1. Leave work sick an hour early on a Friday the same week you start back from maternity leave. Tell your principal over and over again that you’re really sick, and you never get sick, but you just don’t think you can finish out the day. Think she secretly thinks you’re sneaking out early to see your baby. Panic because Husband is out of town until Saturday night, and if you get sick, it’s just you and the baby.
2. Puke in a trash bag in your car next to a Chase bank half a mile from work. Decide against taking your trash bag back to school to prove to the principal that you weren’t lying.
3. Puke in your car outside your daughter’s daycare. Try not to make eye contact with the dad picking up his baby. Decide this is the worst you’ve ever felt.
4. Spend all weekend allowing your 10 week old daughter to watch TV because it keeps her calm and quiet and you feel like death. Realize midway through that “40 Year Old Virgin” is probably not the best option, but decide you don’t care enough to find the remote and look for a Baby Einstein channel.
5. Spend the time not watching TV in the bathroom because of serious —ahem— stomach problems. Decide this is the worst you’ve ever felt.
6. Test out your infant’s diaper cream. Decide it works well for adults, too.
7. Run out in the goddamn rain through the goddamn neighborhood chasing the goddamn dog.
8. Wake up Sunday morning and realize your daughter is a little congested.
9. Realize your daughter’s congestion is growing worse by the minute and is now settling into her chest.
10. Stay up wide-eyed all Sunday night and Monday morning because your daughter keeps forgetting to breathe and waking herself up with coughing and choking fits. Sob and rock back and forth as you hold her because she doesn’t understand why she feels so shitty, and you can’t do anything. Decide this is the worst you’ve ever felt.
11. Leave your baby at home Monday with Husband while you go to work because you don’t want them to think you’re not committed to your job. Wish you were independently wealthy. Feel awful to be leaving, but so grateful to have a husband who says, “She’s my daughter, too. Go to work.”
12. Husband takes baby to pediatrician. Baby has RSV. Pediatrician sends baby home with a “breathing treatment” that your husband won’t describe to you over the phone because it is essentially an oxygen mask combined with a hookah. Husband has forgotten that when information is withheld, you just MAKE UP YOUR OWN, and you have spent the whole day certain that your baby is in an iron lung in your living room. The baby looks so small and sad. Decide this is the worst you’ve ever felt.
13. Realize that the goddamn dog has gotten into the goddamn dirty diapers and had himself a goddamn party. Find shit stain on the floor and diaper pieces in high places, indicating a head-whipping good time. FFS.
14. Decide that if nostril-sucking were an Olympic sport, you would definitely make it to the podium. God Bless America.
15. Suspect that the most you have ever loved your baby is this moment, when she is sick and congested and filled with mucus and can’t breathe, but still smiles hugely at you from the changing table. I don’t even want to see anyone when I’m sick, and this baby acts like it’s the best day of her freaking life because someone’s hovering over her and smiling at her. I can’t even.
16. Wake up Tuesday morning and the sound you didn’t think could get any more heart-wrenching —a congested baby— just did. Baby now has completely lost her voice and is just whimpering hoarsely. Decide this is the worst you’ve ever felt.
17. Husband pukes.
18. Mother in law comes into town to help take care of baby and husband while you go to work.
19. Baby hugely pukes up everything in her stomach 3 times in one day. Panic and call the pediatrician at 9:00 at night. She kindly calls you back and tells you that it will be okay. Baby is completely miserable, and is having coughing fits every 20 minutes. Husband goes to Wal-Mart for baby supplies as you sob next to the bouncer. Decide this is the worst you’ve ever felt.
20. Walk into a room and see your husband with his hand on your baby’s face, stroking her cheek, and her tiny hand on top of his, holding it there. Decide this is the most in love with both of them you’ve ever been.
21. Mother in law gets sick.
22. Who. Even. Knows.