I have a weird mind-exercise for you to try. Start by thinking about how old, approximately, your grandparents were when they died, if they have died. You might have to take an average, and feel free to err on the side of the older ones. Mine were all "in their early/mid 80s." Then figure out what decade you're likely to die in, if you live about as long. So if you were born in the 1970s, and your grandparents lived to be in their 80s, you're likely to die in the 2050s. If you're lucky.
It's an exercise that is currently making me feel short-circuited. If I'm fortunate, I will die in the 2050s. That is when I will likely die, but no one would be shocked if it were the 2040s instead. And my parents are likely to die in the 2030s, but no one would be shocked if it were the 2020s. Again, that's if we're all very lucky. It is already the twenty-teens. I think it's time to panic, don't you?
I may be a little short-circuited to start with, because last night was the worst night we've had since we had a newborn in the house---and maybe the worst night we've had since we had newborn TWINS in the house.
In the evening, Elizabeth's eyes got very watery and itchy, and her eyelids got pink and a little puffy-looking. I gave her benadryl, but if anything it seemed to make it worse. She fell asleep in my lap, crying. She's 6 years old, so it's been awhile since that's happened. When she was fully asleep, I put her in her own bed. Later, Paul and I went to bed---but I already suspected we were in for it, because she'd cried several times in her sleep between the the time I'd put her down and our bedtime.
Indeed, we were in for it. About 15 minutes after I fell asleep (known as the "Hell Phase" of the sleep cycle), she started crying in earnest. I got her and brought her to our room, where she cried and sniffed and groaned, either awake or asleep, about every 15 minutes all night long, and asked for cold washcloths for her face. At 1:30 I got up to go to the bathroom and couldn't believe it was only 1:30. I felt like I was in a weird fugue thing, where I was constantly drifting off and then getting immediately yanked awake, and the night was going on forever.
At around this time, Paul moved to Elizabeth's empty room.
On one hand, this was very smart: he was getting more agitated by her agitation than I was (I was more despairing/worried than agitated), and that wasn't helping; and if one of us could be more rested the next day, that would be nice for the household; and there was no reason to have us both up if the task only required one person.
On the other, more muscular, more resentful hand, this was bailing on parenting duties and leaving it all to me. And the night continued to be dreadful, so I had plenty of time to think about it. And around 2:00, Henry cried, and Paul didn't hear him because the monitor is in our room. So I went down and handled Henry, who was having ear pain (did I mention the antibiotic he went on last week for his ear infections and strep didn't work, and he's started a new, stronger one but it still hasn't worked either?) and also wanted to come up to our room. So then in addition to Elizabeth waking every 10-15 minutes, Henry was waking to talk in his sleep and/or kick Elizabeth and/or be kicked by Elizabeth.
Paul slept beautifully until morning. I woke up feeling like I'd lost my mind, or wished I could: a straightjacket would be so COZY and RESTFUL. And sure, there was a time when I would have taken a night like this in stride, or at least in stumble, but I'm out of condition: it's like taking a former marathon runner who hasn't run in several years, and asking her to just hit the track like before kthanx. I have become accustomed to nights that are briefly interrupted, 1-2 times/night max. I have become unaccustomed to nights that are interrupted every 15 minutes and include wonderings about whether my next idea for dealing with it is a good one or will RUIN EVERYTHING.
Elizabeth woke up in the morning looking like I felt: puffy swollen red-purple eyelids/undereyes, splotchy face, crying and miserable, very low fever (99.8 as measured at the doctor's). I took her to the Saturday hours at another branch of our pediatrician's office, and the doctor said it's an allergic reaction to something. I started speculating: her new jacket? the tiny live pine tree on the dining room table? the assorted nuts-in-shells she was cracking? some other holiday-related thing? The pediatrician said we could drive ourselves crazy trying to figure it out, and for now let's concentrate on trying to stop the reaction: claritin, antihistimine eye drops, benadryl. We did that all today and she's still feverish (102 by my thermometer) and blotchy this evening.
So, current state of mind: "Is tonight going to be like last night? Wait, did the doctor NOTICE she had a fever? Doctors rarely even look at the notes the nurses took. Or maybe it makes sense that an allergic reaction would have a fever, since the body thinks it's fighting something. But 102? Or maybe our thermometer is wrong. I know he said not to drive myself crazy trying to figure out what it is...but WHAT IS IT?? What if it's the cats? What if it's the nuts? She's never had a problem with peanut butter, but these were tree nuts. But hasn't she had tree nuts before? I'm sure she's had tree nuts before. We have a tree-nut tree IN OUR YARD. Maybe she never had enough before. Maybe it's only a contact allergy and so she's having a problem because she she rubbed her hands in her eyes after using the nutcracker, but wouldn't have had a problem from EATING the almonds/walnuts/acorns. Maybe she HAS had this before but it's one of those 'more each time' reactions so it's never been this bad before. Maybe next time it would be...let's not think about that. What if it's not an allergy but an illness? What if this is something we don't get resolved this week, and it sweeps through the household / ruins Christmas? Why is Henry still having ear pain after four doses of the new/stronger antibiotic? What if this also means the antibiotic hasn't handled the strep and he's still contagious? And Edward's anemia---EVERYONE IS FALLING APART." Etc.
I think in general it's understood that if someone tells you all about a situation and doesn't say they DON'T want input, it means they welcome your input on it. Or at least, that's what _I_ understand, both when I'm the teller and when I'm the hearer. But in case it would be better to say things outright: I welcome your input.
And/or, I welcome your telling me when you're expecting to die. Maybe we can share a nursing home before that happens, if our Death Decades aren't too far apart.
Life-improving products, part 4 - (Continued from part 1, part 2, and part 3.) Stearns Youth Life Vest (photo from Amazon.com). I’d been too scared to take the kids to any body of water oth...