First, I need to preface this by saying I am beyond grateful that my sick child does not have a serious illness, and she is not terminal in any way. She has something that will be manageable once we find the right diet/medicine/routine that works for her and us. This is just the situation that I find myself in and is totally unique to my beautiful, simple little family.
As one of my sisters pointed out in November, my daughter still had a cough from back in September. It’s one of those moments that makes you appreciate that you have an older sister that is an excellent single mom of two that notices these things. You also have a tinge of guilt for not noticing it yourself. As someone whose favorite hobby is painting/creating stuff, I have learned that sometimes you have to take a step away to get a fresh perspective. I am a stay at home mom. My job is my family. I have a great relationship with my daughter and spend as much time as I can with her, she’s my baby girl and she’s amazing. But back to the point, maybe I was too close and thought it was just a little nothing cough and it took my sister remembering and pointing it out months later to get my attention.
The doctors visits started in mid-October and lasted all the way through November. Which doesn’t seem like much until you consider we were going every single week, and on a few occasions twice a week. She quickly used all of her allowed absences at school, my husband quickly used his sick days at work (we only have one vehicle), and the whole ordeal quickly used up most of my sanity. During those visits and through the three chest X-rays she had done it was determined she had pneumonia and had developed allergies.
Now, my husband and I (thankfully) agree about antibiotics. I will not rush my kid to the doctor and ask for antibiotics for just the slightest cough or ailment. I won’t do it. Again, my opinion, my experience, our child. This particular time, with a double ear infection and a ‘gray cloud’ on her first chest X-ray (pneumonia had not yet been diagnosed) she was put on antibiotics. I would later learn as the weeks passed that first and second generation antibiotics would have no effect on her. She needed 3rd generation, which was a tiny tiny bottle and cost almost a weeks pay. But it worked. Along with the antibiotic, she was prescribed allergy medication and basic cough medicine. All seemed well. We got through Christmas, New Years, and February with her cough coming back here and there whenever Texas would decide to be Texas and go from freezing to the upper 70s in a 24-hour period.
During this time I learned all I could about allergies, medicines, long-term effects they could have on my growing child and so on. I would share my knowledge with my husband who would then give his two cents and we would readjust and go on. No big deal. No fevers, no loss of appetite, no changes in behavior…we still had our beautiful, smart, energetic kid. She would just get a cough every now and again.
Now we are here at the end of March. She’s had another trying month. Coughs coming back more frequently, missed days of school, me having to say “She’s not sick, she’s not contagious, it’s her allergies acting up” about a hundred times. Now onto why I wanted to write this. Besides exhausting myself talking to my mom, my sisters, my mother in law, other mothers, my husband…There’s only so much I want to impose on people.
It does take a village, I agree with that sentiment, but outsiders, even close family, don’t know the ins and outs of your daily life. As much as you share with your loved ones, they do not see the daily, sometimes hourly, changes that a child can have. As I write, she’s laying in bed with me and she changed so much since yesterday. Still not well. Another two days of missed school this week. But I digress. Here is what I wanted to say:
What I’ve Learned From My Sick Child
◆ Everyone has an opinion of what they think you should do. Of what they did when they have a sick child. I listen, I am never rude, but ultimately children are unique and the decision is mine. What works for one does not work for all.
◆ Pediatrician offices are pretty much for two things, check ups (which means screaming, crying children about to get their shots) and your sick child (which means coughing, whiny and unruly children) and as much as you might want to believe that the office is germ free, it’s not. Not to mention that some parents do not care if their snot nosed coughing kid is running all over spreading cooties to everyone else. Which brings me to….
◆ You too will get sick taking your sick child to the Doc. Especially if you go every week during the winter months. As much as you try to resist it, it will happen. Taking multiple trips to the doc, no matter how good your immune system is, will tear you down emotionally and physically. No matter how hard you try, it will get you. And when your child is already sick, then your husband gets sick, then YOU get sick but still need to be able to take care of everyone, you feel defeated.
◆ It is okay to feel defeat. It is a sure sign that you care, and that you are trying.
◆ You will question yourself as a mother. You will question what you are doing or not doing on a daily basis. You will question your genes… You will question everything!
◆ You will get tired, angry, frustrated…you will go through all sorts of emotions.
◆ You will get sympathy sickness. D got sent home early from school and within hours I was already exhausted. It’s okay. Just remember that you are not actually sick and still have a sick child to care for. It’s easy to be lazy and lay in bed with your kid all day. But if your job is home and family, there will always be dishes, laundry, dinners, dogs, etc. Life does not stop because of a sick child. Granted, our household is VERY easy going and we believe in mental health just as much as physical health, but ‘Mom’ duties do not go away.
◆ Taking care of yourself is just as important as taking care of your child. If you are not well, it will be that much harder. By this I mostly mean physical health, yes, but also taking care of your mind. Take a break, take a breath and remember that working harder and wearing yourself out mentally does not mean your child will get better faster. It only adds to the stress.
◆ (For the stay at home mom or dad) Remember that what you are doing matters. In my case, I am at home a lot. It goes back to that perspective thing, you can be so close to a situation that you don’t see change. I am also very critical of myself. I am lucky to be a SAHM, but in doing so you don’t always see the benefits of your hard work. If you have a job, these things are easier to see in the paychecks you get and the food you put in the fridge. But trust me, as my husband has pointed out to me before, just because you don’t notice these things doesn’t mean they’re not there.
◆ Don’t feel pressured to do what is considered ‘the norm’ but don’t get too far outside your comfort zone. After months and months of this I am willing to try ALMOST anything. But I need to remind myself that sometimes, especially with a coughing fit at midnight, that cough syrup and baby Vicks work just as well.
◆ It’s HARD to tell a 5 year old that she can’t go play outside. I don’t have a solution for this, I’m sorry. It’s hard E V E R Y S I N G L E T I M E.
◆ Eventually things will get sorted. Although now I feel like I have ‘the sick kid’ at school, I am determined to find a solution. This IS her very first year at school, and I did expect her to get sick. I wasn’t prepared for pneumonia or for all this to carry on the whole school year, but I’m adapting and I can be very persistent when needed.
◆ If all else fails, take a cue from your sick child. My child in particular has never let this get her down. She has bad days, yes, but always has a smile. She loves to laugh, as do I, and humor is a wonderful thing. Some days I have to pull from her strength, but that’s okay too.
How do you do cope with trying times in your family?
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Category: Guest Author