Thursday, November 3, 2011


To combat Walt's croup this past weekend, we aired out the apartment both nights. Bath steam would not open his narrowed airways, so we tried instead the cold Bay air. Stacking blankets, we pulled Walt into the bed. We put the humidifier next to us and slept under the mist. Up from a solid sleep, mid-gasp, Walt seemed more often sleepily puzzled than anything. Why am I awake? Why can't I breath? We called the 24-hour help nurse, who listened to his cough and diagnosed it over the phone. We double-checked the book to confirm the tell-tale sign: stridor (seal bark). A strange, attack-copter-sounding word. Yet another minor virus, like roseola, that no one thinks to mention at the baby shower.

The last time my bedroom temperature reached the evening low was while I lived in Bangladesh, around the same time of year. Winter arrived that night all at once, following a terrific thunderstorm. I woke in the middle of the night to put on every layer of clothing in my bag, including a rain slicker and hoodie. It was cold that night, for Bangladesh at least. No humidity. I turned off the ceiling fan, closed the windows, curled into a ball, and waited for morning. As soon as the shops were open, I walked into town and paid a merchant to hand-sew a large, red quilted blanket, the Bangladeshi "lep." The blanket was sewn together from old lungis, saris, and sheet cloths. The stuffing was soft and I slept under that blanket every night for the next three months, until the early spring arrived.

I left my lep in Bangladesh, but Cait's is stowed away in the back of our chested drawers. What a quilt. Laid on top of an insulated blanket and down comforter, it's rather too warm for Northern California. The evening low last weekend evening was 43 degrees, but I had no point of reference to check it in our room. Walt slept like a champ, once he finally went down for the night. The next morning, we had that unfamiliar panic after waking naturally. Where is the baby?! He's next to us, wedged against the pillow wedged against the chair stacked with books to stand it in place.

We went out briefly for Halloween, then called it an early night. Walt was dressed as a goldfish--one of his favorite words. He didn't like to wear the top portion of the costume, so mostly he toddled around in his orange tights, the goldfish head severed and hanging to the left off his back. Macabre, at least for this household. I have spent more time outdoors in Northern California than I have any placed I've lived except Bangladesh, and I like it the most here, where we can see the golden hills (now green) off the back porch. Everything thrives in California, even during a cold snap. We moved Walt back to his crib and he slept well there, too, though not as late into the morning. Back to the grind of trading off first calls. The croup has developed into the common cold, which is apparently a pretty common turn in the cycle, a near-chronic condition and one we handle expertly--wait it out--now that Walt is going to daycare a few days a week.

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