I woke up July 4th morning in a great mood. I could hear Elliott in his room talking to himself or to one of the 73 stuffed animals he shares his crib with. It's like music to my ears to stand by the door, listening to this. Because he was up earlier than normal, I decided to bring him to bed with us to watch cartoons before having breakfast. As I picked him up, grabbed his favorite blanket and brought him to bed, we noticed something wasn't right. When we took his pacifier out of his mouth, he was covered in snot. Right then, we knew there was a possible problem. As first-time parents, these instances raise our worry meter to a whole new level.
Elliott was congested and his nose was constantly draining. He had a low-grade fever and started whining, which is incredibly unusual for him. Elliott doesn't ever fuss, hardly ever cries and is a happy-go-lucky child. So, if his behavior switches to something we're not used to being around, we know something may not be right. As the morning went on, his mood worsened and he became more fussy. Eventually, we took him to the doctor and sure enough, Elliott has a double ear infection on the tail end of having his first ear infection two weeks ago.
The minute we left the doctor's office, Elliott's mood took a turn for the worse. Because he was so congested, he couldn't sleep and his ears were thumping with severe pain, which didn't help. In the past when we'd give him medicine, he loved it and thought it was a game — he's normally a great patient. But not this day. He refused to let us give him medicine, which meant it took me, Kelley and my mother-in-law to get the meds down. By this time, it was late afternoon, and Elliott hadn't slept since 6 a.m., which was a shocker because, like clockwork, he's always napping from 10 to noon or so. We gave him vapor bath's, steamy bathroom, rocking him and everything else to get him to sleep for awhile. We felt if he could sleep, even for a half hour, he would feel a little better. All he wanted, though, was to be in the arms of me or Kelley.
As first-time parents to a very easy child, this was a first for us. But, we tag-teamed it and did the best we could to hold him, care for him and let him know we are there for him. By 7 p.m., it was time for round two of his antibiotics and ibuprofen, which had the same result as the first go around. He was visibly beyond tired. He sat in the bathtub motionless as I massaged his back. By this time, Kelley and I were prepared to stay up with him all night. By 8:30 p.m., Elliott had finally fallen asleep and when I left for work Thursday morning, he was still sound asleep.
It was a bittersweet day for me and Kelley. We were able to make it through our first real trying times with Elliott together and felt like we accomplished our first true parenting test. However, to see Elliott suffer so much was beyond heartbreaking.
When we knew Elliott was down for the count and we knew it was safe for us to do the same, my mind started racing and I realized, after seeing my son struggle so much, that being the best father I can be from this day moving forward is my main focus. I think I'm a great father, but after this day, I want to be even better than the best I can be. I often get too wrapped up in other things like fantasy football or what my friends are doing for the weekend.
Basically, this day gave me some new "fatherly perspective." All I want to do moving forward is to be better than the best father I can be and shower him with even more love and attention than I already do. If nothing else, my son deserves that and so much more.