I settled in to feed my youngest. Her skin was hot. She’d had a fever since midnight the night before. I checked it again. 37.5 C, a low grade fever at best. Nothing to worry about. Teething, maybe a molar.
She latched on to nurse. I turned on the library app on my phone and settled in to read till she finished.
Her body jolted. The dog whined. “Did something scare you, Nim?”
She stared at the ceiling. She jolted again. And again. Her eyes rolled back. I sat up, trying to break her latch because she’d bitten me.
She cried, strangely. She huffed at the air with desperate grunts.
My eldest daughter started to cry.
Nim kept huffing at the air.
Then she seized. There was no doubt in my mind this is what you called it. She jolted on and on, then grew still. But her eyes, her eyes were vacant. They stared at the ceiling, at a single focal point. I called her name. But she didn’t turn and look at me.
She’s not in there, I thought, dialing emergency services. I’ve lost her.
She seized again, much longer this time, as I held her little body to mine and she stared at that spot on the ceiling while my heart filled with horror.
Her body grew still and at last her eyes left that terrible spot. She put her head down on my shoulder and vomited herself empty.
The ambulance arrived sometime after that. I tried to collect my wits and everything I’d need for the hospital while we clung to each other.
The long drive to the city was followed by tests, x-rays, and samples of her bodily fluids. She slept in my arms and her Dad’s as we waited in her emergency room bed.
The tests yielded no infections. The doctor spoke to us of febrile seizures, caused by a sudden spike in temperature. It could happen again the next time she has a fever. Or not. It’s not uncommon among children. Febrile seizures run in families, though they’ve never showed up in either of ours.
The words sink in but I’m half afraid to believe them. Those eyes focused on the ceiling, so vacant and staring, haunt me.
She’s fine, I want to holler at the nightmares that have hijacked my thoughts. I clench my fists. I pull her closer, careful not to wake her up.