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Three Sick Girls and a Sitting Duck: Attachment Parenting when You’re Sick

Baby Wearing with a fever

Kangaroo Care, ‘Cooling off’ while she’s got a fever.

If I ever tell you that ‘I don’t get sick‘, you can call me a BIG FAT LIAR!  As of the past ten days, I have been sick for nearly all of them.  First was the fast and furious bout of mastitis.  Fever, aches and pains, sore boob, etc.  And then…. we got the flu.  I’m not sure if I’ve ever had a proper flu.  The flu was something everyone else got.  It never happened to ME!  It never happened to US!  And, if I did get something like the flu, it was one or two symptoms and cleared up fast.  But, this flu monster thing, that first got Margo and then got me, then nailed poor little Goldie, dragged on for days…  Six days total to be exact.  Actually, I’m still snotting and coughing.  Margo’s never had panadol OR antibiotics in her life and this week, she had both.  What started off as viral turned into a little chest infection, bronchitis, so the doc said.  Goldie’s case didn’t seem to be as severe as ours, (thank God, don’t want a severely sick baby), however, she is still snotting and coughing a bit too, poor thing!  My mom called Art a sitting duck, because he’s the only one who has walked away unscathed… so far…

This flu made everything hurt. I mean, the usual fever with it’s associated aches and pains.  But, then there were these weird ‘pops‘ and ‘pangs‘ all over my body!  Then, there was the usual cement snot in the head.  The throbbing headache.  Restlessness everywhere.  The sore throat.  The coughing.  At one stage every single one of my teeth hurt!  And then, my HAIR FOLLICLES HURT!!!  It made me want to jump out of my skin screaming!  I was praying that I could dissolve into some black cosmic stardust, one-ness with the universe please!!!  I couldn’t sleep because the sinus pressure in my head made it feel like my eyeballs were going to go shooting out of my skull.  The tag-team duo wasn’t helping, as one would fall asleep the other would wake up.  Every twenty minutes Margo was up screaming in pain or complaining some delirious gibberish.  Meanwhile I was unsuccessfully trying to shush her, whilst holding my own pounding head, so that she wouldn’t wake up her baby sister.  The painkillers safe for breastfeeding, were only doing enough to help keep my head from falling off.  The whole while I was sick, I kept wondering how tough parents with chronic illnesses must be.  After all, they would have to deal with pain constantly while trying to raise a child (or children).  And, what about single parents!?  I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t been able to ask Art to take off 3 1/2 days of work so that he could help me.

It’s hard enough when any parent gets sick and then has to deal with a either sick or healthy children.  But, I think there may be some extra challenges to face when you’re an attachment parent and you get sick.  Attachment parenting for those who have never heard the term means that you do things like breastfeed, wear your baby, co-sleeping, etc. You have to take care of your kids the best you can, but you also have to take care of yourself.  You can still practice attachment parenting while you’re sick, there are just a few things to be aware of.

Breastfeeding While Sick

There’s really no way out of this one when you’re sick.  Unfortunately, even if you have a super-helper husband around to help, they won’t have working breast… sigh.  You need your rest, but you’ve got a screaming baby (or two in my case… (three in the case of my friend with twins and a toddler!), who wants a piece of you.  Especially if you have a young baby who is being exclusively breastfed, there is just no way out.  But, not to fear.  If your child is not 2 1/2 and screaming for mommy because they’re also sick, you may be in luck.  With Goldie, the 11 week old newbie, I would get Art to do all the the other work, hold her when she was awake, clean her off, etc.  Only when she was starting to crack it, then I told him to bring her in to me.  I found that if I could limit out time together to just feeds, I wasn’t as exhausted when it came time to do so.

You need to make sure you’re drinking lots and lots of fluids.  You need sufficient fluids to flush out the toxins from the sickness PLUS enough to produce breastmilk.  Even if you’re not hungry, do try to eat a bit.  I didn’t eat anything for about 3 or 4 days and on the fourth day, I was wondering why my supply suddenly started drying up!  Duh!!!  I ate some food and it immediately came back.

Although it’s a little hard work, breastfeeding your baby while YOU are sick is the best thing for everyone.  A breastfed baby has more antibodies to fight whatever is coming their way.  I’m sure that Goldie copped a milder version of this flu because she’s on the boob all the time. Plus, if you stop feeding, or reach for a supplement, you will also mess with your supply.  Not to say that if you have a stash of breastmilk in the freezer, it my come in handy for a feed, if you’re really dying.  For Margo, the only thing she would put in her mouth as nourishment for about 5 days was breastmilk!  She is looking a little skinny right now, but I know at least she was getting something.  Even though it was agony at the time, I’m so glad that I didn’t refuse her, in fact, I encouraged her to have more, because I knew it was all she would have!

Be careful what over the counter medicines you take while breastfeeding, they should say on the package whether safe. Even if they say safe, your baby might be turned off by them, which is a problem if they are also sick and reluctant to feed.  So just keep an eye out.  But also, be careful of the natural remedies too.  Some teas and remedies can be transferred through the milk.  Some tea that I drank one night was very offensive to Goldie and she wouldn’t feed for a few hours!

Baby Wearing And Sickness

I wear my babies a lot.  Goldie gets worn around in a wrap or sling, whatever, at least 4 or 5 hours a day.  I didn’t think anything of it, until on the second or third day, I noticed that Goldie (who was still healthy at that point) was getting really grumpy!  I realized that she’s used to being tossed around in the wrap while I’m carrying on with my daily duties and then all of a sudden that all changed.  If you’re not on the verge of collapsing, like I was, I would encourage you to baby wear as much as possible, because it keeps your baby healthy too.  But, if it’s really hard to wear your baby, have someone else, like dad, or a friend, do it.  Goldie started getting really grumpy, so I fed her, put the baby wrap on my husband and sent them for a walk, she came back 1 1/2 hours later, fast asleep and happy on his chest, apparently, hadn’t made a sound and fell asleep.

Wearing your baby when THE CHILD is sick, is very beneficial.  Even though the doc said to strip her down, a woman told me that even when they have a fever, keeping them close regulates their body temperature.  I found Goldie was cooler after I wore her than if I just slept with her in bed!  Of, course, you need to monitor their temperature closely at all times, if the temp gets really high, to the hospital or doctor you go!

Elimination Communication While Sick

Often EC seems to be the first thing to go out the window when you get sick.  Not that we were missing every wee and poo.  But, my normal 100% track record for catching #2’s when way down this week.  I just had to leave the ECing up to Art, as most of the time, I was too exhausted or dizzy to even get out of bed when I knew she had to go.  And,,, all moms who EC know that dads are ok at ECing their baby… but sometimes they’re just a bit slower than us moms.  The best thing to do is to just relax about the EC.  Your baby is not going to suddenly forget that all along they had been pooping and peeing in a bucket or potty and then all of a sudden you started making them go in a diaper.  In fact, Goldie was getting so ticked off because Art was not getting her to the potty in time.  One night before bed, he missed like three wees in a row.  When he took her in to me, I had never seen her in such a hot mess before!!! She was crying so hard that she did this Stop-Start-Hold-Her-Breath-Cry. Nearly gave me a heart attack!

Anyway, just do the best you can.  Don’t worry, your baby is very forgiving, they will not yell at you (for too long), if you miss a bunch of pees and poos over the course of a few days.

Co-Sleeping While Sick

This one is a tough one, because often, you just want to crawl away and hide in another room when you’re sick!  If Margo hadn’t of been sick and Goldie had been a tad older, I would have probably done just that… crawled away and had Art been in charge.  But, there was just no way… Just see what situation works best.  Sometimes, even if you want to crawl away, it may be very upsetting for your babies.  But, you be the judge, they might get over being upset if you’re not there, but you might benefit from getting some rest.  I thought about having Art sleep in the other room with Goldie, but I just couldn’t, she’s still a bit young in my eyes.

What have you done when you were sick?  I’m certainly not the sick-with-kids-expert.  Would LOVE to hear what others do when you (and or your kids) get sick.  Hopefully it won’t ever happen again, but if it does, maybe I’ll be a bit more prepared!

About katesurfs

Kate is an American living in Australia with her husband and two young children. She holds a Masters of Educational Practice and is a high school science teacher by profession, but mostly she stays at home with her children. She is a yoga and meditation teacher, trained through the Art of Living Foundation, a surfer, a vegetarian, and healthy conscious. She is an Aware Parenting Instructor, as well as a Know Your Child Teacher.

6 Responses »

  1. I have not been sick since having Caleb… Good advice! Hope you and the girls feel better soon.

    Reply
  2. Oh poor Kate! That must be hard but seems that Art was really of help. Must meet soon for a chat. Xoxo

    Reply
    • Thanks! Yes, he was a huge help! Must catch up soon!

      Reply
      • Arrived here when googling about sleeping with kids when sick..but I wonder why you label all that stuff (breastfeeding,carrying baby,etc) as attachment parenting…where i live we just called that plain..well, parenting. I live in jakarta btw.

      • I never labelled it either, until I realised that many people in western countries don’t do it! Then you have to write about it to normalise it again :O)

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