Disclaimer: I'm on a streak of writing long posts lately. I've got a lot to say, apparently. If you are a super Type A kind of person please feel free to skip the mumbo jumbo providing the back story and jump right to the bullet points. I know how you Type A's love your bullet points! ;)
It is safe to say that the time period between September 6th - September 15th was the hardest "mommy time" for me to date. We thought C's allergic reaction to amoxicillin was tough but this most recent sickness was much, much worse.... I think... Actually, now that I think about it, the allergic reaction was a doozy and may just be a tie for first place. :: pausing to reflect :: Yes, it is. So allow me to start over... a'hem...
The time Little C experienced the allergic reaction to amoxicillin AND this most recent sickness have gone down in history as the hardest "mommy times" for me to date.
It is incredibly hard knowing you can't reason with a baby or toddler to make them understand that mommy pinning you down on the changing table while daddy cleans off your bottom which has open sores on it as you writhe around in pain and scream at the top of your lungs really isn't a form of torture, we are truly trying to help!
Then on top of the very sick baby we are two first-time parents with natural instincts that can only take us so far. At some point we exhaust everything that common sense lends us to try and we confer with the so-called "experts" for guidance. In this case the "experts" I refer to would be our Pediatricians. As two first-time parents all we want to know is if our son is ok based on what he is experiencing, how can we help him, and whether or not it is normal!
We can admit that in the past there have been a few phone calls to the docs after hours that probably could have waited until the next day and probably wouldn't have been necessary at all if we'd just wait it out and let time run it's course. But like I said, we are first timers and have nothing to compare circumstances to. Then there are the other times, the moments when as a parent you know deep down in your gut that something is not right and you need help to deal with it. Real, legit, immediate, "expert," help. Not the kind that will just "work itself out." That is the kind of help that we have discovered exists but needs to be made very clear when asking for it. (more on this in a minute)
Now that's all the medical type stuff but now throw "life" in on top of your extremely sick child and you have just compounded everything to the extreme. Hubby and I both work full-time and work doesn't stop when you have a sick baby. Also no matter how good of a relationship you have with your partner being a parent and dealing with all of the hurdles that come along with it can take its toll on the both of you. Even simple communication can turn into an argument because both parties are stressed to the max and running on very little sleep. That combination can be a detriment to even the best of intentions.
Additionally, it is important for you to know that when you are in your most stressful of parenting situations and dealing with life all around you, you can most definitely count on something else completely falling apart. A few examples: a car will breakdown, your plumbing will burst, your dog will puke in the middle of the living room (but only after you've finished vacuuming or cleaning the carpet), you will lock your keys in the car or lock yourself out of the house, you will receive some sort of bad news that you don't have room for in your brain, and the list goes on. I promise, something will happen. Because when it rains...
Lastly I will share with you that during the period of September 6 - September 15 I completely lost my shit. I was a wreck. I was a walking, talking ball of stressed out goo that had no business interacting with anyone. I was filled with doubt and I felt like a failure because there were no improvements for so long with C and as his mother I just wanted to make him better. I blame 50% of this on pregnancy hormones, 30% on being a first time parent, 10% on the Pediatrician, and 10% on just simply me being me. I didn't want to be this way and I did my best not to let the outside world know the truth. When people would ask how I was doing I'd give the signature,"hanging in there" then fall apart at a moments notice behind closed doors. Only beloved Hubby got to see my true colors. Isn't he lucky??
All of this got me thinking about what I learned over those 10 days and how it can help me in the future. I came up with 5 major lessons I learned and thought maybe they could also help another person out there.
:: drum roll please ::
1) The world of medical practice is called "practice" for a reason - These doctors, although extremely intelligent in their specific fields, are often times giving you their educated guess on what is going on. If you want straight up answers and you don't feel like you are getting them keep asking and don't stop until you get an answer you are comfortable with.
2) Follow your gut - As mentioned above, if you are not comfortable with an answer or a diagnosis you receive keep asking questions until you get somewhere you are comfortable with. Once we picked up on the pattern that Little C was sick with a stomach bug every 3-4 weeks like clockwork we started to feel it was beyond the excuse of, "oh, he's just a full-time daycare kid, it's going to happen." It didn't feel normal to us and we were done with that excuse! As parents you are your child's advocate especially when they are at an age where they can't tell you what's wrong. Don't be afraid to speak up.
3) Treat your partner well - There was a day toward the end of last week that both Hubby and I had pretty much hit our wall. Both exhausted beyond belief and having had a string of days where we were short with one another. He called me out of the blue while we were at work and he said, "I know this has been hard for us and I'm sorry we have been bickering but I wanted to let you know how happy I am that I get to do this with you." "I feel so lucky that we have each other to get through these tough times with and I wanted you to know how much I love you." :: welling up :: It is very easy to lose your cool and take things out on the one you love, I don't understand why, but it is easy. What's hard is to remember the other person is going through all the same stuff you are and instead of taking things out on them you need to be kind. Practice makes perfect.
4) Give yourself a break - Figuratively and literally. You really are doing the best that you can. Being hard on yourself and allowing doubt and feelings of failure to creep in will only make things worse. Take a deep breath and repeat after me, "you are a good mom." Then, take a bubble bath, exercise, spend some time enjoying your favorite hobby, meet up with a friend, call your mom, call your sister, go on a date with your husband. Just do something to step away from the stress briefly and will allow you to relax, reflect and recharge.
5) Life is hard. Deal with it. - Things are not going to get easier so put your big girl panties on and roll with the freaking punches, sister!
There you have it. My conclusion to a very trying 10 days. I feel stronger for it and I intend to take the lessons I've learned and apply them to the next bump in the road. Because Lord knows there will be one. If you find yourself in a trying stage of parenthood I hope you know you are in good company. Whatever you are going through it is most likely a phase or a brief stint that will get better. Hang in there and always revert back to lesson #4 and repeat after me... you are a good mom. :)