Wednesday, April 11, 2012

There's Your Sign....

I won’t say that I’m Mother of The Year (yet) but I like to think that I’ve gotten pretty good at reading my little girl’s cues in the past four and-a-half months. That high-pitched squeal coupled with chewing on her clenched hands and tossing her head back and forth means she’s hungry. “aaahhhhhs” mean she’s listening to the sound of her own voice. “mmmmmms” mean she’s tired and getting a little frustrated. And that pause along with a red face and grunting during her first feeding of the day means she’s about to drop a bomb. But this weekend, my usually consistent baby threw us for a loop.

“She’s constipated” said her sitter last Friday. She said that giving her water or some diluted apple juice might loosen things up. As she was still throwing regular pants parties (i.e. pooping), we didn’t think much of it until Easter Sunday when all she could do was scream and grunt with giant tears in her eyes. It was absolutely pitiful. She wanted to be held all the time, but not on her back. She wanted to be sitting upright with her head on my chest. If she was awake, she was screaming.

So we did what any newbie parents would do. I sent Ryan to the store to buy apple juice, prune juice, gripe water, and karo syrup. We then proceeded to put our child through the gamut of supposed bm-inducing remedies, including the temp-in-the-tush method, to no avail. “It says to do it every 30 minutes until she goes” I told Ryan. So we greased up the thermometer again. Nothin. She wouldn’t even drink anything, so we had to syringe a bit of diluted apple juice into her little mouth in between shrieks of pain.

Finally, we got her comfortable and sleepy enough to go down for the night. She slept normally and seemed happy the next morning. I warned daycare of her- ahem- “issues” and they didn’t seem worried… until the new girl at the daycare called me a few hours later to tell me she had basically been screaming since about ten minutes after I dropped her off.

“Has she pooped? I really think she’s just constipated. Maybe try putting some of the syrup in her bottle.”

“No ma’am, but she feels like she has a slight temperature.”

I rolled my eyes. This new lady obviously didn’t know my child. The kid was constipated. Reluctantly, I agreed to come get her. I then made a doctor’s appointment for her even though I knew that I was going to walk in there and the pediatrician was going to say “She’s constipated. Give her some karo syrup” and send us on our way.

I have to find a way to make him understand how serious this is- how much pain she’s in! I thought. I do this. I always worry that I’m going to show up to the doctor and all of a sudden, my symptoms are going to disappear and the doctor is going to look at me sideways and think of how stupid and weak I must be for wasting his time on nothing. To make things worse, Vesper’s pediatrician is a really cool guy- like, he wears jeans to the office every day- and for some stupid reason, I care that Dr. Denim over there thinks that I am a capable mother. I chose my words carefully so that I was sure to communicate the severity of the situation.

As we entered the jungle-themed exam room, I was a bit put-off by my Vesper’s happy and playful demeanor. Wasn’t she JUST screaming like, five seconds ago? This doctor is going to think I’m completely overly-cautious. I can’t believe I came and picked her up from daycare and wasted my sick time at work so that I could be told that she just needs to poop. Sure enough, as Dr. Denim entered the room his first words were, “Well hi there! You certainly seem to be happy enough! What could possibly be the matter?”

Great. But I launched into my case anyway, being sure to tell him how she was miserable and wouldn’t eat and that even though we took her temperature IN HER BUTT she would NOT poop! But he still seemed skeptical.

“Can you turn her head towards me, please?”

I laid Vesper in my lap with her head on my knees so that he could examine her little tummy. Instead, my giggly little baby went from 0- FREAKING OUT in .7 seconds before he even touched her.

“Oookay...” said Dr. Denim “that’s a problem”

Finally. I wondered what he would prescribe. Medication? Enema? Surgery?

As she shrieked, he proceeded to search her ears with that little horn-faced tool. Why was he looking at her ears?

“She’s got an ear infection”

What the what? All I could say was “You think so?”

“I know so. She’ll need antibiotics and I want to see her back in ten days.”

Huh… well. Color me embarrassed. And probably my child, too considering the number of times she’d had her temperature taken last night... I called my mom from the pharmacy,

“All that time we kept taking her temperature in her little bottom and it turns out we were looking at the wrong end!” I said

“of the thermometer?” Mom asked

“No, of the baby… she has an ear infection.”

I felt pretty silly. I was so wrapped up in one thought that I completely missed the signs. She had been burying her little head in my chest and pulling at her ears and refusing to lie flat or swallow and basically telling me in the only ways she knew how that she had an ear infection. Somehow, I was so sure that I knew what was wrong and how to fix it that I totally overlooked these cues.

I wonder how many times I do this in my life without even realizing it. Things start going well and I start to think that I had something to do with it so I just say, “no no, God. I got this covered. The answer is _____” instead of letting Him take over. As if I know all the answers. As if I’m totally in control. As if I can even see past today, or this moment that I’m in. I wonder if sometimes the signs are all around me, and yet I’m still following that old faded, expired road map just because that’s what I want to do- because I’m so sure I know where I’m going. This is the short cut would probably be my excuse if questioned. I wonder if God just watches me wind around in circles before finally putting something in my path that I can’t ignore. Something humbling. Like He says, “Stop me if you’ve heard this one because I know how you know everything and all, but once upon a time, I formed the entire universe just by breathing it into existence. But feel free to keep sticking that thermometer in there instead of just reading the signs.”

Thank goodness for His grace (and the fact that infants don’t have the ability to develop long-term memories) because somehow, He leads me to the right place at the right time and holds me in the palm of His hand. More of You, less of me… that’s what we need.


sav said...

it's so hard sometimes. these little ones. i have a five month old baby girl. she is my second, but still. i did just the opposite. i was convinced that she had an ear infection and it was totally something else. i really liked your post about marriage a few days back. it totally makes sense and really moved me. my husband and i have been married for eight years, and its like you said: we have known eachother long enough to know we are sinners, and that we aren't going to change. marriage and family is work and yet it's the best work out there. just wanted to let you know i appreciate what you have written. -savannah

RedDirtRevival said...

Thanks, Savannah. I'm glad I'm not the only one who is navigating the crazy, beautiful waters of marriage and raising little ones! :)

Mel said...

Let's face it. You ended up trusting your instincts in the end (no pun intended) and took her to the Doctor so she would get the care she needed. Never be afraid of wasting the Doctors time if you feel there is something wrong. Trust your God given Motherly instincts about that. You'd rather be overly cautious than to wait and possibly have it turn into a more serious issue. You and Ryan are doing a great job!
Thanks for sharing your experience and feelings with others.