The last few weeks have been a challenging mix of mommying, wifing, and doctoring. Kate's eczema hit an all-time low (or "high", maybe?) and my husband and I have been passing strep back and forth...for the record, I won! I had it twice while he had it three times - with two rounds of antibiotics and a handy pack of steroids to keep his throat from swelling completely shut. Every day seemed dark and dizzying with all the medications to keep track of - some with food some on an empty stomach. Some graduating down a dose each day, and others being administered every other day. Each night (spent on the couch so as not to give up my place in the Strep Throat Winner's Circle) brought with it a sleepless panic. Every cry from the baby reminded me of how uncomfortable she was - how red & inflamed - how all she wanted to do was SCRATCH, but she couldn't because her mommy has mastered the Baby Straightjacket. Every cough from my husband had me worried he was choking (which happened a couple of times each night) or suffocating (which didn't happen, but might as well have, as the mere anticipation of it is rather traumatizing).
About halfway through the ordeal, I realized I've lost something. I know I didn't have it during my labor, nor did I have it in the midst of my post-delivery complications. You'd think it would have shown up when I was on oxygen and my mom was saying things to me that you only see on television - stuff like "Stay with me!" and "Look at me. Keep looking at me - don't close your eyes - keep looking at me."
I think it happened with the onset of motherhood, this loss. It's a good thing, too, because The Mom doesn't have the luxury of wimping out or waving the white flag of surrender. The Mom has no "flight". When it comes to your family, your truest and most fulfilling purpose in life, you Fight or Fight - those are your options.
You try seven soaps, 2 creams, and 2 salves for your baby's eczema - and you've got a list of MORE to try if these don't work. You scrap the fragrance and dye-free detergents for baking soda and vinegar and re-launder EVERYTHING her skin touches. You deep clean her room to remove as many dust mites as possible. You get a humidifier to help keep her skin better hydrated. You get a white noise machine to trick her into sleeping longer even when she itches. You see 3 different doctors and use a mad combination of prescriptions & natural treatments. You add Omega 3's to her diet. You give her antifungal meds. You stop breastfeeding and serve her outrageously expensive hypoallergenic formula that because she's STILL having trouble with food allergies even though you've eliminated sugar, flour, dairy, wheat, tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and eggs. You do NAET treatments on the things you know are triggers. You keep two socks on her hands at all times because she can usually get one off before you notice. You pray. You beg everyone else to pray. And all the while, you try to keep her (and yourself!) from catching The Nastiest Case of Strep in History from the feverish man on the couch. The man who takes an average of ONE sick day per year. The man who has been off work for TWO WEEKS. You do these things with a smile. You do them with tears streaming down your face. You do them with hope, and you do them out of sheer desperation.You keep trying, because there is no one else your baby can depend on. There is no one better suited to bring comfort to your husband.
Most first-borns appear to be good at everything they do. And, largely, we are. But that's because if we're not good at something, we hammer away until we've beaten something into subjection or we just don't do it. That way our image remains untarnished. No one is harder on us than we are on ourselves. My parents used to hope I would get a 'B' just so I could see it wasn't the end of the world! Now I've found the two things at which I long to succeed more than ANYTHING: being a wife, and being a mom. The only trouble is that, by their very nature, they are impossible to conquer. They bring failure every day because of selfishness and broken relationships on this side of Heaven. Just when you think you have found "the right way", everything changes and you start all over again.
And that's ok.
Because I've never felt the need to petition God for His strength, patience, wisdom, grace, and love even before my feet hit the ground in the morning. I've never gone days without a shower because there just hasn't been the time. I've never had to give up social events because it's better for someone else if I'm not dragging her all over creation, missing naps & delaying feedings. And I wouldn't have it any other way. I like being The Mom. I like being The Wife. It comes quite naturally, and I feel complete.