Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Steam for a Cure

The three of us huddled into the steaming bathroom, shower running behind the ducky curtain. Ten minutes in a steamy room is supposed to help clear up Avonlie's congestion. She doesn't mind. She loves the bathroom because she thinks it means she's about to have her bath: her favorite part of the day. I peer into the empty tub and look down at the white bottom, which was mostly grey and scummy when we first moved in. The can of Ajax and some "green" cleaning product stand beside the tub on the tiled floor.

"Have you noticed how I've brushed the dirt out of the tub?" I ask Dustin, looking back to him sitting on the toilet seat, baby asleep in his arms.
"Have you noticed how I brushed the dirt off my shoulder?" He responds.

It's conversations like this that make up our days. Thank God for our ridiculous dialogue. If not for it, we'd be waxing scholarship all the time! You know, cus that's what two Ph.D. candidates/ABDs do all the time! ;)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Avonlie has a Cold

I have a sick baby. I've never had one of these before so it's more than the awful it would, I'm guessing, ordinarily be. It's beyond awful...for me, not so much for Avonlie.

All winter long, we have squirreled this child away, making every effort possible to keep her from the cold, from the sickness that we know is lurking outside of our door throughout this season and we did a pretty good job of doing it. But it's not possible to keep her well forever and as of Friday, the day after her 9 week birthday, Avonlie has been enduring her first ever cold.

It started with a rattling in her throat, a little coughing here and there and everyone telling me that she was fine. While I'll admit, in the very beginning of these last nine weeks I worried a lot..."Why is she sneezing? Is it normal for her to be sleeping all the time? Is she going to get sick now that she has been running errands in the car all day long...etc.," I've definitely chilled out. I no longer stay awake all night long despite her sleeping through it, just to make sure she's breathing. When she lets out a pronounced "Waaah" I pretty much know what it is she wants and can hook her up with whatever it is. But when I heard the rattling of phlegm in her throat on Friday and the coughing that it caused, I knew she was on her way to getting sick.

And I was right. Avonlie has a cold.

By Friday early evening, Dustin conceded he, too, believed she was coming down with something. My parents, on the phone in New York, doubted it, still. My negative answer to the question "Does she have a temp?" seemed to them as if it should prove that, therefore, she was not "sick." But the rattling not only persisted, it grew stronger. Come Saturday, Dustin and I were suctioning out her nose with the automatic, press-button aspirator every hour. By Saturday night, it was more like twice every hour. I put out a subtle cry for help on Facebook saying that I hoped the coughing, sneezing and congestion didn't amount to more than a mild cold and my subtle hints and description of her symptoms brought on the much-welcomed advice from all the mothers that had come before me. The consensus? Vicks on her feet and a cool mist humidifier.

Dustin ran out for the necessities.

While D ran out for supplies, I checked her symptoms on every hit google presented. I searched "Vicks on baby feet," "2-month old baby with cough" and so on. The most helpful site was my own pediatrician's which gave symptoms and actions they called for, including "When to go to the ER," "When to call your doctor" and "When to call your doctor during normal office hours," among other options. This appeased me the most because, according to the website, we were nowhere near needing to go to the ER or call our doctor...ever. I feared the ER most thanks to the google hits that presented reader comments that read: "I took my infant to the ER and they had to give him a needle and there was SO MUCH BLOOD!!! SO MUCH! I never SAW SO MUCH BLOOD!" and "You'd never believe how much blood an infant can lose until your baby has to have a needle." "Oh. My. God." I thought, looking at Avonlie asleep on the bed next to me, surrounded by the mucus-filled aspirator, jumbo bottle of saline and digital ear thermometer. Panic rose inside of me as I imagined our trip to the ER. I grabbed my phone, texted: 'HURRY HOME WITH THE GOODS! NOW!!!' to Dustin, as if we would somehow be able to avoid a trip to the ER where they would inevitably drain our infant of all of her blood if he would just get home with the Vicks and humidifier in the next twenty seconds. Before I hit "send," I heard it. The distinct, unmistakable sound of my daughter laughing in her sleep. There, beside me, Av's little head swayed back and forth, her mouth wide open, exposing her smiling gums. Her cheeks spread wide, making room for the smile on her face. Eyes closed, belly shaking with joy, she slept: temperature free, a little congested, but happy.

Avonlie, sick, but smiling and laughing her way through it.

I deleted the crazed message and Dustin eventually came home. The humidifier was a bust, but the Vicks seemed to help. I was up all night, though Avonlie slept with a bit of restlessness from congestion, but soundly otherwise, straight through, only waking when her paranoid mother woke her up to suction out her nose or force feed her so she'd remain hydrated. It was like the first two weeks of her life all over again. Just when I was starting to calm down and settle into this first-time mother thing like an old pro, she launches me, unwittingly, back into paranoid, nervous wreck mode. I express this sentiment to my mother who is in New York with my doctor father (of course they're away when my baby gets sick and I whine that it's the time when "I need them most!"). I can hear her smile on the other end of the phone as she says, "Aaah, daughter. Welcome to motherhood!"