When Mykala was just three months pregnant with Ess, one of the challenges I anticipated was a sick kid at home. How difficult it must be to watch your little one run down by aches, a runny nose, a tight cough and tired lungs. It has been about two years since that thought, and through a combination of luck and hand sanitizer, our family has threaded the contagion needle through birthday parties, sick relatives, and an entire cold and flu season. Then there was last week. Ess was down, down, down. The primary prodrome was her tendency to sit on our laps for extended periods, paging through a book, resting her head on our encircling arms. Kid must be fighting something, we guessed.
But the thing I hadn’t considered was when you have a sick kid, you’re pretty likely to be sick yourself. And so we were. All of last Monday, Mykala could not even move she was so nauseous. Eating or drinking were suspended indefinitely. And that night, Ess was up about every two hours, feeling awful. After Mykala went to bed I began tablespoons of water, separated by decreasing intervals, trying to get some liquid in her and keep it there. Feeling just a little achy and a little coughy myself, I thought I had dodged the sickening. My immunological hubris was quickly corrected during the the next few days, which I zombied through, performing my work and father duties while looking through the dirty fogged lens of illness. Each phase of it rolled in and lingered since there is no true down day of recovery when you have a toddler. Through this my mom helped us every time she could: taking Essie so Mykala could nap and convalesce, watching Ess while I fought cabin fever with some exercise, supporting us at each stage. How helpful it is to have one healthy person with whom to share duties!
Slowly, slowly we have been recuperating. Essie recently had her first normal-kid morning again and only then did Mykala and I realize how stressful it had been to watch her hurting and coughing and fitfully sleeping. Delivered from the illness crucible, we found joy in little daily activities: feeding Ess in her high chair, chasing her around the house, coloring, cooking, grocery shopping, reading. As the quote goes, having a child is “[deciding] forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”