Sunday, February 21, 2010

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Being sick sucks.
Being sick during vacation - even suckier.
Being sick during vacation with family visiting and then watching my precious little three month-old daughter get sick - supersuckafragilisticexpialadocious.

The first thing to go when I'm under the weather is clearly my wicked-awesome vocabulary, followed shortly by my sense of well-being, my enthusiasm for everything, and eventually, when it lingers long enough, my optimism that I will ever recover which is replaced by the certainty that I will soon suffer a young(ish), miserable, phlegm-filled death. Fortunately, almost two weeks later, my joy for life is being returned to me, I'm convinced I'm going to live, to be happy again, to be passionate once more, and to be extremely mellow-dramatic forever.

I have very few memories of my mom being sick when I was a child and had somehow convinced myself that becoming a parent was an automatic inoculation against most diseases. I was not cavalier about this assumption, recognizing that my work in education is probably a close second to biological research labs when it comes to hazardous environs. I survived nine months of pregnancy and three months of Amari's life by keeping a Costco sized bottle of Vitamin C on my desk, hand sanitizer in holsters on my belt, and Echinacea scented scratch 'n sniff stickers for the kids who looked dangerous. There were seriously times when I wanted to put on an "outbreak" suit for my disease-infested third grade social learning groups. Why do kids with sniffles always want to hold my hand? They're like grown-ups with bad breath and their secrets. Ugh!

On a side note, when I work at the middle school where the new found joys of cologne become shower substitutes for adolescent boys, I've created an antibacterial agent that doubles as Axe body spray scent neutralizer. I think this could be huge. It also erases the imaginary sex appeal sold in commercials.  

On the plus side, having a child that has just hit the "golden age of babyhood" according to "What to Expect the First Year" makes being sick much more bearable. It's hard to remain depressed or existential while staring at the toothless perma-grin of a sparkly-eyed mini-me who thinks it's hilarious when I sneeze, cough, or groan in particular frequencies. Apparently this is called the golden age because babies become even cuter by day, sleepier by night, and they still can't move. A pretty awesome combination. As for Amari, the sleep pattern is still erratic, especially since she came down with our cold, but the rest of her is pretty golden alright.

Aside from the frequent wide-mouthed smiles and the smattering of surprise laughs, Amari's latest development is her ability to roll onto her side. She swings one leg over the other and ends up resting on her shoulder and hip before her hands clumsily find their way to her mouth. She lies there sucking them for ages and is perfectly content. Sometimes, when she gets frustrated that she can't roll any farther, I raise her arm and help her continue twisting onto her stomach. I love her new found independence - bouncy chairs, mobiles, and rockers that used to all be Cry Machines are now Babysitters. I guess the Fourth Trimester is coming to an end.

All of this makes watching Amari get sick much more tragic. She had a cold for the third and fourth weeks of her life, but she didn't have a personality to dilute back then and it didn't seem to bother her any more than the starvation she was experiencing. Now the sniffles, the cough, the fever, and the restlessness are a sharp contrast to the easy-going, even-tempered, relatively predictable daughter we'd grown used to. In addition, both of her tear ducts are clogged from all the crying which, if you haven't seen it, creates a green-yellow puss that oozes out from the inside corners of the eyes, then dries, hardens, and glues the eyes shut like something out of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

The cure for blocked tear ducts is applying gentle pressure on the ducts with a warm-watered facecloth. This sounds much more pleasant than Amari seems to think it is. The secret is to always have a nipple, a bottle, or a hug as a chaser.

These also works with grown-ups.

Get better soon, Amari.

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