Monday, April 26, 2010

I Hab a Code

Last week Herb caught a miserable cold, and despite our best efforts, Ryan caught it on Friday night. He was fine during the day, but he was crankier than usual during the evening, and he woke up at 10:30pm with an unpleasant cough, a stuffy, runny nose, and that awful “misery” cry that says he’s horribly uncomfortable. We gave him some Tylenol for the sore throat, put the humidifier on for the stuffy nose, and gave him a small bottle for general comfort, and he fell back asleep for a few hours. But when he woke up at midnight, he was inconsolable. I snuggled him, bounced him, fed him, patted his back, and sang to him for over an hour until finally he fell asleep on my chest from pure exhaustion. He slept restlessly for a few hours than woke in misery again. We repeated the cycle all night: crying, Tylenol, bottle, more crying, exhausted sleep, wake, lather, rinse, repeat.

I think what must be most miserable for a baby who’s sick is that he has no idea that he’ll get better. Children have very little comprehension of time, or of things that change over the course of time. All they understand is the here and now, so when they have trouble breathing because of a stuffy nose, or their throats hurt, or their tummy is upset, in their minds this is how it will be forever. Remember that viral YouTube “David After the Dentist” video? The little boy is recovering from anesthesia and is disoriented and seeing double, and asks his daddy despairingly, “Will I feel like this forever?”

Fortunately, even if Ryan doesn’t know he won’t feel like this forever, Mommy and Daddy know. So we do our best to keep him comfortable and distracted, we wipe his nose and pat his back and crank the humidifier. We walk him, we bounce him, we sing all three hundred variations of “Old McDonald Had a Farm”, we even reassure him that he’ll feel better soon. Sometimes it feels like nothing we can do will help, but just holding him when he finally drops from exhaustion and misery makes me feel like I’m doing something. I may not be able to make him better, but at least I can reassure him that Mommy is here. He won’t feel like this forever, but Mommy and Daddy will be here for him forever.

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