Thursday, February 21, 2013

Sick Maybelle and the work/life balance

This shit is hard.

We are very, very fortunate that Maybelle has been a robustly healthy child.  Probably sort of unbelievably healthy.  She almost never gets sick.  That has changed in the last seven days.  Last Thursday she got sent home from school because of a fever.  In the two times I've taken her to the pediatrician, I've been reassured that nothing dangerous is happening, and that's been useful, because there have been many moments I've thought, "Is now when I'm supposed to call 911?"

I've felt explicitly unqualified to be a parent.  The experimental nature of this whole parenting project has been quite clear to me.  Friends with kids have been constant resources during this time.

Some things I've learned:

  • Maybelle being in pain is awful.  It's awful, and I know that all she has is a nasty--but not at all dangerous--virus of some sort (although at 4am that virus sometimes, in my mind, becomes the not-yet-discovered leukemia).
  • Sleeping is better that crying in pain, but it, too, can be very freaky for me.  She fell asleep Monday at 5:30pm and didn't get out of bed again until Wednesday morning.  She woke up periodically to take Advil and to drink from her sippy cup, but then she went right back to sleep.
  • Advil is a miracle drug.  I want to write the company a letter.  It eases her breathing, brings her skin down from the flaming heat it has otherwise, allows her to relax.  Her pediatrician gave me the go-ahead to keep using it:  it's isn't making her heal any faster, but it's making her comfortable, and there's nothing wrong with that.
  • The Target no-drip sippy cup is also a kind of miracle.  She's been sleeping with it clasped in her arms.  She can drink without sitting up.
  • This is all much less complicated for me because she's an only child. When she wants to lie in the bed "snuggling" (which we're doing right now--it means she's mostly, although not completely, asleep, and my body is pressed against hers while I'm reading or typing on the computer), we can do it.  If child #2 were wandering around the house, this wouldn't be possible.
I've also been getting good practice in prioritizing work responsibilities.  I've gotten all the major things done this week, but because of limited available childcare (and let's face it, limited financial resources to pay for childcare that's over and above what we're paying for her preschool), I've had to reschedule meetings, rush in late to meetings, start class late, advise students over email rather than in person, and be less prepared for lots of things than I'd like to be.  So far that's working out, but it's challenging.

There's a larger political point that I could make here, one about the fact that everybody has a job and a life, that all of us are trying to manage this balance and we need more structures in place to support us in doing so.  But right now I don't have it in me.  I'm worn out.

Update:  I'm canceling a sort of important meeting to take her back to the pediatrician today.  In writing this post I discovered that I am actually more worried than I was allowing myself to realize.


  1. i hear you sister. when the child is sick the train goes off the rails.

  2. I don't know if my last comment went through, I'm seeming to have all sorts of problems commenting lately. It's funny, my G spent much of the last 6 years ill often. Sometimes REALLY ill. In some ways I feel lucky that I am better prepared for these things now--I am a pro at alternating ibuprofen and tylenol for serious illness--and I am actually not TOO worried these days usually. USUALLY. I still have a bit of PTSD from some of the times we've landed in the hospital. But this year, knocking wood, bloodying my knuckles doing it, G has been much healthier (if you disregard that one trip in October to the hospital when she couldn't breathe...that sucked)...but really, much healthier in general. And more able to handle her boogers...which feels HUGE. Maybe that's why she is healthier...keeping herself together more means less germs going here there and everywhere.

    ANYWAY, the long and the short of it is, I hope M feels better ASAP and you get back to normal. I have spent weeks and weeks and weeks in a row with a sick kid feeling bat shit crazy.


    1. Tricia, you have had some awful experiences. I am very fortunate that I haven't had to be in the hospital with Maybelle (and I, too, feel an urge to bloody my knuckles as I say that). Just a nasty cold will, as Karlyn says above, take the train off the rails for me.

  3. Oh hugs Alison. No classes for parenting and perhaps there should be but sadly it's trial by fire for us! I sure hope its just a bug, nasty as they can be... I've been there watching her sleep/breathe, sitting on the couch with her quasi napping with fever . Ibuprofen/ Advil does in fact heal by knocking down inflammation and I am a fan of not lapsing the coverage -as Tricia alluded to the alternating of Tylenol and ibuprofen so not to allow fever popping up. I hope your pedi gives you answers and sigh... Wish there was more I could do other than been there... Xo

    1. Thank you, Starrlife! You and I both have the good fortune of the only child, so we can focus everything everything on her. Of course, you and I ALSO have the good fortune of having jobs outside the home, which makes things complicated.

  4. Ugh - sympathies. I don't even want to start because then I will do the equivalent of emotionally vomiting. Yes, working + sick kids is a special kind of hell. Hope she gets better soon.

  5. I like your sentence about the "experimental nature of this whole parenting project..." Experimental indeed! I remember thinking, "They're really going to let us leave with him? What makes them think I'm qualified to do this?" when it was time to be discharged when my son was born last March. Two weekend-long birth classes before he was born do not an expert make. Fortunately he is quite a patient teacher.