They don’t tell you when you become a mom, how fucking hard it’s going to be to be sick and have kids. You can’t just call in sick and stay in bed all day. The hobbits still want food, shows, entertainment, even amongst their sweetness of sharing their blankie with you cause they can tell you feel bad.
The first time I was sick with a child
was the first week I brought home a preemie infant. My son was 36 weeks gestation; meaning he was 4 weeks before his due date! And already an 8 week old infant. (Keep that math straight for the next 12 months with doctors and judgy moms. Oy.)
Anyway, here I am first week out of the hospital and paranoid first time mom with warnings from nurse about not getting the baby sick including prevention by not taking him to any public places for the rest of winter (it was February), and here I am as mom with a 102 fever. So I wore a sick mask! when I nursed, and pumping after when I could so my partner could feed also and I get some rest in between. Little did I know at that point that Mom’s breastmilk creates antibodies when you are sick to help protect the infant from getting the same illness. Amazing, right?! So I was doing the best thing by keeping him nourished with my milk. But let me tell you pumping with a 102 degree fever at 3 in the morning is not a job for wimps; its a job for Moms.
Next illness; Daddy and I both were sick. We woke up dying. The baby cried. I said “I will give you a million dollars if you go change the baby and bring him here to nurse.” He went to get the baby and said “I can’t change the diaper. The smell..I can’t!” Between the two of us, we changed one diaper. And I knew we needed help. The closest family to us was a two and a half hour drive- one way. I recently had joined a breastfeeding support group and fb was just starting the mommy inter-web connections. I literally put out a FB post; Please can anyone help watch my son. we are both too sick. Enter new mommy friend who came to the rescue. I remember handing her my nine month old infant, saying no dairy but whatever and I will nurse him when he gets home. I am grateful. In retrospect I don’t remember discussing car seats, packing food, nothing, just a hand off “Please keep my child alive while I go die.” It was a two day recovery and she blissfully took him basically 9-5 for two days and i stayed in bed and nursed the rest. Its really all a blur I was so sick.
The next was my son was a toddler. I’m like “I’ve got this. I’m miserable. But we can just hang out in the living room with toys. I’ve been sick before. It’s fine. I should have this just fine.” I closed the french doors so the toddler couldn’t escape without at least some noise. I rested while he played and occasionally nursed and snacked on the snack cup I had given him. All set, right? Then I woke up to him dipping his hands in my Sprite and wiping it on the couch. I called Daddy “Um, he’s currently wiping Sprite on the couch. I need help.”
There’s a lot of mom guilt about not being able to watch your child 24-7 through thick and thin. That’s why we need community. I am so grateful for the help I had, because when you are dying, you are dying and you have to take time to get better. You really can take a sick half day, even if not a full day 😉 I now declare movie days, make your own PBJ, and eat whatever you can find. For a long time Peanut Butter “lollipops” (PB on a spoon) was a great treat from age 4-8 🙂 Now at 6 and 9, my partner is no longer with me and my kids bring me water or share their blankie with me if I go down. And they love that I lift screen bans and we watch three movies in a row, even if they don’t love that I make them watch my choices too. So to the new mom, sick with an infant or toddler; mom-ing is hard! and it’s ok ask for help.. And the love that you show them when they are sick, comes back to you in all their sweetness to care for you. Sweet little snuggles and kisses “It’s ok mommy. Here’s my blankie and I’ll get your phone and water since you don’t feel well.”