Why are we STILL talking about my boobs?

Dear Rosie,

We’ve had a really big few weeks of sickness in our house. You got your first really serious chest infection 2 weeks ago and it almost broke us. The snot, oh my god, the snot. The coughing was sending us all bonkers, mainly because that nasty rattle on your chest just wouldn’t let you sleep.

sick baby

We headed straight to our doctor who we love, but this doctor visit wasn’t as positive as normal.

As we walked into the doctor’s office you were miserable. You wouldn’t let me put you down, non-stop crying and in the brief moments you weren’t crying, you were coughing. I was feeling so helpless and just wanted to get you help as quickly as I could.

We sat down with our doctor who knows our birth story very well and we ran through your symptoms. “Sounds like a nasty chest infection to me, probably picked up at child care”.

INSERT INSTANT SELF-INFLICTED MUM GUILT.

mum guilt trip

You see Rosie girl, you actually started at childcare a few weeks ago. Only one day a week at this stage, and to be fully honest, this was a decision that your Dad and I made together for my own mental health.

The truth is in the weeks leading up to this choice, post natal anxiety had reared its ugly head again and I wasn’t in a fantastic head space. I was feeling trapped, exhausted, colourless, unmotivated and like a total mum failure. I was timing your naps to make sure I didn’t undo anything we had learnt at sleep school… but this dedication to the routine had become so important that I forgot about the fun we could be having when you were awake!!

Now the fact is, the day you are at day-care for the time being, is a day I can fill with anything I want to do. It is a total luxury and not something I take for granted. I know this is something that is not possible for many so I can assure you, Thursdays are BUSY. To justify having the day to myself, I clean the house from top to bottom, cook your food for the week, run family errands and try to make myself feel as though I’ve “earned” the day.

As soon as this is all done…. I sit. Sometimes in a restaurant. Sometimes just in my car. And I pump up the hits of the 90’s and I sing so loud that I actually wet my pants a little bit last week when in the middle of dominating my favourite chorus from the En Vogue classic ‘Don’t Let Go’. True story.

You LOVE childcare. I am sent photos every Thursday of you eating sand, wrestling with other kids, painting, playing in water and genuinely dominating the nursery.

childcare

So each week I drop you off. You don’t look back. I cry in the car and then get on with my day.

BACK TO THE DOCTORS VISIT.

There you sat. Coughing into one hand, waving at me with the other. So sick, so miserable and with a worried Mum trying to look after you the best I could.

“Okay Sarah it looks like a viral chest infection to me, a pretty nasty one so we need to get her onto steroids straight away to help her breathe and then get her started on a course of antibiotics”

My heart sank. You were actually sick. I hadn’t been able to protect you from this.

But then the real blow of the day was administered.

“Because of her birth and you not breastfeeding her, she’s more likely to contract infections over the first 12 months of her life, and of course because she’s in day-care too”.

Seriously? My heart didn’t sink this time. It just broke. All I could think was that you were sitting there, struggling to breathe clearly and so incredibly sad and it was all because of me.

I drove you home, dosed you up and you napped all day, cuddled all afternoon and coughed yourself awake all night.

I let this doctors visit consume me for another week before I had a pretty important realisation. The important thing I learnt after this experience, is what I SHOULD have said to that doctor.

“Mate, that’s actually a really unhelpful thing to say. I already feel awful for my daughter and you’ve just told me it’s my fault. Breastfeeding was OUT of my control and KIDS GET SICK. Teach me how to help her and please remind yourself that I’m a NEW MUM and doing the best I can.”

It took you 4 days to find your smile and 5 days before we had to do it all over again. You took your Dad down with you the second time so at least you both coughed your way through it together. I almost had a total nervous breakdown looking after the two of you at the same time but hey, that’s love. And from what I’m being told, this could be our destiny for the next 12 months as you dribble, slobber and crawl your way through your first 18 months of life.

daddy and daughter

Here’s what I learnt from our first few sicknesses together and what I’m going to remind myself of the next time you start to feel unwell again.

  • Kids get sick. It’s just what happens. Hold on tight and ride it out.
  • Keep your hands and your babies’ hands clean, especially around meal times.
  • Don’t be afraid to tell your friends you need to see them another time if they have a cold. They can go home to sleep their colds off… you can’t.
  • When your baby is sick, throw your routine in the bin. Your baby will tell you exactly what they need, which is usually LOTS of fluid and LOTS of sleep. The routine will bounce back into place when everyone feels better.
  • Get a snot sucker machine. It’s gross but strangely satisfying!
  • Cheese and toast is an acceptable dinner for all other adults in the house while you look after the baby.  
  • Ask/accept any offers of help. If your baby only wants you, ask a friend or loved one for a meal, to help you do a quick house tidy or to pick things up from the supermarket.

Breastfeeding is brilliant. It’s naturally incredible for babies… but Rosie, if this isn’t something you’re able to do for your own babies in the future, please remember that this won’t be the reason your bubba gets sick.

We’re all doing the best we can, boob or no boob.

I’m now going to fall into a heap and watch Grant Denier host his 14,537th TV show on Australian television.

Listening to you breathe clearly is the most wonderful sound (other than hearing you fart, that really cracks us up)

happy baby

Love,

Your Mum

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