By Jeremy G. SChneider, MFT
I have been sick (yeah, sick enough not even to write) and knew I was starting to feel better when for the first time in a week, a post began to write itself in my head last night. Lately, I have been thinking more and more about the benefits of being a parent – especially a father – because so many men only hear about the negative effects of becoming a father without hearing the positive ones, the little moments that make being a parents so special. Unfortunately, the last couple of nights we experienced one of those moments of parenting that makes it so difficult. We listened to Lucas cough and cough and cough.
He has been fighting the tail end of a cold for several weeks it seems like. If it wasn’t for the cough, he seems perfectly healthy – no fever, no congestion, no aches and pains. He has been running around and having a great time – except for the cough that won’t go away. Frustratingly, in the past couple of days the cough has gotten worse – even though he still seems to feel fine. But it means he has been having a lot of trouble sleeping. This for a boy who doesn’t, under the best of circumstances, like sleeping in the first place.
We’ve been drugging him up at night the best we can; we’ve been giving him prescribed cough syrup with decongestant. But his cough has been getting worse at night and, of course, if he has trouble sleeping, we have trouble sleeping. The lack of sleep also worries us that he could get more sick and is also causing Dorit to have less sleep, making her more susceptible to catching something herself. The constant cough also means we are nebbying (nebulizing) him 3-4 times a day, which is no fun for any of us.
Last night, his coughing woke him up again and after I had given him more cough syrup and some Benadryl, Gem and I laid in bed listening to him cough.
“Poor little boy.”
The thing is, he has been such a trooper about the whole thing. He hasn’t fought us on taking any of the medicine or all of the nebbys. He isn’t even complaining about the fact that he is coughing so much. I am certain his throat is starting to hurt because his cough is ripping it up, yet he is not complaining. He has been going about his day the best he can and trying to get as much sleep as his cough will let him. One night earlier this week, he was coughing so bad, I went in to check on him, but he was completely asleep. He was coughing but somehow it hadn’t woken him up.
“Maybe I should lie down with him,” Gem suggested.
But when we’re in the room with him, he gets distracted and doesn’t sleep as well. She knows that. I know that. But we’re desperate to do something, anything, that feels like it would help him.
Lying in bed, listening to your child cough and cough, hack and hack, knowing he needs sleep, knowing his sister across the room needs sleep, knowing we’ve done everything we can for him and we just have to wait for the medicine to kick in enough to knock him out, is one of the most helpless and frustrating feelings known to humankind.
I know it is so difficult for us parents because we love our children so much and that is such a wonderful thing about becoming a parent – realizing that you can have so much love for someone so small while your love only seems to grow as they do.
But there are moments, like last night listening to him struggle with trying to go to sleep while coughing, that the powerful love we feel foments into frustration and helplessness.
I think that is something all non-parents can probably wait to find out on their own.