March 16, 2002 - Saturday
I think there's a pretty good argument to be made for today as our worst day of parenting. An obvious contender was Harry's first major meltdown at 3 and a half months, but that really was just a couple of hours of a baby crying and relatively new parents trying to both settle him down and deal with the apparent, but not unique uncertainty of the situation. It hindsight, it's even a little comforting in an odd way that we went and got through that. Hopefully, someday we'll say the same about today, and comfort did come for all of us, but the issues where complex, our emotions and actions wildly conflicting, and there's the lingering fear that we've traumatized our boy.
It has really been a bad week, and that had little to do with my sickness, though that couldn't have helped my reactions. The problem is that Harry has been constipated and had become increasingly uncomfortable and whiny as the days passed. At first, there was no way to know that was the problem and early on I figured that Harry's return to daycare and renewed association with the younger children might have reawakened the idea that whining gets results. Unfortunately, in our house we've tried hard to dissuade that notion and, thus, Harry's whining was greeted with skepticism and, as it continued, rebukes. There were certainly many times during the week when we wondered openly, his mother and I, whether something might indeed be wrong, but the on and off nature of his annoying behavior mixed with periods of happiness and no distress seemed contrary to that idea. Unfortunately, Harry is still frustratingly inconsistent at answering direction questions. Sometimes he's forthcoming, but often times, especially with such direct and sensitive questions, not. So, I'd ask if something were the matter, if his body hurt, and I'd ask why he was whining, and get no answer. Did he not answer, I wondered, because he couldn't express himself, was embarrassed, or because he realized that crying for no reason was undesirable. Increased pressure for an answer did not help.
Still by Thursday we'd started to wonder about his constitution and his daycare provider confirmed she had not witnessed a release in a couple of days. Then, yesterday morning as I greeted Harry in his room, the sweet aroma of said relief seemed to both confirm our suspicions and foretell the end of Harry's disagreeable antics. And, that was true, at least for a while. With his veritable success, I attended to Harry's demands to build the bigger bed he had found in his closet hoping to turn the potential negative of bowel trouble into a positive growing experience: a difficulty overcome by a mature boy. Fortunately, I didn't have much time to press that angle, because when the whines returned last night then again this morning in earnest. Harry was back in trouble and so were we because Harry still wasn't saying why he was crying. This time we did have a stronger suspicion, of course, but wouldn't he have felt better for becoming less plugged yesterday?
By midmorning things were clear enough and we were on the phone for medical advice. By noon it had become clear that Harry needed immediate help, physically and, perhaps, emotionally. It's such a sensitive subject, of course, and Harry's at a time when he's really starting to understand his body and to be normally uncomfortable with those facts. Today and this week, his bowels were causing him great discomfort. What's more, from yesterday's relative success and from our encouragement for more, he pretty much knows that's the trouble. Unfortunately, to a two year old, that probably means poop = pain. At the same time we've been uncertain and displeased with his whining and no one in our house has been comfortable with anything that's been happening, including sympathy crying for Jeremy. His mother and I are writhing with every new and increasingly loud whimper, every move of his little body in search of some way to sit or lie so it doesn't hurt, and, for 3-4 hours, every true scream Harry makes at his body's involuntary effort to make things right.
The drug store did help and while the relaxant took closer to an hour and a half than the estimated 15 minutes to one hour to kick in, when it finally did at about 2:30pm, the day, our household, and our overall outlook on kids and those glorious days without them many years ago changed dramatically. Within five minutes, Harry's mood was overhauled completely. Indeed, it seems as though the rest of the afternoon and evening were some of the happiest times he and we have had. I'm sure that perspective is skewed, but I'm sure there was nary a turned down lip for the rest of the afternoon.
For us, we know that his body is fine for the moment, but how do we make sure his mind isn't all mixed up about this?