I have been fairly lucky that in my son’s almost-two years of life, I’ve had very few major sicknesses. I’ve had colds here and there, and several horrible rounds of mastitis, but nothing overly contagious and no major stomach bugs or flu-like stuff. My husband and Cullen always seem to get the brunt of the germs in our house, and I am always happy to step in as caretaker heating soup, wiping noses, and doing whatever is needed to get everyone back on the mend.
The one major issue I have dealt with is mastitis, which for better or for worse, while horrible uncomfortable and difficult to manage, is at least not contagious to the rest of the family. And as luck or bad luck, I guess would have it, each time I have been sick in the past two years has directly coincided with some major work event for my husband. My worst day of mastitis ever landed on a day when he was taking a nine-hour exam for which he’d been preparing for months. Other bugs have come during retreats, conferences, and other things that are really non-negotiable as sick days.
This isn’t meant to be a woe is me type of post, but more just a discussion of some of the realities of being a stay at home parent. When my husband gets sick, he can call in to work for the day off, and then lay in bed knowing that Cullen is being taken care of by me. But for me there is no backup caretaker. When I am sick, it means causing a huge inconvenience to my husband who may or may not even be able to get the day off, or it means dragging my sick and tired body around the house after a wild toddler, doing my best to contain germs and sneeze in the other direction.
As you can probably guess, we’ve been sick this week. It started on Tuesday night, and I’m just now finally feeling like I’m coming out of the fog here on Friday morning. I’ve had a horrific cough and cold, and coupled with being 36 weeks pregnant, I’ve been unable to take any medication or really get any relief other than from hot tea and heating pads. And history has repeated itself with my ability to poorly time my illness the first (and worst) day of this bug landed on a day that my husband had an all-day planning retreat with his company.
Of course, we all survived. Cullen was unfortunately a bit under the weather too, so he was okay with sticking to being indoors, and happy to watch more Sesame Street than usual. I spent every minute of his nap and overnight sleep in bed myself, desperate to rest and recover as quickly as possible. My husband has actually worked from home for the past two days in order to help out when he can in between calls. Slowly but surely, we’re all coming out of it.
But it’s a hard thing to accept having no relief or backup plan for when mom gets sick. It’s not the type of thing you can call in a babysitter or nanny for, because, really, who wants to come into a house full of germs? And without any family nearby, it’s just something we realize we need to tackle on our own. The best solution for us is to avoid getting sick in the first place; making sure we’re balanced in vitamins and veggies, practicing good hand washing, and avoiding other sick families and kids.
Here’s hoping for a healthier upcoming germy season!