Wednesday, November 18, 2009

And, when they're sick...

For me, there are a few things that are more painful to endure as a single mom than as a married mom, and one of the worst is definitely illnesses with my children. They are so pitiful, and my energy is drained more rapidly than I could ever imagine. I recently "survived" 5 days with less than 2 hours of sleep per night because of a bad reaction to their vaccines. It was nothing short of a disaster. Here is a peek into what happened:

First, the trip to the doc's office - where it all began. It was a typical check-up/shot visit, and I thought all was well. Of course, the kiddos knew they were about to get something less than cool.

Shane knows something is amiss.... regardless of my efforts to comfort him.

So, then I notice the tray that the nurse brought in... and it was so shocking I had to take a picture of that, too.

What you are seeing is TEN syringes. TEN. Yeah - didn't realize that was going to happen. Oops. Good thing I gave them Motrin before they arrived.

So, I decided my best course of action at this point was to hold them tightly and repeatedly kiss them and rub their back while they were getting the shots. SCREAMING ENSUES. Screaming like they're dying. Great. Congrats, Mom!

Now, while most parents have to do this with one child, I have to take the other twin, who just watched his brother writhing in pain and who is still currently screaming, and convince him to experience the same thing. The nurse and I are laughing, because now Matt is hiding under the chair and covering his eyes. It isn't really all that funny, I guess. No, it really was. Guess  you had to be there. So, now that they are both screaming, I do what any good mom would do - I take a picture of them to save for posterity.

Shane STILL whining (which is why next time I'll have him go last) and Matt quite upset about his inability to hide effectively.

The nurse tells me, "Take your time. You don't have to rush out of here with both of them screaming. It might scare the other kids." So, I just hang out with them for awhile until the worst of the pain subsides. Hugs, kisses, rocking, and they're good to go in about five minutes, though clearly irritated by the whole experience.

Picking off their band-aids.

So, I take them home and they sleep all day. BONUS! I was able to get a ton of housework done, and then the rest of our week resumes as normal.

One week later, however.... Matt and Shane start to act up. They're yelling and hitting, which is so uncharacteristic of their nature, and throwing some pretty wretched tantrums. It's difficult for me to understand what is happening, because it is a day just like any other day. They slept enough, took their naps, and were still belligerent. Then I notice Matt feels slightly warm. I don't think much of it. I attribute it to teething because it is so slight, and I go to Bible study as usual.... leaving the two little ones with the babysitter. Halfway through the study I get a panicked call followed by panicked texts from her saying that Matt is now inconsolable. She's normally very capable and never calls unless it is an emergency, so I was alarmed. I rushed home as soon as it was over, and THAT was when the TORTURE began.

All that night, Matt only wanted to be held and rocked. He's 31 pounds now, so it's no easy feat. Especially with my back problems. I've had chronic pain in my lower back for years, and standing while rocking a child is particularly rough on me. But, because he needs me, I'm there. For hours. His temperature spiked to 103, and he refused the medicine. He NEVER had done this before. So, I put my best "Mom" on, and hold him down, placing the dropper at the back of his gums and hold him down while he screams, slowly dispensing the liquid to make sure that the fever comes down. I put him in the bath, which is another area he is ok with, and re-dress him in lighter PJ's. I rock him again, and he lulls to sleep. Eventually he is tired enough that he lets me lay in my bed and hold him without waking up completely, but I still don't sleep for fear that he will fall out of bed or that I would miss something important to keep him cared for. So, I stare at my ceiling until 4am, waking up at 6 to Shane beginning to scream.

Day 1: Both of the twins now have what I will affectionately call the "Screaming Fever". I call the doctor's office, and they give me the guidelines by which I should take them in, and describe how I should treat the symptoms in the meantime. They assert it is probably a reaction to their shots. Great. So, it is tepid baths, lots of liquids and fever management with Tylenol or Motrin. Trouble is, the kids refuse to take it all of a sudden, so this becomes much more difficult than it sounds. I decided to use it only when their temperature was 101 or above. As with Matthew the night before, all they wanted to do was be held. By himself. So, when I held both they hit each other and fought, but when I held one at a time, the other screamed and kicked and wailed at my feet. This also created a jealousy issue with William, who suddenly developed the same need. (*insert cynical laugh here*) I rocked them most of the day, one after the other, with the other two screaming. In-between these rocking sessions, I had to dispense two screaming children's dose of Motrin. FUN TIMES.

Repeat night number one, this time with TWO children. Two hours of "sleep" later, I wake up, make my coffee, and start day three. THIS TIME, with William having a fever as well.

Night three is pure hell. I don't know how else to describe it. I have already lost two nights of sleep, so I am exhausted, and I begin to really lose it. Now the kids aren't the only ones crying. Normally, for a married person, the husband may take pity on the crying wife and offer to help - even a little bit. I don't have ANYONE. NO ONE. Not even someone to complain to or to tell me everything will be OK. I just have to endure.

Day three wake up is a doozy. I feel like I'm the walking dead, and coffee does nothing to revive me. I think, surely Matt will be better today, but NO. The day continues as the day before it and I have accepted that I may never sleep again. AND, I have a term paper due at the end of the day. Double great. The kids suddenly take an interest in the Cars movie, and allow me to finish editing my paper to be submitted. Success!

Night four is worse than the others. The kids are SO tired and belligerent now because the illness has taken its toll, and I'm more frustrated than ever. I rock, I pat, I console and try to treat the kids in their own beds. Of course, I end up sleeping on the kids' beds in shifts. So comfortable.

Day four wake-up, and I've given up. I stay in my PJ's all day. Thankfully, Matt's fever is completely gone, and he starts to act human. Cue night five. Misery with two kids now instead of three.

Day five. Shane is better, Will is not. I am toast. Day continues, I don't remember ANY details, and I go to bed with hopes of sleep. Unfortunately, the twins have really really liked it in my bed, and both crawl in with me screaming at 2 in the morning, knowing that this has gotten them rocked in the middle of the night during days past. In an effort not to wake Will up, and losing any strength to "tough love" them back into their beds, I give up and hold them and let them sleep with me. I still get the same 2 hours of sleep because Will isn't quite better yet.

Now, after night six of insufficient sleep... I feel sick when I wake up on day six. I have to abandon all plans for the day, again, and stay home trying to recover. I go into town later in the day to roll into Dutch Brothers for their 911 latte and to enjoy the effect that a 5 point harness has on each of my kids. I suck down the 4 shot + coffee drink and it barely makes a dent into my energy level. After dragging myself back home, I realize that if I don't sleep tonight, I may need to do the unthinkable... calling for help from a friend or relative. They help me when they can, and have busy lives of their own, so I am careful not to inconvenience them whenever possible.

Night seven. I sleep. I have finally woken up feeling slightly human. Today I am thankful for sleep.

The end.

Kidding! I'm tired. I'm tempted to end it there, but here's a better summary: The moral of this story is.... if you know a single mom, she will rarely ask for help. The best kind of help is the kind that goes unasked for. Drop by a frozen meal, have her over for dinner, call her to lend an ear to her day and her dilemmas, or even offer to watch the kids so she can get to the grocery store without screaming kiddos in tow. These are all things that have meant a lot to me from the amazing friends I have. Most especially, when her kids are sick, PRAY for her. It's scary, it's isolating and it's painful. I'm very lucky to have such a wonderful support system, but if I didn't... I can only imagine how I would handle these circumstances. If we bless each other by encouragement and help when it is needed, we all win. :)


  1. Oh Erin, it's times like this that I wish DESPERATELY that we lived closer to each other! I'm glad you finally got some sleep but my goodness girl, PLEASE ask for help before it gets to that point!! We love you and I'm sure helping you out is very little inconveneince to those around you!! Hopefully all of you are on the mend now and many many sleepFUL nights are in your future!!

  2. I want to hop in a plane right now and take over your household for you so you can rest! Maybe I can get a chance to do that sometime soon. But for now--- my prayers are with you!! I love you--and if you EVER feel like crying-- you can call me. I'd be happy to cry with you and hopefully help carry the burden. I love you! :)

  3. Ahhh I am so sorry for your hell week. It sounds so awful! I know you are one of those strong willed, stubborn people but when you are having such a hard time next time call me! Arley is not working right now and I can most definitly help you out when you need it! I can't imagine how draining it must be sometimes, and although I know you won't you can always call!! IHope your having a better week!! ~Mandy

  4. Thank you so much you guys!!! I am so thankful to have such wonderful friends in my life. :) I kept thinking, surely they'll be better tomorrow, but it just kept on going! Next time I'll make some calls. :)

  5. Woman....would you just agree to the big love living and we can care for and help each other. I love ya chick! xxx

  6. Hahaha - I'll agree! But, you have to move out here because I LOVE NORTH IDAHO!!! ;)

  7. That picture of you and him is so priceless! It's totally frame-a-ble for somewhere in your house, it'd be cute!