We forced the husband to the couch last night, the Terrific ‘Sick’ Toddler and I. All I have really accomplished today, well besides everything my paying job requires, is buckets overflowing my mind with worry. Last night, I laid in a full size bed with a sick toddler and I managed to wake up every hour on the hour to check on him.
“Is he too hot?” Take away a blanket.
“Is he cold?” Add blanket back.
“Is he breathing normally?” Put my hand on his chest. Intently listen to his breathing noises.
“Should I take him to the E.R. so they can tell me he has a cough? That does not sound like a normal cough. That sounds like he has been chain smoking cigarettes. How the hell does he have a smoker’s cough?”
“There he goes doing gymnastics again. How does a toddler sleep while training for the Olympics?” This is the happiest thought which occurred during last night.
Since starting daycare, we have had almost one ear infection every few weeks since August. Last week, the doctor said “this is a horrendous ear infection.” Then she made her doctor in training look at it. By doing this, the doctor in training would know what a ‘horrendous’ ear infection looks like. I don’t know what makes an horrendous ear infection differ from the bad to normal ear infection. I do know my baby is sick. And I am worried.
I have never worried like this. That’s a lie, I have indeed felt this kind of worry. The day we brought him home, I stared at him all night. I was afraid to go to sleep. He is our first baby, and this was the first time ever bringing a baby home. I slept for about an hour on this night. During this only hour of sleep, I had a horrible dream about him suffocating. Anxiety dream. They provide you with educational information about SIDS, nurses tell you about the ‘purple cry,’ and then they send you on your merry way. On your way with only your husband by your side, they send you home with an infant. You spend a lot of the first nights staring and asking one question, “Is he breathing?” Then you stare some more at a tiny little baby chest to provide you a peace of mind, there is a rhythm to their up and down motion. You are able to finally breathe a small sigh of relief for the time being.
Tonight I will kick my husband out of the bed again and watch a toddler sleep. I will check for warmth. I will try to ensure his little baby toes are covered. I will stare at him through the dark, occasionally using the light from my cell phone to see his pale little face. I will use my Mama senses to listen to his breathing. They don’t tell you about this kind of worry before they send you home with an infant. They don’t tell you about the vulnerability you will feel because your child is sick. It is real. Helpless mothers everywhere sit with sick babies on their chests trying to provide a cure. Our medicine comes in giant pills filled with cuddles, kisses, stroking soft baby hair, and prayers. Sleep is unnecessary to a Mama.