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Ok, so I can safely say we’ve ruled out “PENCIL” as the cause of Paulo’s recent distress, but that’s about it.

For the second time in six weeks, The Whuff has an ear infection. The first, when we were in Portugal, was heralded by a nursing strike followed by a complete beverage strike accompanied by OH THE SCREAMING. For the first and only time in his life, Paulo insisted on sleeping in bed with Nuno and me rather than in his own crib. That was a pretty clear sign that things were Not Right. And so, we had our adventure in the Portuguese Urgent Care clinic with weaning and dosage mishaps and all.

This time, we caught the ear infection a little sooner – the only presenting symptom was “incessant and unceasing howling, as if in the throes of demonic possession.” Sunday, The Whuff was a bit fussy. Monday, he was a total mess all afternoon. By Tuesday, he was just so miserable that he was screaming and shaking in anger. I called my mama to problem solve and on Monday evening I asked if maybe we should go to the doctor because this was just so unlike him – and there really wasn’t reason to at that point. On Tuesday afternoon, I called again and she heard him in the background and immediately knew he was in pain – so off we went.

(May I just say that I’m so grateful that our pediatrician’s office has urgent care hours so I could call and go in at 5:30PM and didn’t have to go to the ER or wait until morning. They’re wonderful.)

Of course, by the time we got there, he was still just well enough that he was distractible. There was very little to suggest that this was a sick baby – no symptoms other than screaming and of course, he was not screaming at that moment but rather smiling and flirting with the nurses and being fairly agreeable. Until… of course… the ear-scope-thingum-of-torture arrived on the scene. And lo. His left ear, again, inflamed.

Also inflamed: my sanity. It’s challenging keeping up with him on the best of days and I’m tired at the end of the day. This isn’t a complaint, just a statement. When he’s a sick fusspot and he’s just miserable and he insists on climbing all over me, but being with me doesn’t actually help soothe him any… on Tuesday evening, I was so exhausted from the misery and the pediatrician and the pharmacy (and oh, I have never, ever been gladder of a drive-thru anything than I was of that drive-thru pharmacy with a screaming Whuffle in my backseat) that I nearly just fell asleep in my clothes. I’m hanging in there… but feeling like I’m just barely holding on. Thankfully, the antibiotics only have to be given twice a day this time and not every 8 hrs, so we don’t have a middle of the night dose. Praise. Gourd.

So, now we’re trying to stay one step ahead of the ear pain and one step ahead of the tummy upset from the antibiotics and I feel like I’m one step behind the giant boulder that ran me over. I’ve been wracking my brain trying to think if there are any risk factors for ear infections that we could identify and eliminate and so far… it looks like just bad luck. Just like Paulo got my grey eyes, it appears he got my ears. I had rampant ear infections as a kid, to the point where the smell of his amoxicillin brings back visceral memories of having to take my “milkshake medicine.” I still can’t eat anything strawberry-banana flavored as it reminds me of that chalky, chalky awfulness. Paulo doesn’t like it either and I can’t blame him.

While I’m doing the heavy-lifting of parenting, I’m very very grateful that I have a huge amount of support myself. My mama came down yesterday for her weekly playmate with The Whuff and vacuumed my house for me and dropped off some food. Today, while soothing and feeding, I’ve been able to eat some good pasta and enjoy a house with 100% less cat hair and it’s the little things that help so much.

And now, to rest a little myself while Mr. Whuffles naps so that I can get up and be the sounding board for his complaints, the source of much needed snuggles, and the obstacle to be physically scaled.