Sickness + Parenting
Here’s how it went down:
*Side note: I am pregnant! Yay! Although we are very excited, unfortunately I’ve been struggling with lack of energy, morning sickness, weird food aversions, and all of that wonderful stuff that I struggled with when I was pregnant with FVB. Keep this in mind as you read.
- A large number of extended family members were coming into town: cousin & cousin’s family, including FOUR small children under the age of 5, sister and sister’s family with ONE small child (aged 2.5), cousin (with, surprisingly, no kids to speak of), aunt, and grandparents
- Approximately 2 days after their arrivals (Friday), FVB gets sick with the horrifying hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD). This disease is super contagious and especially affects young children under the age of 10, along with immune compromised people (for example, pregnant women).
- Approximately 2 days after that (Sunday), I come down with the horrifying HFMD.
Parenting a toddler is hard. Parenting a toddler while pregnant is extra hard. Parenting a toddler who is sick while you are pregnant AND sick AND sad about missing time with your family is really, super, extra hard. I definitely cried at least three separate times over the course of the long weekend. Hubs did his best to keep me upbeat, but even he had to shake his head when I left the table crying over a disagreement about the acceptable level of toasty-ness for a bagel (but he comforted me anyway and said he understood).
FVB was quite a trooper and did manage to enjoy some family time (when he wasn’t quarantined). He saved his peak sickness for the night, when I was the MOST exhausted. We had two (basically) sleepless nights that involved a never ending cycle of crying-nursing-pacing. (Here is the point when you are to remember that I AM PREGNANT. AND SUPER EXHAUSTED AND NAUSEOUS. Sorry for yelling). After the first night I asked hubs to please sleep in the guest room so that one person could be well rested and have the ability to get through the following day without crying or snapping, or both. We got through the two terrible nights, FVB perked up, and things were looking up. Then I realized that the minor sore throat that I had been noticing was getting much worse. And that I had a slight fever. And that my feet and hands felt like someone had set them on fire. Next thing I knew, FVB was pretty much cured, but I (literally) couldn’t walk. Hubs said I looked like an 80-year-old woman, hobbling around on my burning, itchy feet. Luckily, I only had one sleepless night which involved getting up every few hours to experiment with new methods of calming the fire on my feet (aloe=fail; calamine lotion=fail, ice pack=win, for 30 minutes or so, then fail). Also luckily, all of the family had left by the time my sickness really kicked in, so I wasn’t completely miserable attending our giant family reunion on Sunday.
I will readily admit that I did not keep a good attitude during this time. I fell into a “woe-is-me, why-doesn’t-my-husband-know-how-I-like-my-bagel-toasted-by-now” pit of despair. Pregnancy hormones, combined with HFMD, combined with sleep deprivation, make me a pretty miserable person. I mean, I can struggle on a normal, not pregnant, not sick, not sleep deprived day to stay positive about parenting a toddler. This shit is hard. If I am well rested, and in a general positive state of mind, I view parenting a toddler as challenging, yet fun.
*CHALLENGING: FVB is smart, and stubborn, and knows what he wants. He does not give in easily, and is not distracted easily. He (like every 2 year old in the entire world) is just beginning to throw tantrums, and whine, and become fiercely allergic to the word “no.”
*FUN: He has a great personality, loves to talk, has a huge imagination, and is generally a joy to be around. I love just watching him play, which he is doing independently for longer and longer stretches of time.
If I am sleep deprived, sick, and in a general negative state of mind, I view parenting a toddler as something akin to…..I don’t even know what to compare it to. Hell? This time was not fun for anyone in our family. There was one moment (I am horrified looking back on this), after trying to get FVB to sleep for over 2 hours, where I literally laid him on the bed and SCREAMED at him to go to sleep. And then I dissolved into tears on the other side of the bed. But you know what happened? He went to sleep. Without crying, without nursing AND while listening to me cry. I had trouble writing that, and I have trouble reading it back, and I have trouble just thinking about it. It was a very low moment in my parenting. But….we survived. FVB got better, I got better, and we all finally got some sleep. And life went on. My pregnancy nausea comes and goes these days, but I am having more good days than bad. I’m trying to give myself a little bit of grace and not worry that I have permanently damaged the bond between FVB and I because one night I lost my temper and screamed.
Since I can’t bear to end my blog post with that terrible story, I will leave you with three amazingly positive and uplifting things:
- We sold our above ground pool and now have a giant sand pit in it’s place. FVB loves sand. In one of his books, there is a picture of a group of children playing in a sandbox, with the words: “We’re seven, in sand heaven.” The other day, while playing in the sand pit, he said to me, “I’m in sand heaven!”
- We (mostly hubs) planted a beautiful garden in the spring and it has taken off! We have more lettuce than we could ever eat, our tomatoes and peppers are just getting buds, and we are shaping up to have an incredible pumpkin come Halloween. Growing your own food is so fun!
- We are traveling back in Colorado in less than two weeks, we have TWO Farm Sanctuary visits scheduled for summer/fall, AND we just booked a trip to Nashville in late October. So much fun travel to look forward to!
I hope you all have a fantastic week (and please don’t judge me for the screaming thing).