"You should just go up and lie down. He'll freak out, but I'll take care of him."
It is 11:00 on Thursday morning, four days in to the swine flu breakout in our household. In a way today has been the worst even though Sam doesn't have a fever like he did before, he's out of sorts to the extreme, whining and clinging and not really knowing what he needs or wants.
"It's not going to help, I just feel sick but it's not flu..."
"I know," he says, "but Sam has been clinging to you for three days. Take the laptop and go rest, I'll deal with Sam."
I sit and think. Sam is lying on my chest with his head on my shoulder. He wants me to pick him up, but between the nausea and how big he's gotten, I just can't carry him around like I used to. I sit on the floor as I channel surf, trying to find SOMETHING that he'll be happy with, but to every channel he just says 'no, not this.'
As my husband urges me to go, I feel tears come to my eyes. I know he's right, but I feel weak. I should be able to take care of my son. I should be able to handle this 'morning' sickness, it could be worse. I should be able to give Sam what he needs. I feel tears slipping out and I feel like a baby.
Sam whines, and I accept defeat. I set him on the floor gently as he protests, I pick up the laptop and cord and head for the stairs as he starts to whine. I crawl into bed and feel it all overwhelm me. As I turn towards the wall and cry, I can hear him crying downstairs. I know he is asking for me. I hear Justin tell him that he knows he wants me, but it's just not going to happen right now.
As I sit up to write, to try and purge myself of some of this wrenching doubt, my tears are alone. Just like Justin said, Sam is not crying. I know that he can take care of him, but what mother doesn't feel an overwhelming need to give, give, give, especially when their child is sick?
I don't know how to do this. Last time I was pregnant, I felt bad for almost 5 months. But I didn't have to do anything. I dragged myself to work, ate saltines all day, went home for a few hours and slept a lot. There were not other committments. This time, I found myself hoping that I was sick with the flu and that this wasn't just the onset of morning sickness. After a few days of no other symptoms, I have to face it. This may be how I feel for the next several months, and I just don't know how to be okay with that. How am I going to be a good Mom to Sam when all I want to do is lie on the couch eating saltines and Cheerios and drifting in and out of sleep? How am I going to be able to attend playdates and play at playgrounds when too much physical activity just makes it that much worse?
Beyond any of this, how is it going to be for Sam when the baby comes? I know that in the end, it will be great. Siblings are wonderful, and I hope they'll grow to love each other with the amazing power that only exists between sisters and brothers. But it's going to be hard at first, Iknow that. He's not going to understand, and I worry about making sure he doesn't feel left out, that we still set aside Sam time for him.
Justin is right. Sam has been clinging to me for the past three days. I've barely had a moment to myself. He has slept next to me, napped on top of me, eaten in my lap. I haven't had a shower. I slept on the floor for two nights because Sam was in and out of sleep and then throwing up and I didn't want him in the bed. He's fallen asleep with his arms around my neck as I try to position myself so that his touch on my throat didn't make me want to vomit. He loves me fiercely, but sometimes I need it to subside.
For now, I sit. I hear him babbling downstairs, and I know I need to work, I have articles to write. But what can I do but let myself rest, just for a moment? I know that I need to let these tears fall, unbottle my fears and let the unsurety wash over me. I know it's okay. But somehow, knowing isn't enough, and I feel right now like I'm lost.
I WILL be okay. Eventually...