Yesterday my six-month old baby girl started running a fever and vomiting. After Tylenol and a bath, her fever kept going up. So we took her to the ER.
They gave her Motrin, which brought down the fever some, and scheduled some tests.
They wanted a urine sample to make sure she didn’t have a urinary tract infection. Now, that in itself is not bad, but they wanted to obtain the urine via a catheter, which was obviously very painful to Bella.
Then they wanted to do a sinus culture, which involved sticking a flexible plastic stick down her throat via her nose . . . which was obviously very painful to Bella.
Then they wanted to draw blood to test for viral possibilities. The phlebotomist came and stuck the baby in both arms, fishing for veins with no blood being drawn. After hearing Bella screaming and gagging from the obvious pain, I told the nurse we were finished with the training session.
Then they wanted a chest x-ray to see if she had pneumonia. I watched as they strapped my screaming baby to a board, arms over her head in a vise. The picture reminded me of the much-televised Baby Jessica as rescuers brought her out of the well many years ago.
The doctor came and said they really needed blood to rule out as much as possible. I agreed, as long as they had someone that knew what they were doing and were not fishing in her arms and legs with the needle. So I watched, holding my tearful wife, as my baby screamed for Da-Da while the nurses took the blood they needed.
Bella is home and doing fantastic. Her fever is gone and she is back to normal. All the tests showed up negative and she is happy and content as she always was.
I tell you all this so you will understand what I am about to say:
I never knew true joy until my Bella Grace was born.
I never knew true pride until I first heard her say Da-Da.
I never knew true love until I saw her smile when I walk into the room.
And I never knew true pain until watching her endure her own.
I know there will be worse things ahead as she grows older, but my God I had no idea it would be this painful. As the person sworn to protect my Bella Mia, it was pure torture watching her scream for me, her gaze never leaving me, as I stood by helpless.
Her external scars will all but be forgotten in a few days, she no longer favors the soreness from needles and caths, but the scars inside me will burn for the rest of my life.
And that’s what it’s like to be a father.
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