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birthday celebration, the final chapter: dam, svardeah… hag sameach!

I can only start this story with a reference to the ten plagues.

Dam, SvardeahHag Sameach = Blood, Frogs… Happy Birthday

There are no frogs in this story. However Shicheen (Boils) doesn’t rhyme with Sameach.

The alternate title (in my head) also references Passover: Dayenu! = It would have been enough for us.

If we’d only had to alert guests to the risk of being around Jonah less than 24 hours after it broke, Dayenu!

But instead, when I called his preschool teacher at 8 o’clock this morning, as she was on the guest list, to inform her of the broken fever, she informed me that our preschool community had been exposed to Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease. (Thus, Boils—or perhaps “Murrain,” since that’s the illness that was sent upon the cattle and sometimes HFM is incorrectly referred to as Hoof-and-Mouth.)

So I restarted the call list from the beginning. And one by one, given the information, the families chose not to attend. I was in tears all morning.

I can’t blame them, exactly. Yesterday’s fever could be a sign of blisters to come.

Dear God. Please, no?

However, three families decided to brave it. One is in our preschool and decided they’d probably already been just as exposed. Another is simply bullet-proof when it comes to sticking up for me as a friend. A third had gotten my call about the fever, but not my forwarded email about the HFM exposure. When she arrived, I gave her the news and offered that she could turn around and leave. She chose to stay.

Again, not that I blame the others for bailing.

Insert more prayers here that the families who came do not come down with… anything. Dear God. Please, no?

I was so anxious that I was sweating through the first half-hour of the party. I kept slipping into the bathroom to check my own temperature. Which was normal.

I. Do. Not. Want. To. Be. Patient. Zero. To. A. New. Outbreak. Of… Anything.

Especially not to these three families who saved Jonah’s birthday.

The chocolate-beet cake was a huge hit. (Inspired by chocolate-beet cake rev. 1: the Martha Stewart version baked last week by Grandma Judy in New Mexico.) Turned out unbelievably delicious as well as stunningly gorgeous, if I may say so. Rocket-ship-shaped cake pan courtesy of Wilton’s. Jupiter was baked in a glass bowl. Buttercream frosting recipe from Alice Waters’ cookbook. Food coloring supposedly natural, from India via Whole Foods. Smarties for decorating, courtesy of Jonah’s extant Halloween stash.

As decorated by myself and the birthday-boy-slash-sous-chef:

Can you see the red Smartie, demarcating Jupiter’s “Big Red Spot“?

In selecting and uploading these photos, I just now realized two things:

1) I forgot to write his name on the star cookies—was going to put one letter on each star.

2) He blew his germs all over the freaking cake. Awesome.

On the plus side, at least by that point in the party I’d forgotten to worry?

Ironically, we’ve always wanted to have a small birthday party for Jonah, but were never able to narrow down from his long list of beloved friends. Nature, today, did it for us.

A happy crowd, delicious cake, lovely gifts.

It would have been enough for us.

However…

At about 4 p.m.-ish, post-party, post-clean-up, we were just about to have some other fearless (foolish?) friends over for a late-afternoon play date, I was just settling down in the bedroom to sneak in a meditation before their arrival, when I hear Scott say, in THAT tone of voice…

“Oh MY GOD?!?!”

Blood.

Pouring.

POURING! Out of Jonah’s nose.

Like a freaking river.

Terror takes over. I scream at Scott to call my friend and tell her not to come while I catch the stream in first tissues then towels against Jonah’s face. I ask him to tip his head back but he starts coughing as the blood runs into the back of his throat and out his mouth.

The friend’s trajectory stopped, I next yell at Scott to call the 24-hour-advice nurse.

Which would be our third call in 24-hours, since I’d already called this morning for additional advice about contagion risk of HFM.

Scott looked at me like I was crazy. Just a little.

F- the phone, let’s just go to the hospital.

At this point I’ve handed Jonah a frozen teething ring because somewhere in my head I have stored the idea that ice between the upper lip and gums is supposed to do something for a bloody nose. It’s probably wrong, but the ring gave him something else to do besides bleed, cough, and cry. It seemed to calm him a little.

I’m also doing the math in my head. What the heck? We’ve already met our $3000 out-of-pocket deductible this year with his pneumonia and the cashew. Let’s go!

He’s not wearing a shirt because the one he was wearing was covered in blood and at some point during the chaos we’d decided to take it off. I grabbed his little backpack with spare clothes. So, to be clear: Half-naked child, smeared from forehead to neckline in blood, smothered in mismatched towels/rags, with a frozen yellow-gel ducky hanging out of his mouth, thusly belted into his carseat and rather pleased to be heading to his favorite place, the hospital.

At that point, the bleeding stops.

At which point, Scott informs me that while choosing not to call the advice nurse, he had Googled nosebleeds and found that while they can be extremely alarming, they are usually harmless.

Score one for Dr. Google!

We decided we would go for a drive anyway. A nice Sunday afternoon drive. Maybe near the direction of the hospital, just in case. But really, we were pretty sure everything was going to be fine after all.

Kein Ayun Hora.

I know by now that his favorite thing about hospitals is the Popsicle at the end. So I went back upstairs to the house to get him one from our freezer, as well as some wipes to clean him up.

We drove around for a while, checked out Christmas decorations in the neighborhood, stopped and got out of the car to look at a view of the entire bay, up the hill from our house.

Jonah knew exactly where he wanted me to stand. Walk a little further, he said. (I was carrying him.) Just past those cars. Here.

He was right, it was the best spot to stand.

And then we went home and he took a VERY LONG warm bath. And played with his new shark playset in the water. And helped me wash his hair.

Now, we watch and pray that the blister-affliction passes over our house.

As well as the hands, feet, and mouths of our dear friends.

Dear God, Please?

Amen.

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