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Kala and Kaiya are getting worse. I just don’t know what to do. I keep scrubbing every inch of this place, along with Sherman, but both of them have started to become wheezy. They’re just babies and they’re rasping like they’re eighty year-olds. I’m scared. What if their little bodies can’t fight off their infections? Sherman’s been tending to them. He’s been promoted to Medical Intern so he knows a lot more about health than I do.

Every night, I look at him expectantly, and every night, he walks away from their cribs shaking his head. “Their fevers still haven’t broken,” he always tells me. I don’t say anything, but I think he knows how badly I want to cry, because he puts his arms around me and pulls me close to him. “It’ll be okay, Killara. They’ll pull through. They’re strong like their mother,” he says to me.

But I’m not strong. I’m so afraid. I’m so afraid of losing my children.

“Please tell me they’re getting better…” I moaned to Sherman tonight. I can’t take much more of this. No mother wants to see her baby suffer. It’s so much worse knowing I can’t make my babies feel better. Sherman sighed and shook his head.

“Actually, I think Kaiya might be getting worse,” he admitted, sitting on the bed and putting his head in his hands. Seeing Kala and Kaiya in pain is affecting him, too. They’re his daughters as much as they are mine. “I don’t know what to do anymore, Killara,” he told me in a strangled whisper. “I’m doing everything I can. I’m using everything I know to help them, but I’m just an Intern. What kind of father lets his children stay sick?” he muttered. I put my arms around him and rested my head on his shoulder.

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“You’re not a bad father, Sherman,” I reassured him. “I don’t know what I would have done if they’d gotten sick without you around.” I shuddered to think of how much worse off my precious children could be without their father in the Medicine career track. Sherman turned around and placed firm hands on my shoulders, forcing me to look him in the eye.

“Hey. Don’t think like that,” he told me. “I’m always going to be around. I know I’m a wimp, but I will always fight to stay with my family; to stay with you,” he added softly, brushing his hand along my cheek. “You’re not alone anymore, Killara.” I smiled weakly and kissed him.

“I know.”

I woke up in the night with a pit of worry in my stomach. It was like I had this sixth sense, telling me something was wrong. My eyes snapped open and I threw the covers off of me. My first instinct was to check the cribs. I saw Kala, sleeping soundly. She still looked pale and ill, but no different from when Sherman had checked on her a few hours before. My heart stopped in my chest when I looked into Kaiya’s crib.

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“Sherman!” I snapped. “Sherman, get up! Now!” I scooped up my little girl into my arms and checked her pulse. It was barely there. Her attempts at drawing breath were so painful, she couldn’t even get enough air into her tiny lungs to cry. Sherman was beside me instantly. He took Kaiya from me and started examing her. I didn’t want to let go of her, but Sherman knew what he was doing; I didn’t. I just wanted to clutch her close to me and cry, but Sherman was actually doing something useful.

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“Kaiya? Sweetie? Can you hear me? It’s Daddy,” Sherman spoke to her, checking her vital signs. “Can you show me that you hear my voice, Baby?” Kaiya’s eyes remained unfocused and glazed. I was trembling so violently, I could hear my teeth clacking together. It suddenly felt as though the room had dropped thirty degrees, and it was already drafty in the shelter. I had trouble breathing, too, but it wasn’t because I was sick. My daughter was dying right in front of me. My little baby would never get to see her first birthday.

“What should I do?” I croaked out to Sherman. His face was tense. I’d never seen him look so disturbed before.

“Boil some water to sanitize it, then cool it in the fridge,” he told me. “She’s burning up. Don’t use too much or it’ll take too long to boil and cool. I need to cool her down.” I didn’t ask questions. I just did as I was told. My baby’s life was on the line.

“Here,” I told him, handing him the water once I had finished sanitizing and cooling it, along with a washcloth. Sherman dipped the washcloth in the cold water and unwrapped Kaiya from her blankets, wiping her down with the cloth. Startled by the shock of cold, Kaiya let out a tiny cry that looked painful for her to utter and squirmed. I could see Sherman’s eyes fill with tears.

“I know, Baby. I know it doesn’t feel good, but you need to cool down,” he soothed her, his voice cracking.

It continued that way all night; Sherman and I sitting in the bed, cradling our little girl and keeping her cool while we talked to her and reassured her that everything was going to be okay; that Mommy and Daddy wouldn’t let anything happen to her, even though we were both scared to death that we might lose her.

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At about 5:00am, I think I must have dozed off. I felt Sherman kissing my cheek and stroking my hair. “Killara. Honey, I think her fever’s finally broken,” he whispered to me. I sat up and rubbed the sleep out of my eyes to see her better. She was still pale and a little shivery, but when I felt her forehead, it had definitely cooled down greatly. I bit my lip to stop myself from crying tears of relief and cradled her close to me. “Oh Kaiya… I’m so glad you’re okay. I love you so much. You scared your Daddy and me,” I whispered to her, kissing her tiny, delicate forehead. Kaiya actually giggled and I smiled. She was going to be okay. I still had both my children.

Sherman and I spent the rest of that day constantly checking on the girls; taking their temperatures, checking their vital signs, paying attention to their cries and whether or not they sounded strained. Both Kala and Kaiya seemed to be on the mend. I think as long as they stay living in these conditions, they’ll always be on the sickly side, but maybe they’ll find a way to improve the standards of living in their lifetime and my grandchildren won’t have to live in filth and squalour like they did.

It’s Kaya’s and Kala’s birthday today. It feels like yesterday, I was on my hands and knees in this tiny shelter, bringing them into the world, and now they’re already into the terrible twos. Rather, the terrible two have entered the terrible twos. Sometimes, I wish they were still babies who didn’t move around or screamed at the top of their lungs or rattled the bars of their cribs while Sherman and I are trying to sleep. Okay, I wish that a lot.

Sherman and I haven’t slept solidly throughout the night in nearly a year now. As exhausting as it is for me, I feel bad for Sherman; between his job at the hospital, his late-night emergencies he needs to rush off to see to and his two daughters wailing every ten minutes throughout the night, he never gets up in the morning rested.

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Kala Burnum

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Kaiya Burnum

Kala and Kaiya are both beautiful, but they don’t look very much alike. Kala has brown hair and Kaiya has black hair. Kala looks exactly like me, but I think Kaiya is the spitting image of Sherman. I’m not really sure where Kala’s brown hair came from. Both my hair and Sherman’s hair is black as can be. Maybe one of Sherman’s parents has brown hair. I wouldn’t know for sure. I’ve never met them. Whenever I ask Sherman about them, he just glares into space and mutters that his family “went down the wrong road in life”, whatever that means. I don’t want to upset him by interrogating him about it.

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Both the girls love all of their toys. I’m really glad Sherman was able to provide them with fun things to occupy themselves. I think they’re both even learning skills for later on in life from some of their toys. The only downside to having so many toys in such a small living space is tripping over toy bunnies, boats, rocket ships and cars all over the place. I try to pick them up and put them away, but two seconds later, either Kala or Kaiya (or both) have pulled them all out again, so I’ve given up trying to put them away. I think it’s driving Sherman crazy; he’s such a neat-freak. Having two rambunctious toddlers and a clean-freak in the same small house is… interesting, I’ll say.

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I have to abandon this entry for today. Kala’s screaming at me to feed her and Kaiya just had an accident in her diaper again. I can smell it from across the room. It’s a good thing Sherman’s at work right now. He might have a heart attack if he saw the mess the girls have made in here. I’ll have to clean it up before he gets home.

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Well, it’s been a very long struggle, but I’ve managed to teach both Kala and Kaiya how to walk, talk and use the potty. I’m grateful that I don’t have to change messy diapers anymore, but Sherman’s always complaining about the stench coming from the kinder-potty. I told him if he hates it so much, he can clean it himself. I’m too busy chasing after our kids and teaching them the basics to really care about a few stink fumes coming from the kinder-potty. Really, it’s not like it stinks any worse than we do.

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Honestly, with the stress of raising the kids and not getting enough sleep and Sherman always crabby from work and me going stir-crazy at home all the time, Sherman and I have started arguing more. Not that we’re on the brink of a break-up or anything, just kind of getting on each others’ nerves. There’s four people living in this tiny little dungeon on stilts and two of them are hyperactive, noisy and demanding toddlers. Sherman and I don’t get nearly as much sleep as we need to function properly, with the girls waking up every few minutes during the night and Sherman’s late-night emergency calls to the hospital are really starting to put a strain on him.

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I still love Sherman just as strongly as I did that first night we kissed and ended up concieving our children. I’m not worried about our relationship. Things should start to get a little easier once Kala and Kaiya are past their nightmarish toddler phase and Sherman and I can finally get a good night’s sleep.

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Heh… he’s actually kissing my earlobe right now. Not that we can really do anything with the kids in the same room, but it’s nice to know the physical attraction’s still there after so long without being able to do more than sneak kisses here and there.

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