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From Fractious to Sleeping...So much Sleeping

posted by Susan Dominikovich on , , , , ,

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Not long after the man-child was brought into this world thirteen and a half years ago--rather unceremoniously with forceps and a great deal of tugging--he grew fractious.


It's a word known to mothers world-wide.  Fractious.  I am sure every language has a word to describe the same condition:  inconsolable, crying, not sleeping, crying, red-in-the-face, crying, tight-fisted, crying baby.  All summarised in a single word:  fractious.

It's a word that still raises the hair on the back of my neck.

Because not long after my bonny newborn 9 pound boy was deemed "fractious," he was whisked away from me and taken to the neonatal unit.  I was told he had a fever and a fever meant infection and in a newborn, a fever that meant infection meant danger very quickly. There was a lot of action in my little 2 x 2 room that night leading up to the moment of the whisking away.  And there was a lot of me protesting, "he's just hot; it's hot in here."

So they took him to the neonatal unit, my giant among pre-term infants, and performed a number of tests including a lumbar puncture, to discover the cause of the infection.  But in the meantime he was administered a drip and broad spectrum antibiotics.  The nurse called me down four-hourly to feed him.  Other than that, I was not needed.  In fact, in that I also was not needed since he was being fed by drip anyway.  I was left to blubber away my two day blues (who said it was three?) without my baby back in my 2 x 2 very hot room.

Lucky I wasn't a blogger back then.  

Turns out, he was dehydrated.  No infection, no disease, no illness.  Just plain ol' dehydrated because my milk didn't come in quickly enough for his big baby needs.  And within three days my boy was back in my arms.  But in that time of separation, one thing became very clear to both his parents:  our boy was no ordinary child.

And I was not wrong.  That boy with those eyes; those eyes that looked and saw so much.

Fast forward.

The man-child is thirteen but going on twenty according to his height.  He stands and looks down on me, ever-so-slightly.

If fractious means "does not sleep," then he is definitely not fractious.  He is sleeping.

He is sleeping too much.  And has been, off and on for six months.

What we initially thought was an emotional response to bullying and unhappiness at school half a year ago no longer fits.  The fatigue overtook him even when he was happy and safe at the small school we attended at the end of last year.  He couldn't fully attend his own end-of-year concert except to accept a gift from his teacher and a speech of gratitude. Then we moved and went away on holiday and remarkably he came right again for awhile. We had a fabulous summer full of adventures, which set us all up for a fantastic start to a new house, new city and new schools in the new year.

And it was wonderful.  It absolutely was.  Our man-child went off to high school with his head held high and he approached the challenges he faced (because let's face it, high school is a challenge for EVERYBODY) with courage and conviction and positivity.  We were so proud of him and even just a little bit amazed.

Until the fatigue overtook him again mid-February.  It hasn't eased this time, but has grown steadily worse as the weeks have passed.

He sleeps.  He sleeps a lot.

So now the man-child and our family are on a journey.  It's a journey which involves specialists and hospital visits and tests and ruling out rather than finding answers.  A journey which cannot and does not plan anything except wait and see.  A journey which celebrates each laugh and joke together at the dinner table and which savours the couch-cuddles in front of Doctor Who, but which also understands the laying down of the head and rest. This is definitely a journey of rest.

And ultimately, it's a journey of faith.  Because a journey without faith isn't much of a journey at all; it's more of an aimless wandering.  Or a stab in the dark.  

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