Coughs and sneezes spread diseases. That was always the message when I was little. I have always prided myself on having a robust immune system, and have always been irrationally annoyed by people who always seem to be ill or who keep boxes of tissues in their living room. As it turns out my immune system is about as strong as the Greek economy, and our household is apparently single-handedly keeping Kleenex afloat.
By the time my daughter was 10 months old she had suffered from about 4 high fevers, chicken pox, German measles and hand foot and mouth disease, this in addition to about 100 colds and 3 or 4 unexplained rashes. She’s no weakling and runs around happily spreading her germs around the house when she is poorly, while I sit on the settee coughing and spluttering and bemoaning the fact that I will have to take more time off work to look after her. The question at the back of mind- scratch that- constantly on my lips is “where the hell did she catch it”. The inevitable response is “nursery”, but actually that isn’t always the case. None of her little friends seem to be ill at the same time as her, and when they fall ill she doesn’t. It’s so strange. Meanwhile, when I get ill the perpetrator is always easily identifiable as the idiot who stumbles into work coughing his guts up in order to try and present the right image to the boss (n.b. – if you work for me I am most definitely not impressed by your disgusting germs).
Another thing that I find really odd is that despite her constant snotty nose her philtrum (the bit between her nose and top lip) is never red. When I get a cold and wipe my nose it goes raw, followed afterwards by an attractive dry patch as my skin tries to recover. Perhaps I am an aggressive self-wiper but despite wiping her nose constantly it never goes red. And her energy is something to behold. When I am ill (not that I am allowed to be ill anymore) I need things. I need the settee. I need a duvet. I need Dallas. I need soup. When Hannah is ill she needs things too. She needs her trampoline. She needs more banana. She needs to pick up every bloody thing on the table. She needs to run around hiding everything that used to be on said table.
In short it turns out that I am not, in fact, robust at all. I have allowed colds and diseases to master me. I even welcome them sometimes as I have an excuse- nay a reason- to rest. Hannah, meanwhile, continues on her merry way refusing to be beaten by influenza and the like. I suppose there is a lesson there for me, but for now I will return to my comfy chair and JR.
I’m so tired. I’m so tired. I’m so tired. That’s all I can think about these days (when I’m not occupied with Hannah of course). I’m no princess; I can cope with a bit of yawny yawny from time to time. Likewise I know I’m not special- we are all tired, let’s face it. But I feel I have to actually say it, because everyone else is bored of hearing it but the feeling is still there.
It’s certainly true that you get used to feeling tired and that weird malaise just sort of hangs over you, such that if I do get a rare chance for shut eye I’m out like a light. But it doesn’t last for long and the nap only just takes the edge off. I haven’t felt properly rested in over a year.
We had recently just got to the stage where Hannah was sleeping though, thanks, in our opinion, to The Routine. However life had other plans for us and when poor Hannah got her cold The Routine was shattered because she kept waking up to cough. So it’s back to square one, like looking after a 2 month old again.
Or gorgeous little bunny woke me up at 3 last night; just for the hell of it, it seemed, since she didn’t want her bottle. And she refused to go back to sleep, even when I actually cried at her saying “Mummy loves you darling but I need to sleep”. In the end I just put her down, listened to her whinge for 15 minutes and then assumed the silence meant that she had dropped off. But of course, that meant I couldn’t possibly do the same. What if the silence meant she had choked to death? What if she had literally frozen? What if there really was a monster under the bed that had got her? So of course I had to get up and check her. And so it continues. The best bit of course is when she properly wakes up and wants to play, all the while I feel like I’ve been run over by a truck. But then, it’s all worth it when I see her beautiful smile.
I always swore I wouldn’t be one of those mothers who run to the doctor just because their baby has sneezed, but I have to say that Hannah has seen more of the doctor in 5 months than I have in 5 years. Well not quite. She is, after all, a baby who needs check ups and jabs and so on. Aside from those I feel I can justify those visits. The first time was about 4 months ago when she hadn’t pooed for 2 days- everything I had been told previously suggested that this wasn’t normal and that she should be doing a number 2 at least twice per day. Nonsense. Hannah’s record is 5 days and it’s nothing to worry about. The second time was yesterday. She’d had a cold for a couple of days and had also been coughing, to the extent she couldn’t sleep (and to be honest I couldn’t either and feel rubbish myself). I felt a bit stupid going to the doctor with a cold, but it was the Friday before a bank holiday and my little girl had been valiantly struggling to sleep for 3 days without much success. So I was pleased when she was prescribed antibiotics- my poor little baby’s suffering will soon be over and not before time. As I type I am sitting in the back seat of our car with her on my way to visit my parents for the weekend. I can’t wait- the thought of 2 days of rest is so exciting I might wee.
1. Mummies are not allowed to be poorly. If you tell anyone that you and/or your baby are ill, the stock response is “oh poor Hannah” (don’t get me wrong, I would do anything to take it away from her). Your feeding/cleaning/changing duties do not stop. You do not get a lie in. You do not have time to have a hot bath.
2. Mummies are supposed to know the answer. “What does she want”? is the question my husband asks most. “Where is the xxxx”? Is the next one.
3. Parenting books are rubbish. I flicked through one the other day which I had devoured when I was pregnant, thinking it was the Bible of Babies. I laughed out loud at the advice. One bit said “by now your baby will be sleeping through”. The author obviously hadn’t met Hannah. And in fact has never been a mother.
4. You might not be able to establish the routine you wanted. Before I had her, I was ambivalent about whether or not I would breastfeed, and when she came out I decided I definitely did want to. I was helped with oodles of breastmilk (lucky me) which for whatever reason is no longer there. So I’m topping up with formula and frankly it’s really nice to be able to drink from time to time, and to go out without having to get your boobs out to placate a hungry baby.
5. I’m fascinated by poo. Sometimes she goes twice a day, sometimes once every 5 days. I have names for the different sorts. I have names for the different colours. I’d better not carry on with this bit.
6. Having a routine is great when you can stick to it. Pros – I know when she will go to bed and when she is likely to get up, when she is likely to feed etc etc and can work my life around it. She seems happier and is easier to manage. Cons – you are tied to the routine. If she leaves it, I know about it all day for the next 48 hours. So I can’t go out after 8pm….