Friday, 26 December 2014

Mommy Mental Health: Keeping it Together with a Sick Baby

Sickness is almost inevitable this time of year. Cooler temperatures are matched by dry furnaces. Outings to shop mean even more public exposure, so you wash your hands until they are cracked. Just the pace of it all contributes to not really eating, sleeping, or exercising like you should. And to top it all off, you tote around a little drool machine that puts everything in his or her mouth. Your poor immune system!

Even if you do manage to sanitize your way through the holidays, your little one, like mine, will probably still get a cold. It's a major stress as a new parent. This article is meant not to help you diagnose or treat baby, but to hold yourself together when facing a really difficult setback. As the caregiver who has to dress baby all nicely for functions, and then change them out 20 minutes later, the one who has to think about temperatures, consistencies, and signs, the person to apologize for, rock, and endure those hard nights at someone else's house, you need to know that you can do this.

Be prepared, be realistic

Babies are going to catch something eventually, and that's okay. Their young bodies need to be tested to develop the antibodies to handle more difficult bugs later on. Baby group has nothing on public school. Reasonable people will understand this, and there's no use justifying yourself to unreasonable people.

Set yourself up to make junior as comfortable as possible, while watching for signs of something more serious. Don't assume the worse, you'll quickly become one of those paranoid, unreasonable people. Read our list of suggested tools to have on hand to manage fevers and other mild symptoms.

Trust your gut

Some moms are worried about looking silly, over protective, or seeking unnecessary medical attention. Sure you may be new at this, but no one knows what "normal" looks like for your baby better than you. If you're concerned, just go.  Take the jokes if it was nothing. If you can try to book in with your family doctor before a trip to the ER, that's probably preferable, but high fever, multiple days of vomiting or diarrhea, and dehydration are not things to ignore. In my opinion, it's better to overreact than to under react in in the case of the above symptoms.


As much as you think you have to accomplish this time of year; shopping, cleaning, entertaining, etc.  You don't.  Pare down your list and state your case matter of factly. Stay close to home and keep your little one happy and well rested. Trying to keep up appearances will only serve to further exhaust you and infect others. Things (especially laundry and dishes) will pile up, but such is life. Between a clean house and a smiling son, I choose the latter every time.

It gets worse before it gets better

If you think frequent wakings and extra diapers are bad, just remember that this is nothing compared to school aged illness. A good friend of my husband's shared a story that really put things in to perspective for me:

As the mother of 4 year old twins, when one gets sick, they both do. A call from the school sent mom to pick up the ailing duo. Before getting home, one had thrown up all over the back seat. Upon arrival, it became obvious that the other had made a mess of, ahem, a different sort. She was ready to set fire to the car before dealing with it.

Laugh it off. Take an extra long shower when hubby gets home. Spend the day in track pants. Do whatever you need to do to cope. No one said motherhood was easy. If you didn't worry at least a little bit, you wouldn't be doing your job. In the long run, this cold is just a blip on the radar, and it will be a war story to share with your sisters in arms.

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