For the last six months or so, my kids have been asking for a baby brother, and it just melts my heart. How sweet that is to ask for another person to love and play with! They specifically want a boy “to make things fair” since the girls currently outnumber the boys in our family. When they ask, I tell them that God sends babies, and it’s up to Him if He wants us to have a baby boy. They don’t realize that their parents are a bit older than most of their friends’ parents and that another baby is unlikely for us. If I were a bit younger, I’d be hoping for that baby right along with them. Rose is two and a half now, and sometimes I find myself longing for a little baby to snuggle on my chest. But I’m also tired.
When I was expecting Rose, my doctor never seemed to let an opportunity pass to bring up my age. I wanted to tell him that I come from a long, direct maternal line of healthy women having healthy babies later in life. My great-great-grandmother had 13 children (all girls!), giving birth to her youngest at the age of 51. My great-grandmother gave birth to the first recorded triplets in Syracuse, although one of the little girls died after just a few minutes, and then had my great-aunt Betty nine years later when she was well into her thirties. My grandma (one of the triplets) had five children, all but one of them born after her 35th birthday. In fact, she had my uncle Ed when she was 47. She always said that when God sends a baby, you accept a baby as a gift. Then there’s my mom. She had her fourth child, my sister Emily, just a couple of weeks before her 40th birthday. All this means that I know it can be done, and I trust that I would have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.
One night when Rose was an infant, I was rocking her to sleep and, at first, thinking about how tired I was from taking care of an infant, a three-year-old, and a five-year-old all day. Then I started to think about two of my cousins, who had each recently buried a young daughter. All of a sudden, it hit me hard how blessed I was, and I realized that there were much, much worse things that could happen in my life than having another baby in my forties.
My children will probably continue to ask for a baby brother, and I will continue to smile and tell them that the decision is in God’s hands and mean it. I may not be asking Him for another baby at this point in my life but if He wants to surprise me, I will accept His gift as my grandma did.
I had plans this year for simplifying Advent and Christmas, and I was going to write a post all about how much more peaceful my preparations and celebrations were this year. Well, the past three weeks sure did move at a slower pace than usual, but it had nothing to do with my plans.
In the first two weeks of Advent, I had done most of my shopping and some heavy duty housecleaning. My plan for the third week, which was actually the last week before Christmas this year, was to complete a big grocery shopping trip and then focus on baking. Instead, the next three weeks went like this:
Sunday, December 17: Kathleen woke up with a sore throat and a cough. We kept her home from religious education and Mass, hoping she would feel better the next day.
Monday, December 18: Kathleen stayed home from school. That evening she developed a rash on her face and chest. We gave her an antihistamine because it looked like an allergic reaction to something.
Tuesday, December 19: Kathleen’s rash was worse. At the doctor’s office I learned that a rash is a common symptom of strep throat.
Wednesday, December 20: Kathleen stayed home from school while her amoxicillin got to work. I still hadn’t made it to the grocery store, so every day I was emailing Dan a shopping list with items to prepare a simple supper that night and specific baking supplies for the next day’s batch of cookies.
Thursday, December 21: Kathleen went back to school, and Rose and I finally went shopping in the morning. I managed to put together beef stew in the crock pot, and then we had a busy afternoon with Daniel’s kindergarten Christmas concert and 2:00 and Kathleen’s Christmas dance preview at 4:00. (She looked pale, but she was determined to dance!)
Friday, December 22: Daniel woke up in the wee hours, crying because he couldn’t open his right eye. It was unmistakably pinkeye. Dan was off from work that day, so he took Daniel to the doctor. My brave parents actually agreed to come into our home and babysit as planned so Dan and I could finish our Christmas shopping.
Saturday, December 23: Once upon a time I considered December 23 to be my favorite day of the year. It used to be a day to bake cookies and wrap presents and anticipate the joy of Christmas. Not so much this year.
Sunday, December 24: While I took the girls to church that morning, Dan and Daniel headed to urgent care with sore throats and coughs. Although they informed the doctor that they had been exposed to strep, he told them he thought it was a virus instead and didn’t even do throat cultures. Yet, he gave them each a prescription for amoxicillin just in case. Does that make any sense? That afternoon, the girls and I got dressed up and went to Christmas Eve Mass while the boys stayed home to rest. We had our traditional seafood casserole for dinner and got to bed, hoping everyone would feel better in the morning.
Monday, December 25: Although neither Dan nor Kathleen nor Daniel were actually healthy, everyone felt well enough to celebrate with presents and good food. My parents and Dan’s mom and sister joined us.
Tuesday, December 26: We went to Dan’s sister’s house for the second day of Christmas. I didn’t realize how lousy Dan was actually feeling.
Wednesday and Thursday, December 27 and 28: We had quiet days at home. Dan’s mom had come to stay with us, and the kids were enjoying their new toys and crafts. Kathleen finished her amoxicillin, and Daniel finished his eye drops.
Friday, December 29: I woke up feeling stiff and achy, but I blamed it on spending several hours sleeping with Daniel in his twin bed. I managed to make blueberry pancakes for breakfast. After lunch, Dan drove his mom home to Rome, New York, which is about an hour and 15 minutes down the road from us. As the afternoon went on, I felt worse and worse and couldn’t wait for him to get home. I had a seriously sore throat.
Saturday, December 30: It was my turn to visit urgent care. I was so hoping it was strep throat so that I could just take amoxicillin and it would start to feel better quickly. No such luck. The nurse did a throat culture, but it came back negative. The doctor told me I had the same virus everyone in the waiting room had. The nurse let me know that my sore throat would last five days, and then I should expect my cough to last another seven days after that. They sent me home with directions to rest and take Tylenol.
That afternoon when Rose woke up from her nap, we noticed that her eyes looked pink, and she had some “eye boogies”. We thought we were going to be heading back to urgent care the next morning. That night I prayed one of the sincerest prayers of my life. I offered to accept my sore throat and nasty virus with as much patience as I could muster if Jesus would please heal my little girl’s eyes. I just couldn’t imagine how we were going to administer eye drops to a two year old, let alone keep her from touching her eyes and then every single item in the house.
Sunday, December 31: I heard Rose wake up that morning and play happily with her stuffed animals. Her eyes were completely clear. Thank you, Jesus.
Monday, January 1: I had hoped that by New Year’s Day I would feel well enough to make goulash, frozen peas, and crescent rolls for a super fancy holiday dinner. Instead, we had canned soup. Again.
Tuesday, January 2: Dan, Kathleen, and Daniel all went back to school, and I managed to keep Rose alive while I was alone with her. I even managed to make the goulash that evening, but then I was so worn out I couldn’t eat it and went to bed at 7 o’clock. Putting all the kids to bed himself that night was one of the best gifts Dan has ever given me.
Wednesday, January 3: Just after midnight, Daniel woke up with a terrible cough. I gave him some cough syrup and slathered his feet with Vicks VapoRub, and he settled into a peaceful sleep for the rest of the night. But Kathleen woke up about two hours later with the same cough, and Dan tended to her. I knew that neither of them would be going to school. The problem was that I had an appointment for an eye exam that afternoon. I was more than a year overdue for my exam and desperately wanted to go even though I was still feeling lousy. On the other hand, I knew I couldn’t ask my parents to babysit with all the germs we had at our house. God bless Dan. He arranged to have a sub for the afternoon and came home so I could make my appointment.
Kathleen and Daniel hadn’t acted particularly sick all day, so I thought they’d be going back to school on Thursday. Then around suppertime Kathleen started to complain that her ear hurt.
Thursday, January 4: Kathleen threw up in her bed. Twice. I let her sleep in and put Daniel on the school bus at 8:35. At 9:30 I sneaked up the stairs to make sure Kathleen was still breathing. At 10:30 she came down the stairs, looking pale. When I asked her how she felt, she said “tired.” Her ear didn’t exactly hurt, but it was “bothering her.” Her temperature was 99.8. I wondered if vomiting could possibly be a symptom of an ear infection. Google quickly informed me that it was. At least this time we got to see the nurse practitioner at our family doctor’s office. She confirmed the ear infection, and we headed to the drug store to pick up more amoxicillin before the weather got bad.
Friday, January 5: School was closed because of snow and subzero temperatures with wind chills around -20. I am so glad my husband is a teacher and doesn’t have to go out in weather like that. We hunkered down for the weekend. I was starting to feel better. Kathleen was doing better with a few doses of antibiotic in her, and Daniel and Rose only had the sniffles. However, Dan started to talk about how his sore throat had never really gone away.
So, yes, we moved at a slower pace this Christmas. Because we didn’t really feel like getting out of our beds. Today is the Feast of the Epiphany. I had hoped that maybe with the end of the Christmas season, we would also see the end of our illnesses, at least for a while. But today Dan is in bed. As I write this around three o’clock in the afternoon, he has gotten up twice to use the bathroom, but he’s had nothing to eat. He says his stomach is upset, and he feels as if he’s weighted down with lead. I can’t wait for that to spread to the rest of the family!