Monday, August 3, 2015

Heat Rash, Fevers, and our First Week of Moving

Ever have a week you just never ever want to repeat? Last week was like that.

Moving is crazy, whenever and wherever you do it. We knew that. But there were also various circumstances that made this last week especially overwhelming. One day I'll forget the details, so I thought I'd do a day-by-day re-cap. That way, we can look back one day and think life is easy comparatively!

The movers arrived at 8:45 AM - early. There were three guys, and they strapped 5 boxes at a time together, carrying them down the stairs on their back, so the house was empty in now time. Our friends that came to help had hardly anything to do, but no one complained, as we HAD chosen the hottest Saturday all year to move. By 10 AM the last box was in our new place. The movers had hidden fees - like they'd "forgotten" to tell the friend that had hired them for us that, even if they only worked for an hour they'd have to be paid for a minimum of three hours - but we were thankful to be moved so quickly.

Friends in our new complex had us over for lunch (we ordered pizza) and dinner, providing a nice escape from our everything-in-boxes surroundings. We tried to get a semblance of order by moving things to at least the room they belonged in throughout the day, while also trying to give Hadassah a tad of normalcy with family play time. It was late by the time we went to bed, but at least our clothes were in our closet!

Rather than the normal leave time of 8:15 AM for church, this Sunday Ryan was singing, so we had to leave an hour earlier. With an early-rising toddler it wasn't too hard, except I had to open 10 boxes before I found the salt to have with our eggs. Oh, and somehow I'd managed to leave all of my utensils in the drawer at our old apartment. A new IKEA rubber scraper came to the rescue! We made it out just a little late, after Ryan literally had to chase down a taxi.

Hadassah and I got a pastry while Ryan practiced... I was missing sleep and needed some zing to get through the service. Afterwards it was on to Shanghai Secondhand to return some things that didn't work and look at some new ones. Ryan took Hadassah to get lunch to go while I determined what to buy. It was 1 PM before we were in the taxi enjoying our food...

I fell asleep on the couch accidentally ("just sitting down for a minute" - yeah right!) while Ryan left to go to Xinzhuang (30 minutes away) to get internet and paint. Unfortunately he'd forgotten his passport, so the first didn't work out, but he eventually made it home with 2 cans of paint. The doorbell ringing with our washed curtains delivery woke me, and I was able to get my kitchen almost fully unpacked before Hadassah woke up. It felt so good! One of the first things Ryan thought to do for me was to remove the sliding glass doors to the kitchen, which I find no purpose for other than being an extra thing to clean! It makes the small area seem so much larger, and, despite it having no drawers, and the counters being (if possible!) even shorter than our other place, I really like how I've set up everything. It's handy.

We took Hadassah outside after supper, laughing after she slid down the slide, stared at an older gentleman, and exclaimed "Yeye has a tummy!" (there are times we're glad most people don't understand English!) at the site of his bare chest. It's super hot these days.

By Midnight, nearly everything was out of boxes, except books still waiting for their shelves.

*cue crazy music*

Hadassah seemed somewhat tired that morning, but hey, so was I! Moving is exhausting for us all. The painter arrived to do the first room, and I soon set off to get groceries, mentally going through all the things I needed to do and deciding food was priority. I knew taxis were often hit-or-miss in our new, less traffic area, so I didn't even try, walking the shady, slightly shorter way through the complex. I enjoyed having a new-to-us light-weight stroller (that even has a shoulder strap - so smart!) and timed the walk: 17 minutes door-to-door. Despite it being 8:30 AM, though, we were sweating a ton by the time we arrived.

God answered my prayer for a taxi for the way home, and as time went on and Hadassah still felt warm, I took her temperature. Uh oh. She had a fever. She'd been acting sensitive about her mouth too, so I hoped that maybe she was just teething...

Over lunch we decided to have the painter go ahead and paint the dining room a color too, so Ryan left prepared to go back to B&Q in Xinzhuang immediately after work. We needed internet, and he needed to take my phone for some things, so I had no way to contact him when I realized we might need a lighter shade of paint than we'd talked about. I also needed my kitchen utensils... So I waited as late as I could, thinking 4 PM might be a little cooler (please?), and walked over to our old place pushing Hadassah in the stroller. We were both drenched with sweat after 20 minutes. I emailed Ryan, did some needed online research, collected my precious cooking supplies, and headed back. It was rush hour, and I didn't want to look in vain for a taxi and try to get everything out of the stroller and into a car while those behind honked impatiently, so I made the hot walk back, feeling a little sorry for myself, I admit. July is no time to be walking outside here, and being almost 26 weeks pregnant didn't help matters.

After supper I borrowed a friend's phone to call Ryan, realizing he may not have gotten my emails, and it was a little breezy so we took the children to the playground for a few minutes. Hadassah's fever had gone down with tylenol, but I noticed there was a little rash around her mouth (from teething drooling perhaps?) and her eczema seemed to be flaring up, despite my best attempts to lotion, which normally worked. A nice bath routine, and she was tucked into bed, while I did more organizing waiting for Ryan to get home. We slept in the living room that night, as our new bed's mattress was extremely hard, and the foam pad we had caused Ryan to overheat. The couches have served us for a week now... (thankfully our new IKEA mattress topper got delivered today!)

Hadassah woke up with little red dots covering her body. But I didn't have much time to think about it, as I had to leave by 7 AM to go to a prenatal appointment at 8:30. Thankfully Ryan was able to stay home with Hadassah, so I began the hot walk towards the metro, going the long way hoping to find a taxi... It was 15 minutes before I did as I plodded along.

At the line interchange, I was confused by huge crowds and a blockade, with things being announced in Chinese. I finally learned the subway going downtown had broken down, and when getting a taxi or figuring out a bus looked to be in vain, and I couldn't get a hold of the doctor (the office wasn't open yet), I just turned around. Failed attempt. They understood and rescheduled me for the next afternoon...

By this time I could tell something was wrong with Hadassah. The fever and then unexplained rash concerned me, yet I couldn't research anything (internet wasn't yet installed), and couldn't call my doctor dad (again, no internet). I so wished I had a local pediatrician to call up or drop by, but instead Ryan had a co-worker who has offered to translate for us at the local hospital. Instead of dragging Hadassah downtown to the expensive, English-speaking place, we figured a rash wouldn't be too hard to diagnose, and the co-worker took an early lunch break to take us there at 11 AM.

I hated bringing Hadassah back out in the heat, but I hoped this would help her. There were 20 children ahead of us when we arrived, so we registered and then walked to get lunch. When we were finally seen, the doctor took one look and said "heat rash." Evidently it's common in hot Shanghai. Her throat was inflamed and a blood test confirmed she just had a virus to explain the returned fever. That plus likely teething causing a sore mouth and tons of drooling... I felt so sorry for my little girl who was miserable, crying "all done doctor" after they pricked her finger to get blood, and long past due for a nap.

From then on, my focus turned to caring for Hadassah rather than trying to do much on the house. Not hard to do when she took short naps and was cranky and clingy when awake. I researched how to care for heat rash, and felt so bad... I'd taken her out in the heat with a fever (though we needed food... what could be done?). I'd slathered her with lotion, which I later learned makes heat rash worse, thinking it would help her irritated skin. Thus began a regimen of corn starch on the really irriated patches, nightly lukewarm baths with cornstarch and later ground oatmeal, baking soda, and a little olive oil, which has finally helped her skin start to heal. But the poor girl looked and felt pretty horrible for quite a few days.

I cried that night after she was in bed. I couldn't stop. Nothing seemed to be working out, and I felt like such a bad mom dragging her out in the heat, doing the wrong thing when I noticed a little rash, and feeling helpless and ignorant on what to do right. Ryan was reassuring, and I had to come to grips yet again with the fact that I can't be a perfect mom, I will make mistakes, poor Hadassah has to be the one I learn on as I figure out these various ailments and treatments, and besides, I can't trust in myself - I have to trust in the Lord. Good lessons, but hard in the moment, especially on lack of sleep. We were up late as Ryan scrubbed walls again that night. It felt wrong to have to open windows to air out the painted rooms, after all the scrubbing we did in our war against the black dust that permeates the air...

Despite a late night, Ryan went into work early so he could go back to Xinzhuang. It seems the "good" brand of paint had different types, but how were we to know with almost everything in Chinese? With a strong smell coming from Hadassah's room (while she currently slept in what will be the baby's room), we realized our error. The paint had cost less than expected because they'd given us the normal grade, not the VOC-free kind. Rather than have to sleep in the living room for 2 weeks while waiting for our bedroom to air out, as we began an elaborate system of fans and open windows for Hadassah's room, Ryan went to get new, good paint, taking work documents to read on the way. It was lunch by the time he got home, and I put Hadassah to nap (something normally as simple as putting her in her crib and closing the door), telling her mommy needed to go to the doctor, so daddy would be there when she woke up.

She never went to sleep. I finally had to go, needing to make another IKEA trip for a few items before my appointment. We tried our new all-in-Chinese taxi app, which was a hoot in itself... Ryan met the taxi at the gate and brought it in to our building, loading up a rug we needed to return and telling him to wait while he went up. I then went down to get in the taxi. It took me a few minutes to understand what he was asking and make him understand that it was just me - my husband wasn't coming. The taxi started, only to have Ryan come running out and bang on the window. He'd forgotten to give me back my phone. He took my apartment key, told the taxi "Děng yīxià" (wait a moment) and went running back toward the moment. I yelled to him that if he was home I didn't need a key, that I needed to get going, and told the taxi driver in my limited Chinese, "Go." But he protested - "he said wait a moment!" probably thinking I was some crazy woman leaving my husband behind when he had told me to wait! Ryan realized the problem, came out to motion him to go, and we were finally on our way. The taxi wasn't sure about the route at first, and I could hardly understand or talk to him... The tears threatened. It had already been such a long week, and here I couldn't even hardly communicate after a year in this country. But we finally made it to IKEA - much to the relief of the taxi driver and myself... I wasn't sure what I'd do if he dropped me off in a random place with a large rolled up rug!

Returns happened, I sped through the store in the 30 minutes I had, and made it to my doctor's appointment just 10 minutes late. That took a while (more on it to be covered whenever I can finally write a pregnancy update!) so it was 4:30 PM before I made it out. Rush hour on the subway home...

Hadassah was going crazy (no nap plus sick and itchy and no mommy around) so Ryan didn't get any work done, as he'd planned to do while she napped. It was 6 PM before I made it home, so I picked up McDonalds - pretty much the last thing any of us wanted to eat, and Hadassah was hardly eating anyway with her sore, swollen mouth from teething and cold plus irritated rash. But, it was the only really fast food, and right at the station. We were all feeling pretty low. Hadassah quite a few times said "All done new house" as by then she mostly associated it with feeling sick and having to stay cooped up inside all day due to the heat. Though she normally watches very little, she got a lot of choo-choo trains, youtube songs, and Grandma-grandpa videos as she took shorter naps and had to stay inside, with the apartment topsy turvy from painting around her.

To be continued... I knew this wouldn't all fit in one post!


  1. Ooohh... I'm so sorry. I can't even imagine! Any one of those things alone would make life difficult... moving, sickness, language barrier... and then to have them all combined, plus appointments, subway breakdowns, and mixed up paint! But don't be hard on yourself about Hadassah getting sick. Kids get sick sometimes, even when their moms do everything right, and it's OK. They get better. It's not fun while it lasts, but it's also not the end of the world. Don't beat yourself up. From experience, when I'm feeling sick and miserable, all I really want is Mom to hug me, comfort me, and give me things like applesauce and tea. That's what communicates love and security at that point, and that's definitely within your power to give. =) Also, as the firstborn who got experimented on, I can say that I survived those first-time-parent mistakes. =) So don't worry too much!

  2. What a week! I know how tough moving can be, but to do so while pregnant and managing a small child must have been a new experience - not to mention being in a foreign country! I'm so sorry little Hadassah has been suffering from the climate - I hope everything clears up soon, and that you get some cooler weather. The good thing is that, like you said, you can look back on this time and smile at how easy regular days seem in comparison. Hoping you are feeling more settled into your new home by now, and that once all the hard work is done you can relax and feel accomplished. :) ~Jessi