In Sickness

I was a always a very sickly child. Hypochondriac, sure, but also sickly. I got strep throat at least once a month my entire childhood.

When you're a kid, being sick really isn't that bad. You get to skip school and piano lessons, you lay around in your pajamas all day while your mom makes you soup and buys you your own bottles of Sprite. Even when you feel like crap, at least you're laying down on the couch, wrapped in the comforter from your bed, watching ABC Family's daytime lineup.
I just recently found out, it's different when you're an adult.
I woke up in the middle of the night earlier this week as sick as a dog. I rushed into the bathroom where I promptly passed out. Every time I tried to stand up, I would pass out again. It was very dramatic and damsel-in-distressy of me.
I finally got some sleep but had a major headache and just all around felt like crap the next few days. All I wanted to do was lay in bed and have people bring me soup while I watched TV.
But I was about ten minutes into the day when I realized that wasn't going to happen.
Rather, I still had to do basically everything I normally do... I just had to do it while I was sick.
It didn't help that the whole first day, I felt like I was being rained on with frustrations and bad news. I drove all the way to Brigham for a meeting with my advisor, only to find out she had stayed home sick that day. When I finally realized I could eat something, I went to make some mashed potatoes and realized the potatoes I had bought only a few days before were all completely rotten.
I pretty much lost it.
But, internally. I've found it's best to let it fester until I break down over something really small and meaningless.
Basically, I just had myself a little pity party. I was upset that I had to do all my same day-to-day stuff while feeling like that. I was mad that there wasn't someone from the Relief Society showing up at the door with a hot pan of dinner saying, "I just had a feeling you needed this tonight." Overall, I was frustrated that I couldn't escape from my life for even a moment. It used to be so easy! Calling in sick, cancelling piano lessons. Friends bringing you the homework you missed.
It doesn't work that way anymore. Because I can't leave Dayen in his crib all day. He wasn't even remotely aware that I wasn't feeling good.
That same day, after running a bunch of errands, I took Dayen to the park to eat his sucker he got from the bank, and it was pretty much the highlight of his whole life. I actually started writing this blog post then, thinking, "Wow, I've learned so much. It's not about me, it's about my kid. I get it!"
Then, it got worse.
Dayen went to bed last night totally fine. I think he had coughed maybe twice all day, and not a bad sounding cough at all. Then an hour after we put him to bed, he woke up crying and making the most horrible sound I've ever heard. Every time he tried to take a breath, he made a barking sound and I could tell he wasn't getting much air. It almost sounded like something was stuck in his throat, and I wasn't sure if he was choking.
I can officially attest to the fact that there is not much in this world scarier than waking up to a truly sick child. 
I of course handled it like a pro and things could not have gone smoother.
Just kidding.
I panicked and ran in to our room to wake up Caleb. I'm sure it was a lovely, peaceful surprise to wake up to your child making that horrible noise and your wife yelling, "Something is wrong!"
Then I called my mom so she could barely hear me while I tried to make her listen to Dayen so she could give an over-the-phone diagnosis.
Then we sat in the bathroom with the shower on while Dayen looked at me like I was nuts and continued to cry and bark.
Then I called the hospital where they "weren't allowed to give medical advice over the phone", but told me it could be Croup, and at least reassured me enough that we could go to bed.
Wait, did I say go to bed? Because that didn't really happen for quite awhile. Instead, I camped out on Dayen's floor so I could hear him breathing, and then I tried to push the couch into his room because I'm selfish and the floor is uncomfortable. And when that didn't work (darn angles in this house) I brought him out to the living room in his play pen to sleep next to the couch and instead he did some headstands and smiled at me through the netting of the play pen like we were having a sleepover.
He doesn't like sleeping somewhere new.
So I finally put him down in his own crib and half-slept in my room the rest of the night, waking up every time he made the tiniest sound.
It was the worst nights sleep I've gotten since he was a newborn. It was scary, and I was anxious the whole time. The poor kid kept waking up and crying, not knowing what was going on. One time I went in to get him and he was just sitting up, looking confused. All I had to do was lay him down and he fell back asleep.
But this night made me realize something: I signed up for this. Not just sleepless nights for myself, but more importantly, to be his protector. All the time. For the rest of his life! I don't know what we would have done this week without help and advice from my mother and mother-in-law, which made me realize, it never ends. The day is not coming where I get to focus on just myself again.
And that is a wonderful thing.
I don't know why we think selfishness ever brought about happiness. It might be great to get a gift or favor from someone asking nothing in return. But it is so, so much more fulfilling to be the person doing the giving.
And motherhood, parenthood in general, shoves us into that role with no looking back. We are programmed to love this little human who does not yet have the capacity to help us when we are sick, or even thank us for anything we do for them.
And not just because they are a baby, but because they are plain human.
I remember going to the doctor when I was little, and it seemed like I always had to get a blood test done. I hated needles (still do) and my mom would always tell me, "I would do this for you if I could!" And I would always think, "Can we make that happen? Go ahead!" I thought she was crazy: there is nothing worse than being poked with a needle!
Turns out, there is something worse- watching your kid be poked with a needle. I get it now. I would do it for him if I could.
It took me until I was 19 to realize I should bake my mom a birthday cake so she didn't have to bake her own.
I can remember her being sick, and most of us letting her deal with it on her own, wondering if it meant we got to order pizza that night.
I grew up and I loved my mom, and I appreciated my mom, but I never truly understood her until I became a mom myself. I can never repay her for all that she's done for me (or for that matter, all that my mother in law did for my husband) so I do what everyone else in history has done... I pay it forward to my own children.
I come from a generation of people who live in debt so they can have new things. We post daily selfies begging someone to compliment our lipstick. We say we want to travel the world and "find ourselves" rather than have a family.
But I am here to tell you, I was never complete until I became a mom. I thought I had found myself, but I had no idea of my own capacity to love someone. I didn't know I could change 3 poopy diapers in 5 minutes time and not feel the least bit resentful. I didn't know I could spend all day every day playing with stuffed animals and blocks that I stopped finding interesting about 20 years ago. I didn't know I could love someone without expecting a single thing in return.
All the liberal feminists these days argue that not everyone is meant to be a mother, that you shouldn't have to give up your body to another human. But giving up your body is the easy part: throw a Tshirt over those stretch marks and no one will ever know. You will give up so so much more than that. You give up yourself. Your time, your resources. Your dreams. Your heart.
And it is more worth it than any worldly thing you can find. It is more worth it than searching the globe to fulfill your "wanderlust." It's more worth it than a closet full of cute clothes, a drawer of expensive makeup, or even a hard-earned degree.
It is the only thing in this life that makes us step completely out of ourselves, makes us be truly selfless and self-sacrificing for the life of another person. It is the closest thing we can ever experience to true Christlike love.
It's hard, because it's worth it. Because we have to earn it. I'm slowly getting that now.

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