Drippy nose that turns raw after too much wiping, even with the gentleness of a warm washcloth. Coughing, coughing, coughing. Lethargic all day. Crying escalating to screaming at the drop of a hat when things don't go exactly her way. Throw-up all over herself and me and the blankets and the bathroom. Hours spent rocking back to sleep, only to wake up after ten minutes with another coughing fit.
All you veteran moms out there know what I'm talking about. Forgive me for the drama. I'm just now entering this realm.
I should count myself blessed that this is the first time Harmony has really been ill in her short eight months with us. She has had a few minor colds, but those were just a day or two of extra fussiness, more sleep than usual, and a stuffy nose. Now she is miserable. It must be frightening, confusing, for a baby to experience their first brush with a nasty virus. Previously healthy, they are suddenly in pain, their little bodies rebelling against what normally soothes them. Toys, cuddles, books, and music can only distract so much from physical ailments. "Mama" is her only desire when she is feeling her worst. She only sleeps when I hold her, sitting propped up with extra pillows and blankets so that she can breathe.
I'd do all these things cheerfully if I wasn't also sick.
Less than a day after Harmony became ill, my throat started to hurt. In spite of my best attempts to regain health, I soon found myself just as miserable as my poor little Bug. A lesson I learned very quickly is that one's weaknesses become glaringly apparent as a mother when sickness and lack of sleep take effect. Rather than being the patient, gentle care-giver, I was the grouchy, exhausted, sniffling mom who muttered curse words under her breath when she sneezed and woke the baby again for the billionth time. Calm and peace were non-existent; all prayers became bleary pleas for a minute of uninterrupted sleep.
Chris tried his best to care for Harmony, but she would have none of him at night when she was feeling her worst. During the day I could escape for a few minutes to rest on the couch or take a shower. He resorted to caring for me at night while I cared for Harmony. Even with his attentive help, I still ended up snapping at him when he wasn't fast enough with a towel during one of Harmony's barf episodes. My behavior, justified at the moment in my aggravated, sleepy mind, disgusted me in the morning when rational thinking kicked back in. Chris was forgiving and sympathetic as always. But I still felt guilty.
I feel like a bad mom when I'm sick.
I still care for my daughter. I don't yell at her or harm her or neglect her. But my attitude is resentful. "I am feeling like crap, so I do NOT want to deal with someone else who is also feeling like crap!" is the sentiment. Now I see why the statement "moms aren't supposed to get sick" exists. Ugh.
Yet there are lessons to be learned. I find new wells of love as Harmony and I curl up together in the bathroom with the hot shower on full steam so that we can breathe more easily. My family humbles me with their kindness in bringing food, helping while Chris is at work, running to the store for medicine and tissues, and selflessly loving us. Chris is attentive to every need. The list of blessings comes back out so that I can find gratitude on my lips instead of grumbling.
My patience is growing.
We sit together wrapped in blankets in front of our sliding glass door, watching the juncos and sparrows and mourning doves and nuthatches on the bird feeder. Life slows down.
Last night was the best so far. Despite me not getting to sleep until four in the morning, Harmony finally got more rest in between coughing and messy diapers and one more throw-up session. For the first time in four days she's taking a nap lying down on her own.
Thankful today for my sister visiting this weekend.
Thankful today for the bells ringing at the church next door.
Thankful today for black cherry tea.
Thankful today for no headache or sore throat anymore.
Thankful today that I don't have to teach tonight due to rehearsal week.
Thankful today for moments of peace.