Thursday, June 14, 2012

First birthday blues

You never realize how deeply you can love another person or how protective you can become until you have a child. And when you see that same little person sick and helpless, it pulls at your heartstrings – especially when it’s her birthday.

On May 18, “Sugafoot” (my husband’s affectionate nickname for our daughter) turned a year old. Prior to her birthday, people kept asking me, “Do you plan to have a birthday party for her?” For what?! She wouldn’t remember it, half the babies in her daycare class were sick, plus they’d more than likely just look at each other in bewilderment during the birthday party. No; I decided to just make her some cupcakes, get her a birthday hat, some candles and a few gifts and call it a day. I’d take a few photos to cherish the moment, but nothing extravagant. Now on her second birthday, it’ll be a different story.

As her special day approached us, my baby girl got sick the week of her birthday. With a high fever, cough and congestion, we took her to the pediatrician to find out she had yet another ear infection (sigh). Even before we made her appointment, we knew something was wrong. She was hot, breathing heavily in her sleep and extremely fussy.

Normally, she would be all over the place – crawling like a speed demon, or taking her wobbly, experimental steps around the house (when she wasn’t banging her toys on our glass coffee table – where she’s left her mark with a noticeably long scratch on the table’s surface). Now, she just wanted us to hold her and rock her to sleep. Being the affectionate person that she is, on an average day, she’d be smothering me and my husband with hugs and slobbery kisses (tongue included – which is why I usually get sick after she does). But when she’s sick, she’s like a clingy little rag doll.

So, my husband and I took turns staying home with her, constantly praying she’d get better soon. But that Friday, May 18, she was still sick. I decided to still make her birthday cupcakes that evening. Her fever broke that day praise God; but she still wasn’t at 100 percent.

After finishing up the cupcakes, we sat her in her highchair. I placed a cupcake with a candle in front of her – her grandparents in Little Rock joined us via Skype as we prepared to sing, “Happy Birthday”. I lit the candle, and all of a sudden, sparks started shooting every which way, like a firecracker. Nandi, bless her innocent self, reached out for the cupcake in amazement. My husband shouted, “Chandra, what kind of candles did you get? Are you trying to burn my baby?!” Needless to say, we frantically snatched the cupcake away from our precious daughter; I tried to blow out the candle but it kept relighting! I ran to the kitchen sink, yanked the candle out of the cupcake and ran cold water over the tip. I was so embarrassed and I felt like a terrible mother – my baby was sick and here I am almost burning her with trick candles! (Here’s my public service announcement: ALWAYS read the labeling of birthday candles before you purchase them).

Nandi, despite the confused look on her face, remained content in her highchair as we sang her birthday song, minus the candle. She just stared at the cupcake, so I picked it up and tried to help her eat it. She refused, turning her head and pushing it away from her mouth. I took a couple of pictures, but her expression was priceless. It looked as if she was saying, “Woman, you know I’m sick! And I wish you’d get that camera out of my face.” All we could do was laugh.

After I turned off the camera, I gave her a kiss and told her I loved her (like I do numerous times throughout the day). My little munchkin drank some milk and drifted off to sleep. Far from being a happy first birthday, our baby girl was at least on the road to recovery, which was a prayer that had thankfully been answered.

She soon recovered from her ear infection, but like clockwork, my husband and I were sick a few days later. You would think we’d learn not to accept her loving, sloppy kisses or simply turn our heads in time before she sneezes and coughs in our faces. Oh well, maybe one day we’ll become smarter and more health-conscious and not be swayed by her irresistible baby face. But with nicknames like “Sugafoot” and “Sweet Cheeks,” I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

Chandra is a Sr. Public Relations Specialist for Texas Health Resources and a Mom who has learned her lesson about birthday candles.

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