I should've known.
I really should've.
We'd both been sick for as long as I can remember (which, with three kids, let's face it, is not very long). I assumed it was the flu or a winter cold. I mean, we've barely had a winter here in Chicago, so it's not that much of a stretch to assume that the germs that would normally be killed all dead and shit would be sticking around to make us miserable.
I didn't expect this, though.
Sunday morning, bright and blurry, I woke up to see my four-year old, my middle son, Alex, laying on the couch, listlessly playing the Wii with his sister. Now this is the kid who is normally bounding around, energy oozing off him into the air around him.
"I'm sick," he said, as I said good morning to him.
"He's had a really high fever - but I can't find the thermometer, so I gave him some Tylenol," his father offered.
I felt his head -- warm -- but figured he'd blow through the fever like he does with everything else.
Two hours later, as I watched him lay on the couch, still listless and burning up, I asked his father to take him to one of those Doc-in-the-Box clinics at the pharmacy. Reluctantly, he agreed.
An hour later, just as I was finishing up my board meeting for my non-profit, I got the call I hadn't expected.
"We're on our way to the ER -- his temperature is over 104," his father told me.
I made arrangements for my mother to watch my other children and I hauled balls to the ER in time to see Alex, my poor guy, fighting off the doctor who was trying to perform a strep test on the kid.
"If this comes back negative, we're going to do a chest x-ray," she said as she walked out of the room.
Soon enough, just as Alex and I were settling into a nice game of Angry Birds together, the radiologist came in to collect him. Off to the x-ray department we waddled, where they snapped a couple pictures of my kid's chest.
Hours later, the doctor came in.
"He has pneumonia. A-typical pneumonia," she said as she wrote him a prescription for antibiotics.
The guilt was instant. Why hadn't I seen this coming? How had I let him go all morning without immediately taking him to the ER? Why didn't I skip my board meeting?
He's home now and recovering on the couch. He's not himself quite yet, and I'm not quite sure that I'm ready to forgive myself for not taking his fever more seriously.
But he's okay, that's the important bit, I tell myself.
Soon, I hope I can actually begin to believe it.
Maternal guilt, man, it NEVER ends.