Q&A: parenting while sick

Candletime! Day 5. If you're not lighting candles, you're not having fun.

We've all been there. Probably in the last few weeks, in fact. Andrea feels really sick, and has a toddler, and writes:

"Tips on how to be a mom when feeling like cr@p are appreciated….we've got Nemo on right now. And I'm gonna go lie down on the sofa."

One thing about being the Great and Powerful Oz (I love that you all coined that phrase for being the one who has to hold everything together in the family and keep everything constantly on your radar) is that you never get a break, even when you're sick. Even when, technically, you've taken a sick day from work. Or when someone's "taking care" of you. Because even if you're in bed, people are still trying to nurse from you, or asking you where their socks are, or wondering what's for dinner. <Insert your own vulgar and/or gratuitously violent response here.>

The bottom line is that even when you're doing what feels to you like nothing to care for anyone else, you still are, just because you can never turn your brain off. So use whatever props you can to lessen the requirements: babysitters, TV, movies, helpful neighbors, other parents, pots and pans, etc. Anything that will keep your kid happy and chill so you can sleep or lie there and moan quietly is fair game.

Don't feel guilty if you wish your kid would get sick so he'd sleep while you were sleeping, too. We all wish it.

And push those liquids! Water, juice, broth, etc.

Does anyone know what (if any) OTC cold/flu remedies are safe for breastfeeding? I'm past those days and have been using TheraFlu, but cannot recommend it for people who are still nursing. (Even if the version you take is not dangerous, it dries you up seriously and could affect supply.)

Who's been sick and had to take care of kids? In the last week? Want to give tips or complain or feel sorry for yourself or give sympathy? Step on up to the comments section.

82 thoughts on “Q&A: parenting while sick”

  1. Coincidentally, I’m now on bedrest while taking care of a toddler, so I totally feel Andrea’s pain. Since this is a slightly more long-term situation than a cold or flu, we’ve resorted to hired help. But as far as more temporary illnesses are concerned, I wrote a long post about this very subject many months ago. http://milkact.wordpress.com/2009/03/23/surviving-a-coldflu-with-a-nursling/I broke down the problem into several categories: how to get the rest you need, how to keep baby happy, how to get things done (or have others get them done for you), etc. Basically, it boils down to asking anyone and everyone for their help and understanding. If your baby is older, you need to get some entertainment from outside. And don’t feel guilty about TV! It’s an exceptional situation and you need to make exceptions!

  2. All of us in our house are recovering from H1N1. Although it was fairly mild for us we used a lot of Nick Jr. to keep my toddler happy while we all rested. I also closed the door to the living room (where the tv is with she and I inside it), and had many of her toys, a full sippy cup, and a snack within easy access to her. That way she’s nearby me at all times, in a safe environment, but I can still somewhat doze while she is playing.My daughter weaned herself a few months ago but the only thing I would take while nursing was tylenol/ibuprofen and would use the neti pot and breathe right strips. This week was the first time I used nyquil in probably 3 years and woo! It was like I was drunk. That stuff is strong! I’m glad my husband was home to help me out with my daughter at the time.

  3. Return to the Moxie Mantra: by any means necessary.Meaning: by the end of the day everyone should be alive and fed. If it takes lollipops and two days of cereal at every meal for the toddler, no matter. Leave every non-essential item (laundry, cleaning, cooking that doesn’t involve phoning for takeout, bathing the child) to your spouse/relative/kind neighbor. I have been blessed by a relatively healthy constitution (I am rarely out for the count–I’ve been attempting to have my usual life for the past 10 days with a terrible cough and just found out today it’s bronchitis) and a partner who can work from home when things are really overwhelming. But there have been plenty of days of too much TV and not enough chores 🙂
    Feel better!
    PS Not that it’s helpful for now, but toddlers are totally the hardest for this kind of thing. Babies sleep more; preschoolers can totally entertain themselves if you are willing to live with the mess.

  4. On the OTC meds question, I’ve stayed away from all of them because since going back to work my supply just teeters on the edge of enough, but I cannot endorse highly enough the neti pot. And lactobacillus – the minute one of my kids pukes, I’m take it like crack and I rarely catch their bugs. (I still catch all the respiratory ones, though. Neti pot, how I love thee)

  5. This only works if the circumstances are right – if you can afford to pay for it, and if the daycare can fit them in – but every time I’m sick and it’s one of my “at home” days, I send my daughter to daycare. This is one of the big advantages of center-based care, they’ve never turned me down, even same day requests. The times that I’ve had to keep her with me for one reason or another while I’m sick have been really miserable. TV and neighbors have worked for me in those instances.What really frustrates me is this – the quantification of my misery by my husband. It makes logical sense, yes, but knowing that he is quietly evaluating my pain (Is she coughing? How high is her fever? Does she sound listless?) before deciding whether or not to come home from work early is demoralizing. For instance, my first miscarriage happened at 9 weeks. He was with me when it happened, he stayed home from work that day and the day after. The most recent miscarriage happened at 5 weeks, but it was more gruesome. He was also with me when it happened. But it was earlier in the pregnancy and he had a work deadline. He went to work while I cramped, bled, and cared for our toddler. It felt like a huge betrayal, and like this loss just didn’t make the cut. I can’t remember why I didn’t send her to daycare that day…perhaps I wanted to be a martyr? 🙂 Heh.
    Wow, that was off-topic. I still need to vent about this, apparently!

  6. Oh, jeez. SO TIMELY. I’ve had the cold that wouldn’t die for the last 8 days. My 3-year-old, 11-month-old, and husband all got it. The 3-year-old was up all night with croup one night, followed by the baby nursing all night the next. Two nights in a row of almost no sleep did not speed up my recovery!Fortunately my husband is amazing and has done everything possible to make this easier on me. But it was still so, so hard to get through the 9 hour days solo with two fussy kids. We watched a lot of Clifford. And Disney movies. And I am not even a little bit sorry about that. 🙂
    Thank you for the venting space!

  7. Nondrying Sudafed is safe. I nursed for six years straight, pregnant in the midst there, and it is safe.Ultimately, if you know a La Leche consultant, they usually have a book that breaks down which medicines – OTC and otherwise – that get into breastmilk. Not everything does, but you don’t want to guess on your own.
    BTW, most hospitals are WRONG about what you can and cannot take. They err on the side of avoiding litigation and potential unusual side effects for your kid and just flat tell you to stop breastfeeding. NOT always necessary!
    On the venting side – I had pneumonia, and nursed; drove myself to the hospital so DH could take kids to school if need be …. Had the flu last fall and we had to call neighbors to come take our kids to school, out for walks so they could get out of the sickroom, which was strewn with every toy we owned and video and we were all so sick of tv! We finally had to call in for prescriptions of nausea meds. Hope we avoid flu this year!!
    Hugs to all who are sick this year …
    A friend and I keep thinking up a business plan where we hire nurses to be mothers’ helpers – come in, whip up some Campbell’s, lay out snacks for kids, throw a load in the washer, generally be Mom to the mom (my relatives are all out of town so I love this idea). But: finding people willing to go into germy homes??? Unlikely. Even nurses on leave are pretty cautious. Any suggestions for us?

  8. My boys and I are all sick and hubby can’t take time off right now to nurse me (not that it does much good, but he’s sweet for trying) and mine don’t do the “lay on the sofa” so much as bounce off the walls and hack in my face (the youngest still doesn’t remember to cover his cough).I’ve found that, as long as they’re not sacked on the couch (then it’s movie-marathon time), turning off the tele helps the most. They’re calmer and more inclined to amuse themselves with the house toys spread everywhere – ideally the quieter toys like cars and legos and animals; not so much the balls and bigger trucks.
    I try to encourage healthy foods and drinks but we have the best success (success meaning no vomit) if they get to choose what to eat and drink (but no sweets) and how much. Even if it makes me more of a short-order cook, it’s easier in the long run. I’m encouraging them to develop their own “sick food” (comfort food), also (mine’s grilled cheese and cream of tomato soup).
    It helps them to know that I’m sick, too, since they do try to take it easy on me when I need to lie down (they’re not good at it but “practice today…”).
    Making sure they, and I, get dressed every morning is a surprisingly big help. It’s an attitude thing (for me *and* the boys). Oh, and have special sick things helps too – my youngest has his “Get Better Bear” that makes more of a showing when he’s sick and they both get the “Get Better Sheet” for laying on the couch (an old, flowery bed sheet from when I was little – not too warming for when they’re feverish and it’s a good, first level of protection from vomit).
    Oh, and I also squirrel tissues all over myself – pockets, bra straps, tops of socks – so that I’m never without something to wipe runny noses with.
    I wish all of us who’re sick, speedy and easy recovery!

  9. Very timely. I seem to have picked up some sort of cold/flu/plague at my hubby’s Halloween party last week (bring the kids! we will all come to work sick to see them!) Baby girl (15mos) seems to be ok – just a few sniffles, but I am feeling like death warmed over. Yesterday, darling hubby worked from home to “help take care of me and baby girl”. I still did 98% of baby girl’s care/entertainment (because he had conference calls to be on), plus a load of laundry, loaded/unloaded dishwasher and made a pot of vegetable beef soup so hubby would be able to feed baby girl something that didn’t involve teddy grams or gold fish. He asked this morning if I wanted him to work at home again and I said “only if you’re sick too”. So to answer the question – BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY. Although you might want to consider how helpful your significant other is likely to be.BTW MY DH is wonderful but not helpful right now – or I’m just cranky.

  10. Mucinex is fine to take while BFing. Just make sure you drink plenty of water with it.Thomas Hale’s book, Medications and Mother’s Milk, is a great resource. Many lactation consultants and hospital BFing warmlines can do a lookup for you if you have a question about a specific medication or drug class.
    Hale has an online message board that you can search as well. Often, he’ll respond to a question with something like, “you can look it up in my book, but it’s fine.” So, you don’t get all the details, but at least you know it’s safe. Sometimes there aren’t data available on the medication, but he’ll offer up his (very educated) guess as to whether it’s okay.

  11. neti pot ALL THE WAY. So helpful.I also make Terrible Tea – a clove of crush raw garlic (do not used jarred), the juice of one lemon, and enough honey to make it palatable. Dilute with hot water and add a dash of cayenne. I drink it several times a day whenever I’m starting to feel that ache come on.
    Oscillococcinum is safe for pregnancy and nursing and really works.

  12. I figure this is the situation that Disney movies were designed for. We send someone out to the video store and then keep watching the same movie over and over while lying in bed. It is enough to keep the toddler distracted and let me get a bit of sleep.Slightly off topic – when it is the kid who is sick, and they are feeling too lethargic to sit up and drink but you desperately want to get a bit of liquid into them? Try the syringe the drugstore gave you for dosing them with medicine. No mess and interesting enough to make the little one open her mouth.

  13. I live in the northeast, where it appear that H1N1 is finally beginning to rear its ugly head. “Something” is ravaging its way through my daughter’s school and 19 of 21 kids were sent home yesterday with fevers from her Kindergarten class.I know it’s not exactly the OP’s topic, but I’m taking care of a sicky right now and wondering what I’ll do if (read “when”) it also hits me and hubby and baby.
    We’ve done it before and lived to tell, so I suppose we will survive with lots of videos and teas, and juices.

  14. I do feel like a bit of a Bad Mom that during my last terrible cold, I was SO HAPPY that my baby was sick too. We were BOTH sick, so I got to stay in bed and sleep!! And he nursed and slept next to me. Oh heaven not to get up before 1:30 in the afternoon when you’re feeling lousy! Woo hoo!!! I mean… uh… I was really… uh, sad that the poor baby caught mom’s cold.

  15. http://www.kellymom.com/health/meds/index.htmlI found that link by looking through the kellymom stuff that Moxie links to in the sidebar. Last time I had to go in to the doc for my sinuses I printed out all the sinus type meds list and when he started suggesting things, I started checking them. He asked what I was doing, and when I told him, and showed him the list, he asked if he could have it! Generally doctors just don’t know what’s safe and so they say take nothing or stop breastfeeding, and that’s a bunch of bull. There’s plenty of things that are safe. I will say that I’ve never had a supply problem, so I don’t have to worry about the things that say they are safe but might cause supply issues. I’m lucky in that respect.
    Good luck to all of those who are trying to be sick and the Great and Powerful Oz. The Oz-ness part of being a mom doesn’t go away no matter what. And @D, I can’t imagine trying to do it as a single mom. Props to you, and hang in there.

  16. Walking pneumonia here. Better, but last week was hell. Had the grammie take the 3 yo for the weekend so I could sit around and nurse the baby and sleep. I took a z-pack, mucinex DM (the DM stopped the coughing so I could rest) and i took 2 mucinex at a time bc just one did not cut it. I asked the LC (LLL leader) and she said they were safe I did not feel guilty. Neti pot several times daily and motrin. Oh and probiotics cuz I was just getting over thrush and dangit, another antibiotic. But also cut out sugar (over Halloween. Yes, I’m still bitter) and follow the anti-candida diet so had hubby bring in hot and sour soup and garlic chicken (sans fried wontons and rice but still yummy). So I survived better than most. Am happily almost back to 100%.

  17. Ever nursed a baby while sitting on the toilet because of an intestinal virus? That was the first year, with the first kid, and nothing has sucked more than that.Although last week, with two sick kids (mild flu? random kindercrap? I dunno) followed by lice discovery was not my favorite time ever. I have no idea how electronic babysitting got such a bad reputation, because if something with a screen will make a sick kid happy, I am all over that. Marie Winn can bite me.

  18. @Johanna…I hear you about the miscarriages…all 3 of mine were right around 10 weeks, but the last one all happened in the span of 12 hours instead of bleeding for weeks. We only have one car, so I drove to pick-up my DH from work while sitting on a bunch of towels. Um, very stupid. There’s Oz and then there’s Oz collapsed behind the curtain from blood loss! Sorry, TMI.We haven’t had the dreaded flu here yet (frantically knocking on wood), but it’s probably just a matter of time. My DH has poorer immunity than I do (he has terrible allergies…probably picks up viruses that I shed because his nasal passages are already always inflamed), so he’ll no doubt pick it up from one of the kids.
    Sometimes I think men get sick more (at least IME) because they *can* get sick more, IYSWIM. My DH has no issue with coming home from work with a headache and lying down in bed for the rest of the night. He probably feels slightly guilty that I’m taking care of the kids myself, but I think it’s easier for him to shut off. I can’t recall the last time I laid in bed while ill (not that wise by the way, see miscarriages above).
    I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, and wondering how much how you feel is affected by your attitude. My mother was famous for urging us to get a shower, get dressed and get out of bed, even when we were sick, and you know what? We did feel better. Even if we went and laid on the couch all day, we felt better having dressed and showered.
    Obviously, real illness can’t be “thought” away, but I do think a lot of women are stronger because they have to be.
    Sorry for the long post, but this is so interesting to me…

  19. Oh, and if you have trouble using the Neti pot, there’s another product where you use a squeeze bottle to put warm water and a salt solution up your nasal passages (NeilMed sinus rinse). Same concept, but slightly easier to use. And a very natural and effective way to flush out germs before they can do damage. (Gargling with warm salt water 2x a day is also very effective.)

  20. @Slim…ditto on the nursing while having intestinal issues. And then my 3y.o. comes into the bathroom and wants me to read him a story! My DH walked past the bathroom, sees me nursing while on the toilet AND reading to my son, and just said, “What are you doing?” I shrugged and replied, “Being a mom.”

  21. @ D you are so right – it totally sucks as a single mom. I hate being faced with the choice of either dragging a sick kid to the grocery store or not having necessary medicinal supplies/food because there’s nobody to run to the store for me. No good options there.I too want to start a business taking care of moms with sick kids, especially single moms. I’ll have to get on that…
    For me, movie time is key. We hardly ever do tv so it’s a big treat and doesn’t lose its allure too quickly. Also I have a carryall tote thingie (two handles, lots of open pockets around the side, big open section in the middle – I think it’s supposed to be for gardening) that becomes the “sick bag” – Kleenex, medicine & spoon, thermometer, book, etc. So when we move from the couch to the bed or whatever I can easily take all the basics with us.
    My other trick of the trade, which I can’t BELIEVE I never thought of until this year is that I have a box in the closet that I keep stocked with basics so that when the sickness arises in the middle of the night or last thing Friday afternoon or whatever I have a can of chicken soup, some Motrin, some Kleenex, and a special toy or book at the ready. Too many times I’ve had an unexpectedly sick kid and been out of some crucial thing.

  22. meggiemoo — OK, the kid wanting a story made me laugh (sorry).And sympathy to all the miscarriers out there. My husband was out of town for two of mine, and feeling crappy AND emotionally wiped out AND STILL having to Oz it is not good. Definitely worse than the nursing while emptying bowels, because at least a nursing infant isn’t freaked out by mommy’s emotional fragility and Depends.

  23. I was hospitalized with pneumonia about a month ago for a day and begged the ER doctor to let me go home – because I didn’t want to even think about the chaos that would ensue if my kids’ dad had to take over – even for a day. We are at the beginning of our divorce and sleepovers have been traumatic. I did not feel comfortable with him in my space at my house for various reasons…..I am lucky I have my parents, one of whom was at the hospital with me all day wearing a face mask, the other was with my kids….and then my mom slept at my house for 3 nights to get up in the middle of the night to feed my 9 month old (who had to abruptly start on formula because my antibiotics were not safe for him). I pumped and dumped until my antibiotic round was over, and he has refused to go back and nurse, though he will drink expressed breastmilk. I’m sad to have had such an abrupt end to the nursing relationship, but glad that I can still pump and supplement his health in that way. I am incredibly lucky to have my support system here. My ex stepped in a bit to help as much as he could, but it was me and my parents especially who held everything together with chewing gum and shoe strings.When I’m sick, we watch a lot of Noggin TV, Nemo, Cars, Kung Fu Panda, and prize stickers and prizes galore. I think my older son secretly loves it when I’m sick because he pretty much gets what he wants because I cannot deal otherwise. Go easy on yourself and take care of yourself so you don’t end up in the hospital like me!

  24. Tangentially-related story: yesterday I had a killer migraine that came on so suddenly. I had taken regular Tylenol and not even 20 minutes later instead of getting better it exploded into a full-blown, nausea and sight/sound-senstivity producing migraine that sent me straight to bed (where I couldn’t take the prescription Imitrex or even Excedrin b/c of the aforementioned Tylenol). 15 minutes later, my 5yo son comes in the room, asks if he can turn on the light–I say “If you have to, sure” so he does, uses our bathroom to go, then heads out and I ask him to turn off the light again on the way out. He says, “I will turn it off when I come back, I have to get beach (his lovey)” — then reappears a minute later, turs off the light, closes the door quietly, climbs into bed on my husband’s side, and says: “Here, I brought blankets — do you want the light blue one or the dark blue one?” I answer, he lays it over me. Then he says: “Here’s Lucy (stuffed animal kitty he chose for my bday present 2 years ago) and I brought Beary for me so it would be fair. I’m going to lay with you until you feel better. Do you want to hold my hand?” Yes, son. Yes I do. We both fell asleep that way. This is a very high-needs kid, and he really truly just wanted to be there for me. It was one of those moments that makes all the other parenting drudge seem worth it.

  25. Awww @Imanistud…so sweet! I teared up reading!Also timely to read for me, on the upswing of first trimester morning sickness. I have little guilt for throwing in DVDs to keep the 2yo entertained (while I try to keep from vomiting) as I continue my Oz-ly duties around the house and try to figure out what to feed myself instantly (because thinking about food or raw food or eating anything anytime other than the present would start the cycle of nausea over again).
    Also, I just found (via someone on Facebook) a site called http://www.babysmash.com that allows you to install a program and darling child can bang away on your computer or laptop WITHOUT crashing it. The program blocks any ‘dangerous command’ keys from doing anything, and the smacking of the keyboard actually produces sounds and pictures of shapes, letters, etc. Genius! Another entertainment tool for the arsenal.

  26. I am getting over the H1N1 (finally). And my 3 year old has had a UTI (only symptom – peeing buckets all over the house). And my husband wrecked his motorcycle last night – so I had to get him all fixed up (he thinks that since his wife is a nurse, he doesn’t have to go see a doctor – ever). He was pretty torn up on one leg – and I was coughing so hard (residual from flu) that I had a hard time keeping one hand on the dressing. (AND he is coming down with H1N1 himself, I think … gaaaaah.)Dealing with the H1N1 was impossible without the help of my husband and a babysitter. I had three days of being too sick to get out of bed (plus I had to deal with the emotional fallout of a toddler who doesn’t quite understand why she can’t touch mommy). Thankfully, my husband stepped up over a weekend, and the babysitter was available after that. I was honestly so in and out of consciousness that it would not have been safe for me to watch a 3-year old for very long.
    @Slim – I nursed on the toilet two days after bringing the baby home because that’s when I found out that my anal sphincter had torn during delivery. And I had been sooo afraid of my first BM that I was seriously laxatived-up.
    @Johanna – I feel like I get the silent judging, too. My husband owns his own business and he works long, hard hours. But when he gets sick, he’s in bed. When I get sick, I get the hairy eyeball and the “you’re out of bed? you take care of the toddler” look. Bless his heart, he is so unaware of what moms go through.
    Knowing how difficult it has been for me – my heart goes out to everyone else who is trying to balance it.

  27. Oh god, we’re right in the middle of this right now. The toddler gets sick for a week, then I get sick for a week, then it’s his turn again…I need sleep, exercise and alone time to be a sane person and I haven’t gotten any of these things for a good while now. It’s a bit like having a newborn again.

  28. Our whole family had H1N1 last week, but I was the only one with 103+ fever. Still, I was the one taking care of the kids, because my husband (who works out of our house) had a deadline. Lots of glassy-eyed movie-watching, snuggled between two coughing, cranky children. This is the first time I’ve been seriously ill with kids, and I do think I’ve been much, much slower to get better because I couldn’t just get in bed and rest.

  29. @ Jenny: Yeah, how bout the glassy-eyedness!? This flu seems to give kids an especially consumptive look – totally glazed over eyes and creamy pale skin. It took a while after the fever was gone for my daughter to lose that scary look.

  30. I too am waiting for the cold/flu s..t to hit the fan. In the past I have always relied on my MIL to help out when I’m bed ridden, but I feel funny asking for help if it’s just feeling icky and nothing too serious as she already does so much and I don’t want to take advantage. At the moment the boy has tonsilitis and so I have both kids at home and the major problem is BOREDOM! Mine. So sick of building blocks, reading stories, playing kitchens. I just want to go for a run.I think I’m over being a SAHM.

  31. Sorry I don’t have time to read all comments now, so hope I am not repeating others.Be prepared with a Cold/Flu kit. Have all the things YOU need when YOU are sick (Kleenex, Tylenol, Juice, Soup, etc) AND in the kit have a new DVD, special treats, a shiny new toy (doesn’t have to be big), etc. Keep this all together in a bag in the cupboard…one less thing to worry about.
    Sending healthy thoughts to all Moxie readers.

  32. Oh yeah. That’s me right now. Sick & stayed home from work yesterday and today. Thankfully, DS is still well enough to be going to daycare (he stayed home last Friday with a fever, but thankfully, I was well). Gives me 1/2 a chance to get some rest.Though I am married to the Tin Man, I did not realize when I was pregnant that I would become the Great and Powerful Oz. Most of the time I’m OK with it, but when I’m sick and I feel like crap I definitely have my moments of resenting it. “What? What do you mean ‘Did I do the dishes?’ No! NO I did not do the dishes! I’m sick! I’m trying to rest!” Essentially, I’m a miserable sick person. DH does pick up a lot of the housework & dog walking slack when I’m sick, thankfully. But Moxie’s right, you’re always ‘on’. I think the only time I am truly ‘off’ is when I have a migraine. I just can’t function. All I can do is lie in bed a dark, quiet room until it passes. I haven’t had a migraine since DS was born, so haven’t lived that yet.
    The hard days are when DS & I are both home sick during the week. He’s 16 months, so he’s into everything and doesn’t sit for too long in front of the TV (unless he’s really feeling under the weather himself, or if he’s watching In the Night Garden – totally mesmerizes him). I essentially close off all the doors to the off-limits rooms, keep the TV on or read lots of stories to DS. Depending on how we’re feeling, I’ll even take him out for a walk just for the change of scenery. Totally agree with any means possible. It’s the only way I can get through the day until DH is home to provide some relief. When things are really bad, we call in my Mom. Which I LOVE. No one takes care of you like Mom does when you’re sick. Not to mention taking care of DS. And doing the housework. And cleaning those things that we don’t get around to, even when we’re all in full health. How does she do it?!
    I think this whole how to cope when you’re sick thing links back to the post a while ago about building your net of support. We recently hired our 8-year-old neighbour to walk our dog for 15 mins after school M-F. This has been a HUGE help. Dog gets some much needed relief and loves spending time with an 8-year-old. 8YO gets a bit of responsibility and income. We get a break from having to take the dog out as soon as we get home and the dog is less hyper. Win win all around. I’m thinking of asking her to walk our dog for longer on the days I’m sick.
    Anyhow, in terms of OTC medication when nursing, lately, my line of defense against oncoming sickness has been to take 2 advils, gargle with salt water at the first feeling of a tickle in my throat, garlic soup (yum…and seems to really help), get to bed as early as possible, and forget about doing anything other than bare minimum housework. It’s actually thwarted the cold off the last few times, but this time something snuck through. I’m just hoping it’s not H1N1. No fever yet, so fingers crossed.

  33. @Maria & @B’s Mom, loving the idea of the sick kit. As soon as I’m better, am totally putting one together.@Slim, Oh yeah. Been there, done that. After DS was born, was in the bathroom for long periods due to the constipation. More than once I had to ask DH to bring me a wailing DS because he needed to eat and I couldn’t get off the toilet! Our relationship moved to a whole other level after that.
    Yay! My order from amazon just arrived. Hopefully I can now figure out how to get DS to stop hitting the cat & dog (he thinks he’s playing) and to not throw things, everything.

  34. I spent a good chunk of the end of September and the first half of October on “couch rest” in an attempt to prevent a miscarriage (which didn’t work). I got through because DH and my friends and support network rock. Oh, and videos.Last night I was feeling like I might be getting sick, and was thinking that if I was, I’d be making DH stay home. >.<

  35. Ugh. Parenting while sick SUCKS. Pumpkin brought us a cold. Hubby and I are both sick, and Pumpkin is still coughing and dripping snot. We kept her home from day care today because she’s so obviously sick, even if technically she doesn’t have a fever so could go. It just seems mean to the other parents, especially since we’re both home on maternity/paternity leave right now. (Petunia has NOT caught the cold- hurray for antibodies in breastmilk, I guess!)On the question about what drugs you can take: I rely on my copy of A Nursing Mother’s Companion, by Kathleen Huggins. It has an appendix with info about whether or not various drugs are safe. What I can remember: Mucinex and Benadryl are both OK, but may affect your supply if you’re in the early months of breastfeeding. I’ve taken both in later phases of breastfeeding with no problem. And I’m taking loratadine (Claritin) now, and it hasn’t done anything to my supply.
    Also- watch out on the herbal supplements. There is often not a lot of info about whether those are safe while breastfeeding. People assume they are, but they can be just as risky as pharmaceuticals.
    Finally, our pediatrician is a big proponent of vitamin D as an immune booster. I did a little research on it and decided that there was enough research indicating a possible benefit and nothing indicating potential harm, so we’ve gone with her recommendation to give everyone in the family vitamin D supplements. We’ve been a lot healthier since we started that, but it was also AFTER that first horrible cold/flu season in day care. So who knows if it was the vitamin D or just the fact that Pumpkin had seen a lot of those germs before and therefore had some immunity.

  36. Those of you with a toddler and a newborn or just even more than one little one under one roof have my utmost sympathies getting through sick days. Everyone in the house has been sick the last two weeks but me and I am oh so thankful that I’ve been able to keep moving. Sick and the time change? – some things would be just too cruel.The LO won’t take medicine orally usually (antibiotic shots are horrible!!!) – but he will take it if a. it’s decent tasting and a chewable or more recently b. decent tasting and he can drink it out of the little cup that comes with liquid tylenol.
    Love the idea of the sick kits. Going to use that one.

  37. I came down with H1N1 on Monday (at 34 weeks pregnant with No. 3 — oh joy) and got Tamiflu that same day. I passed it on to the 3.5-year-old, who came down with it overnight Tuesday into Wednesday. My 1.5-year-old had been overnight with Grandma, so she’s staying there until the all-clear has been sounded.My husband helped out when he could, going to work late and coming home early, but for two days, my son and I have sat our butts on the couch with nonstop PBS and Diego/Dora for him and the laptop for me. It’s worked to keep him resting and me sane.

  38. ugh. been there. ugh. last winter (or maybe the one before?) all 3 of us caught a nasty stomach virus. Mouse first, and she was good and sick…then just as she started to recover, have energy, and need food and engaged attention, I came down with it and then Mr. C followed a couple hours later. And really, who is going to come and help out when you have something that contagious? Anyway, at that point Mouse had never seen the Simpsons so we gave her an entire DVD of episodes, showed her how to work the remote, and let her just eat cheerios until the worst had passed. Luckily it wasn’t long as we were alternately um “active” in the bathroom or unable to lift our heads.This past month Mouse followed up a bad cold that mostly allowed her to go to school with a stomach bug that surely didn’t. Naturally, the latter was the week that Mr. C was prepping for a board meeting and I was supposed to spend 2 days onsite with a major client. We managed to alternate days based on who was most urgently in trouble–but we absolutely had to get work done (and at this point we were just feeling crummy and Mouse had residual diarrhea but was improving) when we were home. I should probably feel bad about this but I don’t: video games are a great answer to this situation. Big Fish Games has some wonderful non-violent games that require only minimal reading and that a 5-8 year old can really enjoy. Mouse played Wandering Willows for like 2 days and I walked her to the bathroom with my ear attached to conference calls, etc. Thank goodness the grown-ups weren’t sicker that time. And we managed to get an H1N1 vax for her last week, crossing fingers the virus might hold off until we can also get them.

  39. I’ve been telling myself by any means necessary as I struggle through weeks of morning sickness and a husband traveling for work every week…my toddler has watched a shameful amount of Elmo. By the way, the H1N1 vax isn’t available in my area, even for pregnant women and kids, so I feel like we’re all a big walking time bomb. It sucks.

  40. Ugh. Am flashing back to May of this year, when I had a kidney infection (didnt know at the time), and it was 3 am: i had a 103 degree fever, 8 month old who slept for crap that night and wanted to nurse a few times, husband out of town, i was puking whatever powerade i could drink…FUN.I was in the hospital for 5 days by 10 pm the following night, but it was a surreal morning to get the kids (5+3 yo) ready for school. May have texted the nanny “get here asap. Cant move”. And I do recall asking my 3 yo to hand me a garbage can to puke in while i was laying in bed.
    just do whatever it takes to keep the kids out of trouble, and dont be afraid to ask for help from ANYONE.

  41. I’m into week 6 of pretty serious morning sickness (not the same, I realize) but I can barely function. I work FT and DH travels about 20-25 days/mo so it’s all on me. I struggle to get 4yo ready for school in the morning and by time I get home at night I’m shot. My goal is feed her, get her to bed. That’s it. Anything else is a bonus. She’s been watching a ton of tv as I curl in a ball on the chair. I just feel bad because she has got to be bored out of her mind with me at night, but there is just nothing I can do. Hope it ends soon.

  42. We ran through cycles of illness for pretty much all of October… it was horrible! Definitely an “by any means necessary” type of situation. We pulled the sofa bed out, rented a bunch of movies for the kids (they were knocked out with fever for about 3 days) and just did the best we could… they were so sick at first they didn’t notice or care about the treats (juice, popsicles, DVDs) but as they rallied, they were downright cheerful. Definitely, as someone commented up-thread, getting them bathed, dressed, sheets changed every day helped a lot.Let me insert here how grateful I am that I get paid sick time, whether for me or a sick child. Although this should NOT be a privilege, as allowing workers to stay home for themselves or a sick child prevents the spread of sickness, and is therefore only common sense. But I know a lot of people, of necessity, work through illness or send a child to school because they can’t afford to take the time from work. Something needs to be fixed here, otherwise, all our hand-wringing over a “pandemic” is just empty rhetoric. /End rant.
    Seriously, I feel like we’re all back to normal just as of this week and I am SO happy. October was so stinktacular!

  43. It’s funny that Moxie posted this today, because I was going to write her a long letter begging for advice on how to cope with mommying a toddler (18 mo old) while ill. I don’t have the flu, I have hyperemesis gravidarum. For those of you lucky enough not to know what that is, it’s a severe and persistent form of extreme nausea and vomiting in pregnancy, which can be very dangerous for mom and baby. My case is fairly “mild” but I’m hopped up on anti-nausea meds and still too nauseous to function. I can’t take care of my toddler at all – I can’t run after him, play with him, pick him up, etc (all these activities induce terrible nausea/ vomiting). It’s more of an emotional issue than a practical one – basically my husband does *everything* without complaining and DS is in child care during the day. But I feel such terrible guilt, and he (my son) seems anxious and confused about the whole thing. He does a lot more crying for mama than he’s ever done. The only blessing in the situation is that I’m nursing him, and it’s basically the only thing I can do that doesn’t make me want to throw up. So we have that.Does anybody have advice/ suggestions on how to maintain your emotional bond with a little one who doesn’t understand illness when you’re too sick to interact much? (Said child does NOT sit still/ cuddle.)

  44. A year ago, nursing while on the toilet. Then plopping (nice word choice, eh?) baby in bouncy chair on vibrate. Using foot to up bouncing level of chair to whiplash/nap friendly level. Oh so absurd.This year, four weeks into H1N1 (mild) turned bad head cold. Oh, and 12wks preggo. Good lord, I’m tired. Luckily 16mo toddler still naps 2x/day. But everything takes so much effort. And, each time I’ve felt better I’ve zipped out to the Great Pumpkin Carve or to see the World Series or tried to stay up to watch. And we have had terrible weather here outside of Philly.
    My son is an ox and hasn’t gotten sick. I think I can thank the naps for that. But I’ve blocked off the LR and dozed while he plays. Also, the Master Bedroom so I can watch with one eyeball while he “reorganizes” my undie drawer or crawls around under the bed to fetch long lost toys. I’m considering attaching a mop to his belly and little dusters to his feet. While he’s down on the floor he may as well accomplish something?!
    But it’s exhausting. My husband got a TICKLE in his throat and took off 1.5 days. You woulda thought he was dying. A tickle versus me, growing baby twoy, coughing all night , wheasing up the stairs, aches, chills, mashed patatty splatties…
    Brings to mind Mrs. Huxtable explaining to her soon to be wed daughter that Dr Huxtable could have a sniffle and he’d be in bed moaning and begging for tea/soup like his mother made/etc. Yet, she could have the flu AND chicken pox AND the plague AND and and yet still be expected to get up and make breakfast for exeryone, locate missing socks and plan dinner all before seven am. Oh that Cosby show. So true.

  45. We sort of ground to a halt last Thursday – El woke up with a big fever, got Tamiflu. It took three pharmacies to get it – and you should have seen the tech’s face when she put it together that I was waiting for the script with the sick kid in arms. I think she put a rush order on it.DH was on travel. Luckily the big kids were fine for school. Had to hand over the Girl Scout meeting (and miss it ourselves) to other moms. The two big kids had the next day off – so we cut way back on our Friday plans – no birthday party, no soccer game. We went to counseling, but the girls and I waited outside for most of the hour. Then I picked up a cough Friday/Saturday….. I still sound like crap, but I feel almost good.
    Thankfully, DH was home again Friday night…..I was sure he’d be tempted to just stay because we were a mess, but he wanted to come home and take his turn holding the baby.
    We watched a lot of Thomas and iCarly and ate more drive-thru than we should. But we got through it.

  46. I just have to say that my kids watch tv everyday. Really. I’m not exactly sure what one does with a two year old for two+ hours in the morning before you leave the house otherwise. Today he slept until 6:30 (three days of shots, no naps and a time change can knock even him out apparently) so we looked at flashcards (his choice) and played with playdough and didn’t have the tv on but it wasn’t a morning that I take a shower or a morning that we have another hour to kill. I suppose now that it is lighter out in the mornings we can start our walk/jogs back up but I’m not into being out in the dark with my kid even just walking around the neighborhood so that doesn’t really help at 5:30.And – and – it’s not just PBSKids that he watches. In fact, the only Sesame Street he likes anymore is the online games – the songs really. He watches Max and Ruby and Dora on Nick Jr. on a daily basis – we have his favorite episodes dvr’d.
    Anyway, just felt the need to confess. If he grows up to be an ax murderer, you guys can say I told you so then.

  47. @mom2boys – my 2 year old watches tv every day as well. 30 – 60 mins after I get home from work. And its not because I need to get dinner ready, because my husband does most of the cooking. Its just because its the only way to get him to sit still for any length of time and cuddle, and I need that at the end of the work day. On weekends, he gets another hour in the morning. That’s so I can read the paper, drink my coffee, and catch up on blogs.Yes, it really is all about me and my needs. Phew, you are right, that is a load off.

  48. My low point: feverish and too weak to make it to the bathroom, I dumped out the kids’ legos so I could throw up in the empty bin. My sympathies to all of you who are taking care of little ones while you are sick yourselves. This part of mothering gets much, MUCH easier as your kids get older.

  49. mom2boys = awesome.And fits in with the breaking news that Disney (NY Times yesterday, I believe) is offering a refund to buyers of its “Baby Einstein” videos, implicitly acknowledging the fact that these videos actually do not make your child into a baby Einstein. It’s shocking, I know.
    Besides, Max and Ruby rocks!

  50. @mom2boys…we were real sticklers when our DS was under 2 about limiting TV. Now that he’s older, he watches about 30 minutes in the morning and probably 30 minutes at night. The other weekend, the weather was horrible, and he watched *far* too much TV. It happens to everyone.So along with the idea of chore monkeys, I’m going to invent a van of sorts that visits sick parents (there will be an 800 number to call, or perhaps just a light to shine in the sky, a la Batman).
    The van will be stocked with comfort food for mom and dad, new toys for the kiddos to borrow that will be far more fascinating than their own, plus the drivers will come in and make the food and entertain your kids for hours. And it will all be covered by our new healthcare system!
    Wow, maybe I AM feverish. Must go lay down.

  51. Oh and Laura, when I was laboring with my recent DD, I was on the toilet, in transition, and yelled to my DH that I was going to throw up. He was searching everywhere for a bucket. I couldn’t wait, so I reached down to the bath toys next to me, pulled out my DS’ tugboat, and hurled.My DH told my DS about it the next day, and I STILL haven’t been let off the hook for that.
    “But Mommy, why did you throw up in my *tugboat*????”

  52. Been there, but @meggimoo, I haven’t puked in a toy tugboat yet (!!) though I wonder if our kids have the same one – the underside of it looks sort of like a pinkish bedpan in an odd way! Ha!My tips: Seriously lowered expectations = let the house go to shit. Lots of TV for all (totally @mom2boys!), especially the toddlers = mine loves South Park… but don’t judge. Comfort food = mac & cheese. Comfort drink = 7up & cranberry juice. Whoever mentioned their mom making the kids shower, that is a fantastic idea, I find showers very soothing especially when I can’t breathe through my nose anymore. Get well soon, all!

  53. @mom2boys, my two (5 YO and 3 YO) watch tv almost every weekday before dinner for 30 to 60 minutes. It gives me a chance to run around/clean-up/cook/start laundry. They watch pre-recorded Sid the Science Kid or Curious George. I love PBS Kids! I used to feel guilty, but not so much anymore.

  54. @mom2boys- yeah, we watch TV every day, too. Pumpkin is 2.5. Sesame Street in the morning (distraction is sometimes the only way to get her dressed). DVDs after day care- she has some music DVDs, Noodlebug, and Signing Time. DVDs in the early morning, too, if she gets up before dawn, which she does A LOT. TV watching has gone way up with the arrival of a newborn and the sudden need to distract Pumpkin while I nurse.Awhile back, I found a paper by an economist that basically said that some TV is fine. It used the data from when TV was first introduced in the US (it didn’t get to every state at the same time, apparently) to look at what happened to kids’ achievement when TV came in. They fund no evidence of brain rot. I think they actually saw that achievement improved in the lower economic levels.
    Of course, this was back in the kinder, gentler days of TV. But I figure that Sesame Street, Curious George, Max and Ruby (yeah, we like that one, too) and some educational DVDs can’t be worse than whatever was on when TV first came out.
    @meggiemoo, I totally call for that van. But I might be tempted to use it when perfectly healthy, but just tired. Would that be OK?

  55. @Johanna, that difference in response on the m/c (one vs another vs another) was the biggest train wreck in our entire marriage. One of the hardest was very early (5 1/2 weeks, barely there!), and one of the easiest was actually the set of twins I lost before I got pregnant with M and R. Heck, I helped my brother move house between losing the first twin and the second (since it was already confirmed no heartbeat)… and then the very worst one was bad beyond the symptoms, for more than a month of total crushing devestation. I was up and about and moving and cooking and taking care of people and working at my job and … yeah.We both take up the slack for each other. We do have an agreement that only one of us is allowed to be really sick at a time.
    Single parents have my admiration. Never any break, and backups are hard to find (ep and I played backup for a single-mom friend for the first two years of her son’s life – even though she had a BF, you need more than one backup).

  56. (Oh, and we fail the agreement on not both being sick. But we insist that it IS an agreement. Kind of keeps us honest about how hard it is on the other party when one is sick…)

  57. Being sick/bed ridden/or just plain feeling lousy while having to take care of one or more little ones suuuuuuucks. Especially when your little one doesn’t want to actually watch TV. Or at least mine didn’t the last time I was totally sick. So I sat in his room while he played with his toys, cup of tea and toast nearby. I do remember crawling into his tiny toddler bed to rest, which he thought was hilarious.He has since found TV. Loves Nemo. But really LOVES Lassie. Seriously. “Want watch Lassie.” he now tells me. As far as other distractions:
    -alphababy is a program you can download free for macs that lets your kids mash the keys. You can have the letters say what they are, or just have pictures pop up from your photos.
    -youtube funny videos
    -or videos of you and the family that they can watch on your computer/online. DS loves watching videos of people he knows.
    Take care y’all!

  58. OT for nursing moms wanting to know what is safe to take while sick…the NIH maintains a website with the horrifying URL
    It basically contains the same type of info in Hale’s Medications and Mother’s Milk, but in a more government-speak, less-comprehensible-English kind of way. Info is totally reliable, though.
    We Lactation Consultants use it all the time, but it is available to anyone

  59. I want “Puke in a tugboat” to become an official part of the stages of labor. I mean, not that I want women to be puking in tugboats, but I like the term.

  60. I’m nearing the end of the recovery period from a major operation whilst looking after a one year old. It’s been tough. DH and I had a chat/cry about it all last night. We’re both tired, feeling unappreciated. Thanks to family from both sides the house is looking OK (although there are new life forms growing in the shower) and we’ve not starved.Having LO in nursery three days a week has really helped – although somebody else was having to do the forty mile round trip each day to take him there as I wasn’t able to drive. Now I can drive, but the nursery staff are having to come out to the car park to get him into and out of the car because I can’t lift him. On the days where LO is home, he’s lovely, but he has hindered my recovery.
    DH has had to get a lot more involved in the childcare. He’s had to get LO up in the morning and do the bath routine at night. And if there’s serious crying in the night that needs more than a pat, he’s had to get up and deal with it. I think this is a good thing. He now has a better understanding of how exhausting this all is.
    Parenting when you’re poorly sucks. And I’ve got another six weeks before I can pick up my child and give him a proper hug.

  61. i’m doing the sick dance right now…one toddler at daycare, one toddler also sick and watching oswald, dad working, i called in sick from work…what i hate is the extra housework that builds up if the great oz takes a “day off” cuz boys really cant clean up after themselves no matter how hard they try!

  62. Remembered another thing: Pedialyte popsicles, or a natural substitute. I was amazed how they helped w our flu last year.@ Slim, others: Yep! I keep a bowl handy in the bathroom so if I puke while nursing and … then we’re supplied.
    Also – about the posts about migraines and miscarriages: this might be off-topic AND too rare to bother with, but it might help someone out there.
    I just got diagnosed with a clotting disorder, common in women who’ve had multiple miscarriages (5 for me, 2 healthy kids). It’s called antiphospholipid syndrome. The clotting prevents the fetus from getting what it needs. It causes migraines and a bunch of other stuff that all my life I’ve been told are just part of life – eczema, etc. There’s some info online, but not much …
    If this info saves any future pregnancies out there, it’s worth being off-topic …
    Treatment: a “baby” aspirin a day.

  63. Thankfully we haven’t been sick yet this winter but I’ve had weeks now of horrible morning (ha, not just in the morning of course) sickness. No puking but endless stomach pains and feeling generally unable to cope with life.And the energetic, won’t-play-by-himself 3.5 year old doesn’t understand that I can’t get off the couch! Days when he isn’t in preschool for a half-day seem to go on forever.
    No laundry, dishes, cooking or other household tasks have been happening and I’m not sure my hubby totally understands. He wants more help than I can give some days. By the time he gets home from work (after being gone 11+ hours) I can barely move let alone help with meals, bedtime, crazy night crankiness, etc.

  64. @mom2boys – my 2.5 year old watches tv every day too. 30 minutes in the morning and 30 or more minutes in the evening before dinner. it’s nice after a busy day. i don’t feel guilty at all.

  65. @ErinIt sounds so difficult. Can you draw/write a special book for your son, that you read to him, and that any carer can also read to him when he seems to be missing you? Since it might be lasting a while, the repetition itself might be helpful. He could even help you with some of the words about what he’s feeling. And you could include how you’re feeling, and have lots of pictures of you both together. And depending on what he likes, maybe you can draw pictures of all the things that you’d like to be doing together, but that you can’t do at the moment.
    @mom2boys – my 3.75 year old has a movie on for at least an hour in the morning, while DH showers and I sort the upstairs out. he watches a huge range of things through Netflix and YouTube. And he watches YouTube for about 10 mins in the evening with my husband.
    My thoughts and admiration for all the single parents/ people with travelling partners etc.
    And lots of people are mentioning that men seem to get sicker. We are in the midst of flu-ness thing, and I don’t like how I am handling it. DH and 1 kid are sick. Other kid and I are fine. And I am hating how martyred I am acting. I am trying to be sympathetic. But really I am just feeling irritated and tired.
    How do you all deal ‘healthily’ with this? My husband and I always end up arguing when he’s sick and I am not, even before kids. And I’d like the dynamic to change.

  66. I haven’t had time to read all posts, so I hope I am not repeating this but… in terms of otc drugs while breastfeeding I have to say I love breathe right strips. They are not technically a drug, but they really do help with congestion. I think just sleeping as much as possible and eating as well as you can. This can be difficult, because you need clean dishes to eat and washing dishes interrupts with sleeping as much as you can.Just got over a mild cold and was feeling bad about all the TV we watched last Wednesday. I even walked to the Redbox and rented the new tinkerbell movie for my 3yr old so me and the baby could nap in the recliner. I am well now but 3yr old has started coughing. The baby really didn’t get bad at all. Just a little cough, and I can only assume it was the antibodies in my breastmilk. I am tempted to pump and give some to my 3yr old now. Is that crazy? or just really desperate…

  67. @lucy – perhaps a conversation when you are both healthy about things you will happily and then not so happily and perhaps just won’t do for each other when the other is sick so that there isn’t that unspoken assuming of what the other person is feeling/needing. That’s what always seems to trip me up. The lack of mind reading ability in our house. 🙂

  68. During my first miscarriage, DH and I both got food poisoning… I was *slightly* sicker than he was, but we were both sick… he then got up with Plus One next morning and took a bath with him (only way to get him to sit in one place… TV doesn’t work :() He was a complete star… and cos of the m/c I managed not to feel guilty!But I do remember thinking – How can I be having a m/c *and* food poisoning? I am a good person… How can this be?!
    Life. Sucks. Sometimes.

  69. I really appreciate the fact that you’ve made your own web resource and have actually publish your thoughts. I admire your work and feel I can concern to what you’ve done. Most folks can’t even imagine having such talent. I hope that you know how lucky you are. 🙂 Good luck to you in ALL your undertakings. 🙂

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