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Truer Words Were Never Spoken: You’re Only as Happy as Your Least Happy Child

Photo credit: Meredith Carroll

Not pictured: Peony’s moaning sounds

My dad has been telling me for as long as I can remember that parents are only as happy as their least happy child.

It’s not as if I didn’t understand what he meant, but there was no way I could really understand it until I had babies of my own.

My little Peony, who is 18 months old, woke up from her nap early yesterday afternoon with a 103.5 fever. She was with a babysitter, but since I work from home I was able to give her smooches and medicine before disappearing back into my computer for the afternoon.

The fever went down but shot up again a few hours later. When I resumed Mom Duty at 4 p.m., she curled up on my lap and fell into a deep sleep. Her fever was hovering just under 104 where it remains now, nearly 24 hours later.

I’m waiting for our pediatrician to call me back, but I already know what she’ll say: As long as Peony is drinking water, producing wet diapers and we’re alternating between ibuprofen and acetaminophen and giving her baths to cool her down, there’s nothing we can do but wait for the fever to break. If it goes up to 105 and we can’t get it down, we’ll have to go to the emergency room.

That’s all well and good; we’ve been down this road before. But last night, while Peony slept, she was moaning in her sleep. It’s enough to not only break your heart, but also render it unrecognizable from the ugliness of it all. A sick child is a sad sight, but a sick baby or toddler who can’t articulate their misery other than through sorrowful faces and the desire to be no where but wrapped in your arms hits you at the core.

Peony perks up a little at the outset of any medication, but she always droops back down shortly thereafter. And if she’s not happy, then I just can’t be.

I get it now. Unfortunately.

Photo credit: Meredith Carroll

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Follow Meredith on Twitter and check out her weekly column every Friday on the Op-Ed page of The Denver Post at MeredithCarroll.com

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