Wow. My life in the last few weeks has taken such a dramatic turnabout that I'm exhausted just sitting here typing it out. And I'm not complaining, either... it's just... different.
So, I got the job I wanted, and I organised my life around a brand new routine. I organised it. Me. Not my husband; not my friends or family. Me. I, and I alone, set up Little O's new daycare arrangements; I called my mother-in-law to come out for two weeks to help us transition everything; I got the job and bought new work clothes; I researched the best route for avoiding traffic; and I typed up the daily instruction sheets for Little O's carers to follow. It has been a bit of a marathon, to be honest, but I felt as though life was slowly coming together this weekend when my mother-in-law returned home and my husband and I were facing our first week of full-time employment and daycare simultaneously.
Then Little O got sick.
Saturday morning he came down with the most unpleasant stomach flu I've ever seen, and by Sunday he had a raging fever and kindly donated his germs to his parents. My husband and I therefore came down with the same stomach flu, which crippled us entirely and made the entire house stink of illness, poo, vomit, and stale laundry. We both took Monday off, which would normally have been something to celebrate, but instead we just rolled around the living room carpet in a state of helpless misery. It was like being pregnant again, but this time my husband felt just as bad and was no help whatsoever. Incidentally... my husband is NOT good at being ill. Our cat developed a limp over the weekend, to add further insult to injury, so seeing as we had taken the day off, I sucked up my stale, sickly breath, and took him to the vet. I also ran to get some groceries and made soup for lunch... all before 12pm and while having stomach cramps from the flu bug. I returned home to find my husband laying pathetically on the couch, a quivering hand extended in my direction to pass him a sip of water for his parched throat. He hadn't done a single thing in my absence.
That man got no sympathy. He also got no sympathy when I got a phone call telling me Little O's glasses had arrived and we needed to take him down to the opticians the same day to get them fitted correctly. My husband did not want to come, but there was no way in hell I was doing ALL the chores by myself so he grumpily accompanied me.
So, bearing all this unpleasantness in mind, Monday evening came around with a significant improvement in mine and my husband's health, but none in Little O's. In fact, he seemed worse than on Saturday. We gave him a nice warm bath and attempted to put him into bed for an early night, but he seemed so fitful and restless that I decided to take him into Prompt Care. My husband was extremely reluctant, but I had a niggling feeling that all wasn't right, so I got my way and off we set. When we arrived we were seen by a nurse and then a doctor, who both agreed Little O needed some blood tests and possibly IV fluids to get him feeling better. We don't like the ER attached to our local Prompt Care (been there before and they look at Little O like he's a fuckin' unicorn), so we told the nice doctor we'd take him up to CHOW to their children's ER instead.
WELL!! On the way home, my husband said he didn't want to go all the way to Milwaukee (a good 40 min drive away) only to sit in an ER all night and be told nothing was wrong, so he turned the car into our house. I understood. He felt unwell. I felt unwell. Little O needed fluids, which we could give him at home via his feeding pump. After all, one of the advantages to having to feed a child with a pump is that you can keep them hydrated even when they're refusing to eat or drink. I understood. I strongly disagreed, but I understood. I pointed out that I've never once been wrong about taking Little O in to be seen, and I've never created an emergency where there hasn't been one. I've always trusted my instincts, and they've always been right.
But I understood. And I let it slide. I agreed, against my better judgement, against my Mama-instincts, against everything my heart and head were telling me, to keep Little O at home in his own bed and to allow my husband's body time to fully recover. (Never mind the fact I was also still feeling shit - I'd sorta forgotten about that in all the fuss over my baby's health.) We spent the night at home and I took Tuesday off work to give Little O some extra care and love. By this point, I must have changed over 100 diapers in about 72 hours, and they were still coming strong. My baby's bottom was red and raw and he was so fussy and irritable that he was almost inconsolable non-stop.
By Wednesday morning I decided to take him into daycare and go back to work myself. I felt miserable having to choose work over him, but I've just started a new job! What else was I supposed to do? It also isn't helped my the fact my husband leaves for work at 5.30am, two whole hours before I do. If Little O is sick, he won't know about it until he's already been at work for several hours... so I have to make the decision. Anyway, I told the daycare to call my husband with any concerns as he was 'on duty', and drove in.
Around 3pm I got a call saying Little O had a fever. The daycare called my husband but he wasn't answering either his cell phone or his work number, and they really felt Little O needed to be seen by a doctor immediately. I was SO angry! I'd been fretting and worrying all day about my baby; why hadn't my husband?! Why wasn't his cell phone glued to his head? Why wasn't he chewing his nails to the quick every time his work phone rang? I was so mad I had him paged. The last time I did that I was in premature labor, so he knew something was up when I finally got him on the phone. And he left work. Immediately. Because he had no other choice.
Little O was admitted to hospital Wednesday night for severe dehydration and dangerously high sodium levels. I'm typing this out on my laptop in a hospital room while he naps peacefully, comfortable for the first time in nearly a week. It's Thursday afternoon and he's hopefully coming home tomorrow. I feel three things: 1) Anger towards my husband for not taking Little O to CHOW on Monday night; 2) Guilt at my own decision to keep him at home, despite my instincts telling me otherwise; and 3) Happiness that Little O is finally getting the help and comfort that he needs to feel better. But mainly anger and guilt.
I spent the night here; my husband went home. I took today and tomorrow off; my husband plans on working a full shift both days. I am proactive in seeking out support and assistance; my husband won't even speak to his HR team about FMLA law. It's deeply, deeply upsetting that I am still expected to carry the burden of Little O's care while also holding down (or not) a full-time job. Right now I'm seriously considering quitting work. I don't want to, but I also don't want to be 'that' employee who always has to take time off for her child. I don't want to get fired. I don't want that on my record. I don't want to let my new employers down, who have been wonderful and kind and generous, but whose patience will not last forever.
I was so invigorated starting a new job. Today I feel utterly exhausted again, and back in the same place I was a month ago.
(I wish this were a happier post, but it isn't. So I'll round it off with a happy ending instead: Happy Anniversary, Anthea and Husband! Four years of marriage, and ten years together. Well done you.)