1 AM, and his fever was spiking. His little head was burning hot. I fumbled in the dark room to switch on a low lamp and find the thermometer. Usually he fights me, but this time he just moaned as I stuck the sensor in his ear. 100.5°. I kissed his forehead, and offered him a nursing. He accepted gratefully and drifted back to a restless sleep.
3 AM. I awoke to a low moan. I glanced at his baby face, there next to me in bed, illuminated by the still-burning lamp light. His cheeks were flushed and his forehead was as furrowed as his smooth skin would allow. His dandelion hair was pressed down to his head in rivulets of sweat. He had shoved off his blanket and tossed his stuffed monkey. I reached again for the thermometer. 102°.
I debated what to do. The overprotective mama in me wanted to head to the ER. But a rational voice told me to wait, just wait. So I gave him a dose of Motrin, and offered another nursing. He had trouble finding me, then just laid his forehead against my chest and rested. I felt a small tear roll from his cheek onto my skin. My heart broke.
15 minutes, I promised myself. I will wait 15 minutes. Then I will check his temperature again. He continued to moan in his sleep. He started babbling quietly, talking to some dream figure. I dampened a wash cloth and brushed it over his forehead, down the crown of his head; the wetness made his baby fine hair wave over his ears as it dried.
I checked his fever again. 101.7°. Dropping. I breathed a sigh of relief against his cheek. He pushed me away. I scooted over to offer him more room and he clutched for me, pulling himself back close to me. I laid there awake for hours, watching as the flush faded and left his cheek, waiting until his restless sleep stilled.
We visited the pediatrician the next morning. He remarked on Larkin's red and swollen throat, and received the unsatisfactory diagnosis of "a virus of some kind". Since then, his fever has ridden an unhappy rollercoaster. He won’t sleep much, won’t eat his solids. He's fussy and grumpy. Won’t let me out of his sight. So we just lay together, resting, cuddling, nursing. He’ll sleep for awhile, and then slit open his eyes. His baby blues seek me out, red-rimmed, and verify that I’m close. Once he sees me, he drifts back off.
It’s his first fever, and I think it’s as hard on me as it is him.