Friday, February 12, 2016

Everyone is Sick — A Night in the Life

The whole family is sick. Every last one of us.

Me: regular cough, sneezing, congestion and post nasal drip.

Ditto for Mrs. Blackwell.

The Boy: regular sneezing, occasional cough and a nose that runs like the Nile.

The New Boy: Well, our doctor told us this week that the little guy has bronchiolitis. Not bronchitis, bronchiolitis.
With mom at the doctor. The prognosis?
No sleep for mom & dad — ever. 

There are differences between the two, but the end result is essentially the same — an uncomfortable little baby who has congestion and painful coughing fits.

Once he starts coughing, he often doesn't stop for 15-30 seconds. On the face of it, that might not sound like much but, coughing for that long is taxing and ultimately causes a host of other issues that are painful too.

Sometime in the last couple days he lost a broad range of his voice so, when he's really upset, it sounds like a strained, crackling, whisper. Perhaps it's strange but I'm more comfortable when he's rattling the walls with his cries. Pretty sure Mrs. Blackwell feels the same way.

So, when it comes to things to complain about, the little guy has us all beat, hands down. Though that hasn't stopped me from trying to outdo him on the matter of whining.

When you plunk these extraordinary factors into the basics of everyday life with two little kids, two jobs, a house and all that comes with all of this, life gets interesting.

One recent day and night offers a prime example.

In the midst of caring for a sick baby Mrs. Blackwell has been working out of the house and lately she's been preparing for an important presentation. Meanwhile, my work life has been busier too. So we're both scrambling of late.

It was about 11 p.m. the night before her presentation that Mrs. Blackwell got the little guy back to sleep. Because she's always on guard, she slept in the same room as he did, ready to feed him if the need arose.

At about 1 a.m. Master Blackwell comes into my room. As per usual, he's clutching onto his cadre of stuffed animals. Mickie, Minnie, Pluto, Baby Mickie and his favorite blanket. And, because I was too lazy to grab him and his crew and take them all back to his bedroom, I invited him to jump in. I thought perhaps we'd both instantly fall back to sleep.

I thought wrong.

The same doctor visit. It's either his cough
or the lack of a shirt that's upset him.
Instead of returning to his slumber, the boy staged a full on production of some sort play he'd mapped out in his head. I have no idea what it was, but it must have been epic in its scope.

The cast of plush characters as he rotated through his stuffed animals and through the darkness the boy whispered a litany of phrases that when sewn together sounded a tad cryptic.

"I know Mickie. I know."

"We have to go, now."

"Quick, Minnie quick. You have to hide."

Why, in the middle of this sweeping tale, I didn't decide to move and return the boy to his room is beyond me. I can only say that, at that time, trying to sleep through it made more sense. It was sometime before 2:30 a.m. when I returned the boy to his room.

Not long after, I was falling back to sleep myself. It was then that my door swung open with Mrs. Blackwell standing in the hallway, clutching our voiceless, yet nonetheless screaming infant.

Naturally, my first instinct was to tell her how desperate for sleep I was, instead of asking her if she needed help.

In short order, I was sitting up in bed with the little guy in my lap, while Mrs. Blackwell was in the kitchen getting baby Tylenol. The little guy was apoplectic. Rocking back and forth, swinging his hands and letting out long, furious belts, punctuated with high-pitch gasps and little screeches.

If it sounds bad, it's because it was.

It's 2:24 a.m. you're both awake, why not commemorate
such a wonderful moment? Those bags under my eyes are
getting bigger by the day. 
I didn't hold the boy for than 10 minutes before Mrs. Blackwell returned and took him off my hands and returned to the little guy's room. Shortly thereafter, I could hear through the wall as she called a 24-hour nursing hotline for advice.

That was that. I wasn't getting back to sleep. It was 3:23 and I was up. So was Mrs. Blackwell, staring down both a sick infant and a presentation.

The only one asleep, naturally, was the one who'd risen from his sleep to wake me up to begin with.

Not much time passed before the littlest guy returned to sleep. Mrs. Blackwell's chat with the nurse was over and silence descended once again.

The last time I looked at the clock it was 4:32; I fell asleep not long after and woke when my phone alarm began to vibrate at 6:30.

Anyone with two kids has experienced this or something like it. There's little that's unique about this tale. I get that now.

I thought I got it before. But now I really get it. This is what every parent does. We are not special, nor are the challenges we face. In fact, we've probably got it a lot easier than a lot of folks.

With that in mind, cheers to those hardy souls — and pass the NyQuil.

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