinner came, but we gorged anyway:  standing rib roast, Yorkshire pudding made with beef suet, crisp salty potatoes, puffy rolls, apple pie and ice cream (and perhaps some cheddar cheese).  And yes, a fruitcake with hard sauce (which no one ever ate).

How to mesh two very different cultures’ traditions?  The difference between the two lay, for me, in the purpose and meaning:  the Peruvian traditions are more centered on religion, whereas the American traditions are more material.  But the common ground will always be the ritual of family traditions, passed from one generation to the next.

So when we decorate our tree, the first thing we do is hang the first ornament we bought as a couple – together.  We stay up till midnight, have Peruvian alfajores filled with manjar blanco, pepparkakor, and hot chocolate.  Just at the stroke of twelve, we place the Baby Jesus in the manger at the stroke of midnight.  We leave cookies out for Santa, have roast beef and Yorkshire pudding for dinner, eat panetón (and save the Peruvian turkey for New Year’s Eve).

But mostly, we just enjoy watching our daughter’s excitement and  happy anticipation, her delight when she carefully opens her presents… and creating new Christmas memories.

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Filed under Culture and Tradition, Family, Food