The shining moment of the past week was when we were attempting to change Zeke’s diaper, which has been a two- to three-person job since his surgery for hypospadias last Friday. I was attempting to remove a poopy diaper and clean Zeke while not disturbing the dressing covering his surgical site, Randy was holding down the enormous foam dressing that he and Zoe nicknamed the Devil’s Tower after a rock formation Zoe was reading to us about, and Zoe was holding Zeke’s hands so he didn’t try to yank the dressing or the catheter. We all started singing. The alphabet song, Twinkle Twinkle, You Are My Sunshine, Peace Like a River. We have a good repertoire. And Zeke stopped squirming and writing and screaming and just smiled.

The ironic moment was when Zoe wanted to watch one of her favorite movies, Babies, so we streamed it on the tv for her, trying to amuse her amid days of benign neglect because her brother has required all of our attention. We forgot that in the movie (which we’ve all seen numerous times) there are many occasions where the babies cry. Randy started laughing until he cried. We are taking a break from hearing our baby cry to watch other babies cry?

I was going to write about all this when it is safely behind us and I can reflect back with some wisdom. Unfortunately we’re still entrenched in the middle of it and it’s still really hard, but I needed to write anyway.

I hate feeling like a needy person who’s always having a crisis. I’ve always wondered what was wrong with those people who always seem to have some major issue. And suddenly I feel like one of them. Both my kids and my husband have had surgeries in the past few years. I don’t have a problem accepting help, but somehow it’s frustrating to need help. I realize I need help in many small ways all the time, but I like to think of myself as someone who can take care of things and take care of people and when suddenly I feel incapable of taking care of anything other than keeping myself and family alive, I feel defeated.

Concurrent with his surgery, Zeke has developed his first real cold, which has proven to be fierce. So in addition to giving him meds twice a day, we’re using a nebulizer to help him breathe. As a result of the cold, or the teething that was also happening pre-procedure, and the surgery itself and resulting pain, he has refused to nurse (I’ve just learned it’s actually called a nursing strike, which brings to mind a picket line of babies) since Friday night, except when he is half-asleep at 4am. On the one hand, we have to give him the medication in bottles because he rejects it any other way, but on the other hand it’s really difficult to not be able to nurse him whenever he’s hungry, not be able to soothe him with nursing, not be able to do this fundamental thing for my son. So I’ve been pumping as much as I can, burning through my frozen milk supply. I bought a can of formula to have on hand just in case. I’ve been frustrated too by the online advice about nursing strikes, which assumes the mom stays at home with baby 24/7. They say things like, avoid giving a bottle–instead express milk and feed it to your baby with a spoon or a syringe. My baby has taken a bottle for months, because–as much as I love my son with everything I am–I need to be apart from him sometimes, whether it is to run my business or just to have a minute to myself to be a grown-up human being. I am hoping that when he’s feeling better and returned to a normal routine that he will resume nursing as much as he was before.

I need to sleep, and everyone else in our house is doing that now, but these thoughts have been flooding my brain for a week. I am so thankful to have in my husband a partner who is as committed to taking care of our kids as I am. I am thankful to my parents for being here to help in any way I ask them to, no matter what. I am thankful for the people who’ve brought or sent us meals, some of whom I barely know. I am thankful for the on-call urology resident at Children’s who answered our questions the six times we called, day and night, while he was on duty last weekend. I’m thankful for our surgeon’s nurse who I’ve also talked with many times and who is patient with me every time something goes wrong, which seems to happen about twice a day.

And, as Randy reminded me today, I am thankful for Zeke’s smiles. Despite this all, when he isn’t having his diaper changed or having some other offensive thing done to him, he is so joyful and filled with smiles. He still loves hugs and kisses and playing and he did fall asleep in the car the three times I drove him to the airport and back, at midnight, 4am, and 10am respectively. Midnight is the best time to drive to the airport–the least amount of traffic for sure. And tonight he made my day by laughing and laughing when I imitated the sounds he was making–“aah aah aah aah aah!” enthusiastically. It was the funniest thing he had ever heard. So as far as he’s concerned, he’s doing ok. We’re doing all the worrying for him, which is what’s supposed to happen.

We have five more nights and four more days till the catheter comes out. That coincides with his 6-month birthday. We will all celebrate.