So…I had an interesting day yesterday. All day long, something just felt off. I was incredibly on edge, every little thing seemed to go wrong and I just couldn’t get my bearings. Just to give you an idea, the day started off with me spilling my entire carafe of freshly brewed coffee all over the kitchen counter. It was the kind of day where you knew something was about to happen…like the storm clouds that roll in before the lightning strikes. I had a lot of work to do in the morning on the computer so my almost 4 year old son and I watched a movie for our bonding time while my almost 8 month old daughter took her first nap. She slept a lot longer than usual, which was helpful to both my work and my Son-Exposure. By the time she woke up, it was time for my son’s nap, which took a lot of skill, patience and finesse on my part to get started. He wanted to sleep with every single one of his cars and couldn’t understand why I was telling him he could only sleep with 3. Watching him choose 3 cars out of a sea of 500 was half precious and half agonizing. Again, things just weren’t normal…
My daughter woke up fine and happy, ate a big bowl of pureed avocado and bananas. That part, actually, was especially un-normal considering avocados have been the one thing she hasn’t liked in her lifetime. But I thought mixing it with her favorite food would make her enjoy it more, and I was right. She loved it, and ate a ton of it. She went down again a few hours later. Again, sleeping longer than usual, and, again, woke up fine. My son was also awake so the three of us played for awhile on the floor. Then it happened, the inevitable bad thing that had been looming all day. My daughter threw up all over me, herself, and her toys. And this wasn’t normal baby spit-up, this was the real thing. And it freaked me out. She wasn’t acting any different, but I do not respond well to this sort of thing. And here’s why- When my son was 19 months old, he, my husband and I, all had the Rotavirus during Fourth of July weekend. All three of us together were violently ill at the same time. It was, hands down, the worst experience we’ve all been through as a family outside of him spending weeks in the NICU as a newborn.
So when my daughter got sick yesterday, I began to have horrible flashbacks. I cleaned her up, thinking it was most likely the large amount of avocado she ate earlier and I started to breathe a little easier. Then she did it again, and again, and again. I called my husband to come home, telling him I needed to take her to an Urgent Care center. Now. By the time I left the house, it was just past 5 pm, during rush hour, and I had only been to this Urgent Care place one other time, when I had a bad sinus infection. So, not only did I not really know where I was going, I also couldn’t move for 3 minutes at every, single intersection I came to. I would actually like to take the time now to apologize to all the other cars at West Catawba and Bethel Church for running that red light. No, I was not drunk or 12, I was in Mama Bear mode and nothing was going to get in the way of me and that doctor. And let me tell you, when you’re in the car during rush hour traffic, with your vomiting and crying infant alone in the backseat, you will do whatever it takes to get her help.
We eventually got to the Urgent Care center, (which I swear moved from the last time I had been there), and I ran inside, feeling certain that a violently ill infant would trump a giant man’s sore elbow, only to find out that no matter the situation, the Urgent Care policy is ‘first come, first serve’. Period. I almost gave that giant man a good kick in the elbow for not letting us go first. We finally got to go back to the room and wait some more. Then the doctor comes in and after her examinations of my child, I walked out of that room with absolutely no new information regarding her little tummy. The only thing good that came out of it was that apparently my baby girl had fluid in one of her ears, so we got a preemptive prescription for the possible ear infection that could pop up over the weekend. So…now, not only did I have a baby who was sick without expert explanation, I also had a baby with a possible ear infection?! Ahh!!!!
I filled the prescription, put on my doctor’s cap and purchased some Pedialyte. Came home to the pizza party that was happening in my kitchen, now weak from the stress and lack of nourishment… (Wait. When did I eat last?) Sucked down a piece of pizza and nursed my daughter, giving her the first food she’s had in 5 hours, tightly crossed my fingers that it would stay down, gave her a bath, nursed her some more until she fell asleep, latched on like she last did when she was a newborn. I couldn’t resist continuing to let her sleep-nurse for half an hour more as she slept in my arms. I rocked and sang, stroked her hair, took it all in. (Why does it have to take an illness for us to ‘get our babies back’?) And figured we wouldn’t know anything more about her tummy until we see how the night goes. Even though I was nervous for the worst, my gut was still telling me it was the avocado. And I made a permanent mental note to not give her anymore avocados until she was old enough to have a margarita with it.
She slept completely fine, woke up starving, kept more breastmilk down, plus a little oatmeal mixed with Pedialyte. I breathed a sigh of relief. Then I remembered her ear. Damn. I do not want another ear infected child on my hand (my son spent the first 18 months of his life with back to back ear infections and eventually needed tubes, so I was determined to nip this one in the bud.) I remembered back when I was at camp as a child and the counselors would pass around a squirt bottle filled with half vinegar and half alcohol for all us campers to squirt in our ears after we got out of the lake. The mixture was supposed to dry the ear out and make it less vulnerable to infection. So I dipped a cotton swab into a cup of half plain, white vinegar and half rubbing alcohol and inserted into her ear. Then later I remembered another at-home remedy for ear infection prevention- Dropping some warm garlic oil into the ears was supposed to clear them up. (Garlic is an excellent, natural, antibiotic and anti bacterial ingredient. Big kids can, and should, eat raw or Pickled Garlic to scare away infections.) After a little research I found that either a warm vegetable, olive, or garlic oil are equally good for scaring away ear infections in babies if dropped into the ear. So I moistened another cotton swap with some good ole extra virgin olive oil from my counter top and inserted that into her ear as well. Couldn’t hurt, right?
Dear god, I just made a vinaigrette in my baby’s ear. This better work.
She’s now up there sleeping like a baby- so far, so good. And it got me thinking about everything we go through as a parent. Being a parent is not just about giving birth, then feeding, changing, cleaning and dressing your children. Or the buying them things, protecting them from evil, or entertaining them. The biggest part of being a parent, or in my case, a mother, is the stress and worry that goes into it. I wonder when that ever stops. Does it ever stop? When I’m sick, does my mother still feel it in her gut? I went to bed last night exhausted (at 8:30!), feeling like I just ran a marathon. I had been so worried about what could happen to my baby, what was happening to my baby, that every ounce of my energy was taken away from me. I suppose the idea is that if I spend and use up all my energy, thus putting it out into the air, then she would be able to suck it up and use it to better herself. Just like if she needed something from my body, a tangible item like blood or a kidney, I would give her anything and everything that I had, just to make her better, even if it meant I would have to suffer from having less. I don’t know how much of that is the same with energy and worry, but it must be why we do it. THAT’s what being a parent is all about. It’s about giving a little piece of you every time your child needs something. It’s about doing whatever it takes to make your child better, whether it’s running a red light in mad traffic, almost beating up a giant man in a waiting room, or making salad dressing in her ear. You just do what you gotta do.
*The Correct Way to Make a Vinaigrette
This is not difficult, people. Making your own salad dressing is a cinch and incredibly cheap. I do not buy bottled salad dressings because they are a waste of your money. I also don’t believe in salad dressing recipes because I find you never need as much oil as a recipe states. Just add it slowly, and taste it as you go along. Then stop when it tastes good. Here’s how to make a basic vinaigrette-
(makes enough salad dressing for 4 servings of salad)
-In the large bowl you will be making your salad in, add about 4 splashes of any vinegar you’d like. Add 2 squirts of Dijon mustard, or 2 small spoonfuls. Season with about 1/2 tsp of sugar or a good squeeze of honey, a couple pinches of kosher salt and some freshly cracked black pepper (do this to taste, you can always add more later, but can never take away.) Whisk this until the mustard has broken down into the vinegar.
-Place a damp towel underneath your bowl to keep it still while you slowly drizzle some extra virgin olive oil with one hand and whisk with the other until your dressing has almost doubled in volume. Taste it. Add more oil and/or sugar if it’s too acidic, more salt if it’s bland.
-I like to remove some of the dressing from the bowl in case I made too much, knowing I can always add it back in if I need it, (this can keep in a jar in the fridge for a several days). Add in a handful of greens per person for a side salad and any other ingredients you’d like. Toss with your hands. A perfectly dressed salad doesn’t leave any dressing behind.
(*change this up however you’d like by adding a citrus juice and its zest instead of the vinegar, some garlic, some ginger, some herbs or spices, crumbled cheese. Use your imagination!)