Archive | July, 2013

Sickness and Guilt

24 Jul

Alex woke up Monday morning covered in strep rash.  I’ve become very familiar with this rash, so I immediately phoned the doctor and made him an appointment.  I’d rather look like a crazy mommy and find that there’s nothing wrong with him, than not have it checked out and have it develop into a high fever and misery for us all.

It’s strep.  Again.  This makes the fifth time this year.

The doctor suggested that someone is a carrier and repeatedly reinfecting him.  Since Steven hadn’t been tested at all, she wanted him to go to after-hours care that evening for a test.  Just to be safe, we both got tested.  (I was tested back in January or February, which means I’m not the carrier, but I got checked out again just in case I’d picked it up since then.)  We both tested negative.  Next up: the grandparents.  I realized that Alex’s bouts with strep tended to follow visits to or from my parents.  So they were both kind enough to get tested.  They’re negative, too.  We’re back to square one.

I mentioned this on Facebook.  I kind of wish I hadn’t.  I think people are trying to be helpful, but when I’m being grilled about whether or not I’ve disinfected my entire house and all the toys or being reminded that they make shopping-cart covers for infants, I feel like I’m being accused of not properly protecting my boy.  I carry enough mama guilt as it is; I don’t need any more heaped on top of me.  I confess: I forgot to change his toothbrush after the last bout.  I changed it every other time, but this time, I forgot.  Guilt guilt guilt.  

We went to the health food store, as we’re out of baby probiotics.  Alex tends to get a yeast infection whenever he’s on antibiotics.  The lady at the store was super sweet and just wanted to be helpful, so I didn’t get mad at her.  But when she gasped that I need to get him off of antibiotics because they’ll just mess him up, I felt another little piece of guilt being placed on my head.  (For the record, I’m a big believer in antibiotics for bacterial infections like strep.  I do not believe in trusting “natural,” unscientifically-proven, non-FDA-approved supplements to get rid of an infection that can cause kidney or heart damage or even death.  I’m okay with crunchy; I’m not okay with foolish.)  But it felt like another person suggesting that I’m not doing the right thing for my child.

I’m almost 40.  In general, becoming a mom so much later in life has been awesome when it comes to parenting decisions.  For the most part, I’m confident.  I have zero interest in the so-called Mommy Wars.  You raise your kid your way, and I’ll raise my kid mine. I don’t care what you do.  And I genuinely don’t care if you don’t like the way I do things.  I do what’s best for me and my family.

But when my child is sick so frequently, all the doubt I don’t usually wrestle with comes creeping in.  I know that he eats a healthy, well-balanced diet.  He sleeps regularly and well.  We have a schedule and a routine that makes our days run smoothly.  He’s an easy, generally-well-behaved baby who is growing and learning.  But knowing that still can’t erase the worry I feel that I’m doing something wrong because he’s sick so much.  This undefined feeling of guilt piles on and threatens to smother me with its ugly accusations.

Still, there are bright moments in the midst of the trial.  For the most part, Alex feels fine.  Because we caught it early this time, he’s only had a low-grade fever and a little crankiness.  I laughed when his doctor told him to feel better.  He was rolling on the floor, tickling me through the slats of the bench in the exam room, laughing hysterically because I laughed each time he did it.  He felt just fine.

Doogie lost a whisker in the living room.  Alex and I found it.  I tickled him with it, and he fell over with laughter.  He took the whisker from me and tried to tickle back.  He ran to his daddy and “tickled” him with the whisker, which in reality was more like punching him in the shoulder while holding the whisker.  But Steven, who isn’t even remotely ticklish, laughed for Alex, who was delighted with this new activity.   He might be sick, but he’s full of joy and life.  Nothing, and I mean nothing, gets him down.

I guess I’m doing something right, after all.

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Treasure

11 Jul

A week from today will mark 15 years of marriage for Steven and me.  It’s been an amazing journey with an incredible man.  And the thing that never ceases to astound me is that it just gets better.  Even when I think it can’t possibly, it does.

This week has been a challenge for me.  I started feeling poorly on Saturday night, but thought it was just from spending the day outside at a state park.  My autoimmune issues often mean that a morning spent like that (you know, having fun and being active) results in a day or two of being knocked on my rear in need of rest.  But fever set in Sunday night, so this was an actual illness.

When we woke up on Monday morning, Steven asked me if he needed to stay home.  I hate to ask him to miss work because I’m sick, and my fever was only 100.2, so I told him to go ahead and go in.  By 11am, I’d asked him to come home.  The fever had risen, and some, um, stomach stuff had started.  Steven came home at lunch and took care of Alex while I crawled into bed and slept.

My fever got up over 103 that night.  I didn’t even have to ask Steven to stay home the next day.  He just did.  And I didn’t have to do a thing.  He took care of Alex, managed to put meals together, did the dishes, and anything else I typically handle.

Steven had to go back to work on Wednesday, but my fever had broken during the night, so things were better.  But as soon as he got home from work, he was right back to taking everything over for me.  I don’t think I’ve ever been so grateful for this husband of mine.

This is what marriage is.  This is how a man loves his wife as Christ loves the church.

This is true treasure.

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Limiting Screen Time

3 Jul

I never thought I’d be the parent who had to break her kid of a TV habit.  I wasn’t even going to let him watch TV until he was 2.  I’ve read the research.  I’m creative and can entertain a small person.  But then came the Great Month of Illness, and TV was suddenly my mothering salvation.  If I’m sick or have a migraine, it’s great to turn on Baby Einstein or PBS Kids and have Alex still for a few moments. And when he was so sick last week with scarlet fever?  I pretty much kept PBS Kids on all most of the day.

Now Alex whines and points at the TV frequently, asking me to turn it on.

The irony is that my husband and I rarely watch TV.  We don’t even have cable, and we even dumped Netflix for the more lousy Amazon Prime streaming simply because it’s cheaper and I get free Kindle book borrowing and 2-day shipping.  We’re just not big TV people.  The only show I watch when it’s actually on is Downton Abbey.  

Now that he’s all better, I’m working on breaking this TV habit that he so quickly picked up.  And I won’t lie; I’ve realized that I was finding TV a very convenient thing.  I can turn it on and go get food prepared.  Or fix my hair.  Or be on my computer.  I also came to the conclusion that perhaps Alex wouldn’t be so enamored with the big screen if I wasn’t so frequently on my small screen, otherwise known as my iPod Touch.  Yep, when I’m busy Facebooking, he wants his own screen of some sort to stare at.

Monkey see, monkey do.

Yesterday was rough.  Lots of pointing at the TV and whining.  My saying no.  Fit throwing.  My attempts at pointing out his massive piles of toys.  Books.  More crying.

Then he started wandering the living room.  And noticed a bookshelf he’d never paid attention to before.  He found this:

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It’s a small Winnie-the-Pooh made for me over 25 years ago by a friend’s mom.  I can’t even remember the significance of it, really.  I think maybe we used to quote Winnie-the-Pooh?  Regardless of my faulty memory, it’s a precious memento of my teen years.  I do know it was a going-away present when I moved from Slidell, La. back to my beloved Texas.  So I internally freaked when Alex got hold of it.

But he was so enamored with it that I just didn’t have the heart to say no and take it away.

My little Winnie-the-Pooh went everywhere with him yesterday.  He took it to the library, where we chose books, colored a picture, played with puzzles, stuffed animals, and sensory bottles.  He napped with it.  He clutched it all through a haircut at the kids’ hair place.  He loves it.  This morning, he went straight to it after breakfast.

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He didn’t ask for TV this morning, at least not until he got in trouble for disturbing Ninja when I specifically told him not to.  Then he looked for some comfort and turned to the television.  So this will be an ongoing battle.  But we’re working on it.  And in the meantime, we’re reading more.  Both of us.  Because I’m trying to put down the iPod and read real books in front of him.  Because as I said before, monkey see, monkey do.

He’s currently trying t0 climb the trash can.  He came up with that one all on his own.