Memoirs of a Mummy

On Being Strong when Your Child is weak

Warning: long long long post ahead 

Tuesday’s breakfast: fried rice, crispy tofu strips sprinkled with mummy’s guilty tears.

I was forcing myself to eat breakfast when I heard a panicky shriek from the bedroom. It was from Yaya Jane who was looking after the sleeping sickly baby. Aki vomited again. His first of the day, nth since last Saturday. After helping Jane clean the room and the kid, I went back to the dining table to finish breakfast. Soon, I found myself sobbing. I remembered how, every time I was sick, I felt so alone and fragile in my dorm room when I was still studying or in my apartment bedroom  when I was still single. I had this tendency to indulge in self-pity as I longed for my mummy.

Aki has been sick and I could not do anything about it. He usually responds fast to medication but not this time. In addition, Jane expressed her intent to go home to Quezon   and rest. Plus, I was not feeling well. Sleepless nights and too much worrying have taken a toll on my body. But the most significant reason for Tuesday’s tear-fest was guilt. I was  sad that Aki was sick and even sadder that I had to leave him and go to work. I texted my  boss that Tuesday morning that I will be reporting for work later than usual because I still  have to look after Aki and endorse him to my in laws. This is partly true. For the other  part, I was just still unconvinced that office needs me more that my son did. How I wish we have tons of money so I don’t have to leave the house. How I wish we have a work-from-home policy so I don’t have to ever choose between my work and my family.

You see, I was already absent last Monday because we brought feverish coughing vomiting Aki to his pedia. It was a bad case of cough with phlegm that is causing the high temp and the vomiting. He was fussy for the rest of the day. He was unusually clingy and wanted to be carried only by me.

Come Tuesday, no more fever in the morning but he was still coughing and vomiting. And so I dragged swollen eyed self to work. I called it a day after going thru 200+ emails and attending a couple of meetings. By the time I left the office, my eyes were so tired I could fall asleep if I closed my eyes for more than 5 seconds.

I came home to a crying baby. You know that cry that makes you catch your breath 3 times. The same cry that can crush a working mother’s guilty heart. Aki just vomited so his Lola Babbie, my MIL, and his Lola Pattie, MIL’s helper, had to clean him. He hates it every time he is given a sponge bath. He can’t talk yet but from his cries, I knew he was begging for me to carry him.

Dear hubby noticed that things were not moving for the better and  decided to take a leave so he could take care of his babies. Too bad, Aki associates his dad with his medicines and  refused to be carried by anyone but me. Aki could only sleep by resting on top of my tummy.  Either I was carrying him standing up or sitting down. Needless to say, I hardly slept last Tuesday night. Before I tried to close my eyes that night, I wished that on the next day, Aki would learn how to spit his phlegm and blow his nose.

By Wednesday morning, Aki’s fever was back. I could not be anymore worried. And because I could sense a fever coming my way anytime soon, I took another leave. With just one dose of infant paracetamol, Aki’s temperature went down. Thank you, Tempra. He also was not vomiting as often. There were times when he’d be back to his usual hyper self but there were also times when he was extra clingy to me. Lady luck had major issues against us that day. Aki’s bum became super red and sore. Every time he’d cough , sneeze or vomit, his other opening would let out some poop. My poor baby cried as if he was begging for mercy every time, we changed his diaper. As Doc DS suggested, we applied petroleum jelly on the sore spots. We also carried him butt naked to air dry the bum. Another highlight of the challenging day that was last Wednesday, was the start of Jane’s unscheduled leave. She informed me last Monday that she wants to rest. I thought she wanted to leave us for good. Turns out, she just wants to rest for two weeks. Turns out also, she wants to rest as soon as possible. Since I have no use for a sick helper, I allowed to start her leave. As soon as I had the chance, I checked her cabinet to see if her clothes are still there. And they were! Yey! That means, she really plans to come back.

Thursday, yesterday, we went back to TMC as Doc DS ordered. Good news is that phlegm is gone. This means we can expect less and less vomiting. Happiness! I was concerned that there is no improvement in the coughing. Doc said we should expect the cough to persist for two weeks. Doc was concerned that Aki’s skin is reddish. He ordered for dengue test and complete blood count. I was not worried about dengue. Aki does not have dengue. He can’t have dengue. For God’s sake, we have three kinds of mosquito repellants. I was worried about the needle prick. For sure he’s gonna cry because of the pain. Boy I was wrong. He did not cry. He wailed! And so did I. And the procedure  was not a simple needle prink on the finger. It was a blood extraction thru a  vein in the arm. Imagine how terrified my son was when two men was trying to restrain him and a technician couldn’t find the vein. They told me before the procedure that they need to fill two tubes with blood. I guess when they saw how terrified the baby and his mother were, they stopped when one tube was just a quarter filled. When it was all over, I was consoling a crying baby and Franco was consoling a traumatized mummy.

I am thankful that Aki is young and it is okay to cry in front of him. I hope I can stop by self from crying in front of him when in the future, he fractures an arm or when I have to let go of his hand in kindergarten.

As expected the results were negative. Aki is dengue free! Yey! Everything became smooth sailing from then on. No more fever. No more vomiting. Aki slept longer and ate more. He would still be clingy at times but allowed others to carry him. Franco noticed how badly I needed to rest and decided to work from home again.

Thru this ordeal, my husband was there. I am thankful that he willingly took on the role of the bad guy who sometimes has no choice but to force Aki to take his medicines and to restrained the kid’s arm during the blood extraction. Now, Aki is semi afraid of his daddy  but that is okay.  I’m sure my two boys will be back to their playful selves in no time.

I wonder how my mom, a single parent because my dad died when I was two and my sister 10 months old, managed when my sister had H-fever and appendicitis, with no landline, no cellphone, no car and a house two hours from Manila. And although having a clingy kid is difficult, I wish for mothers living away from their babies to experience the same fulfillment that I felt every time my son stopped crying as soon as he is in my arms.

What I learned from this experience is how much I really love my son and how much I was willing to sacrifice for him. He is both my strength and my weakness. I have never hated phlegm as much as I did this week. I am not afraid of blood but seeing my son in pain is way more painful than the actual pain of extraction. Even if I was sick and weak, I can carry him until he stopped crying. I can hold my bladder longer as he sleeps on my chest, so he can rest longer. Even if I feel so sleepy, I can stay awake to look after him. And  I was finally able to do what only mothers can do, trying to suck snot from the nose of child so the baby can breathe better. I guess that is what motherhood can do to a woman. It gives you the strength to anything for your offspring no matter how difficult, tiring or yucky.

Special thanks also

to my very understanding boss who is a big sister to everyone in our team,

to my teammates who cover for me when I am out,

to my in laws who have a wealth of knowledge to share and

to helpful helpers who never get tired of helping.

P.S. We discovered a new trick on how to make givng medicnes less traumatizing. The most effective but also most traumatizing way is to hold the the baby cradle carry. When the baby is parallel to the ground, he has no choice but to swallow what is inside his mouth. This sometimes backfires, when baby cries, gets too upset and eventually vomits. The most fun way is by lining up all his toys and pretending to give them medicines before giving the baby his own dose. Sometimes it works. Most of the time, it doesn’t. We also tried mixing meds with 1 ounce of milk. However, when baby is really not in the mood to drink, he might not finish the bottle. So what do we do now? We still hold Aki cradle carry way. Before he can even try to cry, we give him drops of sweetened water which he likes. In between sweetened water, we give him drops of his meds. 🙂

4 thoughts on “On Being Strong when Your Child is weak

  1. whew! i’m so relieved to hear your little boy is a lot better now…and you, too, of course. sickies go away please! hirap talaga sa Mommy, no? pero i’m proud of you na you chose to be with your sick child than report for work. family comes first talaga.

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