Saturday, February 27, 2010

February is a cruel month

Yes, February has been a cruel month for the Lewis/Murken clan. Again.

Last February, Nathaniel was wracked with a series of ear infections that caused him nearly uninterrupted pain and his parents nearly uninterrupted misery.

In July, he got the magical mini lug nuts in his ears otherwise known as tubes, and he was pain and misery-free. Until February.

Readers of this blog no doubt know about Michelle and my succumbing to some strange, awful virus that emptied our insides. That marked the beginning of February. About midway through the month, Natty got irritable, he began pawing at his ears and his nose resembled a spout that drained gooey, yellow liquid. His breathing sounded like a decades-long smoker.

Yes, he was congested, head, nose, ears and all. It was only a matter of time before he wouldn't be the only one.

Next was Michelle. Her signature sound has been a cough that raises itself from the dead when we hit the bed. She unleashes her cough in a rapid-fire, quadruple, stutter-step cascade with an emphasis on the last hack, kind of like a "Huhhh, Huhhh, Huhhh, HUHHH!" She hacks her way through the night, arising in the morning with a crappy night's sleep to show for her efforts. Me, being the light sleeper that I am, suffer by proxy.

Then Michelle got congested – really congested. She said it felt like having glue pumped into her head. You couldn't find her without a tissue in one hand and a tired, miserable look on her face.

About three weeks into the month, I got it. Actually, it began last Friday, as in eight days ago. It all began when I couldn't stop myself from coughing. It felt as if someone had stuck a feather in my throat, and I couldn't dislodge it. Enormously frustrating.

By Monday, the cough was a foul, deep-throated beast. By midweek, it was joined by a swelling of seemingly all my glands. I felt like my head was a balloon, and some evil being was blowing mucus-filled air into it.

That pressurized feeling has worsened in the last few days where I now feel as I if I am living underwater. I haven't tasted food since Feb. 19. I remember important dates like this, and everyone knows about it, because I've whined to all who would listen. Only yesterday did I finally resign myself to the fact that my taste buds would remain MIA until the cold came under control.

Please let it be soon.

So, my take on children, is, yeah, they're great. You know I wouldn't trade Natty and the joyous times we've had with him for anything. (so many and it's just the beginning!) But man, the germs he captures and carts home. It's just downright cruel. It sucks. I'm sick of it.

I like winter. I really do.
But please bring on spring.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sleeping Baby

Is there nothing better than a baby sleeping in your arms?

Tonight, I put Nathaniel to bed. Usually, as I lay him in his crib, he cries, babbles or plays with a doll called "Baby Tad," a stuffed frog through which you can program up to six minutes of bedtime music. This night was different.

As Natty tipped back his bottle of milk, I read him a book about a boy's visit to the doctor in Italian and another about Elmo and Valentine's Day (that one in English). I really like reading the Italian book, because it allows me to brush years of dust from once learning the language. (And it's simple enough that I can understand it.)

I then turned him toward me to pat his back for a burp or two. He smiled sweetly at me and fingered the books we had just read lovingly. Then, without warning, he sighed and placed his head sideways against my chest. I held him.

He has done this before, but usually he gets bored, or antsy, and I put him in his crib. This time, however, he stayed where he was, head against my chest, arms dangling loosely by his side, legs curled up, and his little butt tucked up in my palm. His eyes closed. He began to breathe more deeply. Then he started snoring – tiny puffs of snores through his nose.

He was sound asleep in my arms.

Truly there are fewer feelings of fulfillment than this. I love him.

(P.S. – Another new post is below.)

Waves of Sickness

It would be an easy excuse to say the reason why I haven't posted in nearly a month is because we've had waves of sickness course through our little clan. So, instead of apologizing, let's get on with the story.

It all started on an early Monday morning three weeks ago. I woke up at about 1 a.m. with what felt like a ball of fire that had been dropped into my stomach. Then came a series of cramps, each stronger than the last, and before I knew it, I was up, out of the bed, and making a mad dash for the bathroom.

Some time later, I returned to bed, thinking my little crisis had been averted, that the cauldron in my tummy had subsided. But less than an hour later, the fires in my gut returned, and I was again sprinting to the bathroom.

Well, each hour for the next ten hours, I would repeat the bed-to-bathroom dash. Each trip I would alternate between vomiting and the other conduit by which your body expels unwanted stuff. I felt as if I had been poisoned. Towards the end, I was dry heaving over the toilet; my body had violently jettisoned all contents, and there was nothing at that point except bile.

As I lay like a heap of bones on the bed, Michelle appeared to have been unscathed. She got up and left for work. Yet within a few hours, she was stricken, and she returned home to repeat - in some measure – the same dance I had done.

I was knocked out of work for two days, and even though I returned on Wednesday, I was a shadow of myself. I ate exactly one bowl of chicken noodle soup over three days, and I didn't have an appetite until the fifth day.

One day during that week, Michelle brought home a copy of a local paper that said a prep school had been closed for the week due to an outbreak of a sickness called "norovirus." We had never heard of it before, but the symptoms matched ours: vomiting, diarrhea, chills, nausea, stomach cramps. Lasts 48 hours or so.

Apart from being miserably sick, I would say the hardest thing about the ordeal is we still needed to tend to Nathaniel. Miraculously, the little bugger had dodged the virus. So, while Michelle and I lat moaning on opposite ends of the sofa, Nathaniel was prancing about, urging us to play with him. And that was just the bit of it: Of course, we still needed to feed him, bathe him, change him, dress him ... the typical checklist of tending to a child.

We endured, as parents do, even when they feel worse than lousy. As we recovered by the weekend, it became Natty's turn to get sick. His appetite plummeted, and his demeanor turned quite cloudy. He pawed at his right ear, and his breathing became wheezy. In short, he got sick.

Thankfully, he didn't contract the norovirus, or whatever it was that we had. But for two weeks now, Nathaniel has been out of sorts. He's been to the doctor twice. He's on his second prescription of ear drops to relieve the gunk lodged in his right ear canal. (The tubes are still in, thank goodness.) We gave him a mist twice a day to loosen his congestion, and he's on antibiotics to ward off a potential infection in his head, nose and ears.

He's been a handful, but it hasn't been his fault. It's just been more trying with Michelle and I also being sick. But things appear to be looking up: Just yesterday, Nathaniel returned to his sunny self, and his appetite roared back with a vengeance. He's eating everything we're putting before him. Michelle feels better. I feel ... I mean, I felt better until today. My stomach has been boiling again.

I think I need to get to the bathroom.