Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Perforations

Helena's first full day at daycare was Thursday last week and resulted in exhaustion — hers, that is.

Friday she was tired, a little feverish. We kept her home. I'd been prepared for this — the reaction to last week's vaccination was about to strike. She'd reacted last time, freaking us out with high fever; I assumed we'd go through something similar again.

Fever seemed to come and go. Saturday, she was still up for a jaunt in the park with J-F. I was trying to work to make up for hours lost to easing the daycare transition that week.

None of it seems so bad now. When I proclaimed it "the shittiest weekend ever," I was overreacting. When I declared it was almost over, I did so without realizing the shittiest night ever lay ahead.

Helena has an ear infection.

After an essentially sleepless night for all parties concerned, I wanted to check her temperature again. Then I noticed the gummy residue on the ear thermometer.

I should've known. I shouldn't've been so quick to assume it was a vaccine reaction. I should've been checking her ears.

Guilt: I must really be an awful mother. Justification: if she were the kind of baby who was prone to ear infections, I'd've known about it by now.

The doctor at the clinic (not our usual) was a little dramatic (Spanish, I think): It's serious. What a big infection, very serious. Oh, my God — this one's perforated. Did you smell that?

He cleaned Helena's ear and insisted on showing J-F the pus he'd extracted. "Wow, look at that! What a serious infection!"

I'm standing beside them, dying inside. My baby's eardrum! How could I have not rushed her to a doctor days ago? Or is it because we spent 3 hours in the waiting room? Have I ruined her hearing? Is her head gangrenous?

The looks on our faces spoke volumes. Dr Excitable turned it down a notch, reassuring us it was very common in babies and no permanent damage was suffered. For a second though, I saw him as a little kid poking frog entrails, thrilling at how cool blood and guts are, thinking maybe he should be a doctor when he grows up.

Helena is well on the road to recovery. She's home from daycare for at least another day.

I missed my work deadline. As much as I pushed, 10 minutes here, 5 there, sacrificing sleep and, more importantly, dismissing Helena during the day "Not now, Helena. Mommy has to work," a hundred times over — ensuring she'll have a really bad attitude towards employment, I'm sure — I still missed the deadline.

I have got to find a way to work with her in the house. J-F when he's home still finds it endearing — "She likes hanging out with you. She thinks you're cool." — Distracting Helena is just too much work; easier to make mom feel guilty for neglecting her daughter. (But as soon as Helena's better and we get this fulltime daycare under way, I won't need to be working evenings, nights, and weekends.)

Until an hour ago, I kept pushing myself. I'm just now reconciling myself to the flubbed deadline, to the fact that I'm only human, that I need sleep, and just this one quiet coffee break. I'm doing what I can. I'm deathly afraid of the irony to transpire — that Helena will be tended to by strangers (however well) while I sit home with nothing to do, having given my client cause to award contracts elsewhere.

There's a handful of sweet-Helena anecdotes to relate, but I'll save it for later.

Peace and love.
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