On Saturday, Elisabeth wasn’t her usual self. She had diarrhea, a fever, little appetite (less than usual) and was generally grouchy. We’d had a vaccination the day before -and by “we” I mean Elisabeth- and so I chalked up her strangeness to that dastardedly shot. I was wrong.
We watched Elisabeth over the weekend. Sunday was better; Monday was almost back to normal. I decided to call her doctor anyway just to check in. I spoke with the nurse, Melissa, who is wonderful and patient with us. Right away Melissa thought Elisabeth’s symptoms sounded like an ear infection. What the what?? An ear infection? How is this possible? She hadn’t been sick. Whatever was affecting her came on rather suddenly, kind of like a reaction to a vaccination might. I thought about what Melissa had said and called back this morning to tell her that Elisabeth was better but still not 100%. I took her in.
It was a painful visit. Almost immediately Elisabeth started to break down. Just like Friday, I sat her on the adult scale, wearing only her thin size 3 diape. Even eye level with her, she looked even smaller than usual. Off the scale, Elisabeth thrashed all over the place, away from the stethoscope and anyone’s hands. She wailed and turned bright red. Her bright eyes became small and wet. “Is this normal?” I asked Dr. Lee, on the verge of tears myself. “It is if they don’t feel well.” she replied. Bingo. Diagnosis: ear infection. At this point after 3+ days of worrying about her, I was relieved to learn exactly what the problem was.
After answering a few more questions, Dr. Lee left. While Elisabeth was drowning her sorrows in breastmilk, I was thinking about how very tired I felt. After just a few days of erratic behavior that had me worried and stressed out, I was exhausted! My thoughts turned to parents of terminally ill children who deal with pain and confusion all the time. What a wimp I am. They are such heroes! I cannot imagine dealing with chronic health issues with Elisabeth. People say “you rise to the occasion,” but for me, I’d fall…as in apart. I’m a warrior when it comes to my daughter, I’ll fight you tooth and nail if you try to hurt her, but I don’t have the patience or the self-sacrificing nature that I’d need to deal with a chronically sick child. It’s just not in me.
I’m the mom who puts herself first more than occasionally. Not in a neglectful or abusive way of course but in a self-preservation sort of way. I still get my nails done every 2 weeks. The articles and books that I read are often parenting oriented but are just as likely to be about branding and marketing. Sunday afternoons are usually my time to run around and do my own thing without Elisabeth. I’m starting a business even though my daughter isn’t yet in school because my own work, the kind I do when I don’t wear my mom hat, is really important to me. I’m a firm believer and advocate of stepping away from your children and into your own time and work. We all need that.
But not when Elisabeth is sick or needs me. In those moments, I am all hers. (Until that is, her saint of a father, my incredible husband, came home from his work this afternoon to relieve me so I could go to my work.) After nursing for five minutes (magic stuff I tell you), Elisabeth was smiling again. We handed over our credit card for the co-pay, falsely claimed that we weren’t too little for a “feel better” sticker and drove away.