It is truly amazing how your priorities change when you become a parent. Things that used to seem so important - like fashion, a social life and regular showers - suddenly end up on the backburner, while things that had never before crossed your mind - like developmental milestones, age appropriate entertainment and poop consistency - become points of pride.
While all three of those things have obsessed me at one point or another, my proudest accomplishment was the fact that she had somehow survived her first year without catching a cold. I didn’t take full credit for it and I didn’t spend a lot of time dwelling on her health; I just used it to shore up those moments when I was absolutely sure I was doing this parenting thing wrong. Sudden unexplained constipation? Probably my fault, but hey at least she’s never had a cold.
I held onto that little tidbit right up until she started daycare and came home with her very first cold… on the second day. I was dismayed but not surprised, though Day Two was a little earlier than I’d bargained for. Still, I figured I could handle it. Research in hand, I was already stocked up on baby chest rub, baby acetaminophen and saline drops. I had my electronic thermometer (one of the most useful babyshower gifts ever) ready for when her temperature inevitably spiked. I was prepared.
Or, I thought I was. Battling her first-ever cold turned out to be nothing like the countless blog posts indicated it would be. I’d never seen a nose this runny. Neither, of course, had she, which is why she rubbed the snot all over her face. This naturally led to an eye infection, which had to be examined by her doctor, who prescribed antibiotic eye drops.
You can imagine how much fun it was to force eyedrops into her eyes three or four times a day, in addition to the saline drops which had to be forced into her nostrils to deal with the congestion. Then there was the acetaminophen, which controlled her fever right up until the hour before her next scheduled dose. This meant lukewarm baths at all hours that turned my formerly bath-loving kiddo into one who started whimpering every time I filled her tub.
By the end of the second week, I was so grateful to be done with the eye infection and fever that I didn’t mind the runny nose and new phlemy cough so much. I figured we were on the downslope of the ordeal. I can’t help but chuckle at that thought now.
One fateful Friday, her fever jumped up to about 102 and chose to stay awhile. By the end of the weekend, she was sluggish in a way she hadn’t been since the cold first made its appearance a whole month(!!) prior and was so congested that she was refusing to eat or drink anything except yogurt and milk (hello, phlegm!).
It turned out she had the flu and a side of sore throat. We ended up right back in medication land with antibiotics and a mucolytic added to the mix.
Less than a week later, she’s almost all better. No cough, no runny nose, no congestion and no fever. We’ve still got a few days left on her medication, but the poor kid is so used to it by now that she sometimes fusses for more after I give her a dose.
I’ve also learned a valuable lesson about taking anything for granted where the kiddo is concerned. Interminable as it seemed to me at the time, this was just a minor blip for a child who has thus far been blessed with good health. Still, it was extremely difficult to watch her gasp for air while eating or sleeping and to feel her little body radiating a scary amount of heat. More than once over the past month, while fighting to give her eye drops or saline drops I thought about parents who have to endure much worse in the name of their children’s health. I still take my little parenting triumphs where I can but I keep in mind how quickly things can turn and I’m grateful for the big dose of perspective that came with our little ordeal.
Calisa is the exhausted mother of an energetic, (generally) good-natured and ridiculously sharp toddler whose sole mission in life is obviously to keep mommy on her toes. She spends much of her time reading board books, changing diapers and saying “Ah-ah-ah! Mommy said ‘NO’!” while counting down the hours to bedtime.