Thursday, June 5, 2014

Viral Attack

Charles was, to put it delicately, a difficult baby.  He was colicky, had trouble digesting the dairy proteins in my breastmilk (which I didn’t figure out until he was nearly four months old, at which point I promptly gave up dairy products), had a painful and very large umbilical hernia, and had bloody, oozing diaper rash.  He either cried, nursed, or was exuberantly happy.  Only extremes, all the time.  He didn’t sleep except in 30-minute stretches punctuated by the screaming fits of a baby in pain.  We fed him the maximum amount of acetaminophen and ibuprofen allowed.  The months of his infancy left me and Tony hollow shells of ourselves.  I rapidly lost weight due to breastfeeding all the time and not eating cheese, Tony gained weight due to not sleeping and spending extra time behind his desk because tasks, especially when you are in a specialized and difficult field like accounting, take longer when you’re not sleeping.  It was agony.


I experienced a profound sense of déjà vu yesterday as I tried in vain to comfort wee Jamie, who was suffering from a (thankfully, mild and short-lived) bout of hand, foot, and mouth disease.  A lovely little viral present that left him unable to swallow without pain, drooling and unhappy, with open sores in his mouth and throat.  He slept fitfully, waking every hour or so on Tuesday night, unable to even drink down some children’s ibuprofen.  Since I can’t crawl into the bunk bed in my enlarged state, Tony “slept” with Jamie all night.  Jamie came with me to work in the morning and cried incessantly through the day.  I’m not joking, my ears are still ringing. 


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When he got hot, he took off his clothes.  Oh, to be young.


It’s the worst kind of emotional anguish to not be able to help your baby when he is in pain.  But here’s the dirty little secret: as nerves fray and the situation seems hopeless, numbness sets in.  By yesterday afternoon, I was going through the motions of comforting my sick child like a soulless robot.  He cried and he cried and he cried, and at some point, I had to feed myself (just like when Charles was little, I stood over the sink and shoveled food into my mouth without hardly tasting it) and make dinner for the rest of the family.  Jamie’s usual coping mechanism of sucking his thumb hurt, so calming down was tough for him.  I’d hold him while he drooled, read my book behind his back as he heaved with sobs, and eventually get some medicine down his raw throat.


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His diet consisted of cottage cheese, Sprite, scrambled eggs, and ice cream for two days.  He often stared catatonically at seemingly nothing when he wasn’t screaming.


In the twenty minutes after the medicine took effect, he was ecstatic.  Just like the highs Charles would experience whenever he wasn’t crying, Jamie was the happiest kid in the whole world at the height of the medicine’s efficacy.  Unfortunately, the effects wore off quickly and he was back to a whiny, hiccough-y cry in no time.


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Mommy, my mouth hurts!”


But!  But!  He woke up this morning (after having Tony curled around him all night, once again, I swear that man is the BEST) and told me, “Mommy, my owie is away!”  Two days of misery, two days of missed work and school, and he’s back to almost normal.  I’m hoping I don’t get a call from preschool to tell me that Jamie can’t sleep at nap and that Charles has fallen ill,     though.  Because that would be just about right, you know?


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Ice cream drool.  The first few bites set him to screaming in anguish, but if he persisted, he was rewarded with pleasant numbness.

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