So guess what I was doing at 3 AM this morning?
Nope, not club-hopping to relive the days of my teenage. Nope, definitely not that. I was down on my knees, cleaning the floors of KK hospital. Before you think I just had a mid-career switch, I have to clarify that I was merely cleaning up after Xena who had thrown up for the tenth time last night. The poor baby has not been well for about a month now, visited by not one, not two, but an assortment of illnesses. First, she had the usual cycle of cough/fever/breathlessness which lasted much longer than usual, followed by the roseaola virus, and then followed by a fall that has sprained her ankle, making her limp, and then she was throwing up most of last night because of a stomach virus. We rushed to the hospital at 11:15 pm, and she was given the first set of rehydration solution which took an hour (it's four doses, 15 minutes apart). She could not keep it down, so they gave her some medicine to stop the vomiting, followed by another set of the rehydration solution. It was really hard to manage a limping, coughing, puking, crying, cranky and sleepy child (as soon as she'd doze off, it would be time for the next dose, so she didn't get any sleep either). I cannot describe how heart-breaking it was to see her like that. We managed to catch most of what she threw up in a plastic container which we always kept at hand, but some still fell on the floor. Of course, the cleaners would get to it as promptly as they could, but we cleaned whatever we could because the hospital was crowded and there were kids walking everywhere.
We were there till 4 am, by when she was not only okay, she was bringing the hospital down with her chirpiness. In fact, when we went in to see the doctor after the final set, she barged into the office, looked at the jar of candy that the doctors give out to their tiny patients, gave the doctor an incredulous look and loudly declared, "SO MUCH CANDY?!" as if that's what the doctors did - sat in their offices all day and all night, merrily chomping on "SO MUCH CANDY" while their patients suffered outside. The doctor smiled and said, "I knew she was fine already. I could hear her chirpy talking from here!" Xena then proceeded to ask for three candies, with a "One for mommy, one for Poppy, one for Xena." The doctor was really amused. So was I. Because she doesn't eat anything. Not even candy.
She's going to be resting at home till Monday, and it's a little sad because she had prepared these teachers' day cards which she was supposed to give out today. Basically, we'd made some pictures using fingerpaint on the outside of the cards. As for the inside, I just gave her a pen and asked her to go nuts and she did. I wrote 'Message from Xena' on top of her 'art' on the left side and on the right side, I wrote 'Translation by Mommy' and sent our heartfelt thanks to each teacher for taking care of her and especially trying to make her eat (she stills eats an average of two spoonfuls at lunch). We added a tiny notebook and a giant animal-shaped paper clip to each of the envelopes, and there, our teachers' day gifts were ready. Well, she couldn't give them in person, but Viv dropped by the school on his way to work to hand them over.
Sometimes I cannot believe how jinxed all my plans relating to her are. Every time her school has an outing that she's looking forward to, she falls sick. Every time there is something exciting about to happen (show and tell at school, friends' birthdays, teachers' day, mothers'/fathers' day celebration, picnic, play dates, etc.), she falls sick. Like clockwork. Even teachers tell me they understand why I don't sign her up for any more school excursions. From the time she joined the school, she has missed every single excursion because she was in the hospital. Sometimes I feel she's in the school less and in the hospital more. And the damned insurance folks wouldn't give her health insurance because she was born a preemie at 32 weeks weighing only 990 grams.
I have thought many times whether she should be in school at all, and every time I conclude with a yes. Her doctor and dietitian certainly think so, and even though it's painfully slow, her eating has improved after she started school. Besides, I can't protect her forever from the germs by means of a house arrest. She needs to experience what's out there and learn to fight it. So we chose this middle ground of half-day play school.
When you're in a hospital in the wee hours of the morning, waiting for something (the queue number to be called, the receptionist to register your child, the nurse to do the preliminary check-up, the doctor to see her, the clock to tick faster so you can finish the last dose and go home if she can keep it in, the pharmacist to finish her calculations, the cab to take you home), your mind wanders. You think about why your child keeps falling sick. Much much more than regular kids. You wonder if there will suddenly come a turning point after which she will stop having to go to the hospital, and if so, how far away that point is. You think about whether you'd EVER be able to go back to a full time job, an office, colleagues, lunch with team mates, and what not. You wonder why her immunity is so low and where the benefits of breast milk went. Were the 16 painful months of pumping breast milk worth it? (In case new readers are wondering, I couldn't nurse her directly as she was taken to the NICU immediately upon birth and spent the first two months of her life there, drinking pumped breast milk through a tube). And then I tell myself, yes, it was worth it. Without it, her immunity could have been even lower. Now when she gets sick, she fights hard. I see it. Maybe she wouldn't have been able to, if I had given up on the breast milk. Maybe she will get stronger eventually. Once she starts eating. And this will pass. Until then, we just gotta be prepared for whatever else is in that bag of illnesses and shrug and say, "Bring it on, yo."
Someone once told me that I wrote too many fun and happy things about her on the blog and on Facebook. That if I stopped blogging and Facebooking about her, she wouldn't fall sick anymore. The whole 'nazar' theory. Evil eye and all that. Well, guess what? Tried that too. Just to see. And she still fell sick. So of course, I am back to blogging and Facebooking about her antics. The happy moments that intermittently but regularly happen between the spells of sickness. I am not going to stop living and sharing these moments.
Much as I try to be positive, motherhood has not been an easy journey so far. And I am not going to hold back on expressing my thoughts, and especially documenting and sharing the fun things related to her growing up. Because every now and then, I go back to read all that and remind myself all over again how these moments of togetherness and happiness far outweigh all the stress, pain and exhaustion that come with being Xena's mommy.
Thursday, September 05, 2013
So guess what I was doing at 3 AM this morning?