As I’m writing this, we are on day 9 of myself being sick, while Isla is finally feeling and acting more herself. I am not quite in the clear, but Isla is thankfully. This was all so new to me. I hardly get sick, and Isla has never had more than a cold, so when I was told that she has RSV, pink eye, and an ear infection, I was at a loss. I have never had a sinus infection, but I’m convinced that’s what I have, and my symptoms are taking a little longer to subside. Because of all that she had going on, it affected pretty much everything about her from her sleep, to her eating, to her need for her paci, and overall energy. Since I was also feeling terrible, it just compounded on the entire situation. I don’t want this to sound like just a bunch of complaining, however. It’s definitely been tough to navigate this week, but I learned a few things that I wanted to share with any moms that may need some encouragement if they ever find themselves in the same situation.
1. Forget what’s “normal” in your routine
You are now in survival mode momma, so that’s what you need to focus on. I was so stressed out in the beginning of our sickness wondering how I was going to care for my sick child while doing everything else. When I finally accepted that I was not going to get sleep and that our typical day-to-day routine was definitely not going to happen, it really helped me to just let go of any expectation to keep normalcy around. Just focus on staying up on administering medicines, getting in extra snuggles, and taking care of yourself and your sick baby.
2. Don’t stress going backwards in your parenting efforts
I quickly realized that Isla was going to need me to be less strict on enforcing normal parenting habits like limited screen time and when she is allowed to have her paci. What she needed was plenty of rest and comfort, and I hate to admit it, but she was able to get more rest with her paci and a movie. We’ve been trying to limit pacis to just night time, which had been successful. But when she wanted it 24/7, I was worried that we were undoing every effort we had previously made. Same goes with how much screen time she was getting. I will say, on the other side of this, neither issue has taken more than a day or two to transition back into. It takes standing your ground and consistency, but I think that a week isn’t going to undo what you’ve been working on for months.
3. Find joy in the little moments
While I could’ve been felt overwhelmed that my 20 month old wasn’t going down for her nap with gladness like she usually does, I chose to take the time she wanted with me to rock her while she reluctantly drifted off to just be thankful for this time I do have. It gave me time to give my tired and weary thoughts to God and find peace and rest in Him. I would rather have these moments than none at all, and as her momma, it’s my joy and privilege to be her person that helps when she feels absolutely helpless.
4. Ask for help
I’m not one that naturally asks for help all the time. I’d like to think that I can handle most things on my own (this is a big area I need help with in general). However, my husband has been amazing with picking up the slack that I so desperately needed, even without me asking for help. If he wasn’t able to help out as much, I would’ve needed to ask for more assistance on some days when I was at my wits end, but it’s something I highly recommend if you are going through the same thing and don’t have your husband as available to help during the day. I was surprised as to how many people that reached out asking if they could help if Ross wasn’t able to, and that is a blessing just to know that those people are there and willing.
5. Know this: You will get through this!
It was probably night 3 or 4 of having little to no sleep that I started to wonder if life would ever be the same again. In my dramatic and delirious mindset, it had felt more like it had been 3 or 4 years. In reality, most seasonal sickness seems to run its course in about a week or two which isn’t that long in the grand scheme of life. If crying and allowing yourself to feel overwhelmed for a moment helps release your stress and tension, let it out! It helped me tremendously a couple of times to be vulnerable with myself and just cry. But when you’re done crying, gather yourself, find some grit deep down, and get through another sleepless night. You are a strong mom, stronger than you know.
I am grateful to the other moms that encouraged me while navigating a tough week nursing my daughter back to health. This was all new to me, and oftentimes overwhelming. I’m also so grateful for my family’s health. I have a new appreciation for each breath and a good night’s rest. My heart also goes out to those who have children with chronic or debilitating illnesses. You are amazing, and there is so much I can learn from you.