We're home again, released yesterday morning. The official verdict? Something called paraflu, diagnosed after they used a machine much larger and more menacing-looking than the blue snot snucker to suck out his nose. Yeah. So wishing they would have done that test before the Nurse Practicioner said the words "Spinal Tap" or "Meningitis" or the surgeon mentioned that he was relieved that we escaped another surgery.
Paraflu is the nasty little virus that causes croup, and it can also cause RSV. We caught it on the early side of things, just as it was causing a rip-roaring fever. It wouldn't have been such a big deal had we not been 10 days post op. Apparently Max is just excercising his family gift for the dramatic. He can't just get a little flu bug. Oh no. It has to be a big mighty flu bug ten days after a huge skull operation that freaks everyone out and results in another nights' stay in the hospital. I know that you have two crazy sisters buddy, but you really, really, don't have to try and out-do them, I promise!
Max has been through a lot in the past two weeks. I have been in tears many times during the course of this because he was so scared, or in so much pain, and I couldn't swoop in and rescue him. And I'm not a wimp, but I had to leave the room when they did the spinal tap on Monday, because I couldn't handle the idea of seeing him go through that and not being able to do anything about it. But the recurring message I heard throughout both hospital stays from the doctors and nurses was "Its such a good thing you're doing this now. He's a baby. He won't ever remember this." and "This is so much harder on the moms than it is on the babies." To that, I call a resounding "bull^%&*!" (Edited for your reading pleasure, and to uphold the illusion that I don't have a potty mouth.)
These past two weeks have changed Max. He's always been such a happy baby; social and loving. He's the kind of baby that works really hard to get people's attention, and when they notice him, he rewards them with a high voltage grin. I was holding him once in the grocery store line, and he got visibly upset when the person behind us wasn't paying attention to him. Well, Max still smiles at people, but he now has a viscious case of stranger anxiety. In his experience these past two weeks, anyone he doesn't know who comes near him is going to make his life hard. At best, they're going to use a cold stethescope to listen to his heart; at worst, they're going to hold him down and repeatedly jab him until they can get an IV in him. By the time we left the hospital yesterday, he would look away if anyone unfamiliar looked at him.
And today really convinced me that what has happened to him has made an impact. He woke really early today, and was ready to go back to sleep by 9am. Problem was, he had no intention of sleeping anywhere outside my arms. And anytime I would put him down after rocking, swaying, bouncing, or nursing him to sleep, he would instantly wake up with a look of panic on his face and start screaming. It was a difficult morning because I was feeling the pressure of a huge pile of laundry, a cluttered house and some very pressing errands to run. (Our car registration is two months overdue and we've been cited twice in the same day for it, and my driver's liscense is expired. I'm trying to avoid getting pulled over and having to explain both of those. I don't think that even the "My son was in the hospital" excuse would get me out of that court date.) Not to mention that fact that my hair hadn't been washed since Saturday morning, (an unscheduled hospital stay will do that to me,) and that I was looking and smeeling something like the creature from the black lagoon. All I wanted was for my baby to take a nap so that I could take a shower and catch up on a few things.
Instead, I spent all morning rocking, swaying, bouncing, nursing, singing, trying to put him down when he closed his eyes, and then seeing him wake up in panic. I could tell he was anxious, scared, and still feeling crappy. I was tired, emotionally drained, and feeling crappy. It wasn't a great mix.
The classic motherhood moment came at about 12:10, when I was sitting in the rocking chair with Max who had exhausted himself into a sleep, with tears running down both our faces. Sweet Ashlynn came in the living room and said "Mom, I'll make my own lunch today, ok?" That was perfect. And when she came in and told me that she made herself a peanut butter sandwich with no jelly, I was just grateful I didn't have to get out of my chair.
So tomorrow, I'm going to remind myself that my poor six month old baby has been through a lot these past two weeks. And if he wants to spend the whole morning rocking in the rocking chair and nursing, I'm going to do it. The least I can do is help his world feel a little more organized and secure. And besides, I washed my hair today, and a day or two of peanut butter sandwiches never killed anyone.
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