It has been one heck of a week and if I can stay awake to write this, then I am doing well. Thursday last week was our last calm day before things turned pretty chaotic. We got to take a nice family hike at a nearby nature area. Drew walked 2k (about 1.25 miles) on his own and I was very proud of him. We realized our distinct lack of social life as we spent so many days of Steve’s break on our own. I know we had quiet weekends back in Colorado as well, but we seem to have them much more often now that we have moved. However, we do pretty well finding things for the four of us to do.
On Frida, Steve got to come along to the boys’ swimming lessons, which was great because he got to get in with Zach and I got to watch Drew’s entire lesson. I am still amazed that the boy can truly swim on his own! They started to cough that morning and Drew’s voice turned raspy, and we could tell during the lesson that they were just off. Well, it got worse from there. Fevers came on that afternoon, but we thought they were gone on Saturday and the boys seemed cheerful and played well, so we kept things pretty quiet and kept our plans to try a new babysitter for a couple hours that afternoon. I ran 6k that morning and was SO proud of myself, and I have not been able to exercise since. Steve and I rode our bikes that afternoon down to the little main street and just puttered around—it was nice.
Sunday the boys seemed worse again, so we tossed out our idea of going to church and stayed quiet at home again, barring a trip for Drew and I to the grocery store, which in hindsight I should not have done, because it took too much out of him.
That evening the bottom really fell out. Zach’s cough got so bad that at one point I wanted to take him to the ER because I didn’t think he was getting enough air. That’s when it all hit me how ‘on our own’ we are now. We don’t have anyone that could come over in the middle of the night to stay with one child if we had an emergency with the other—we would all have to go. I guess that’s just part of living far from family. I also realized that I don’t know who to call for medical advice in the middle of the night—I knew our former doctor’s number by heart and called it regularly, at any time of the day or night, knowing I would get good guidance. Well, one positive of this week, is that I learned a lot and am now more impressed by the public health system here (I do still want us to get private insurance, but that will be a later project). Steve thought Zach was ok, so we ended up taking turns sleeping with him on a cushion in his room all night to make sure.
I skipped work (felt guilty doing this so soon at a new job, but also very thankful that I now have a job where I have that ability) and took Zach to the doctor on Monday morning. Drew seemed happy and still went to school. The doctor said Zach had croup and prescribed a steroid. From the receptionist, I learned of a government service nurse line that can be called after hours for medical advice, and also of a number to call after hours that will actually send a doctor to our home if needed (not sure of the costs, if any, associated with this service, or the wait time until a doctor would arrive—it’s not an emergency number; 000 here is the equivalent of 911—that is much easier to learn and remember). I also learned that I can call this practice during the day with questions and for advice. I have to admit I am a little bit frustrated that we have been here almost seven months and didn’t know about those first two numbers. But how would we? It’s just another one of those things you don’t know about when you’re not from somewhere, and it’s not really something that would come up in basic conversations. I feel much more at ease knowing it all now, because Sunday night was very scary to me.
On Monday night, Drew’s cough got almost as bad as Zach’s which was now thankfully slightly better. But it was still one of the worst nights I have experienced as a mother. I was in and out of both kids’ rooms all night long, worried sick, trying to ease their coughs and settle them. Both kids threw up that night from coughing and Drew also wet through a pull-up. We had three sessions in steamy bathrooms between the two kids. I remember once frantically awaking to the sound of coughing and crying and bursting into Zach’s room to help and after a few seconds realizing that he was sleeping soundly and the coughing was coming from Drew in the next room—it was a crazy, delirious moment. That’s when I knew Drew had gotten just as sick. Steve was very helpful, but needed some sleep for work.
So, on Tuesday, we were back to the doctor with Drew. And, I bought a 2nd humidifier so now we have one in each of their rooms. I started getting congested that day as well. Drew didn’t have croup, thankfully. This doctor recommends that we get his one remaining ear tube removed and gave us a referral to do that, although it will be quite a wait in the public system. Tuesday night got better and I was only up 3-4 times trying to soothe my babies.
Then on Wednesday, I was hopeful that we had turned the corner and were coming out of it, when Zach had diarrhoea all morning. I had started the boys on a craft/science experiment I had found (thank you Pinterest! I love that website and it is giving me such great ideas to get us through days like these), and was pretty darn proud of myself about it, when Zach walked up to me, smiled broadly and ripped some pretty loud toots as he filled his pants again. Both boys think loud toots are hilarious, so we all had a good laugh and then Zach walked closer to me and just vomited an enormous amount all over both of us. Drew looked at me and said “Zach puked on you.” I said, “Yes, he did.” He said, “Can you get more crayons?” It’s funny how I don’t cry when something like that actually happens; it’s later. I guess I should be glad I at least have the strength to get us through the moment. I stripped off both of our clothes, threw them out in the back yard, took us both to the tub to clean off and then mopped the floor. Then I called the doctor’s office and they asked me to bring him back in. Drew started crying and throwing a tantrum that he didn’t want to go to the doctor (as he’s coughing—poor thing). Both of these boys have been SO rough on me this week—it’s really taken it out of me, but then I feel so bad because I know it’s only because they’re not feeling good. I still don’t handle it well though—the non stop whining and crying and tantrums on no sleep do not sit in my brain well.
Back to the doctor we went, and I cried the entire drive. They asked us to wait in a kind of supply/treatment room because it had tile floor if Zach puked again, and when the nurse walked in to do some other business in that room, she asked me what we were doing, and I couldn’t answer, try as I might, without crying. She says, “You sound American. Are you? Do you have any family here?” I almost got annoyed at my accent being the topic of conversation again, but she was so kind and helpful that it slipped right by. That day that entire office was wonderful. They had us see the doctor in between her patients, and they did not bill Medicare for the visit—I don’t know how it works, but they basically just treated it as helping us out and took no real record of it for billing purposes. Both days that I was there with both boys, the doctors checked both boys, not just the one who was scheduled. I remember that being a struggle in Colorado—they would often take a quick listen to the other kid at my begging, but it was never offered and not as thorough as this was.
That night the boys slept much better, and our lovely neighbours decided to party outside AGAIN until after 4 in the morning—the one night I was going to finally get some sleep! They seem to do this at least twice a week and Steve has called the cops every single time and has now complained to our property manager twice, and so far, nothing helps. It really sucks. They suck. And it’s worse, because I REALLY need some sleep! I spit on Drew that evening during his bath—that’s right—I spit on my own child. My crazy reasoning started that morning, when he bit Zach hard enough to leave tooth marks on his arm, AGAIN. I put him in time out, and, as he always does, he yelled at me and refused to stay in time out. My voice got a bit crazy and I told him that if he came out, I would bite him. He stayed. That evening in the bath tub, as he was rinsing his mouth after brushing his teeth, he spit the rinse water on Zach, AGAIN. I told him not to; Zach told him to stop and he looked right at me, then back at Zach and spit another mouthful on him. I went nuts, grabbed the cup, took a mouthful, spit it on him, and threw the rest of the water in the cup at him. Nice work, Mommy. I’m incredible; I know. It was a great evening.
The more I was awake that night, the more congested I got. At the breakfast table that morning, I was beginning my usual fabulous supermom routine of trying to tune the boys out as much as I can while checking email, Yahoo news and Facebook, and a couple bites into my cereal I saw the email about my uncle. I knew what it would say before I opened it—the time we have known is coming, but have been trying to pretend is not, is here. He will likely be gone within two weeks. As it had been slowly doing more and more as each day of this week went by, that darn ocean and landmass separating me from my loved ones just got too big. It was just all too much to take and the tears just started streaming down my face, and my boys got worried. So, I started paying my Internet bill—yep, couldn’t focus on it at all, but had to get my focus on something else or I wouldn’t get through the day. Not like I’ve been doing a stellar job of getting through any day this week. After I try to tune them out at breakfast, I do all the morning chores and try to tune them out while watching the American Today Show. It doesn’t work and I don’t know why I say I’m tuning them out or even try. I end up, every day that I try, hardly watching any of the show, unless I watch it while a 2-year-old is pulling my hair. Ah, well, but that’s what I did again.
Thankfully, my dear friend from back to my pre-mommy days, back when I was sane, is in town, so I had a friend in my time zone that I could call and cry to. I also got to connect with another uncle and my parents, FINALLY, after their trip to Kentucky. I had been trying to let them enjoy their vacation and not bombard them with my frazzled, crazy week, but I just couldn’t take it any longer. It worries me a bit how dependent I am on them. They’re so amazing, such wonderful people.
And the boys were feeling so much better that we decided to keep our plans that we’d had for weeks, to use our new babysitter and go out that evening to a cocktail reception in the city for an art show sponsored by my new company. All day I felt so sad and tired and crummy and busy, that even when the babysitter had arrived and I was trying to finish laundry, I thought ‘Why am I even doing this? I don’t feel like it at all’, but then I put on a dress and realized I was getting out and it was good. It was good to have some time to catch up with Steve and our good friends (remember one half of the couple is now my boss), and also chat more with some of my co-workers. It was a great feeling to be introducing people to ‘my husband,’ because this job is now my thing, what I do on my own. They were also so kind and genuinely concerned about how my boys were doing and also how I was settling in to the job. It’s ironic—I keep making jokes about how I am hardly there but they all treat me just like one of the team. At my last part time job, I felt like the fact was constantly in my face that I was ‘just’ part time, that I wasn’t ‘busy’ like the rest of the group was, that I missed so much on my days ‘off’. Here, after five, five-hour days of work and two missed for sick kids, and they all treat me like I’m just as much on the team as they are. It’s a really great feeling.
I have highlighted many of my less than stellar parenting moments this week, but I must say that this week has also reinforced how much those gorgeous boys mean to me. As any mother knows, when your children are sick, when you are worried about their breathing, it is the worst feeling in the world—I could not function if something were to happen to one of those boys. And, sad as they are when they are sick, those times also bring some of the most tender moments possible between mother and child. It’s then that they need us most, that they are happiest curled up in our arms, and it brings such beautiful times as well as heart wrenching moments. Also, good or bad, they keep me too busy to focus much on anything else. Even when I am thinking of death and the people I am missing, they keep me focused on life and the people that are right next to me. And, frustrating as those people can be sometimes, they are the truest blessing I have ever known.