Hospital Blues: My Week of Unwanted Mommy ‘Vacation’

The past week has been a total whirlwind. I don’t know where to start.

I’m pretty sure I mentioned a few posts ago that Paloma caught a bit of pink eye and I thought it had rubbed off on me. After about a week of eye pain, I went to the eye doctor in my town to get it checked out. After a quick but thorough exam, the opthamologist┬ásat me down and told me I had what she thought was optic niuritis and should head to the ER right away.

I honestly thought she was exaggerating but decided to just heed her advice and get rechecked just incase. Carlos and I left the baby with my parents, we made dinner plans and thought we would be home by bed time. No big deal, right?

Wrong. Within two hours I was checked in and on a corticosteroid drip to ease the tension on my optic nerve and a team of doctors checking me on all fronts. The first doctor told me I should expect to stay at least three days. The next doctor told me five. And the next one told me seven. I was a wreck.

I remember looking at them and saying, “No, I’m sorry you’re wrong. I have a two year old at home I need to get back to. You’re going to have to find a way to fix me in the next few hours.” I realize now how dumb it is for me to have thought that but in that moment my only thought was PJ.

The doctors started spouting medical mumbo jumbo at me; optic niuritis is a condition that happens when the optic nerve becomes inflamed. It can cause temporary partial blindness and intense pain. And at its worst it is commonly seen as a precursor to multiple sclerosis.

Hearing that I was stunned. How did we go to an inflamed optic nerve to MS? I’m 25. I’m generally healthy. I exercise, I try to eat right, and I’ve lost a lot of weight. I swore the doctor was joking but considering his next plan of action was a lumbar puncture I was pretty sure this was pretty serious to them.

After several painful attempts at collecting the spinal fluid, the doctors had everything they would need to run their tests. Our main job would be to sit and wait. Sit…and wait.

I spent most of my days telling Carlos to stay home so that PJ wouldn’t really notice my missing. The ladies I shared a room with would pity me, whisper things like, “I can’t believe they would just leave her alone like this. Poor girl.” But of course my main priority was making sure PJ was okay. I would try to FaceTime as much as I could just to see her laugh and play but it would kill me.

Can I point out that you never actually realize how fast your kid grows until you’re forced to NOT be there? I came home and this kid was running and jumping and saying things like “NO!” and putting her toys away before bed on her own. Crazy how much kids grow in just a week…

I’ll spare you the boring details but just know that the tests all said I had a massive inflammation of the optic nerve which caused my temporary loss of vision (duh) and that I tested NEGATIVE for MS. I can’t tell you the immense weight that was lifted off my shoulders when I heard that. The doctors feel positive with how I responded to the medication and are planning on keeping me on the steroids for a bit along with biannual check ups with the neurologist.

I’m feeling pretty rough on the meds and the after affects of the lumbar puncture but obviously happy to have my vision back and a relatively clean bill of health.

But moments like this always bring on the awareness of ones mortality, don’t they? I started freaking out picturing what my marriage would look like in the future, my daughter having a ‘disabled’ mother, a diminished quality of life for all of us. Then you feel guilty for thinking things like that, knowing that you are one of those people that always thought it happened to other people but never to you.

I’m feeling blessed/lucky right now that everything turned out the way it did though. It really made me think and reevaluate how I’m living my life, how I want the rest of my life to turn out. I need to start focusing on the future. Set goals and try to make them happen.

Change is coming. I don’t know who, what, where, or when. But I know that I need to shape up.

Motherhood in the spring time

If it weren’t common knowledge that the seasons changed on September 23rd, I don’t think I would have known that Spring had arrived in Uruguay.

The weather is still frigid, going outside is a chore, and I find myself desperately waiting for summer. But in the two and odd years I’ve lived in Uruguay, I’ve learned that I can’t judge the seasons solely based on the weather.

Spring has brought new life to our small farm! Lambs, piglets, and a new calf are currently grazing and playing wherever they can. Their mothers call for them whenever they wander off a little too far for comfort. Paloma, my mom and I find ourselves bundled up on the porch most mornings watching them interact with one another.

Belle and her daughter.
Belle and her daughter.

However, even with the picturesque scenery of galloping lambs and rambunctious piglets, there is always a bit of heart break. This year we had a couple of mothers reject their babies. One of the sheep rejected her lamb and one of our three pigs killed all of her piglets. We’ve gotten used to the accidental casualty but we’re finding that the deaths this year are higher than normal.

00A455EB-F528-420E-AF7F-8714C9C63ABD_1What really got to me this year was the sheep rejecting her daughter. I guess it’s pretty naive of me, but I always thought that mothering was just instinct in ALL animals. But I realized that like with most things nothing is 100%.

For awhile we kept the abandoned lamb by our house. I named her Hope, bottle-fed her and cuddled with her to keep her warm. I grew fond of this little lamb. She would follow me around outside and called for me when I wasn’t close enough for her.

But one particularly cold night she passed away. We tried our hardest to keep her warm and well fed but I guess it wasn’t enough for her. Her death affected me and caused me to grow angry at her mother. I couldn’t understand how a mother could just reject her baby like that.

And then something inside of me clicked. Just because they’re animals doesn’t mean that all of them are born with a mothering instinct. From there I quickly started thinking about how not all human women accept the role of motherhood.

Seeing this sheep reject her child showed me that even with animals mothering is a choice. You can carry a child in your womb but it doesn’t have to mean anything if you don’t want it to. The difference in this situation being that the other sheep don’t really care if you choose to raise your child or not. They’re too busy grazing for their own stomachs to worry about what some other sheep is doing.

New calf.
New calf.

Just because someone or something CAN get pregnant, does it mean that they should automatically be expected to be a mother? No. Should we push our individual beliefs on someone else just because it bothers us? No.

I’m sure you can tell where I’m going next with this. I’m not really sure where I stand on the topic of a woman’s right to choose. Some days I’m adamant about a woman’s right to her own body, and other days I cry for the loss of life.

One thing I do know for sure is, you can’t force anyone to be a mother just because they CAN be a mother. As with all things in life, it is a difficult and personal choice. No one should be persecuted for making a choice that differs from what you would personally do.

Grumpy baby, grumpy momma.

The past few days have been rough on our little family.

Sunday morning the family decided to head to la Feria Tristan Narvaja in Montevideo to look at some antiques while my aunt is in town. We had fun, walked around, saw some cool stuff, but decided to head home after about an hour. Paloma was being fussy and I could tell she just wanted to be home.

When I sat her in the car I noticed she had some green eye boogers but thought nothing of it, she must be tired. But when we stopped at the grocery store on my way home I noticed that there were more boogers than when I put her in. My aunt made comment that Carlos had spent the drive home wiping off the liquid and that I should take her to the emergency room to get it checked out.

PJ had been increasingly fussy and scratching at her eyes, so I decided it would be a good idea. We took her to the emergency room in town and the doctor diagnosed her with conjunctivitis, aka pink eye. He prescribed some antibiotic drops and told us we caught it in time. Seeing how it was Sunday there was only one pharmacy in town open.

The pharmacist spent about fifteen minutes looking for the drops but said they ran out and wouldn’t get anything in until Wednesday and to come back then. I know I must’ve given the man the look of death when he said, “Or go somewhere else.” I knew what this meant. I had to go to Montevideo, have PJ seen by an emergency room doctor at our hospital to get the same prescription and then head home. It was 6:30pm at this point so I went home, fed PJ, gave her a bath and changed her into comfortable clothes.

As always, our emergency room wait time was short. I’m pretty sure we were only there for half an hour. Much different than anything I’ve experienced in the States. The doctor did a quick exam, saw the pus-like liquid, checked PJs lungs, and gave us the prescription for the eye drops. Carlos ran to the pharmacy to grab the prescription and off we went. Two drops in each eye every six hours until tonight. Then it’s one drop in each eye every eight hours until Sunday. Wipe the eye with gauze and chamomile tea in between each dose. No big deal, right?

I didn’t realize how HARD it would be to get my kid to be okay with me touching her eyelids. Then there’s the part of dropping liquid, that may or may not burn, onto her eyeball. It’s been tough to say the least. But she has shown a bunch of progress. The eye cleared up almost immediately, she still scratches at it every now and then but at least it’s not leaking.

Today was awful. She has been exceptionally cranky, screaming and yelling at me. Wanting nothing but to be in front of the TV and eating crackers. She’s been punching and biting me for no reason. And I know this comes with the territory of motherhood. I know that toddlers are cranky little humans with lots of attitude. But somedays I’m just not up for it. I love her with every fiber of my being but today was one of those days where I wanted to be anything but her mom.

My parents ended up taking care of her for dinner and noticed that she kept tugging at her ears (and now is when we cue the mom guilt). I started touching her ears and noticed she would wince every time I even put my hands near that side of her head. I gave her some Tylenol before going to sleep and plan on taking her back to the emergency room in the morning to get her ears looked at.

These are the moments I have to wrangle every bit of strength and patience I can muster to not lose my cool. And really it has nothing to do with Paloma. She’s a baby; she cries and she’s in pain and she’s allowed to express however she feels. What bothers me is when people, and really I mean my husband, thinks that comforting our child is mom territory and he is exempt from helping. Or when he just lacks total common sense when it comes to PJ being sick. I know that this is a ‘man’ thing, or so I’ve been told, but I just really hate when all of the parenting and nurturing falls on me. I love him but right now I could strangle him.

I’m just having a bad day. Throwing myself a not-so-tiny pity party. I’ll be better tomorrow. I have to be better for PJ.