Friday, July 1, 2011

Vulnerabilities

Today was one of those days where I felt like the one legged woman in an ass kicking contest.  I have always loved that visual because it rings so true to situations where it is hard to cope.  Where you know trying to do all the things you need to do is fruitless and then when you do try, because you have to, you end up on your tush.  I felt knocked down for a good portion of today. 

We had our first doctor-visit worthy ailment of the deployment this morning.  My daughter has been acting like an escaped psych ward inmate for a few days.  Bi-polar to the point where I was considering cracking my old DSM-IV-TR from graduate school and diagnosing her.  But seriously, ugh.  Well, this morning I woke up to "mommy... I'm hot, no cold, no hot, no cold".  I took one look at her and could tell she was burning up.  When the thermometer started creeping over 102 I knew a doctor's visit (which means Portsmouth Naval Hospital parking garage!) was in order.  And of course it was the Friday before a 4 day weekend.  Of freakin' course.  Both of my babies were born on holiday weekends, why would they get sick any other time?

Thankfully, my mom is here.  Oh how glorious it is to have a partner right now.  I was thanking my lucky stars as I drove through the tunnel into Portsmouth with only one baby in tow.  I found a decent parking space and wheeled my way into the hospital.  I was fairly confident* that it was an ear infection.  We have had two weeks of swimming lessons and I used to get swimmers ear all the time in the summer.  And that is very painful! 

We waited and waited in the "acute care" (sick) waiting room.  I am generally thankful when Ped's offices separate the well-baby visit patients from the sick patients.  But I am always icked out when my kids touch the books and toys in the acute care waiting room.  Of course, how do you tell your almost 2 year old that is already running a fever and acting like Linda Blair that she can't touch the toys?  For 40 minutes.  You can't.

We are finally seen and the doctor takes .05 seconds to tell me that nope, it isn't her ears.  Sorry.  Dang.  Well, I figured they would send me home and we would look for a rash or some other ailment to pop up and explain what caused this.  Then the chief resident walks in...  And my day started going downhill.  She explained that the other common cause of fever in babies Kate's age is Urinary Tract Infections.  And that a UTI can be dangerous for her kidneys and blah blah blah.  The next thing I knew they were asking if she was potty trained yet (no) or if she would pee on demand (um, I can't get her to eat a cracker today).  So they broke the news that they needed to catheterize her (!!!!!!!!!!) to get a urine sample to rule out UTI so that my baby didn't go home for the long weekend and get a kidney infection. 

This is where my hackles went up.  My child almost hit the ceiling when they tried to check her EARS.  They want to cath her?  Seriously?  It was one of those parenting moments where I seriously considered going against medical advice.  But then I got nervous and worried about the weekend.  And the guilt (haven't we been here before?).  So to make a long story short, my poor sicky Kate was catheterized.  I cried. 

It isn't a UTI.  So I drove 40 minutes, took 20 minutes to park, spent an hour in the waiting room, had my child see 3 doctors, and get cathed...  for, well, pretty much nada.  Yea, I know that it is better to be "safe than sorry", but it wasn't a great start to my holiday weekend.  And as I was doing this I was thinking about my current existence.  And this story, long winded and probably boring, is all a lead up to some thoughts I have been having about the way being a mom of two small kiddos with a deployed husband feels.

I feel extremely vulnerable and exposed.  I feel like I have too many balls in the air and that the slightest shift in the wind or added responsibility will cause all of the balls to fall.  That I survived this morning with some semblance of dignity only because my mom was here.  How on earth would I have been able to restrain and comfort my daughter while she was having her procedure if my 7 month old son was in the room too?  Could I have? 

I worry about the air conditioning, my car, the weather (no hurricanes or floods please), illness, broken washer and dryers, the fridge going out, all the way down to silly things like the cable going out or the dog getting out of the fence.  Anxiety has always been an issue with me, ask any of my close friends.  I am a worrier.  But I feel like in this instance, I have a lot to worry about.  I read some chat boards and the women talk about "what ifs".  What if they were knocked unconscious and their husband didn't find them for 5 hours and they were alone with the baby?  My mind races to "holy crap... my husband wouldn't find me for 5 months!"  I know that is ri-dic-u-lous.  But I feel vulnerable.

Don't worry folks, as I sit here writing this both babies are cozy in their cribs and fever free.  I have a glass of wine in hand and a wonderful mom downstairs cleaning my kitchen.  I am so lucky.  But today just reminded me how amazing mothers who have no partner are.  That goes for military spouses, single moms, women whose husbands travel a lot.  All of us.  Kids are darn hard work and we stress and mull over all the scenarios until we are completely exhausted with worry.  I am hoping that as the months tick by I will learn how to cope, how to truly take things one day at a time.  When my own kids would ask me in counseling sessions (hopefully this post won't cause the NBCC to revoke my counseling license) how to deal with stress I would always advise them never to look at tasks as a huge clump but to break them into smaller tasks and tackle them one at a time.  I know telling a teen to be short-sighted is like reminding a pregnant person to eat.  But still.  It helps not to get ahead of yourself.

So, how do you cope when you have too many balls in the air?  I feel like a newb to this whole parenting without a net lifestyle and would love some tough love.

4 comments:

Melissa said...

How do you cope? I don't know yet, I don't have children of my own. But I do know that you have amazing friends who come visit you while your mom is there so that you have "man up defense" and other amazing friends who come visit when your mom is busy so that you can maintain "man to man defense".

You are one of the strongest women I know and I can't tell you in words how much I respect you as a woman, as a friend and as a mom. I hope I am half as good to my kids as you are to your babies.

Love you and can't wait to see you and my munchkins next weekend. Message me anything I can bring!

Jennifer Wright said...

I could maybe say a few things that might help, but you really hit the most important one on the head when you talk about breaking the tasks down into smaller clumps. Right now, when things go wrong, I have the immediate thought, "He's gone for a YEAR!!!" but I have to force that one away. Get through this month, this week, this day, this HOUR. However small it has to be, build on the success. You made it through, and so did Kate. You are a good mom. You will make it.

I read another blog post recently that stuck with me. During deployment, you can choose whether or not to grow. You are growing, and sometimes the growing hurts, just like when we were kids and our bones grew faster than the cartilage. Sorry, that's as tough as I can be. It was a really hard situation, and you did great.

The Whitefields said...

I've never been in your position, handling a deployment while raising two small children. I've only been through deployments by myself and that was hard enough so I can only imagine. Regardless, there are days and weeks (husband in the field) that are incredibly tough and trying. And how do I cope? I kinda play the "...it could be worse" game. I know it sounds bad, but it works for me. I try to remind myself I have my health, I have a home, I have a savings, I have a wonderful husband, I have my family, I have my education. I guess you could say I count my blessings? But that helps me put things into perspective and gives me the extra oomph I need for that day or that hour. That and a big Starbucks coffee seems to do the trick :)

I personally think you are doing great, don't let a crappy situation make you think differently!

Jen said...

What a great question. I had a semi panic attack in a store yesterday because I don't speak German and could not communicate with the woman there. I felt stupid and as if I want to hide in my hotel all day.

I know living in a new country is no comparison to being a temporary single parent though.

I think the answer is the old "you take it a day at a time". If you think about all the what ifs, you can't sleep at night. You get through that day, and then all of a sudden the days become weeks,months, etc.

I hope your little Kate is feeling better by now.

Hi, I'm Jill!

Hi, I'm Jill!
Extrovert. Mom of two. Wife of a cute Naval Aviator. Lover of wine. When I'm not chasing my two kids around town you will find me writing, taking too many photos, and researching the ten future areas the Navy could potentially (but probably won't) PCS us. We are fish out of water, landlocked at 7,000 feet. For now.

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