There have been a few times since Mia was born when I've felt like parenting required more than I had to give. Most notably, when my baby wouldn't sleep for a month. Right now is another one of those times.
Two nights ago, we discovered a boil on Mia's skin. While the lab results haven't come back yet, we are all but sure it is MRSA (staph that is resistant to common antibiotics). This marks the fourth MRSA infection in our house since the beginning of June, but the first one for Mia. It feels like we are under attack. The infections are extremely painful and take a while to go away. They require super-strong antibiotics, which caused an allergic reaction in me, and incredibly careful wound care to avoid spreading the infection. And if we thought they were miserable before, when the adults were getting them, having to deal with one on a 4-year-old has brought a whole new meaning to misery.
Mia has to soak in a bath with antibacterial soap twice a day, then we must apply ointment and a bandage — all while she makes things difficult and time-consuming in any way possible. She also must take a large dose of liquid antibiotics twice a day, antibiotics that she hates the taste of. All three doses so far have involved prolonged bouts of delaying, crying, gagging, spitting and screaming (from Mia) and near emotional breakdown (me and Mr. SOC).
In addition to all that, the doctor wants us to try and cleanse our house of MRSA bacteria. She told me a string of horror stories of MRSA "going crazy" on families to encourage me to do this. This process requires that all members of the household shower daily with special soap and swab our noses with anti-bacterial ointment twice a day. All surfaces are to be wiped with Clorox. All laundry washed in hot water. Anything that makes contact with Mia must be immediately washed--towels, clothes, the bathtub, the toilet. I'm looking around at all the things in my house that could be harboring MRSA: the dozens of blankets Mia plays with, the throws and pillows on our couch, the quilts on our beds, the razors and scrubbers in the shower, the light switches and door handles, the phones, the handles on all the cabinets. I feel so incredibly overwhelmed and hopeless.
I feel scared at the prospect of living in a world where we are plagued by painful boils caused by mutant bacteria. This stuff can be anywhere--in the pool, in our houses, on our skin, in our kids' schools, in the gym. And how are we responding? We're pumping ourselves full of more, stronger, antibiotics, and using antibacterial agents that will likely create more resistant bacteria. But what's the alternative? To let this stuff "go crazy" on my house?
And then I imagine 17 more doses of Mia's antibiotics. Seventeen more sessions of her crying and gagging while we beg and demand and reason and threaten and yell and are late for work and losing our minds — and worried that if we don't get enough of this stuff in her, she will end up hospitalized. And wondering when, and on who, the next infection will erupt. I just don't know how we're going to make it to the other side of this one. And yet, I'm sure we will.