Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Fever Pitch

Ada is sick. Yes, I know everyone is sick. Until now, I have felt a bit superior in my girl's non-sickness. I generally don't get very sick and I was hoping I'd passed that on to Ada. When everyone at my job or all my friends are hacking and coughing, puking and feverish, I am usually only afflicted for a day or so. After that I get weeks of runny nose, but compared to several days of vomiting or a week of chills and fever, I'll take the snot.

While it still remains to be seen if Ada will take after her mama in the cold department, she is sick now. When I picked her up for her 2:30 am feeding, she was burning up. I was worried, but she fell right back to sleep after nursing. She woke again at 5. And 5:30. Since then, she's napped three times. (As I am getting ready to post this, she's had 5 naps.)

I feel terrible for Ada; she obviously feels awful and doesn't know why. I am trying to cuddle and soothe her as much as possible, and have been thinking about the kind of caretaker I want to be to my ailing child. Namely, I want to do things differently than my mother did.

I love my mother. She is great is many ways; she's loving, smart and funny. She is efficient, which is mostly great, but less than appealing when one is a sick child. She thinks that acting well can banish your cold. As kids, my sister and I were not allowed to remain in our pajamas (much less, stay in bed) when we were sick. We had to get up and try to get into our regular routine. This may have been her way of rooting out "false" illness brought on by a desire to stay home and play Chutes and Ladders, or more likely the result of her real belief that illness is surmountable by sheer force of will.

I should note that my mom is not a Christian Scientist and doesn't believe that God will heal her, she just doesn't like to be sick. Sure it feels bad, but worse, it is inefficient. Efficiency is my mother's science and practically her religion.

My sister and I joke that we were only allowed to stay home if we were dead. If we were only kind of sick, we got sent on to school to infect our classmates. If we were really sick we went to work with my mom. Going to my mom's office was kind of fun - there were lots of colored pencils, reams of green bar paper and big chalkboards to draw on, and a cafeteria filled with foods appealing to a sick child, like ginger ale and chocolate pudding. But there was no place to curl up and the fluorescent lights were grating on a headache. What I really wanted was to be at home in my pjs.

My mom's way makes some sense. Getting a sitter at the last minute can be a challenge, and why encourage children to try to get out of school? But sometimes a little sympathy, a little "sit in my lap and lean against my chest while I rub your back" helps when you are sick. Ada has shown a distinct desire for that kind of thing today. Between naps and nursing, she's sitting on my lap a lot more than usual. These days Ada wants to stand more than anything else, but today it is too much effort. She really wants to curl up on my lap while I coo softly to her, and I am happy to make that happen. I can't make her un-sick through force of will any more than my mom was able to do it for me. But I've got the infant tylenol, and I can hug her and sing.


  1. sorry to hear the little one is sick. i think it's inevitable in the beginning and hopefully she'll develop your strong immune system from it. i could be a little less than sympathetic when henry seemed to be waking up all night just because, but when he has been sick i have no shortage of patience and desire to rock him and let him sleep on me. i hope this passes quickly for the peanut.

  2. Hope she's better soon. Hugs to both of you.

    I always think it's kind of nice taking care of a sick kid -- even when she's throwing up on you or whatever, it's one of those moments where there's no doubt about the right thing to do, you can just love her and care for her.

  3. Love her up mama! I hope she feels better. She is obviously in great hands. Oh and our mas must share the same brain when it comes to sickness, "you're never too sick to make your bed and get dressed."

  4. It is hardest at the preschool age when kids mingle more with each other and have the opportunity to gain immunity to all of the several hundred cold viruses. There are generally rules about when not to send your child to school. (I'm a rule follower, so I agonized over whether 24 hours had really passed since my child had been fever or vomit free.)

    I don't think many workplaces are happy to have mom bring a sick kid to work anymore, but there is mandatory leave for dependent care for most employers.

  5. I was wallpaper partner for my mother when I had the mumps. She always did the let's get going thing!

    Medicate your girl with cuddles.. sounds like a good strategy. I don't know what it is but I often felt like I was spoiling my child with the love.. Which is pretty silly. I liked it and she liked, who cares about anyone else?