Fri 22 Sep 2006
this isn’t anything out of the ordinary, though today’s stupour left me unusually, splendidly stunned…i kept forgetting whether or not i’d fed the baby, so he probably gained about three pounds in the course of the day…i erred on the side of “fed.” i also managed to wash the dirty diapers in with Dave’s work shirts. hopefully, they rinsed clean…i hear eau de poop is really out with the office set. :)
a doctor’s visit Tuesday revealed that Oscar’s teething cold is actually bronchiolitis. it’s a viral inflammation of the lungs that’s common in boys between three and six months, but which has scary statistical links to the eventual development of asthma. sigh. i left the doctor’s office feeling overwhelmed, a failed combatant in the primal mom war against germs and danger and affliction. Oscar is vulnerable, mine to protect. when i can’t – and i can’t all the time, no matter what kind of Herculean hand-washing efforts i remind myself to make – he risks being affected for life.
that still blows my mind.
we rented a nebulizer (an air mist thingy, with baby-sized mask) from Shopper’s Drug Mart to deliver the meds he needs. the mask covers more than half his face, and lets off steam like a smokestack: the first time, it terrified him. his pupils dilated and his face took on a look i’ve never seen, like a baby animal in a trap…the flight mechanism activated but the body unable to respond. his father held him and his flailing arms and i whispered the soothing, loving nonsense litany of mothers in his ears…”you’re okay, it’s okay, it’s alright little one, mama’s here baby, you’re okay.”
now he’s still wary but tolerates the treatment…then gobbles up milk like a piglet. high on breathing free, he peers at us afterwards like we’re the new Thursday night broadcast lineup sent in to entertain. between this medicated overstimulation and his still-present cough and general malaise, Oscar hasn’t been sleeping well. and so my days – and nights – have been getting long.
getting into the crib has suddenly become a Very Bad Thing in O’s mind. we try stories and books. we try some singing and some rocking. we feed a little, if it’s anywhere near feeding time in his routine. then “we” go to bed, and that’s where “we” part company, at least in terms of our division of labour, because from here on in Oscar and i each have separate jobs. he screams with all his sixteen-pound might. i pat gently, hold my hand firmly on his back, and repeat “you’re okay, sweetie, it’s just bedtime” for about twenty minutes. or thirty. his lungs may be inflamed, but they’re certainly vigourous.
last night, during a zesty howlfest, i tried to model good sleeping behavior by nodding off myself, standing up, with my head on the crib mattress beside Oscar. while those seconds of sleep were vaguely restorative for me, they failed to impress my indignant son…apparently my snoring is not a very convincing salespitch.
my nap was brief due the proximity of Oscar’s sobbing face to my ear. desperate to get him to sleep and hightail it to my own bed, i scrambled for something comforting to offer other than my usual “it’s okay, darlin’, mama’s here.” he knew damn well mama was here, i figured, and that fact was obviously failing to lull him into anything resembling sweet merciful rest.
i saw the chewable copy of “Goodnight Moon” sitting next to the crib. by the glow of the nightlight, i leaned in and started reading. Oscar couldn’t see the pictures, as his eyes were all scrunched up with screaming anyway, but i thought he might be listening. and when i couldn’t make out the words in the dark, i made ’em up. i started enjoying myself. we said good night to the green room, to Oscar’s bunny, to his socks, to the moon, to all the relatives i could think of, and to the old lady whispering “hush”…who is a white rabbit in a rocking chair, for those of you not familiar with the middle of the book. by the time we got to her, i could have sworn i could hear her, rocking right there next to me, singing lullabies in a whispery rabbit voice – this sleep deprivation stuff is better than acid, sometimes.
eventually, about the time Oscar and i had said goodnight to all the condiments in the fridge, he wore himself out, snuffled a few times, and drifted off. i watched him in the faint light for a minute or two, his small fat fists gradually unclenching, splaying fingers over the blanket, huffing himself into sleep with little grunts.
he is beautiful.
but god, i hope he sleeps tonight.