It’s been a long two weeks in this household…and the infirmary has been open for business. First the stomach flu ravaged us, picking off one family member at a time while the others hand-sanitized and finger-crossed that their turn would be skipped (it wasn’t). No sooner did we graduate from dry crackers and apple juice then another wave of illness hit and this time the baby bore the brunt.
We’re pretty sure that the tiny little Petri dish was who brought the stomach bug upon us in the first place. While Lil’ Boo’s case was fairly mild (and thus symptomatically undetectable from other baby bodily functions), the rest of ours was not. I was the second victim and I certainly never saw it coming. In fact, I thought it was food poisoning. On a positive note, I found out you actually CANNOT get food poisoning from beer, which would exonerate the only thing I consumed that no one else did — one (admittedly expired) Natty Boh left over in the fridge and drank halfheartedly in honor of the Super Bowl. So…hurrah for that.
Anyway, about a week later came round two. I acknowledge that we’re pretty lucky with S’s health. While O (“Big Boo”) had about 11-thousand ear infections by the 10 month stage and was already scheduled to have tubes put in at that point, Lil’ Boo has weathered the day-care illnesses with minimum fanfare. Even with croup, pneumonia, 9 (!) teeth and a molar on it’s way and a perpetual runny nose, she always manages to be her super pleasant and playfully rotten self. So when she started to get sick this time, we could tell something was different.
Long story short, poor kid went 6 straight days with a 103.8 fever and couldn’t do anything but drink. Doctors found nothing overtly wrong and prescribed round-the-clock Tylenol and Advil. S would sleep most of the day – and then hardly sleep at night. G and I were at our wit’s end, taking midnight turns as the baby tossed and sweltered. O was required to step up in his Big Brother role since we were so busy taking care of Lil’ Boo and forced to resort to the dreaded “play by yourself” (is there a worse fate for a preschooler?!).
The baby eventually ended up in the ER, where tests were run, antibiotics were administered and thankfully, the threat of dangerous illnesses was dismissed. This was wonderful news, of course, but I really forgot what it was like to freak out about your kid’s health like that. Even as a seasoned second-time-around parent, I admit I had a moment of panic where I imagined the symptoms adding up to something serious (meningitis, RSV, etc.) and I was definitely scared.
When you have kids, no one tells you how fully you’ll be forced to embrace “living in the moment”. When illness, accidents or other moments of intense uncertainty strike, your only option is to literally focus on that which you can manage, control or change, moving minute to minute. Get through the first minute, then work on the next. Keep your head in the game and don’t let it spiral on how or what could happen. When faced with real situations, there is no room to panic. As we know, anxiety, worry and stress are actually reserved for when all is calm, like the quiet nights that fill your head with disaster scenarios as you lay in bed watching the clock tick towards morning.
In the actual moment, you are either too exhausted and out of it or too hyper-focused and filled with tense adrenaline to worry about anything but the task at hand, even if that task is waiting. You put aside how tired or sick you feel and hold steady, whether that is rocking a fussy baby into the early hours of the morning or cleaning up after a sick 4-year-old decimates your bathroom. You resist the urge to look up every symptom on WebMD and even with the short-hand and ease that comes with raising the second kid, there are new illnesses, new complications, new wrenches in the machine that never came up with the first one. It’s a wreck.
Thankfully we survived a fortnight of sleepless nights, Lysol wipes and frayed nerves. Both kids are back at school and G and I are back to worrying about getting out the door on time, instead of tracking medicine schedules and temperatures. It’s exhausting – mentally, physically and emotionally – to ride this roller coaster but it’s a reassuring reminder that if you can take life minute to minute, you just might make it through to the other side.