Zoe Catches a Cold

And a cough.

And I am typing this one-handed.

Cos my left arm has fallen off. Or is no longer responding.

Let me start with that Friday (the week before CNY), when Zoe had a cough and had trouble sleeping.

She would sleep fitfully. If at all.

She would awaken with a cough, and then cry because she couldn’t get back to sleep. I observed her tossing and turning, trying to find a comfortable position to sleep.

And I could empathise, cos I know what happens when I have a cough and cold. I’l slowly drift off to almost sleep, and then suddenly a cough would awaken me, and then I’d be unable to sleep for a while. When I am finally about to drift off to sleep – ANOTHER COUGH!

And the “routine” continues until the sun rises and I am exhausted.

I could imagine poor Z going through all that discomfort and not getting enough sleep.

Anyway, she seemed to be soothed when I carry her upright (when I have nasal congestion and a cough, I too feel better when sitting up).

She was crying and fussing and it seemed obvious that she was not able to find a comfortable position to sleep. She laid back on her back. Then rolled over to her left. Then the right. Then rose on all fours to collapse on her tummy. Only to roll over. Then sit up and cry.

I picked her up and rocked her, and she calmed down. She tilted her head back, and drowse off to sleep.

When I thought she was deep in sleep I tried to put her on her bed.

And she cries when her head touches the bed.

So I pick her up again.

And then realise that she has developed that ailment all parents dread – “Altitude sickness”.

This is the phenomenon where the child is perfectly peaceful, asleep, and content… when you are standing up. But the moment you try to lower her (or him) to bed, she cries.

It’s like she has a very sensitive altimeter built in and knows when the parent is trying to lower her into bed and abandon her.

ALL babies have this. Parents know.

So anyway, I ended up cradling her through the night. Until she started crying and fussing at 4. PL figured she wanted a feed, so I laid her down on her bed, and PL gave her a bottle.

She fed.

I crawled off to lie down. And didn’t wake till 8.

Apparently, Z fell asleep after her feed.

I was trying to let PL get some sleep that night because there was some extraordinary work she had to do that Saturday (data migration. We don’t usually work on Saturday). But in the morning we thought we should go see a doctor for Z, and PL got child MC for the day.

And Z got some medication. (We had been checking her temperature and giving her children’s paracetamol when she had a fever.)

She liked the paracetamol. But not the cough syrup or the cold medication. Trying to dose her was like trying to give a cat a bath.

The next night, she again was crying and unable to sleep, and so I cradled her till she fell asleep. And she had altitude sickness and I couldn’t put her down. So I cradled her. At 4 AM, I hoped she would feed and fall asleep like the night before.

But, no. I couldn’t put her to bed until 6.

Then I collapsed in my bed.

Z had this toddler session (parent accompanied) that Sunday morning, but we got a sick day for her too.

For some reason, her grandparents showed up that day, and PL told them about the night time “adventures”.

PL’s mom said in passing that Z should not get into the habit of being cradled to sleep or we would have not end of it.

That evening we tried to put her to sleep. Again, she wanted to be cradled. Which I did for a while. But when she was settled I tried to put her down on her bed. But of course, her “altitude warning system” activated and she woke and tried to get back into my arms.

We saw that she was not even trying to get to sleep. She was trying to get back to being cradled. And her cough was a little better. So we got the sense that her grandma was right. We had to nip this in the bud before it became a habit. So we (or rather I) denied her the cradle to sleep option.

And she cried. And it became a battle of wills.

Anyway, PL tried to put a crying Z to sleep, and I left the room, cos my presence was not helping.

After about 30 minutes or an hour, the crying stopped, and Z was asleep.

There was no magic. Just PL persisting patiently, and outlasting Z’s tantrum and tears.

If there were any magic, it was that we were resolute and showed no signs of giving in to her tears. If Z could read this in our body language, then she would know that persisting in her tears and tantrum was futile. In this, I think PL is better than me, stronger than me.

And tougher than me, cos she had to handle a tearful Z up close and personal.


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