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Detouring to the Slow Lane

Maddie had her 18-month well-baby visit on
Wednesday and impressed the doctor with her cool; she kept a wary
eye on the doctor the whole time, but didn’t start crying
until it was shot time.

Ah, yes, did I mention the shots?

Poor kiddo had to have four shots this
past visit: two that she should have gotten at her 15-month visit
but that we delayed because she was sick, one that was regularly
scheduled, and a flu shot.

By the way, if you’re going back and forth about getting a
flu shot for your baby, keep this in mind: 2,500 people died last
year of the flu. In New York City alone. But I digress.

The point is, Maddie ended up getting four shots – two in
each thigh. After the 20 minutes of hysteria ended, we knew we
probably hadn’t seen the end of the shot fallout. Baby girl
hasn’t had that many shots at once since she was a very
little baby.

Sure enough, Maddie started off the evening fine but drooped
noticeably as the night wore on. A low fever came on, and she spent
an hour cradled in Gamma’s arms, content to be held and
stroked and whimpering if you touched her band-aided thighs.

We gave Maddie a dose of baby Motrin and hoped she didn’t
have too much trouble through the night.

To my relief, kiddo slept through the night, waking about an hour
and a half early in the morning crying. I came into her room to
reassure her and saw her sitting, whimpering in her crib. When she
saw me come in, she stood up to come to me.

And fell back down.

My poor baby girl had so many shots in her legs that her thighs
were too sore for her to stand. She’d try, we’d see her
legs shake, and they’d collapse back down. Add to that a
running fever and a cuddle-hungry girl, and suddenly Thursday was
shaping up to be very different than originally planned.

Out the window went all my ambitious plans for everything I’d
“fit in” during the day: laundry, baking, paperwork,
and so forth. Unwilling to be put down at all, Maddie snuggled in
Daddy’s arms while I spent ten minutes getting dressed and
preparing for the new day – Life in the Slow Lane.

I piled Christmas books, snacks, Maddie’s Little Touch
Leappad (a great toy for rainy or sick days), the phones, and
stereo remote controls around our living room couch. Still in her
pajamas, Maddie snuggled into my arms as we lay sprawled on the
sofa, lap blanket pulled over us.

And that’s how we spent the entire morning. We watched the
airplanes high in the sky out our front window as they approached
La Guardia airport. We read countless books. We drank milk. We sang
songs. We even napped briefly, warm and snug as the wind shook the
branches outside.

I thought I’d be bored stiff. But you know what? I loved it.
For the first time in a long time, Maddie wasn’t demanding to
get down and run around. She wasn’t looking bored and
restless, searching for the next fun thing to do. She was content
to sit in silence, staring out the window, for long stretches of
time. She was happy to be nestled in the crook of my arm for a
couple of hours, no greater agenda on the books than feeling

The retreat ended, of course. My friend Ingrid brought pizza by for
lunch and Maddie’s eyes lit up at the idea –
“Pipi!” she cried. After lunching on pizza and pears,
she was able to stand briefly and start getting movement back in
her legs. Quiet play, a good nap, and she was ready to downshift
again and snuggle with Daddy while I went off to work.

As I headed off to the commute that evening, I left Brian and
Maddie on the couch in the midst of the paraphernalia I’d
gathered that morning. I’d been sure at the beginning of the
day that I’d be heading out with a strong sense of relief:
relief at passing off a whiney, needy child and being able to
stretch my legs and do something different for a change.

But I found myself missing that little oasis I’d made on the
couch. I wish I could say I’ll just schedule a “Slow
Lane” day periodically where nothing needs to be accomplished
but hanging with my kid, but it won’t be the same.
She’s so full of energy and curiosity that she’ll never
want to spend so long cuddling and hanging out with Mom again. And
once we have our second baby, I don’t know how I’d be
able to spend all day cuddling a sick child.

So I’ll just enjoy what I got from the day, and be glad I
recognized its worth at the time.


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