Sometimes, We Need Touch

February 22, 2010

I just spent a wonderful weekend in Houston, cavorting and plotting and reflecting and deep-thinking and giggling with some of the brightest and most brilliant and beautiful and bad-assed women on the interwebs. I left uplifted and inspired and more than a little in love with my community.

Then Air Canada messed up my flight connections, and I deflated a little. Then they lost my beautiful red shoes – along with the rest of my luggage – and I deflated some more.

Then I got home and Jasper started struggling to breath and had to be rushed to the hospital – again, again - and my husband raced off with him while I curled up with the girl and my heart was punctured in so many places that I didn’t so much deflate as collapse in a tattered mess and Houston and Mom 2.0 and all the glitter and rainbows and bacon-wrapped-shrimp taco awesome of that space receded utterly and – this is, of course, entirely predictable and fully banal – I felt scared and alone and I cried.

I knew that everyone was still there, of course: this is the magic of our community, that we are always there, that there are always virtual hands at the ready to catch us when we stumble. But there are, still, moments when virtual hands are not quite enough – when they feel like spectres, shadows of the real thing – and one’s consciousness of that – one’s sense-memory of holding real hands and the betterness of that – overwhelms and one is overcome by the deep, deep need for the warmth of real flesh and one wishes for actual touch and the remoteness of that wish provokes a sadness that echoes deep in one’s heart.

(I’m not ready to write – I do not, right now, want to write – about the ugh and the oof and the shake-fists-at-heaven do-not-wantiness  that are provoked by one’s child undergoing recurrent episodes of struggling to breath. Jasper was able to come home this morning, and the immediate danger is passed, so the fear is less intense, but I feel so beaten down by it, this fear of breathlessness, and I am tired and I just want to spend a few hours telling my self that it’s all okay and not that bad and what were we worrying about anyway, even if that might involve some lying, so.)

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    Sarah Lena February 22, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    I am SO GLAD everything is okay for the moment. I was literally thinking of you and your little one all night and most of this morning. Glad to hear it’s okay.

    Lauren February 22, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    *HUGS* I’m sending good vibes your way.

    slouchy February 22, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    thinking of you all.
    .-= slouchy´s last blog ..Monday Morning Confessions =-.

    Loukia February 22, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    Holy smokes, Catherine. I’m so sorry. I know that fear all too well, and it’s suffocating. I often tell myself I’ll only be at peace when I’m dead. It’s true, though. The worry we feel as parents, when children are sick, is overwhelming and you know what? It doesn’t make you stronger. I’m sorry. After what I’ve been through with my oldest son, I feel even more vulnerable, more frail, more worried. And I’m sorry about your son and I hope he is okay.
    .-= Loukia´s last blog ..Rockabye, baby… =-.

    Her Bad Mother February 22, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    Suffocating is apt in so many ways. Thank you.

    mrs chicken February 22, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    Oh, Catherine, how frightening. I am so sorry about Jasper and his breathing. I am holding you all in my heart.
    .-= mrs chicken´s last blog ..Crooked Road =-.

    Janet February 22, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    How awful! I’m glad he’s back home in your arms now.

    My son went through the struggle to breathe thing when he was a toddler, every time he caught a simple cold. It turned out to be asthma. I hope you get some answers soon.
    .-= Janet´s last blog ..No Words =-.

    Her Bad Mother February 22, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    Asthma has been investigated – the next step is extensive allergy testing. Many doctors’ visits this week. SIGH.

    jenn February 22, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    it is all going to be sorry your baby is sick. odd your talking of about this. i have a good friend hundreds of miles away and there are days i just wish we were near to hug, pick each other up.some days are hard and it would be nice to have her here in person.

    Katherine from Postpartum Progress February 22, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    Oh gosh. May the universe give you the answers RIGHT NOW. An answer to what is wrong and how to fix it, ASAP!

    My heart just aches for you and how much you must worry over your little one.
    .-= Katherine from Postpartum Progress´s last blog ..Dear Postpartum Depression: I’m SO Not That Into You =-.

    Her Bad Mother February 22, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    The universe is slow in providing answers, I find. It’s like a 1-800 number that way.

    Bobbie Sue February 22, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    I’m so sorry.

    My youngest, who has been experiencing similar startling symptoms, will be losing his tonsils next month. They have been chronically swollen. So swollen that they block his airway. The docs also considered adenoids.

    Hoping for the best for your little guy.

    Her Bad Mother February 22, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    Hmm, I don’t know that anyone has checked Jasper’s tonsils or adenoids.

    kd February 23, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    My son, too, went through a time of not being able to breathe…to the point of sitting up in his sleep to get air!!!! It was his tonsils & adenoids. Removal made all the difference. Asthma was a component as well. It took awhile to figure it all out, but you will. Be persistent.

    Her Bad Mother February 23, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    Working on it. Doctors are really big on the whole ‘kids his age get sick a lot’ thing. Am needing to be *really* persistent.

    Tracy February 24, 2010 at 10:08 am

    Look, you see this nonsense about “kids his age get sick a lot”, has got to stop! Yes, they get sick a lot, but to my mind, if you cannot tell me PRECISELY WHAT IS CAUSING my child to struggle to breathe, then saying that to me is “firetrucking out of place” (as a blogger in my country likes to say). You go on being *really, REALLY* persistent, and I really hope you get good answers soon!

    PS. Please excuse the presumption and the unexpected vehemence, I have been lurking for while, and I really like your writing, and I’ve been concerned about Jasper too, even though I do not know you personally. Good luck!

    Sashalyn February 22, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    Simply sending hugs.
    .-= Sashalyn´s last blog ..stand and deliver =-.

    Karen Chatters February 22, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    I’m glad to hear that Jasper is back home and ok. I’ve been thinking about you since I saw your tweet and am sending you all my positive energy and vibes.

    I’m sorry to hear about your luggage and your shoes!! I saw them in a store here in Atlanta so if you need a replacement pair, I’d be happy to see if they have them in your size. Assuming someone in customs doesn’t keep them because they are so fabulous!
    .-= Karen Chatters´s last blog ..What you do makes a difference =-.

    Her Bad Mother February 22, 2010 at 8:32 pm

    If my shoes got nabbed someone’s going to pay, LARGE.

    Jaelithe February 22, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    Oh, poor Jasper, and poor you. I want to give you both enormous hugs. I’m so glad he’s okay, and I hope that you get a good diagnosis for his ongoing breathing problems and that someone can find a way to help stop this from happening.

    (Also, whichever airline or TSA employee was responsible for losing a pair of shoes that fabulous should be forced to wear lime green Crocs for the rest of his or her natural life.)

    Her Bad Mother February 22, 2010 at 8:33 pm

    lime green Crocs with SOCKS.

    Ami February 22, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    We had to take my daughter to the hospital two separate times because she couldn’t breathe due to some nasty croup. Two years later, my heart still contracts painfully whenever I hear that “barking seal” croup cough. It is so scary, so terrifying watching our children flounder and flail. I think it reminds us that we are NOT in control like we think we are. And that knowledge turns us into children ourselves, needing physical comfort to heal. Since I can’t hold you, I’ll do the only thing I know and pray.

    Mailis February 22, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    You don’t know me. In fact, we will very likely never meet. But, I’d give you a hug if you looked like you needed it.

    Right now, it looks like you need it.

    I so glad Jasper is feeling better (oh, God, being a mother is terrifying business) and I hope your luggage is returned to you soon.
    .-= Mailis´s last blog ..This little boy… =-.

    Her Bad Mother February 22, 2010 at 8:33 pm

    I would take that hug. Thank you :)

    Lynn @ Walking With Scissors February 22, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    How completely and utterly terrifying. I’m glad to hear that Jasper is doing okay right now and I’ll pray that the doctors figure out what they need to do to keep him healthy from now on. Big, fat ((((hugs)))) to you and if I can get the money together for BlogHer or Blissdom Canada, I’ll hug you in person. I’m squishy. I give good hugs. ;)
    .-= Lynn @ Walking With Scissors´s last blog ..Stunted =-.

    Her Bad Mother February 22, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    I can’t wait ;)

    Maile February 22, 2010 at 2:32 pm


    Being a mommy is the best and the worst thing. So much love and so much heartache and fear. Hope everything stays well with your sweet little boy.
    .-= Maile´s last blog ..My cat is so high right now! =-.

    Kate February 22, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    It’s true, touch makes a tremendous difference. I remember living alone in Boston and having weeks pass in which my only physical contact involved brushing up against strangers on the subway – and not in a risque sort of way, either. I had friends, but they weren’t, physically, *there*.

    Then you’re a new mom and you start to long for just an hour without someone touching you. You start locking the bathroom door and sitting on the edge of the tub with a magazine, pretending to pee, just to escape the hordes of people that are lining up outside to lay their hands upon you in some form.

    And something happens, and you’re left alone in a room, and you realize, you didn’t actually want that break… or maybe it would have been fine to get a break, but going from all-touch-all-the-time to complete solitude is enough to throw you into immediate, full-on withdrawal.

    The combination of worry and virtual friendship is just not as strong as physical presence in a room, and I don’t know why. But there you have it.

    I’m so glad Jasper is home for now.

    And I hate the specific roller coaster you’re on right now, from a weekend away with friends, face-to-face, to home and crisis mode with no transitional material. I went away twice in 2008, and on those respective trips I came home once to a broken arm and next to a scratched cornea, each happening inside a different child. It wasn’t enough to prevent me from traveling in 2009, mind you, but it was a crappy homecoming.
    .-= Kate´s last blog ..The Other Stuff =-.

    Her Bad Mother February 22, 2010 at 8:35 pm

    “going from all-touch-all-the-time to complete solitude is enough to throw you into immediate, full-on withdrawal.”

    Yes. That. EXACTLY.

    the mombshell February 22, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    oh (big sympathetic exhale). its the blog fog (that I am just recently discovering). in the blog fog everything is so beautiful and lovely and loving and its ‘real’, but not real like your husband brushing your hair off your forehead and planting a kiss there or little hands clasping the back of your neck. how thankful you are for those virtual hands to catch you but its the real hands that help you get up.

    Her Bad Mother February 22, 2010 at 8:42 pm

    “blog fog”. yes. perfect term ;)

    mommaruthsays February 22, 2010 at 3:45 pm

    It is okay. You will be okay. Jasper will be okay.

    The writing will come to you, when desired and needed and wanted.

    And we’ll always be here to be silent when needed and loud when needed. Again I say, you WILL be okay.

    duchessbelle February 22, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    {{{{hugs}}}} to you and Jasper and your entire family.

    frelle February 22, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    Thank you for the update, thank you for allowing us into your space and for your transparency in sharing. Im praying for his health and for your heart!
    .-= frelle´s last blog ..To Write Love On Her Arms =-.

    Her Bad Mother February 23, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    I am honoured to have you all in this space :)

    Julie @ The Mom Slant February 22, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    Coming home, sweet as it was, was a harsh reminder of the reality of our long distance friendships.

    I’m glad J is doing better. I hope you are too (and that Air Canada returns your shoes, for their sake).

    Suebob February 22, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    I can scarcely imagine anything more terrifying than to have your child be in danger of stopping breathing.

    Hugs, and I hope they find your shoes.
    .-= Suebob´s last blog ..The Layoff Chronicles: Burning Bridges =-.

    Heide February 22, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    Ain’t that just like the universe to open a can of whoop-ass right when you’re feeling great?? Ugh, I am so sorry. :(
    .-= Heide´s last blog ..Broccoli-Cheddar Breakfast Bake Recipe =-.

    Marci February 22, 2010 at 4:15 pm


    My heart is with you. Your child being ill is the scariest thing on the face of the earth !!

    Grumble Girl February 22, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    (((I’m hugging you, sistah.))) xox

    PS – I hope they find your shoes – that. is. scandalous.
    .-= Grumble Girl´s last blog ..Grrrrrrr… =-.

    Her Bad Mother February 23, 2010 at 9:55 am

    Scandalous is an understatement. It’s HORRIFYING.

    Hollie February 22, 2010 at 4:21 pm


    and what still no shoes. will have to stomp all over Air Canada because those were amazing shoes.

    Health scares for our kids stir so many emotions so I am real with the hugs because the waiting and worry suck.
    .-= Hollie´s last blog ..Works for Me : Snow Day =-.

    Ginger February 22, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    Oh I just want to hug you and your kids and give you homemade mac ‘n’ cheese. The shoes were possibly too magical for this world anyway, but I know you’ll miss them if they don’t come home, and I am sorry.
    .-= Ginger´s last blog ..Haiku Friday: the brown smear slalom during dinner event =-.

    Her Bad Mother February 23, 2010 at 11:08 pm

    I will take that mac and cheese. And you’re right about the shoes.

    Angela February 22, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    Breathing issues are so scary! Nicky and I (and probably Tom too) are just getting over pneumonia, sinus and double ear infections. I have to say I was totally disconnected from my blog world for about a week. It’s a strange world. One that seems so real sometimes, but sometimes is so ephemeral and nebulous.
    .-= Angela ´s last blog ..Update from the House of Sick =-.

    Maureen@IslandRoar February 22, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    Yes, we need touch. Skin has all those nerve endings straight to our brain to remind us.
    I’m so glad he’s okay; as a peds nurse I know how scary that is.
    .-= Maureen@IslandRoar´s last blog ..525,600 Minutes =-.

    Julie Cole February 22, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    Glad to hear J is home, but I know it’s not great relief….we’re living parallel winter breathing issues with our babes and we both know it’s only a matter of time til the next ER run. Sucks. I’m banking on one bad winter, then it’ll be immune systems of steel for our little fellas. Here’s hoping, right? xo
    And the RED shoes! good grief, there is no excuse for that. I could barely concentrate on what you were saying when you did your panel because of those shoes!! Gah!

    Her Bad Mother February 23, 2010 at 11:09 pm

    Here’s hoping :)

    Katherine Center February 22, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    My 4 yr old son woke up struggling to breathe with croup at 4 am about a month ago. And I was literally trembling all over within seconds of finding him like that. The terror was so complete and so physical, it was like there was nothing else. He slowly got better, but, after a full month of kid-illnesses following that one nasty cold, I am still walking around with a heart that feels like it’s gone through a meat grinder. The little ones let it go. But we carry it and carry it.

    I’m so sorry you came home to that scare. I can’t think of anything worse than that feeling.

    Sending you many good wishes from Texas! xo – - -
    .-= Katherine Center´s last blog exhausted heart =-.

    Her Bad Mother February 23, 2010 at 11:09 pm

    They do let it go, I know. Is it part of what makes us moms, that we carry it so long after they’ve cast it off?

    Mrs. Flinger February 22, 2010 at 10:39 pm

    Yes. Yes. Just. Yes. XO
    .-= Mrs. Flinger´s last blog ..Be vewy vewy quiet =-.

    Issa February 22, 2010 at 11:13 pm

    Oh that is so scary. I know this fear. More than I care to think about. So sorry Catherine. I hope they can get this under control in Jasper really soon.

    On the other, well I get what you’re saying. However for me, I have no real friends where I live. We haven’t lived here long, my life hasn’t been so awesome since we moved and I just think I suck at making friends. Without the friends I’ve made online, I’d be really alone. I have the most amazing friends in the world, ones who keep me going. People I can’t imagine not having in my life. The fact that they live all over isn’t convenient. But it doesn’t make them any less there for me.

    Hugging is hard to do though. I often wish I could just reach through the screen to hug someone. I’ve started the countdown to when I get to hug my best friend again. Eight weeks on Friday. Shrug. The only thing I can say, is to make the time with your friends count. To last you till the next time.
    .-= Issa´s last blog ..Random thoughts from my weekend =-.

    Her Bad Mother February 24, 2010 at 7:02 pm

    My online friends are invaluable. Precious. Which is why it was such a stark feeling, having been surrounded by many of them this past weekend, to come home to a frightening situation, and be alone. I missed them.

    Asha {Parent Hacks} February 23, 2010 at 2:13 am

    Just wanted to reach out to say (like so many others here) I understand. At conferences, we get to connect so intensely with friends — true friends — and with our own passions and aspirations. We get to be fully US. It’s a heady feeling, and can be difficult to plug into what we experience in our offline lives (where, at times, we feel fractured, scared, invisible). To come home to a scare like this, though…I’m just so sorry that had to happen.

    Wishing you, Jasper, your family all well.
    .-= Asha {Parent Hacks}´s last blog ..Minimize wardrobe fights by letting toddlers choose the night before…and wear to bed! =-.

    Her Bad Mother February 24, 2010 at 7:03 pm

    The intense connection. Yes. Exactly.

    Thanks, Asha :)

    Amanda February 23, 2010 at 10:06 am

    Hoping the fist pumps at the sky soon turn to high fives. (Does cheese cheer you? Gah, sorry)
    .-= Amanda´s last blog ..Catching Sand =-.

    Heather @ Domestic Extraordinaire February 23, 2010 at 10:15 am

    I loved your pretty pretty shoes and I am sad that they are lost.

    Also, big hugs for you and for Jasper. The Chicken went through similar stuff, but it was all related to her ears (she had chronic ear infections) and the pressure and swelling from all the gunk that was in her ears and sinuses caused her to have breathing spells. After the tubes were put in her ears and the foulest smelling nastiness came out of her ears for over a week we haven’t had any major issues, aside from when she gets a cold and her asthma flares up.
    .-= Heather @ Domestic Extraordinaire´s last blog ..Helping her catpure her bliss =-.

    Imelda February 23, 2010 at 10:21 am

    Catherine, I HOPE Jasper is feeling better and sending you Big Huge Strength all the way from Texas!
    .-= Imelda´s last blog ..Links for 2010-02-22 [] =-.

    Jyl Johnson Pattee February 23, 2010 at 10:53 am

    Your longing… and the reason for it… brings tears to my eyes and makes me wish I were there with you—the in-the-flesh friend to cling to when Jasper can’t breath or when the longing becomes intense, helping you feel like things have got to be OK. The tears? Because I’m not there. And you’re right in that sometimes virtual doesn’t equate.

    But… because it’s the best I can offer… I’m sending you a great big virtual squooshy hug from Utah, knowing we’ll see each other very soon and talk sooner.

    Hang in there! xoxoxo
    .-= Jyl Johnson Pattee´s last blog ..Build-A-Bear’s Huggable Heroes Program Rewards Giving Children =-.

    pkzcass February 23, 2010 at 11:12 am

    So it sounds like Jaspar has a form of asthma that acts up when he gets sick (a doctor once called it Reactive Airway Disease), is that right? If so, I’m writing to tell you that HE WILL BE OKAY. My son had the same problems as a child, and while he still needed breathing treatments EVERY time he got sick up until about age 8, he is now 10 and hardly ever needs them. And it’s much easier now, because if he does need something to help him deal with a cold, a couple hits from his inhaler works just fine and is way easier.

    What I want to say though is that while I believe he’ll outgrow these problems, they are real now and you need to be aggressive when dealing with them. Do you have a nebulizer at home? Do you have a supply of medicine (Xopenex worked great for my son)? Having been there, done that, I feel comfortable telling you that the minute he starts to cough for any reason you should start right away on the nebs. You can’t hurt him by doing this and can only help him. I promise. Also, you should talk to the doc about getting him on a preventive inhaled steriod during the winter months. It helped my son tremendously when he was Jaspar’s age and my son was on it for about 2 years. And he’s perfectly fine now.

    Now, if it’s something else, like his tonsils or adenoids, then I have absolutely no experience in this area and you can just ignore everything I’ve said.

    Either way, I know the fear you are living with with his being sick, and I know you can’t just take my word for it and know that he’ll be fine, so just take a virtual hug from me.

    Lisa February 23, 2010 at 11:36 am

    Thank you so much.

    The way you share yourself is such a gift you give others.

    The way you share yourself even when you are hurting is an especially rare and wonderful gift that you give. Thank you.

    BMom February 23, 2010 at 11:37 am

    I’m so sorry to hear Jasper experienced this again, so glad he is home now, so hoping you get answers and a plan soon on what to do if this should happen again & finally last but not least, sending good thoughts and well wishes to you.

    Lisa February 23, 2010 at 11:38 am

    You know, sometimes (okay, all the time) when I’m really feeling alone and down, I forget about the support that *is* there. Your spectre friends couldn’t be there for you physically but is there anyone local you can call to come over?

    Erin Lane @mktg_mama February 23, 2010 at 11:55 am

    HUGE HUGE HUGS to you! I’m glad to hear that he is home now.
    .-= Erin Lane @mktg_mama´s last blog ..A Definition of True Community =-.

    Norma February 23, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    Oh, so sorry for this. Hugs to you across the miles, from a stranger who knows that fear.

    I am glad he is home and ok.

    Jessica February 23, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    I’m glad to hear that Jasper is back home and doing better… I’ll add mine to the long list of ghost hugs for you, and an extra big one for Jasper. I hope they figure out what’s wrong and fix it soon!
    My sister (who is 25) just had her adenoids and tonsils out… she’s had breathing problems for most of her life, and she says that as soon as she woke up after the surgery she could breathe easier, maybe that’s something to ask about?
    .-= Jessica´s last blog ..It’s back. =-.

    Bobbi Janay February 23, 2010 at 9:16 pm

    I hope that your little one and gets to feeling better soon, your luggage reappears. Also it was great to meet you and I thoroughly enjoyed your panel. I am the mom of the little man Ian that had the munchable thighs.
    .-= Bobbi Janay ´s last blog ..What’s to Come =-.

    Gwen February 23, 2010 at 9:40 pm

    I completely understand the sentiment behind this post, physical touch is sometimes the only thing that can truly comfort when the world is falling apart. Yet, I am in awe of this community. You see, the past year has been one of soul wrenching loss for me as well as not really knowing where I *fit* anymore in terms of my own blog which has sat dusty since 2006. For the 6 years I kept my blog my stories revolved around my son but suddenly everything changed..because of a major health crisis I made the excrutiating decision to give guardianship to my son was 10 and needed stability.
    Then last year I had and lost a daughter as well as ended a 17 year friendship. I was completely fiance works late hours so the internet became my little window to the world. One day I found Tanis’ blog and through her yours, the basement, ect. I read and lived mommy moments I miss even if just vicariously. I’ve laughed at the comraderie that the Bad Mom Club and have been touched at all the love and support you all give to one another.
    Even though I’m not really a member of the community, just a kind of ghost flitting around via Twitter or an occasional comment..I’ve felt a lot less alone since I fell into this part of the blogosphere. I think because I’ve read so much that shows that every grief can be survived and people still do care about one another even if it’s sometimes from behind a keyboard instead of holding a hand.
    Wow, this is probably very long and maudlin..but with my daughter’s birthday approaching, I wish I had a sisterhood..even if virtually.

    Tanis Miller, RNM February 23, 2010 at 10:25 pm

    I felt guilty shaking with happiness as I held Knox’s adoption decree, knowing that across the country one of my heart friends is beat down with the fear a small boy’s illness can breed in a mother’s heart.

    Keeping the boy child of yours in my thoughts and sending you all the strength and love I can muster in your direction.

    .-= Tanis Miller, RNM´s last blog ..Feral Is as Feral Does =-.

    ewe_are_here February 24, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    I grew up with a severely asthmatic younger sister. There were many, many mad dashes to the hospital when her lungs closed up on her. A couple of my most vivid childhood memories involving my sister are of me running and screaming for my mother to come when a severe asthma attack would come on… it’s incredibly scary to watch a loved one go through this.

    I hope the doctors are able to figure out what is going on with Jasper quickly.

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