I carried Jack in in a sling to his first big outing, a birthday party for his Grandfather’s 50th. He was 5 months old, and wearing a perfectly clean, beautiful little outfit that I had picked out for him shortly before he was born. I was nervous about bringing him around so many people, petrified of the germs that were surely abound. Convinced he would be contaminated, I packed an arsenal heavy with antibacterial wipes and lotions, and brought several clean pacifiers should one of them get dropped onto the filthy ground.
My stress level was higher than the alcohol content of the lotions I smeared onto Jack’s soft baby skin. Knowing I couldn’t get away with keeping him all to myself though, I did manage to let a few family members and friends hold him. It’s a rite of passage, I believe, getting through the initial few months as a new parent, making more important decisions than ever before.
I distinctly remember a friend coming up to Jack and I, and saying “It’s so difficult, isn’t it, having a baby. Isn’t it the hardest thing you’ve ever done?”. My response to her was swift. “Absolutely not. It’s a complete joy”. I was horrified by her assumption, and had never even considered for a second allowing myself to realize that yes, it had been less than easy. 5 months earlier, I had been crushed by my decision to get an epidural after 24 hours of prodromal labor. Such a failure I felt like to submit to drugs. Even when nursing was excruciatingly painful and I didn’t sleep for months on end, I never considered it “hard”. I was a mother, and this is what mother’s do.
When Zoe came along though the struggle to be a good mother to a 19 month old and a newborn changed me. I was confident this time around, yet I had never experienced that kind of conflict. Wanting to give 100% of my attention to two children, and learning in the process to divide that in half.
Quite honestly, I haven’t considered parenthood “hard” until recently, when my role as my children’s advocate out in the world has ramped up exponentially. Since moving to Manhattan, many things have been wonderful. It’s when basic necessity is challenged that I’ve run into real problems.
I need a pediatrician I can trust.
I need my kids to breathe clean air in their home.
Doesn’t seem like too much to ask. Yet time and time again, I’ve been called to task in defense of my children.
When we found out that Jack has a severe nut allergy, our pediatrician forgot to follow up with us after the emergency room visit and allergy testing. They forgot to give us an Epinephrine Pen for emergencies, should Jack ever come into contact with a tree nut again. They never even requested the kid’s records from our doctors in California. I stormed the gates and brought it to their attention, holding a personal meeting with the manager of the office. All I got in response was a less than sincere “sorry”. I held out on changing doctors until today. I called Jack’s doctor yesterday and left a message with the receptionist that he was “really struggling” and I needed to speak with her. I never received a return call.
I wish it stopped there.
Twice a day, every other day for the past three months, our neighbor down the hall has been smoking marijuana. The entire hallway fills with smoke, and drafts under our door into our living room and the kid’s bedroom. I’ve left notes under their door, begging them to fix the situation. I’ve called the manager of our building more times than I can count on all of my fingers. We’ve taped our front door, covered it in flannel, turned on fans-everything we can to keep the smoke out of our home.
You see, Jack was recently diagnosed with Reactive Airway Disease. He’s on a nebulizer twice a day to combat irritants in the air. Mostly it’s allergies, but he is quite sensitive and affected by many different things.
Two weeks ago, I demanded a meeting with the head-honcho to get this situation resolved. I walked into his office, clad in Grateful Dead posters (I kid you not) and he told me, with his feet kicked up on the desk, that he would “get to the bottom of it”. They called my neighbor and of course she vehemently denied it. I was told that there was no more they could do.
I’m frustrated. I am blindingly angry. We chose a respectable pediatrician in a city chalk full of renowned medical institutions. We moved into a safe community in Manhattan and pay more than I can even fathom in rent for a small, two bedroom apartment. I feel like no matter how hard I try to keep my children safe and healthy, it’s an epic battle that I’ve thrown on my chain mail for. Discouraged and disappointed, I’m ready to head into this mess with my guns ablaze.
I’m a mother and as a parent this is what we do. We protect our children as best as we can.
I only wish that my concerns were still lifted with a nice, thick layer of antibacterial lotion.
I’m open to any and all advice on this matter. I’ve drafted a letter of intent to our building management to release us from our lease due to the smoke situation, but that’s as far as I’ve taken it thus far.