sometimes it is zebras

11 06 2009

but you first look for horses when you hear the sounds of hooves galloping towards you.

when clover got sick almost two weeks ago, i had no idea what would unfold in the days that followed. everyone thought that she had a tummy bug. a nasty, clingy, unwelcome yet ordinary virus. like anyone fighting gastro, she became dehydrated and on the morning of the fifth day, alec and i decided to get her to the children’s hospital for some specialized care.


in the er, they determined (as we already knew) that she was indeed dehydrated. the chicken was not herself. she had no energy, no color, no spunk. the medical team was convinced that she would be all better after a night of fluids. all the symptoms she had (lethargy, vomiting, fast breathing, increased heart rate, lowered temperature etc…) could be and were being attributed to the stomach flu and resulting dehydration. that was the most likely cause and in medicine, you have to look at the obvious first. they gave her medication to stop the vomiting and hooked her up to the standard NG tube for intense rehydration. alec brought me chocolate, fresh clothes and some red wine disguised in a travel coffee mug. i settled into the parent “bed” next to the hospital crib and did my best rendition of sleeping. i was distracted by worry and the cacophony of noises coming from my temporary neighbors. as soon as it was declared morning in the windowless short stay unit, i expected a perky little baby to at least smile at me. everyone was surprised to find that there was no improvement. once the medication wore off, she started to get sick again. time seemed to slow down and speed up all at once. suddenly we had been in the short stay unit for 2 days and unlike the other patients who were going home after 12 hours, clover was sent up to a ward. i was shown a place where i could shower and was given a much appreciated box of donated toiletries. this was looking like an extended stay. the littlest patient fell asleep again which is pretty much all she had been doing for the last string of days. i was getting scared. the chicken is never quiet. she is always on the move. at home, she would wake if a neighbor turned a light on in their house down the block just to see what was going on. her personality is one to not miss a thing, so it was devastating and eerie to watch her be wheeled through the bright and busy emergency department and up in the loudest service elevator ever without even a wiggle of a finger.

the only thing that kept me going that night was the great doctor who had started to finally look for the zebras.



turns out that our girl is no garden variety clover. this was not a stubborn virus… it may well have started as one, but what was keeping her down and making her so sick was actually a metabolic disorder, Ketonic Hypoglycemia. we now know that any stress, illness or extended fasting triggers accelerated ketosis in her itty bitty body. the reason she was not improving was that she needed a specific treatment and not the standard fluids by NG tube. we turned a corner the next morning after she had the IV solution. she was still very ill, but she was flashing those 4 pearly whites of hers and i tell you what, i have never seen such beautiful smiles. ever.


the recovery is ongoing. she is still not all better, but she is home. leaving the hospital with her after this whole thing was as euphoric as the day we brought her home after the twins’ birth.


even with my mind on my own sick child, there was no way to avoid the grief that sits everywhere in the hospital. i pray for the teen whose room was decorated as if she had been there for months. i pray for the mom i encountered weeping in the parent’s room. i felt so guilty making my instant coffee knowing that my heart was light and we would be leaving this place with our daughter. whole. i also could not stop thinking about the blogger families who have recently lost their children both unexpectedly and after tough fights. i had a moment’s glimpse of their world beyond their words on the internet and my heart broke all over again for them. i am even more determined to work on living in the moment because that is the only moment we have.


while we know what happened to clover. we don’t know why. most children with this disorder have no underlying disease causing it. they are small kids and as they get bigger, their bodies are better at handling the fatty acid and they literally grow out of it. as we left the royal children’s hospital, there were some outstanding test results, but we did not think about them. they came back today and there were not completely normal. since they are a screening test and not a diagnostic, it leaves us with questions not answers and once again, we are on the lookout for zebras.

i could not call the states, so my blackberry kept me connected via email, twitter and facebook.


the overwhelming outpouring of kind words and prayers from people all over the world lifted my spirits when i needed it most. just when i thought i would feel isolated, my family felt supported. i can’t thank you all enough. please keep the chicken in your thoughts as she deals with this. she is just a dot of a girl, but she is amazing.

a few images from my visual diary of those days.







i forward to the next blog post so i can fill it with photos of all my children. together.




44 responses

11 06 2009

I hope little Clover gets better soon. At least she’s home. You’ll feel so much better at home. I feel so bad/sad for you and your family, I hope she gets stronger every day… and becomes her busy, busy self again. Next time you think, oh, I wish she wasn’t so busy, you’ll change your mind, and think, I love you the way you are, Clover.
Stay well.

11 06 2009
jen maiser

So glad to hear that Clover is home to her warm, safe family and on the road back to her little old angel self. This photo set is stunning – totally stunning.

As an aside, I have been a Flickr follower for a while and only clicked through to your blog to read what was happening with Clover. I’m sorry it was under such dire circumstances that I’m here, but am glad I’ve found your words.

11 06 2009

and…tears. i am so glad she is home and improving. really lovely post, both your photos are words, very eloquent.

11 06 2009

and words. me? not so eloquent. jeesh.

11 06 2009

So glad she’s at home and on the mend. I pray that you will find answers, and amazing doctors to help both your little miracle babies grow into amazing big kids.

11 06 2009
Mrs. Fun

What a ride. I am sorry you all had to go through that and happy that she is recovering and home.

12 06 2009

Crying…and happy that you had a doctor who knew to look for zebras. She’s beautiful, and home. And that you were even able to think of the other parents and children in the hospital is a testament to who you are and the grace you live your life with.

12 06 2009

I’m so happy she’s back home with you, where she belongs. And I hope her road is now easier, that you have some answers. The rest will come, with time. That’s what I tell myself, anyway–our daughter has undiagnosed heart problems, but she’s home with us. Where she needs to be. Your statement that you live in the moment, b/c the moment is all you have–SO TRUE.

12 06 2009

So glad to hear that Clover is on the mend. Having sick kids always brings up the most bizarre combination of emotions, beyond even the garden-variety fear. Get some rest, the lot of you, and we hope you’re all feeling (even) better soon.

12 06 2009
Hassan Hodges

you always amaze me. Great recap, and reminder that โ€œMaking the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.โ€

12 06 2009
Lisa (fluffballs)

I’m so glad Clover is getting better and that she is at home now where she belongs.

12 06 2009

You are a strong mama and she is a strong chicken. We will always pull for you.

p.s. I love seeing it through your photographic eye. It reminds me to always be taking photos.

12 06 2009

have been waiting for an update! am sorry that you all had to go through this, my thoughts have been with you. i hope some more questions are answered for you soon. wonderful photos, as always.

12 06 2009

Tears here too reading this post, such and eloquent recount of some of the hardest days a parent can have, so glad that Clover is back at home and really hope she is her feisty gorgeous self really soon.

12 06 2009

the chicken and your family are in my thoughts. i am glad you are at home. i hope the worst is over. x

12 06 2009

so happy to read that she’s home and on the road to recovery ๐Ÿ™‚

12 06 2009

I’m reading this at work, with tears in my eyes. I’m so glad she is home and you had a doctor that looked beyond the obvious. I hope she grows out of if soon so next time she gets a virus it will stay just a virus. Thanks for sharing.

12 06 2009
Miz Booshay

God bless Dr. Safari :o)

I am so grateful. Thankful. Delighted.

These is just nothing harder on our hearts and psyche’s than sick babies.

So glad you are home with all of your babies.

Continued prayers for Clover.

12 06 2009

I have followed your photos for years. YEARS. This brings tears to my eyes. So glad you have (some) answers. Will keep you in my thoughts…my daughter has ongoing health issues….and I know how exhausting, and overwhelming it can be. Glad you are home.

12 06 2009
christine Gill

will keep praying for the little lady. And you. She is home, where she belongs. Good!
She’s gonna do great, that Miss Clover is.

12 06 2009

I am so glad she’s finally home. Your photos and words are really touching.
I’ll keep her in my thoughts.

12 06 2009
Scott Stater

We’re thinking of you guys over here in Texas…

12 06 2009
Jodi Dobrinsky

Oh Rachel….your family is in my thoughts and prayers, i hope that Clover’s illness continues to get better, and that you find the answers that you are looking for……she is such a beauty, and you do such a great job of letting all of us see that……lots of love from the states…..gets better soon little Clover….

12 06 2009

So glad that little Clover is on the road to recovery. I was thinking of you all when she was in the hospital – I bet Gemma and Keiran are excited to have the chicken home too!

You guys will be in my prayers.

12 06 2009

What a scary time! I’m so glad she’s on the mend and was able to go home.

12 06 2009

trying so hard to hold back the tears! so happy to hear that clover is home! i’ve been thinking and praying for your family. . . and will continue to do so! ๐Ÿ™‚

12 06 2009

*sniffle* I’m in tears and hoping for the best for your family ๐Ÿ™‚ So happy that little Miss Clover has come home and you my dear are a PHENOMINAL mother for loving, adoring, caring and being their for your babies – which they’all always be ๐Ÿ™‚ All of us are only a heartbeat away and we feel and pray for you ๐Ÿ™‚

PS: Will give whichever higher power listens tonight a BIG thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

12 06 2009

I am so touched and relieved that Clover is back home and on the mend. I had been following you on Twitter sending you our well wishes from Paris. You are a strong Mama. Looking forward to seeing your next photos of all your kids TOGETHER.

12 06 2009

What a relief. I am so happy to hear that Clover is doing better. I hope she continues to improve.

12 06 2009

So. Many. Band-aids. I’m glad she’s home, happier and feeling better. Now if you’ll excuse me, I am overcome with the need to squeeze my own baby.

12 06 2009

I am sooooooo glad to hear that she is doing better. I’m still sending positive thoughts your way in hopes that she will continue to get healthy. The band-aids on her fingers breaks my heart.

13 06 2009

I’m so glad to hear that Clover is home and she is getting better. It breaks my heart to see those pictures of her in the hospital and to know how scary all the uncertainty was for your family. Looking forward to seeing your kiddos all together again.

13 06 2009

So thrilled that the chicken is on the mend. Many blessings to your family. Glad you are all home together now ๐Ÿ™‚

13 06 2009

So glad she’s better and that you are on the road to recovery. It was good to see her sitting up in her bed and playing again. Even though I don’t know you personally, it was hard to see Clover down for the count and not wanting to do anything.

Loved the picture of the hand sanitizer dispenser. It’s the story of life in a hospital or clinic.

13 06 2009


14 06 2009

Oh Miss Clover, I am so glad you are home! You are all in my prayers.

14 06 2009

So glad the little chicken is home ๐Ÿ™‚ Keep on the lookout for those zebra’s. Love the picture diary, and the picture of her in her cot nearly made me cry. Is the picture on the cot done by Gemma?

I am so glad she is smiling. I am smiling with her. Keep us updated and enjoy all the moments of having her home. ๐Ÿ™‚

14 06 2009
stacy larsen

I have been following Clover’s progress after seeing her picture in the hospital on Flickr. The internet is a funny thing. You get to know people without knowing them, and your heart suddenly aches when you see them in pain. You have a beautiful family and while I am sorry to hear your little chicken is sick, I am grateful that you are getting answers.

14 06 2009
Natalia aka Kiwigal

aww sweetie im so glad you get to the bottom of things! i can only imagine how scared and hard this was for you and for the whole family…
thank god she is on the mend now….take care of yourselves! (((HUGS)))

14 06 2009

I’m so happy for you all that she’s home safe.

15 06 2009

Really happy to hear that Clover is smiling and recovering. She’s the sweetest thing and her smile just lights up the photos. Best wishes!

15 06 2009

I’m so glad to hear Clover is home. Being a parent is excruciating, isn’t it? I hope you get the answers you need sooner, rather than later, and that those answers lead to solutions. Continuing to send warm thoughts your way …

17 06 2009
blissfully caffeinated

I’m so glad Clover is doing better and hoping that the rest of the testing comes out OK.

Hugs and good thoughts to you and your beautiful little one.

1 07 2009

A so intense reportage. It moved me deeply, RAchel

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