Love had a restless night, high fever and stuffy nose. I thought about staying home from work but reassured myself that Byron could care for her well. As the hours ticked by and with little rest, my eyes began to itch and water. By morning I could hardly open them, my red eyes resembling those of someone stung by bees. Dust. The house is really, really dusty.
I made arrangements to stay at home and cleaned what I could, whilst tending to Love. Byron, my calm, reliable partner in all things domestic (and in love), helped to clean as I lay next to my tired girl, gently stroking her hair and back to comfort her. When Love was rested, we made a short trip to the pharmacy to purchase eye wash and eye drops. I was advised not to use antihistamines (either orally or contained in the eye drops) as I am still breastfeeding (with the exception of Phenergan, which has caused me to feel very drowsy in the past and was in no way a suitable option today).
We drove to the Botanical Gardens and wandered slowly in the shade of native trees, my girl's tiny body relaxed against my chest. We listened and watched for birds from a bird hide attached to an elevated boardwalk in a mangrove forest and I rested here, waiting for my eyes to feel less itchy and photosensitive. After a short time we stopped for a picnic, where we were greeted by a rather tame bush turkey. At one point a tiny lizard crawled over Love's toes and as we examined it closely, she overcame her fear and allowed it to scamper from a golden leaf, along her hand and up her arms before it leaped back into the safety of tall blades of grass.
She soon fell asleep again in our baby carrier, thirsty and warm from the summer afternoon. Together, we slowly wandered back to our car, past scribbly gums*, sensory gardens, greenhouses and endangered plants species from Australia and abroad.
On the drive home I fell asleep too, waking only when Byron turned off the car engine. I was feeling better and as I carried my dozing girl to bed, Byron opened the windows to allow the sea breeze to cool and lift the air.
One day soon, we will move into a different house and I look forward with hope that these relatively new allergic reactions do not come too.
*For those of you wondering, the scribbles on the scribbly gum tree are caused by the movements of moth larvae under the bark of the gums. The scribbles become visible after the bark has fallen away.