Thursday, April 4, 2013

the bulb syringe that made me cry

Emerson made it nearly a year with her health intact—my strong little ox of a girl—until yesterday when she came down with her first cold. Of course, it had to end sometime. But, I will say that Emerson is much more of a trooper than I am when I'm feeling ill (I learn so much from her). For the most part, she continues to smile and laugh and be in a (relatively) good mood despite the ickiness inside her….except when I come at her with a tissue or a bulb syringe, that is. Then she absolutely loses it. She sobs and begs for me to hold her instead of de-boogie-ing her. (Side note: Why do babies hate tissues so much?!)

So yesterday, upon the suggestion of, I decided to irrigate Emerson's nose and then suction it out. She can't sleep or nurse comfortably right now, because she can't breathe. We all got about four hours of sleep the night she fell ill. So, I felt desperate to ease my baby's discomfort and let us all (especially the sicky-poo) rest. Being able to actually complete the de-boogie-ing task, though, meant having to restrain my baby, because she was not about to let me do it willingly. told me that restraining my baby would look and feel awful despite the good deed I was attempting to accomplish, and they were right. Actually, in my dramatic opinion, I think they understated it. 

My child does not take kindly to having her limbs pinned down and out of her control (no matter how gently). She's been that way since birth, fighting her way out of her swaddling blanket. In fact, she still considers blankets torture devices to this day. I have no idea why. Total tangent. The point is, when Emerson does not want something to happen (to her) she not only lets you know, but makes it incredibly challenging, if not impossible. 

So, I had to restrain her to get the bulb syringe anywhere near her nostrils. And it was awful. So awful. Even though the end result was a baby who could once again breathe (and subsequently sleep and nurse), I hated every minute of it, because she hated every minute of it. I desperately wanted to be able to explain to her that I was trying to help her, that I wanted to take away her discomfort, not add to it. And I tried to. But, they were words she could not yet understand. 

Later, before bed, I decided to repeat the process so Emerson could sleep longer than 15-minute intervals (literally what happened tortured us all the night before). This time, she was even more upset about it. I eventually gave up, because she just looked so terrified and upset and I couldn't handle the fact that something I was doing was making her feel that way. I scooped her up and held her, and as she buried her head in the nape of my neck, arms griping my body with all her might, it occurred to me that while I could give up the bulb syringe (or finally purchase a freakin' Nosefrida like I've been meaning to do all year!) I would still be faced with this predicament a billion more times in my life as a parent. I was just as upset as Emerson upon realizing that.

There will always be unpleasant experiences that I will have to inflict upon my sweet child, because they are in her best interests. It is my job to take care of her health, keep her safe, and give her the best chance at a happy/successful/psychologically-sound future. So far, that hasn't required all that much discomfort on either of our parts. So far, I've mostly been the best-most-amazing-most-favorite-person-in-the-whole-wide-world to Emerson. 

Now I'm transitioning into a different role, and I'm not entirely sure how to contend with the feelings that come along with it. In moments like I-need-to-suction-your-nose-so-you-can-breathe-and-you-hate-it-and-are-scared, I feel something closely resembling guilt. I know I am doing what is best, yet I feel so badly about it. As natural and normal as difficult phases (terrible twos/threes/fours/teens) are, I am not looking forward to no longer being the best-most-amazing-most-favorite-person-in-the-whole-wide-world. I am not looking forward to having to say, "yes, this is happening even though you hate it, it's for your own good." Whether that means suctioning my baby's nose, cleaning the dirt out of her boo boos, sending her to bed at a reasonable time so she gets enough sleep, insisting she finish her homework, or enforcing a curfew….it all sucks. It's for the best, and is a healthy way to love my child, but it's not exactly fun. 

I guess I'm having trouble accepting that while I am currently the ultimate panacea to my child's every woe, it won't always be this way. At times, I will have to be the scary lady with the bulb syringe in order to truly love my child.

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