On Sunday evening I tucked in both girls and thought they felt a tad warm. Moments later C started coughing in her sleep.
With two kids with asthma coughing is run of the mill around here, but this wasn’t an asthma cough, it was a croupy cough and my heart sank. Croup means a long night and at least a day or two at home. Which, while never fun, isn’t usually a big deal. But when your husband is on the other side of the country for a few days, a long night and a day stuck at home make for a very long day.
Or a very long three days in this case.
Because she woke up Tuesday morning with a high fever.
Which didn’t go away until this evening.
When Little L started to run a fever.
So, yay, M is home. But boo on the sick kid thing. Because the long nights spent listening to the cough to gauge the optimal moment for an Albuterol dose are starting to wear me down.
Wish me luck. As I typed this Little L started coughing. It’s still an asthma-ish cough, but I think I can detect a hint of barking seal in there, sure sign of croup.
I don’t want to whine. I know it could be way worse. Blah blah blah. But man does this Hand Foot and Mouth deal deserve some nasty strychnine laced insults.
Here’s what I’ve been dealing with since Saturday morning:
– a hungry little girl who can’t eat because she has sores all over the inside of her mouth. She throws herself at food and then wails piteously as soon as she takes a bite. Then she buries her face in my shoulder and sobs before picking her head up again and trying another bite. It’s torture.
– a tired little girl who falls asleep only to be woken up by what I assume are shooting pains from the diaper rash that has turned her skin to mush. She bounces and jerks in my arms, trying to get herself away from her wet diaper. Then she howls through diaper changes, kicking me the whole time, and only settles down long after I’ve replaced her wet diaper with a dry clean one. She goes back to sleep sobbing softly. Half the time she won’t let me put her back in her crib. She’s spent quite a bit of time sleeping in my arms these last three days. It makes it hard to work, or even type.
– a cranky little girl who doesn’t want to do anything that doesn’t involve touching me, being in my arms, or being draped across my chest. She’s heavy. And sweet. But heavy.
– a little girl who knows when her medicine is wearing off and who begs for her next dose and then falls into a sad little heaving heap when I tell her she can’t have it yet. I call her my little Motrin addict. She’s cute when she grabs the cup and gulps it down. Except, you know, that it’s not cute.
– a little girl with nasty looking blisters all over her hands. They don’t seem to bother more than her sense of propriety. She points them out with awe, showing me all her “booboos,” then she goes back to ignoring them. I have to fight the urge to touch them and check on them every two seconds.
It is not a dangerous life threatening illness. Technically it’s no worse than a cold. The symptoms are just different and oh so much more challenging.
According to the pediatrician day 3 is the worst, and that was either yesterday or today, so we can hope to see some improvement soon. Maybe she’ll sleep a bit better tonight. Maybe she’ll be able to eat some of her yogurt in the morning. Maybe I’ll be able to go back to work and let her go play with her friends again, instead of being bored at home with me.
Forget the whole concept of a room of her own. Not that it wouldn’t me amazing to have one. Four walls encapsulating a space all my own. My things. My books.
But that’s a pipe dream. And frankly I don’t need that much.
No. Some days all I really want is just a foot of my own. A one foot radius all around me, that is all mine.
I gave that up the day C was born. One could even argue that I gave that up the day I got pregnant with her.
Most of the time I don’t mind always having someone hanging off of me, or having two little people not understand that my body isn’t their personal playground. Even when I’m in the bathroom. Or when Little L peers down my shirt to make remarks about my chest. It’s part of the game.
But then there are weekends like this one. Which started with a splat Friday night as we were loading up the car to head to the beach. I was putting on Little L’s her shoes when she started to throw up. Then she threw up some more, and then some more. Crying hysterically the whole time.
Much to everyone’s chagrin I pulled the plug on the weekend trip and I got busy cleaning up the child and the mess she had made. Just to be thorough I also took her temperature and instantly started worrying that she might have gotten Swine despite all my heroic efforts at getting her vaccinated.
Of course the next morning I checked in with the pediatrician’s office before discovering the massive blister on the side of her tongue. Blister that, in conjunction with a rapidly developing diaper rash, screamed Hand, Foot, and Mouth.
In all my innocence I thought that a small blister or two and a bit of a fever were all we’d have to contend with for the weekend. I did not expect endless whining, no sleeping, and the torture of having to feed a starving child who screamed every time food was placed in her blistered mouth.
It was a long weekend.
She spent the weekend in my arms or hanging on my leg begging to be picked up. And it would have been OK if by Sunday afternoon C wasn’t echoing her whine for whine.
And even that might have been OK, if C hadn’t somehow managed to erase all the progress I had made on the Nintendo DS game which was all I was able to do all day while holding and cuddling a restlessly sleeping toddler. And I realize that it is absurd be be annoyed, or even upset by something so trivial as a video game score that has been erased, but at the end of this weekend where I was nothing more than an extension of my sick toddler, it was almost more than I could take.
So I grabbed my car keys, waved a hasty goodbye, and ran to the grocery store where I stocked up on rice pudding.
Yes, rice pudding. I might not have a room of my own, or even a foot of my own, but at least I know I have rice pudding neither kid likes. Rice pudding of my own. It’s what I’ve been reduced to.
On Tuesday when I blogged about Little L’s latest health drama I was at my wits end. I played it off all cool and collected, but inside I was struggling. I mean, it’s one thing to want to always protect your children, but when the sun is the thing hurting them, the challenge is more than a bit daunting.
Lucky for me I have an awesome older sister who, despite being completely swamped with a huge move and her own life, is one of my most faithful readers. She read my post and emailed me right away to remind me that my oldest niece, her oldest daughter, had suffered from a similar issue when she was little. Only it wasn’t the sun she was allergic to, it was the sunscreen.
That’s right, the sunscreen, which I had diligently been applying to every single nook and cranny of my poor baby’s body. My baby is allergic to sunscreen of all things.
In an effort to protect my baby from what I thought was hurting her I was in fact coating her carefully in the stuff that was doing the damage. Figuring that out was bittersweet to say the least. It was a huge relief to finally know what was wrong and what we could do to fix it, but it was horrible to know that I was the one inflicting such pain.
On my sister’s recommendation I invested a small fortune in Mustela products, specially formulated for extremely sensitive and irritated skin, and I started tracking down non-chemical sunscreens and sun protective clothing. After five days of daily baths with the magic soap and twice daily slathering of the miracle lotion, Little L is no longer covered in little red dots and her skin no longer feels scaly. Which is good, because ew. Even better she no longer screams when I put her in the tub, nor does she scratch her belly while plaintively moaning “ouchie.”
Tomorrow we’re going to be taking the non-chemical sunscreen for it’s first test drive, and I’m not going to pretend that I’m not feeling nauseous at the thought. If I could protect her from the sun without ever using sunscreen again I’d be much happier, but all that sun protective clothing is hot, and it’s just not always the most practical option. So tomorrow I’m going to pull out Little L’s new unbelievably expensive sunscreen and I’m going to close my eyes and apply it to her skin while uttering a million wishes that she doesn’t react to it, or the sun, or anything else she comes into contact with, so we can get on with the important tasks of summer, like playing in the pool, going for walks, or hanging at the beach.