Parenting is hard. Parenting is scary. Oftentimes you only read about the happy, joyous moments on a blog. Or you only see pictures of smiley kids. Don't get my wrong, the happy, joyous, smiley times far outweigh the hard times--if they didn't, I can't imagine so many people going through parenthood...and I certainly wouldn't be entertaining the thought of a 3rd baby. But in all honesty, it's days like today where I wonder if I'm cut out to be a parent. I mean really, truly.
There aren't instructions that can truly prepare you for birth, postpartum depression, food allergies, hospital visits. In fact, there really aren't instructions for any part of parenting. Sure, you can read all kinds of books with advice, tips, etc, but the fact of the matter is, every child is different. Every parent is different too. So, what works for one, may not work for another. I remember with my first son I read EVERY SINGLE book on sleep trying to get him to sleep for more than 30 minutes at a time. I never thought I would sleep again.
But for me, that pales in comparison to today. Today my son couldn't breathe. Literally. Spiders? Sure. Snakes? Absolutely. Other creepy, slithery things? BRING. IT. ON. Cockroaches? Okay, maybe I'm pushing my luck with that one, but you get the idea. We each have areas in parenting that really challenge us; that make us stop and wonder if we're really cut out for this. Chart topper for me? My son's inability to breathe.
Almost 2 years ago (the day I brought my youngest son home from the hospital!) we found out my eldest son is HIGHLY allergic to cashews, pistachios, and walnuts. He had an anaphylactic reaction to a bite, yes a BITE, of ONE cashew and ended up in the urgent care with an O2 level of 64 percent. Anyone knowing O2 levels knows that below a 90 percent is cause for considerable concern. We now carry an epi-pen everywhere we go. We have one in the car. We have one in the house. We have one in the diaper bag. We have one at each of the grandparent's houses. We have one at preschool. If I could, I would make sure the whole world had one just to protect this little guy...
One of the lovely side effects of the anaphylaxis is asthma. This is a new development for us. Now, every time he gets a cough and a stuffy nose it turns in to a big ordeal. It shuts his system down. We've gone in twice now for emergency oxygen after the inhaler has failed to provide relief. Today was one of those days. I laid awake all night listening to his labored breathing, thick, mucous filled cough, and sniffles. My husband and I took turns taking him in to the bathroom to try to get relief via a steamy shower. (Quite a picture I wish I had; my husband holding my son, both fully clothed in jammies, standing on the edge of the shower, bodies placed directly above the water to try to get as close to the steam as possible.) As I lay there I wanted to cry out...Where's my instruction manual damn it?! Nothing can prepare you. No book can describe the emotion. No book can make you feel the fear. No book can make your every fiber of being react in a split second. A book might describe it to you, but nothing can truly prepare you. The world stops, yet it spins faster and faster.
What was the scariest part of today was that if/when he has another anaphylactic reaction, it will be oh so much worse. To hold my son's life in an epipen is scary. To have everyone involved in his life know how to use one is expected. To hope everyone around me knows how to use one too? Unrealistic. Questions are always flooding my mind, wondering if I'm doing this parenting thing correctly. Fear is sometimes all consuming, hoping this doesn't attack him again, but knowing it will. It really isn't a question of if, rather, when.
What keeps me going? Knowing that God won't put more on my plate than He knows I can swallow. I just sometimes wish that plate wasn't so big...or that my bites might be a bit smaller.
Transparent moment for other mommies: What do you struggle with? What have you found that works? How can we support each other?
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