Thursday, December 4, 2014

A Day in the Life: Single Parenting, Ear Infections, and Survival

Oh hello there. The past few weeks have gone a little bit like this:

Three weeks ago Ash got pink eye.

Two weeks ago he got it again.

Last Monday: Ash was a little kvetchy.

Last Tuesday: Ash was very kvetchy and got sent home from daycare with a fever.

Last Wednesday: Ash was kvetch half the time and laying around lifeless the other half of the time. He threw up.

Last Thursday: My parents showed up. The turkey went in. I was told by the parent line to take Ash to urgent care/the ER. Then the turkey came out. We went to Children's Hospital and it was diagnosed as an ear infection. We drove across town to a 24-hour pharmacy, went home and ate turkey and Pistachio Salad. (For my first turkey ever, it was pretty amazing.)

Friday: Ash screamed for two hours straight inconsolably several times. I felt helpless.

Saturday: Ash seemed a bit better. Hoping the meds were working, we went to shul and then out to lunch. Ash deteriorated again that night. He threw up twice.

Sunday: Magic! Just as my parents prepared to leave town, Asher brightened up, became himself again. And by Monday he was healthy, happy, and giggly like normal.

I'm not asking for sympathy or for the trolls to write about me and how sad and pathetic and whiney I am. I'm just writing it out for perspective. Thankfully, Ash has been a pretty healthy baby as far as illness goes. Yes, he was terribly colicky and had terrible gas/intestinal issues the first part of his life, but considering, he never suffered ear infections or anything worse until now. I'm simply hoping he doesn't get chronic ear infections. I never had them as a kid, and the inconsolable screaming proved one thing to me: ear infections are the worst. Worse than teething. Worse than a painful poop. Worse than anything for baby.

Ultimately, however, I realize that it all was probably a lot harder on me than it was on him. Having my parents around should have been helpful, but it made me anxious. All I could think was, they probably think it's always like this. I'm a terrible parent. I can't sooth and calm my child. I'm failing.

The worst of it all for me? This is going to sound stupid, but when G-d decided that babies shouldn't be able to blow their own noses on instinct, he was asking mothers everywhere to feel terrible, horrible, demonic for having to pin down their children to suck snot out of their tiny noses. At the hospital, I had to hold Ash down while the nurse did it and made him wail. Dad heard all the way out in the waiting room. At home, I found it too hard to do. I probably did Ash a huge disservice not squiging out his nose four times a day like they suggested, but the stress of his screaming and having my parents around and feeling like a failure as a parent kept me from it.

Also? That tiny little screaming baby face with welled-up tears and that look of, "Mommy, why are you doing this to me!? I'm so cute and cuddly and snuggly and I love you so don't take my boogers" is hard to overcome.


Just a week and a half and we're off to Israel so Mr. T can help us celebrate Asher's first birthday (and, you know, it's been more than two months since we've seen each other and it'll probably be another three or more). I can't believe it's already been a year since Asher was born. I can't believe it's only been two years since Tuvia and I first started talking. Where does it go? The time. It's ripped away at lightning speed.

The reality? You never know your own strength until absolutely everything is moved out of reach and you're forced to cope, adapt, and stumble through it all with necessary optimism. Because there's a tiny human -- one that pulls off your eye mask in the morning with a huge grin and loud bursts of "da da da ba ba ba" as he crawls all over you -- relying on you for absolutely everything.

To be needed is what forces us to survive.