Here’s what you don’t know if you haven’t been through it. A sick child does NOT mean snuggling a little person for a few hours, both of you curled up in some storybook rocking recliner, singing to the birds on your windowsill while homemade soup simmers on the stove and you gently apply cold compresses or some such shit.
Nope. Here’s a breakdown of the reality of a ‘sick child’.
Loss of sleep – I got three hours and some change Saturday night. Because she’d been up early Saturday morning, I napped. That meant I didn’t get to sleep until after midnight Saturday night. She woke up for the first time just before 4 am. I was almost back asleep at 5am when she threw up again. Same thing with 6, and then she was up for the day. Nap Sunday afternoon was interrupted by nightmare diarrhea (hers, not mine, but thanks for asking). So I was practically delusional by bedtime last night. I drugged her. No, seriously, I gave her Motrin ‘just in case’. If I didn’t get sleep before the work week started this morning I was going to be fired. Especially since I was sick all last week. Did I mention I was also sick? Yeah. Good times.
Laundry – Making a bed at 4 am blows. Facing a pile of laundry covered in vomit the next day after no sleep is worse. Multiple sheets, pillow cases, a pillow that had to finally just be thrown out, pajamas, towels, my clothes, her clothes, the couch, the blanket on the couch, my sheets, my bedspread, her bedroom carpet, the hallway carpet. Did I mention I had the misfortune to give her tacos for dinner Saturday night? Yeah. Tacos. Why couldn’t I have fed her oatmeal and brown rice? (beige carpets)
Diarrhea – Baby-sick-poo is the most gawd-awful smelling poo in the world. It also tends to blow out of diapers, resulting in even more laundry. Worse yet, it gives Jenny the most horrible diaper rash. She woke up screaming from her nap, and didn’t fully wake up – she was so hysterical she was grabbing hunks of my hair and biting them. No, really. For the last few changes yesterday I put her in the tub every single time, and she still sobbed and kicked and basically broke my heart. I have a new level of sympathy for parents who have to care for seriously ill or injured children. Causing your child pain is HORRIBLE.
Schedule – We are leaving to go out of town for Easter on Thursday, and I did not get a single thing done yesterday. No packing, no (trip) laundry, no dishes or other cleaning, no @#$% playroom painting. Nada. Zilch. Zip. I laid on the floor of several different rooms, I laid on the couch. No, wait, I did finally end up mopping the kitchen floor at 9:30 pm because I was so embarrassed that The Ta had come over to rescue us (1/4 lb-er for me, Pedialyte for Jelly) and there was taco seasoning from the night before still on the floor. And it was my WEEKEND, people! That’s not how it’s suppose to go! (whimper, self-pity, pout). We had hair appointments and were suppose to meet some family to celebrate Cousin J’s birfday, and obviously none of that happened.
The good news is that Jelly is a bouncy happy bean today. She kept down dinner last night (brown rice and Motrin, as mentioned, plus some apple sauce for good measure) and is back to her old self. And it could’ve been worse, right? It could’ve happened on a work night; I could’ve been as sick as I was last week; she could’ve been worse. It could’ve been the night before we were leaving on a 10-hour car trip.
I write this for the thinking-about-being-a-single-mom types out there. Not to scare you, because you will get plenty of that. And besides, nothing will be worse than what you come up with all on your own. I write it because lots of people will tell you in a really generic way that your life will change, and that it will be hard, and you’ll nod politely and think secretly to yourself that you have a great support system and are a really tough chick and there’s a solution for everything and all kinds of happy rainbows will shine down on you because you’ll just be so grateful to be a mother. And while I am grateful to be a mother, every single damn minute of every single damn day; this was a hard weekend. Think about scenarios like this, and what you’ll do, and how you’ll handle them. Think about who you’ll call, and who will understand, and what you’ll let go. Think about what having a sick child really means. Think about your house smelling permanently like poo, and rolling over onto Apple Jacks in the middle of the night (not that this has anything to do with Jellybean being sick, it just makes me crazy - it’s like a whole Princess and the Pea thing, I swear, they’re much worse than Cheerios). I’m not saying it’s any easier when you have a partner. And I’m not saying that other people don’t deal with much worse. I’m just saying, bad things will sneak up on you and really test you.
Take people up on their offers to help you. I’m pretty sure The Ta just automatically assumes now that when I say, ‘No thanks!’ all cheery and sunny, there’s going to be a very humble ‘Um, yes please’ following about 10-15 minutes later.
Let the unimportant stuff slide once in a while (that’s anything other than you and baby). Your house will be dirty. People will be mad at you. You’ll have lots of guilt. And, possibly, BO (maybe deodorant is not something you should let slide, although I’ll certainly look the other way if you don’t wash your hair for 3-4 days at a time).
Keep a sense of humor. It will help you, it will help baby. And it will hopefully teach baby to have a good attitude about shitty stuff as well.
Do what is best for you when you need to. Like, mixing decongestants with sangria. Sometimes that is just what has to be done, and that is ok.
You can do it, don’t get me wrong. Hey, if I can do it, any monkey with Nick Jr. and the ability to read ‘Elmo Loves You’ over and over again without retching can do it. Like I’ve said before, just be prepared to constantly doubt and re-invent yourself over and over.
Bigger, badder, stronger – that’s us.
And now, some pictures from the crappy backup camera:
A cute kid, all ready to go to the Chinese New Year celebration and get a debilitating but short-lived virus.
Say 'cheese'! Ack, camera too slow. Well, not too bad.
*Note - She loves this bus so much that she kissed it when she came downstairs this morning. Weird kid.
C'mon, camera, you can do better.
Well, that's a nice shot of all those lovely strangers.
Please, just try to focus on at least one thing.
Hey! There's my girl, squeezed into her little Asian-inspired jammies for the event.
Thanks, camera, for getting her with her eyes closed.
That's it, I'm ordering another Easy Share.