February.

Well hello there!  Let me tell you guys a little story about what I like to affectionately call – the worst month ever.  February is always one of my favorite months!  Spring is coming, my birthday falls in February, sunshine tends to return to Seattle, and there is lots of love and celebration all month long.  But not this year!  This year brought germs and sickness and so much stress and worry, and I cannot wait to welcome March with open arms.

Let’s back up to February 3rd, when this little saga begins.  I’ve been thinking a lot about all of the plans we have for this spring, and instead of scrambling at the last minute like I always do, I was trying to be on the ball and actually schedule and plan things out ahead of time for once.  And so on February 3rd, a Saturday, we planned to finally move the boys back into a shared room and back into their bunk beds!  I wanted to do this early so that we had plenty of time to get their new room set up, as well as set up the nursery for the baby.

They had been asking to move back into their bunk beds since the fall, basically since they found out a new baby was coming.  And I kept saying that there was no rush just yet, and that I wanted to wait until the majority of winter had passed, to avoid having them share a room in case anyone got sick with all the yucky seasonal bugs.  Oh the irony!  Not one person in this family had as much as a sniffle from last September to this February.  Truly, the healthiest winter we’ve ever had.  Can’t complain about that.

And on a rainy Saturday in early February – the 3rd! – we spent the day moving beds and bunks and furniture all around.  The boys could not have been more excited about their new setup.  And I am not joking when I tell you that exactly one hour after I snapped this photo, Graham started complaining of a headache and sore throat, and spiked a fever.

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He spent most of that Sunday feeling miserable, with an on and off fever and headache, no appetite, and just generally felt really terrible.  Cullen and Casey went to the mountains to snowboard since there was no sense in keeping a healthy kid at home around his sick brother.  The next day he stayed home from school and while he didn’t feel great, he didn’t feel awesome either.

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He spent Tuesday and Wednesday at home as well.  Every morning he would perk up a bit and seem like he was doing a lot better, and then every afternoon a low fever would return and his energy and appetite would disappear.  By Wednesday, when he was still running a fever on day 5 and just didn’t seem to be getting much better, I took him to a local ZoomCare clinic because he regular doctor was full.  He had also started a mild cough that day.  He got a flu swab which immediately tested positive for Flu A.  CRAP.

I called his regular doctor to fill her in since we had chatted on the phone, and I was somewhat surprised to hear how concerned they were about ME, and that I’d been caring pretty much full time for a kid with the flu for the last five days.  In all my worries about the kids, I (foolishly) hadn’t really been all that concerned with what it all meant for me.  But of course being pregnant, they were very worried about my level of flu exposure.  On Thursday morning I had to start a ten day course of Tamiflu, which I felt very very unsure about taking (too much Googling!).  But ultimately all of my doctors, midwives, etc. agreed that the risk of flu far outweighed the risk of the anti-viral drugs.

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Once Graham got the positive flu swab, our house was basically treated like a quarantine situation.  Anyone who entered the room with him wore a medical mask, we had bottles of Purell stationed throughout the house, and I started bleaching every light switch, remote, cup, etc. that anyone touched.

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All the healthy members of the house started slamming Elderberry, ginger shots, and anything else we could do help boost our immunity.

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While the fever had calmed down a bit, we were now dealing with a WICKED cough that just wouldn’t quit.  And much like before, Graham always started out the day well – seemingly getting better, wanting to do things like play outside, decent appetite, etc.

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And by afternoon he was always back to feeling crummy again.  It was so heartbreaking.

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That Friday afternoon we went back to the doctor again, since his cough was so bad and I was anxious going into the weekend with him still feeling so rotten.  He was diagnosed with croup based on what his cough sounded like, and we were sent home with two doses of steroids, and instructions on continuing to rest and keep an eye on him.

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He rested all day Saturday while I continued to wash everything in sight, change and wash all the bedding every day, and finish up the boys’ shared bedroom in between.  The only silver lining to all of this is that I was able to get a ton of house projects done, since I basically stayed home for an entire month.  Bedroom and nursery tours coming up soon!

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Also worth noting here that just as soon as we moved the boys in together, we moved Cullen right back out!  He moved into the empty nursery room on a travel cot to avoid sharing flu germs with his brother.  He was a total trooper through all of this.

That Sunday (the 11th for those actually following me here), Casey and Cullen went snowboarding again and I stayed home with a very crummy feeling four year old.  It was really stressful to have Cullen in the house with his brother so sick, so it was actually a welcomed treat to have them leave so I didn’t have to worry quite as much about quarantine and taking care of an extra kid.

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I basically lived in a medical mask and got almost no sleep for two weeks straight.  Every day felt like survival mode.

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The next day was Monday, and day 10 of him being sick.  His cough was still terrible and I was concerned that he was still running a fever.  I kept reading horror stories of all these kids dying of complications of the flu this year, and I couldn’t stand to just sit and watch him continue to be so sick.  We went back to the doctor again, and he was given a chest xray and checked for possible pneumonia.  Thankfully, his lungs looked great but the lack of answers was also very frustrating.

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Week two ticked on and this is how we spent basically every single day.  I ordered everything we needed, including groceries, from Amazon, and relied heavily on wonderful friends who helped get Cullen to and from school so that I didn’t have to drag Graham out of the house.  Casey had to work during the days but was a huge help in the evenings when we were trying to feed, bathe, and get kids in bed separately.

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It wasn’t all bad.  There were some days where he’d seem to be better and we spent a TON of time together, which is never a bad thing.  I slowed down a lot and regained simple appreciation for just seeing my kids happy and smiling for a bit, which I probably take for granted most of the time.

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That Wednesday, now a week and a half into this ordeal, his fever started to spike again so we went back to the doctor.  AGAIN.

His sickness had gone on for so long, his cough was still terrible, and the fever was really starting to scare me.  This time he was diagnosed with a nasty double ear infection and put on a big dose of antibiotics.  There was also a lot of scary talk of sepsis and what to watch for, and when to know if we needed to head to the ER.  I felt like I was on high alert most of the time.  He was also given a breathing treatment and sent home with an inhaler, which we had to use overnight for a few days to give him relief from the cough during sleep.  In a word, it was AWFUL.

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Once the antibiotics kicked in he started to feel a tiny bit better.  He missed an entire second week of school, and one of his buddies dropped off all his valentines from his classmates, which was a real highlight and a much needed boost during such a down time.

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On Friday morning, now two weeks into this, Graham woke up feeling ever so slight better, and so of course Cullen woke up with a fever.  We went back to the doctor.  AGAIN.

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Both kids got swabbed for the flu and strep again, and it was generally just terrible.  Cullen’s fever was high 103’s and he felt awful.  Graham’s fever was still 101 and I felt really overhwhelmed by how out of control things felt.  We were supposed to be leaving on a plane to Washington DC to visit my sister for mid-winter break the next day, and that seemed very out of the question at that point.  We canceled our trip.

Over the course of that weekend, Graham finally perked up and returned to his normal self after being sick for fourteen solid days.  I had never felt so happy to hold him close and see his bright eyes again.  This is the sickest he’s ever been in his four years of life, and it’s been so unbelievably hard to watch.

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The test results from the doctor’s appointment came back, and Cullen had tested positive for adenovirus – a basic cold/fever bug that wasn’t a huge deal.  We were SO relieved he didn’t have the flu.  He continued to spike high fevers for four days, but responded well to ibuprofen and didn’t really seem to feel too crummy otherwise.

Since we were trapped at home with another sick kid, we decided to take advantage of the down time and paint the nursery!

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I hadn’t necessarily planned to paint it again this time around, but honestly – after being stuck in the house for 2+ weeks over-analyzing and over-cleaning every inch of our space, I was itching for a project.  I picked out Sun Kissed Peach and we got to work while the kids rested.

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By that Tuesday, Graham finally went back to school after missing two weeks, and Cullen woke up fever-free after four days of being sick himself.  It felt like the worst was behind us!  I threw another coat of paint on the walls.  Note to self – don’t ever pick a super light color to paint over a super bright color – this was coat #3!

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Cullen was finally back to himself again, but it was now mid-winter break, so he was off school for the entire week.  And while I loved the extra time with him, this meant another week of me being totally thrown off my schedule and really scrambling to piece together time at work.

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In the afternoons, I did another coat of paint on the walls – #4, and finally the last one!

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With everyone seemingly back to normal, we celebrated that our family was finally all healthy again.  We moved Cullen back into his room after sleeping on a cot for 2.5 weeks.  I finally got a decent night of sleep myself.

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Saturday was my 37th birthday, and it was the perfect day.  I was so happy to have my family all functioning again that it didn’t even matter what we did.  I woke up to homemade cards and crown, went to a barre3 class with a friend, we had a yummy brunch out as a family, and we went furniture shopping (my request!) for a new chair for the living room.  It was wonderful.

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We all shared a yummy dinner at home followed by an incredible cake made by amazing friend, Lacey.  It was such a nice celebration, and my heart felt really full and happy at the end of the day.

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So you can imagine how sad it felt to wake up on Sunday morning and have a very warm little body climb into bed with me and say, “mommy my head hurts .”  Sigh.  Graham spent all of Sunday spiking fevers and feeling miserable, and I just felt sort of beside myself with worry for what was possibly going on in his little body.

We went back to the doctor yesterday and had a tough and worrisome appointment.  He had to get another flu swab (his third) which was horrific, as he absolutely hates the swab up the nose.  His fevers were frightening (105!). And we talked a lot about what it meant if his swabs came back negative for anything specific – essentially, if there were no definitive results, we would be packing our bags for children’s hospital today to be monitored for a few rare things that might be causing this prolonged and recurrent illness.

I got the call at 9am today and held my breath waiting for the outcome.  I have never, ever felt more relieved than when she told me he tested positive for adenovirus – the same bug Cullen had the weekend before.  So while the continuation of high fevers and pink eye and all sorts of other things is no fun at all, there is an obvious cause and (hopefully) and end in sight.

This is the third week of school Graham has missed, and now marks the start of the fourth week that I’ve been home with a sick kid and thrown out of my routine.  It has been a real lesson in slowing down, in patience, and in remembering to appreciate the real basics in life – health, family, and happiness.  This has been a string of bad luck for us this month and it’s been hard.  I can’t imagine how it feels to deal with real chronic illness, and I hope I don’t find out.

Here’s hoping to waking up to a fever-free household tomorrow, and back to the swing of things sooner than later.  Good riddance February and your killer germs and isolation.  Bring it on, March!