Thoughts on Action
"Contemplation often makes life miserable. We should act more, think less, and stop watching ourselves live." ~ Nicolas de Chamfort

Getting Sick with (not “of” this time!) Kids

Last week brought with it a pretty heinous bout of the flu. The kind of flu that leaves bruises on your sternum from hours of hugging the toilet. The kind where you’re just not sure you want to go on living. The kind where your stomach says, “You thought you could sneak that single Saltine in here? I don’t think so!” and then laughs maniacally before rejecting it. Because stomachs laugh.

As you can all imagine, I did your garden-variety drawing of the curtains, lying in the bedroom bat cave for hours on end, moaning and groaning. There was a good deal of “Why me?!”ing, but the other question that popped up during my more lucid moments was…

How do parents with small children survive the flu?!

It felt, at times, like I was barely clinging to life. I couldn’t even gather the strength to walk down to the couch until Day 2…so how could I possibly have dealt with a screaming infant requiring food, a diaper change or endless hours of walking, rocking, jiggling and cajoling? And what if that baby had been paired with a toddler who would no doubt start eating dishwashing detergent by the fistful if I turned my back for a moment to puke? My ability to sleep for nearly 20 hours that second day is perhaps the sole reason I was able to (mostly) recover within a 48-hour period. How much longer would that have been extended if I’d gotten the standard 3 or 4 hours of sleep afforded most new parents?

Granted, my questions above sort of assume that I’d have zero help, which probably wouldn’t be the case. But what if you don’t have family living nearby? What if all your friends have actual jobs and can’t take time out of their schedules to lend a hand? What if your husband is out of town or has a critical work thing he can’t miss? What if your husband is imaginary and you’re actually a single mom? Who can’t afford a babysitter to come and take them away for the day? What do these poor women do?

I realize that battling the flu as a mom is a temporary and out-of-the-norm scenario, as are many of the things I worry about on this blog. But each of these are just drops in the bucket that continue to add up to a pretty overwhelming package of panic sometimes. So for now, I’m pretty grateful that I was the only enormous crybaby in my house last week.

19 Responses to Getting Sick with (not “of” this time!) Kids

  • Having a flu as a parent is awful. When my son was a baby, me, my husband and my son all had the stomach flu and it was our worst parenting experience so far. We were all up all night throwing up. We were all so weak we could barely move. And we had absolutely zero help. It suuuucked.

    And that’s why we now all get the flu shot ;)

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      Yes, this is just a giant advertisement for flu shots! I missed my first one in five years and paid DEARLY for it this year.

    • Cece says:

      Any strain of the influenza virus is a respiratory condition. There is no such thing as a \”stomach flu\”, so your flu shot, while saving you from severe, life-threatening respiratory illness, will not protect you from a stomach bug. Just sayin\’. To the author as well, not just you. I\’m glad you got the flu shout though… it\’s important!

  • Marie says:

    My son’s daycare provider is out sick today because she has this 48-hr flu thingy. Very stressful. So I left him at home in his room with the door closed and a sponge of water, he’ll be ok there for a few hours. Bwahaha. I know you realize this is temporary and out-of-the norm, but if it freaks you out that much (which is fine, it’s pretty freaky), then I’m thinking that parenthood maybe isn’t the right fit, as these sorts of mind-arresting, unpredictable, totally overwhelming events happen from time to time. And being able to eek out superhuman powers of strength and energy in the face of barely clinging to life is sort of part of the job sometimes, even if you do have a friend or family nearby. But what happens more often, like every day, is just digging deep and finding more in your well of giving-ness on a daily basis. Like when you have just a little bitty cold, and you really just want to vege on the couch, but you don’t and your bitty cold just goes on for weeks instead of days. If that sounds scary, then hopefully you can afford a good babysitter.

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      Yup, I know we’ve all got more strength in us than it probably seems sometimes. And until it’s tested, sometimes it’s hard to believe it’s there, I suppose.

      • maya says:

        i guess the basic question for me is whether it’s worth digging in the well for that additional strength. i think im a light-weight when it comes to life. i don’t like digging in times of insanity. i just like smiling and being happy :)

        • Maybe Lady
          Maybe Lady says:

          Haha! Well, at least you know yourself – and that’s more than I can say for most people! In fact, it’s probably the secret to happiness.

  • Amy M says:

    I think about this EVERY time I’m sick. I am such a wimp when I feel sick and I cannot imagine having to also take care of a baby when I feel like crap. Like Marie said, I really like to veg on the couch and just get over it and the idea of having to summon superhuman strength to take care of an infant while down with the flu does give me pause sometimes. However, I think if you know, like I do because I have a medically suppressed immune system, that you really need to sleep for 20 hours (or maybe it will have to be just 10!) and you ALSO want to have kids, well you’ll just have to really make sure you do have support around in case of emergencies! And probably you’ll also need a well-stocked cabinet of flu and cold meds to get you through it :-)

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      I feel like having family nearby makes an ENORMOUS difference. I feel so bad for the people who are somewhat isolated from the rest of their family – for whatever reason – when these tough times come up.

  • Scott says:

    Don\’t worry, you can always get your childfree friends to come over and babysit while you\’re sick. They have loads of extra time and lonely lives to begin with….

    Seriously, though, isn\’t this one of those things where your friends who are also parents lend a hand, and then when they\’re sick you lend a hand? I thought that was part of the whole \”club\” thing.

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      I think if the whole “club” thing actually worked, parents would get out more because they’d have some sort of babysitting “points” system worked out.

      • Marie says:

        Um, just wanted to say, speaking from the “club,” that it’s way easier to help out a sick friend than get babysitting resolved. I’m not sure why the babysitting/getting out thing has become such a lightning rod. It seems to matter a lot more to people who don’t have kids than to people who do (at least that’s the case in my “club”…).

  • maya says:

    i may know myself on certain fronts, but that hasn’t helped me to figure out a definite answer to the big question of kids vs. no kids!! :P

  • Rachael says:

    I remember my mum having bad flu when I was about 5, 6, and it was just boring, she told me off lots (which didn\’t do any lasting harm) and I played with my toys on the bed a lot… other times we both had it and it was neighbours (she was alone with me) and doctors visiting, like most things it seems really huge but you\’d survive just fine, and so would your kids.

    Imagine you\’d just come out of a cocoon and had to try and negotiate driving, or walking aropund outside – what if you faint?! What if there\’s a wasp in the car?! Anything new is like that, but once you\’ve been doing it for a while you get a more realistic perspective and have plans in place, be they perfect or improvised, to cope.

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      Yup, I’d survive, just like every mom with the flu has done since the dawn of time. It would just really, really suck. :)

  • DowagerLadyUrsula says:

    This is an article by Cracked columnist John Cheese. He’s written some pretty hilarious articles about parenting, babies, and pregnancy. The number one item on this particular article is dealing with the fact that when you’re sick, and a parent, there is no rest.

    http://www.cracked.com/blog/the-5-most-horrible-things-nobody-tells-you-about-babies_p2/

    I’m sick today, and thought long and hard about how awful it would be to not be able to rest and recuperate because of having to take care of other people.

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      Agreed. I imagine it’s got to increase the amount of time it take to recover by like ten-fold.

  • Gail says:

    I am so glad that I stumbled on your blog. I am also in the situation of trying to decide if we should have kids or not. Infertility took away my chance at having them the “old fashioned way” so we are thinking about adopting, but the most we wait and think, the more we question whether we want to give up our lives as they are. Some days, there are more questions than answers.

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      Your last sentence pretty much hits the nail on the head! It’s why I feel like I’ll never run out of topics to write about on here! Glad you found me – welcome!

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