Thursday, January 28, 2016

Thankful for the Common Cold

Perhaps a little too predictably, after his first week at day care, my baby has a cold. Which means I have a cold. We just got over another cold a couple weeks ago. Apparently, this is my new life.

Yesterday, I found myself sitting in a closet - I mean lactation room - at work, sniffling through my stuffy nose while pumping breast milk, feeling self-pity that God would have the nerve to let my baby get this cold. Hearing my baby wake himself up with coughing in the middle of the night, watching him struggle to breathe well through his dripping nose, and seeing his grumpy tired face on the days we are home together is really hard. No mom wants to watch her baby suffer, and with the common cold, there has been a serious limit to what I can do to make him more comfortable. To make matters worse, my brain seems to have rewired itself to make fretting over my son its own full-time job, something I scoffed at in others until the day he was born.

But then as that pump kept whirring, I had another thought.

I am privileged to be able to expend so much energy worrying about the common cold.

I was reminded of all the things I am not worrying about - of all the things I have to be thankful for. I am thankful that my child has plenty to eat. I am not worrying about malnutrition's effects on my baby's immune system, because I have money to buy food, a well stocked grocery store of safe foods within walking distance of my apartment, and even a private room to pump breast milk for my baby while I am at work.

I am thankful that just this morning I was able to drive five minutes from my home to a doctor's office to get vaccines for my son, so that I am not worrying about him being paralyzed by polio, suffering liver damage from Hepatitis B, or experiencing apnea or pneumonia as complications of whooping cough.

I am thankful to have clean water available from multiple taps in my home every day, so that I am not worrying about life-threatening diarrhea. I am thankful that I had a safe birth experience for my son and that my baby came home from the hospital with me a few short days later with a working heart, strong lungs, a cancer-free body, and an ever-growing curiosity about the world around him. I am thankful that my child has four living grandparents who love him to pieces. I am thankful that I have the financial situation and employer flexibility to work only three days per week, giving me two whole weekdays to play one-on-one with my son. I am thankful that the region where I live does not have malaria-carrying mosquitoes. I am thankful for access to life-saving antibiotics and medicines should my child ever need them. I am thankful to live without fear of daily bombings around my home. I am thankful that my son has a pack-and-play for sleeping, a car seat for safer travel, and an abundance of diapers, along with a huge network of generous friends and family.

The more I sat in that little room and thought about it, the longer the list grew. There are millions of parents throughout the world - and even in my own backyard - in the grip of deep suffering and fear for their children. I realized that in the big scheme of things, I really am one lucky mommy.

So while my ideal week would involve a little more sleep and a lot fewer boogers, today I feel thankful for all of the things I am not worrying about. And I am thankful for the freedom and privilege to worry about this little nuisance called the common cold.