One step forward, two steps back

The past few weeks have been rough as baby fell sick for the first time (which was inevitable) but had a rollercoaster recovery (which challenged us in unique ways as adoptive working parents). Plus, we are not so young anymore in our mid-late 40s!

We had started him at infant care just before CNY break, but he caught a cold a few days later either from his new friends at pre-school or some of the visitors and family at home. Having gone through baby colds before with big bro, I just rolled with it at first, using essential oils and OTC meds, adjusting his diet and naps, as needed. In my mind I thought — that worked fine with #1, who hardly got sick in his first 6 years, it should too for #2!

But unlike his big bro, baby didn’t recover within the week, and his runny nose got progressively worse with prolonged diarrhoea, fever, phlegmy cough, wheezing lungs… He lost his appetite completely, would vomit out his milk and what little he ate, and would wake every 2-4 hours overnight crying, struggling to breathe and arching his back in pain / hunger. It was tough to see him suffer like this — far from his cheerful, robust self 😭 (who had been eating like a champ and sleeping 11-12 hours through the night till this). The doctor confirmed that his little lungs were indeed infected, the pulse oximeter measured low blood oxygen levels, and the sputum test revealed mild mycoplasma pneumonia, essentially a nasty chest cold that could also be a sign of future childhood asthma. She mentioned hospitalisation, but we didn’t want that, so we committed to a 24/7 round the clock schedule of 4-hourly nebulisers, nasal sprays/suction and stronger meds including antibiotics (which will need to be followed by a month’s worth of probiotics to help restore the healthy bacteria in his gut).

Baby’s lungs finally cleared this weekend, leaving just a stubborn cough to deal with. After this tsunami of emotions (worry, guilt, tiredness) and stress (juggling a hyper 9-year old boy and sick 9 month old boy, household matters, keeping up with work), I am able to rest a bit and recover, yet also reflect on some new questions that I’m wrestling with: Should I have sourced breast milk for him, which maybe could provide natural immunity like #1 had? What is #2’s actual medical history? Does it even matter, or is it linked to eczema like some friends have shared? Should he take the flu vaccine to help future infections (but that would take another month)? Do we stop or pause infant care if so? How do I make adjustments to my work schedule to accommodate this? Unlike my time with #1, we both work in jobs that don’t easily lend themselves to part/flexi time, and unfortunately my elderly parents are no longer in the prime of health to mind a very active baby all day.

All of this is happening during Lent, a season often associated with new beginnings. And so I am also reminded to take captive my anxieties, conflicts and distractions, to create space in the midst of life’s responsibilities, to appreciate God’s presence with and intimate knowledge of each one of us. God alone knows if baby J does have a chronic respiratory or health condition, but as adoptive parents, we have embraced him fully into our lives, and all we can do is love and trust and wait, running with endurance the race ahead by “looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:1-3)

PS – A good outcome from the doc visit is that we got to track his height and weight again. Thankfully chubby baby had built up good reserves (haha) so despite being sick for several weeks, he measured a solid 73.5 cm and 10.2 kg at 8.5 months. Other developmental milestones are also on track. He turns 1 year in June, and will be walking and talking soon!

PPS – Big bro was left to fend for himself during his first term exams (CA1) and March school break. Having little bro around has forced him to be more independent, more accountable (not an easy thing for mama to let him “bear the consequences”) and also more nurturing. I was worried that #1 would feel neglected or jealous, but instead, he truly adores #2 and is more willing to help with the baby than with household chores or homework 😂 — in feeding, diaper changing, soothing, entertaining, even picking up the toys all over the house to be washed out every evening. So grateful to see this side of him emerge! ❤️

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