Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Guest post: Germs of Endearment

Surprise! My next vacay guest post is from another twin mommy. This twin mommy, however, is kinda the original twin mommy as far as I'm concerned. She was co-workers with my hubby in Philly while he commuted from our temporary home in D.C. and she had just had twins six months before us. Not two weeks after I arrived in Philly, sweaty, sleep-deprived, and caring around the clock for two preemies with 27 daily med doses and those effin heart monitors, she told me she was taking me out. I didn't know where, I didn't know who, I didn't know how, I didn't care. I met several other members of the Main Line Moms of Multiples that night at happy hour, and have cherished my time with each of  them ever since.

portrait of the author by her daughter

There are certain inalienable truths.  All people are created equal. Most of Hollywood has done a deal with the Devil to achieve their level of fame and success. And between September through April, my kids will be chronically sick with some germ, some sniffle, and/or some sort of puking episode.  It's what I know and accept.
As I write this, it's the end of July, and not one, not two, but all three of my children are sick. What in the WHAT???

This illness has totally thrown me for a loop - not only because I too have a high fever, nausea, and body aches. No, I am thrown for a loop because it's S.U.M.M.E.R.  I thought germs basically melt in the summer.  We are not supposed to be sick.  We are supposed to be enjoying lazy days, popsicles, and basking in the warmth of the sun.  This past week, we have been lazy, we are enjoying popsicles - it's all they can keep down, and the only warmth we are experiencing is from our fevered bodies.

I know I am not alone, I have been seeing posts on Facebook from friends in the same predictament.  Ear infections, coughs, andtummy aches seem to take stay-cations.  I am just frustrated that it hit us, this week.  I would like to resign this house's "Germs Stay Free" sign that apparently is plastered all over the front.

As a stay at home mom, I have a great job.  But when my kids are sick, it sucks.  
When I worked full time when my twins were born, if one was sick, I could leave the healthy one with the Nanny or preschool as they got older, and expose only the already sick one to the germ fest that is a pediatric office.  I could go to the drugstore for the prescription and return home, relatively stress free.  Now, I drag all 3 kids to the pediatrician, wait an hour in the sick room, finally get seen with 3 crabby, bored kids, and from there have to drag all three into the drugstore to fill a script, all the while threatening them with loss of television, bribing of treats if they behave, and all sorts of not proud parenting moments that one does in times of stress.

I try to avoid the pediatrician's office at all costs.  But my kids typically get illnesses that settle in their lungs and without fail, we need to go.  And usually are sicker because of the trip.
Parents can be such assholes when it comes to their kids, and it's all out in it's ugly glory there.
My office specifically has signs EVERYWHERE saying if your child has a cough, please have them wear a mask.  Without fail, whether we are there for a sick visit or well visit, there is always that entitled ass whose kid is hacking up their lungs repeatedly - usually right in my kids' faces - and they let their little darling run rampant in the waiting rooms, sans mask.  

A) that's what the sick room is for.  Keep their ADHD asses in it.  If you think it's not contagious, and more of a seasonal thing, wait in the freaking hall.  Unless you walk in wearing scrubs, I am going to assume you have no sound basis for your acquired medical diagnosis, except from Google and WebMD.

B) get your freaking germ host away from my kids.  We don't need the typhoid your brat is carrying.  We are not looking to become besties with your snot dripping, fevered cheeks child.  Oh, your kid is bored and wants to snot all over the crayons and coloring books I brought to keep my brood occupied?  Here's a page from the book, and one brown crayon.  We don't want it back, and next time be better prepared.  It's never less than a thirty minute wait in the waiting room.

C) you are not fooling anybody by sitting in the chairs right outside the sick room, in the healthy waiting room, with your sneezing, moaning hot mess of a sickie.  Are there worse germs in the sick room?  Probably. That's the price you pay for going to the doctor when your kid is sick.  In the healthy waiting room are newborns and small infants.  Their little bodies would have a tough time fighting a lot, be considerate.  We were all new parents once, afraid if anyone even sneezed within 50 feet of our precious bundles of joy, respect that.

My husband never understood why I said the pediatrician's office was hell incarnate.  Then one day, he was forced to take the baby and one of the twins to the office, as the baby was sick.  I NEVER hear the end of it.  How he waited an hour, surrounded by sick, disgusting kids, only to wait 20 minutes in the exam room, and be dismissed by the doctor within 10 minutes.  Where was I?  Oh, the other twin had slipped and fell in ballet, and had a concussion that required a CAT scan, so I was in that oh so much less stressful situation called a hospital.

At least he can somewhat sympathize now that from the end of September to the end of April, I do my utmost best to keep us healthy in this house.  We wash hands as soon as we come in from anywhere, we take our vitamins, eat well balanced meals, and get adequate sleep.  I do this too in the summer, but always considered it preventative maintenance.

This is why I keep Motrin and Tylenol in stock, why our house smells like Vicks VapoPads Plug Ins for a good eight months, and why Pedialyte is always chilled in the refrigerator.  It's hell having a sick kid, and with the extra laundry, lack of sleep, and carrying for everyone else but yourself, it's amazing I am as consistently healthy as I am.  My immune system will be studied for its sheer impenetrability when I die.  He thought I was insane when, while preparing for Hurricane Sandy, I made sure all of our sickness meds were not expired and in stock.  The year before, when Hurricane Irene hit, I had 2 three year olds get croup, all the while trying to keep a 6 week old healthy.  Lesson learned the hard way.

I know it's inevitable that a sniffle or a thousand will enter into my life as a parent.  I am truly grateful that my children are happy and healthy most times than not.  I always remind myself how fortunate we are to live in a time where the medical knowledge of viruses and beyond have saved numerous billions of lives.  I am even grateful that we have disposable Kleenex and antibacterial wipes and hand sanitizers.  But for the love of all things good and pure, I ask - no I beg - parents to be more considerate of other parents (and by default their kids).

If your kid wakes with a fever, don't dose them up with Motrin and send them on their way, whether to day care or school.  I totally get how inconvenient having a sick kid is to your work, your life, your sanity.  But is it fair to subject the rest of the world?  

I keep my kids home when they are sick, give them the full 24 hour waiting period after a fever breaks to send them on their way.  Oh, you can because you stay home, I can hear people saying.  I worked for the first three years of my twins' life.  While I did have a Nanny who was able to stay with the girls for the most part until they went to preschool at 2, I also knew a bulk of my sick time and vacation time would go to taking off for sick kids.  We don't have family close by or whom are capable of sick time child care.We didn't vacation for three years, as I didn't have the time from my job.  And it was ok.  I know that it's getting better.  With each illness my kids are building immunity, and we have been fortunate enough to escape some serious bugs going around this past winter.  I don't begrudge sending your kid out with a cold, my kids don't live in bubbles (though I tried). A stuffy nose never killed anybody (my husband came close to being murdered last year when he got a cold though). Just try and remember that your sick kid got it from someone's sick kid, and it's a vicious cycle to begin with, don't add legs to the cycle by ignoring the difference between a cold and a virus.  Google it - the symptom checkers are out there if you aren't sure.

Wishing you all a healthy school year, full of kids coughing into arms instead of faces, tissues being used and not using fingers or back of hands to wipe a runny nose, and all vomiting being contained in buckets or toilets.

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