When the Sick Hits

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I’m kind of scared to type out these words. It isn’t that I’m superstitious. I believe in the power of prayer but not in the supernatural causation that leads to certain consequences. But… there have just been too many times when I’ve declared something to be the case only to have it backfire on me a few days later. Still, I’m going to say it (and maybe touch wood and hold my breath at the same time.)

Like every fall before it, our family was struck sick this season. I know to expect it – and after last year – absolutely dread it. While I’m still recovering from a lingering cough that is a few weeks old, my family is (wait for it) relatively healthy right now. (See? This is not something I want to jinx). I’m watching the fall plague hit friends of mine and my heart aches for them, because I remember. I remember endless days of fever and infections and one illness after another. I remember thinking that we’d seen the last of it only to be hit with something else. I remember trying to balance which parent would take which sick day to care for the infected kids who weren’t welcome at daycare. I remember it lasting at least six weeks. That was last year.

This year, I expected it to be just as bad. It hasn’t been (so far). We’ve been, dare I say it? …Lucky. Sure, we’ve had our bad weeks. That’s to be expected. We battled strep throat at the beginning of the season and just a few weeks ago, we were all struck down with a pretty nasty cold that left my husband and I feeling downright terrible (of which this cough is still evidence of). I hate being sick. I hate taking care of sick. And I doubly extra hate being sick when pregnant. I was feeling lousy, and then things got worse.

I woke up feeling worse than ever one morning and I was contemplating calling in sick. Then my two year old woke up and made my decision easy by puking everywhere. Suddenly, our house was afflicted by a bad cold and a nasty stomach bug.

I got scared. Really scared. The day was Halloween, and it might have been the scariest Halloween on record.

In no uncertain terms did I want to catch what Gavin had, on top of this terrible sore throat, headache, and difficulty breathing that I was suffering with. Oh yes, and the pregnancy. The coughing was hurting my stomach enough as it was. And let me tell you, after suffering with the norovirus one year while in my third trimester, I know there is nothing quite like trying to lie still to avoid nausea and having your baby kick your very queasy tummy.

But on this day, I had to be a Mom first. I had to sit with my sick little boy and hold the bucket. I had to clean him (and sometimes myself) up. I had to snuggle him and help him feel better, and I had to try to soothe his heart which had broken at the news that he wouldn’t be attending the daycare Halloween party that day. I desperately wanted him to feel better, not just because I wanted to minimize the risk of catching what he had, but I really wanted him to get a chance to dress up and go trick-or-treating for even a short while that night. The goal of the day was to get enough rest and quiet to hopefully feel better.

When The Sick Hits | Mommy Miracles

With his big brother at daycare, Gavin and I hunkered down on the couch and I turned on Netflix. If there is any better time to encourage copious amounts of screen time, being sick is it. I just wanted Gavin to get his mind off of how he was feeling and to stay still and quiet enough to hopefully rest. For the first time in a long time, Gavin had full control over the programming for the day. He spent the day watching Blue’s Clues – a new show for him, but one that was perfect for a quiet, sick couch day. It wasn’t too energetic, but it kept him engaged just long enough to drift to sleep in my arms.

When the Sick Hits | Mommy Miracles

I’m happy to report that after a very long nap around noon, Gavin did not get sick again and he was even able to expend a little energy dressing up as Batman to hit up a few houses that night.

Halloween | Mommy Miracles

And Halloween ended up not being so scary after all – until two nights later when Cameron woke up from his sleep feeling nauseous. He spent a couple of hours going between the couch and the bathroom, expecting to be sick at any point. Unlike his younger brother, he managed to avoid actually being sick and was able to return to bed within a couple of hours, but similarly to Gavin, Cameron spent his sick time with the tablet right in front of him, watching Netflix. We even rigged up a little viewing station in the bathroom using a TV tray. Though, I might not suggest Pokémon as a fabulous middle of the night sick-show. I knew it was time to send Cameron back to bed when he started acting out the Pokémon battle scenes.

When the Sick Hits | Mommy Miracles

And so here I go again, testing fate, but I missed the stomach bug all together. It is only fair with the lingering cold, but I am grateful all the same. Now, let’s just all keep our fingers and toes crossed that we’ve dealt with all the puke we’re going to see this flu season. Because, while I’m not superstitious, the last thing I want to tempt the universe with is our health, especially in my third trimester. Also, I certainly don’t need an excuse to watch Netflix these days.

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Netflix knows that autumn brings the sniffles, and so they want to bring the giggles! This month, they suggest checking out these titles with our kids to encourage lots of smiles.

Netflix shows for kids when they're sick | Mommy Miracles

1. VeggieTales in the House - Netflix Original – Coming November 26
2. SpongeBob SquarePants: The Movie
3. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted
4. Noddy in Toyland
5. Horrid Henry
6. Tom and Jerry: The Movie

I am a member of Netflix’s Stream Team and as such I have been compensated with a complementary Netflix subscription and a few other perks. The stories and opinions are all my own and have not been bought.

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What Not To Say to a Pregnant Woman

I was in my office bathroom, a shared space where I probably spend a little too much time these days emptying a bladder that is doubling as a soccer ball. The bathroom has three stalls, two sinks, and one hand towel dispenser, so there are times when I can get pretty close to coworkers and other women who work on my floor. A lady who works in a different office was drying her hands while I was reaching over for some paper towel. She glanced at my pregnant belly. “When are you due?” she asked me.

I have come to learn that this is a reasonable, but dangerous question. It is one of the questions I like to ask. It helps me understand a pregnant woman a little better – how she might be feeling, how much time she might have left to work, when I might be expecting to hear news of a baby. But from the point of view of the pregnant woman, I hate that question. I hate that question a little bit because I hate the idea of a due date in itself. I feel like in our society we equate “due date” with “best before date”, and knowing me, I’m going to go late. I’d rather not focus on the arbitrary date of January 12th, when I know that my baby is likely still going to be snug as a bug inside of me on that date. And honestly, I’m okay with that. But this frustration is secondary to the fear that grips me when someone asks me when I am due.

When someone asks me when I am due, I brace myself for the looks, and maybe even the words that will follow. I’m due in two months. And that shocks some people.

Pregnant Belly | What Not To Say to a Pregnant Woman | Mommy Miracles

This is my third pregnancy to go beyond the first trimester. There are some things I have learned to expect from my body as it grows a baby. I knew to expect that I’d get large. My belly gets big during pregnancy. I was told that I was “big” when I birthed a 7 pound baby and when I birthed a 10 pound baby. I know that my body goes into overdrive as it prepares to give birth. My hips widen. My bum balloons. My boobs inflate. My womb pushes everything straight out (with maybe a little to the side too). My face and my ankles both begin to change shape. This is my pregnant reality. It doesn’t shock me.

“Oh!” Bathroom Lady exclaimed after I told her my due date. “That’s still a long way off! You’re so big! You’re going to have a big baby! Are you sure there aren’t two in there?”

Bam. Bam. Bam. Bam. Bathroom Lady just nailed almost every insensitive thing you can say to a pregnant woman and she did it without hardly taking a breath.

“Yes. I know.” I answered. Because really, what am I supposed to say? This woman certainly wasn’t trying to be malicious. Society just likes to share in the joy of pregnancy. I get that. But the words she chose sure had a way of sucking the joy right out of this experience.

You see, I really do love my pregnant body. Sure, I feel cumbersome and huge and I wish my face wouldn’t look as pregnant as it does. But really, pregnancy is one of the few times when I am able to fully embrace this body of mine as being strong and beautiful. My body is growing and sustaining a life. My pregnant belly moves and bounces and shifts with the child inside of it. My hips widen to make room to push this baby out with more power than I could ever imagine that I hold inside of me. My breasts grow to nourish the life of my previous little baby. The whole experience of pregnancy and childbirth is so amazing and wonderful and powerful, it radiates with beauty.

What Not to Say to a Pregnant Woman | Mommy Miracles

 

But we live in a world that distorts this perception of beauty. It glorifies a very specific type of body type – a body the that is very beautiful, yes, but not one that is very inclusive. We elevate smallness, perhaps to the detriment of the health of women and babies.

I know women – otherwise healthy women – who unilaterally decide to diet through pregnancy, without the direction of a doctor. I know women who fear large babies, enough that they schedule c-sections or inductions before they naturally go into labour, making the entire process perhaps more dangerous for themselves and their babies. I know women who are embarrassed by the weight of their incredibly healthy, and beautifully chubby babies; Babies who are perfect except for the fact that society has somehow deemed them “big”, and in every other instance, big means bad.

When we question someone’s due date and comment on their size relating to that date, we are working under some arbitrary image of what the ideal pregnant body image is. That is unfair to the woman who is pregnant and it is unfair to pregnant women everywhere. We are perpetuating an ideal that isn’t based on health. We fail to grasp that the changes a body goes through during pregnancy are necessary to support the extra effort that the body exerts through pregnancy and childbirth. We maintain a myth of beauty that doesn’t actually support many of the realities in pregnancy itself.

Our desire to share in the joy of this new life should not give anyone the right to comment on a woman’s body. If a woman is walking down the street and someone comments on the state of her body, that’s called street harassment. Being pregnant shouldn’t automatically make my body open to discussion by the general public.

Bathroom Lady had no idea the kind of day that I was having. She didn’t know that I had woken up early that day and that I was feeling incredibly exhausted. She could not have known about the headache that was pounding behind my eyes. Her words struck me at a weak point and I had a hard time holding back my tears afterwards. But what woman wouldn’t feel hurt if a stranger came up to her and commented on how “large” she was? My body isn’t open to discussion just like I am sure you do not want yours to be.

I want to talk about my pregnancy. I want to share this joyful experience with the world around me. But maybe instead of making judgement comments based on little more than some image of a perfect pregnancy we hold in our heads, let’s try to extend a little compassion. Bathroom Lady could have easily asked me how I was feeling. She could have congratulated me. She could have even told me how beautiful I am.

I don’t need to be lied to about my body. But maybe we can all start looking at pregnancy – all the realities of it – the big parts and the little parts and the extra parts – as beautiful. Because that body is doing amazing things and soon, there will be a new life to prove it.

If you’re pregnant, I want you to know that you’re beautiful. That body of yours, regardless of how much weight you’ve gained or how you’re carrying it or where it is showing, is a beautiful testament of love and life and strength.

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I want to reach out and thank all the people who do go out of their way to make pregnant women feel beautiful. Since this incident happened, I’ve heard and noticed the kind words people have directed my way, both by those who knew about the incident and those who didn’t. There are lots of people in this world who know how to help a pregnant woman love her body, and I want to make sure I mention that I notice you too. You make it easier to embrace this body.

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Why I’m Not Doing NaBloPoMo

Every year, November rolls around and I briefly consider taking a good hard look at my writing practices. November has been on my radar as National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) for years, and I am constantly tempted to have a reason to wake up each morning and type out some 1000 words a day in efforts to create something artful out of nothing. Because yes, someday I do want to write something for publishing. I want to write something that can be held and flipped through in long form. I want it to be good and I want it to be read and I want it to be wanted. But I’m not ready to start yet. To be ready to start, I’d need an idea. (And time. Time would be useful too).

Just because I’m not writing a novel doesn’t mean I can’t still write. This is something I’ve known for my entire life. What started as personal journal writing as a child turned into something that can actually reach public consumption when I decided to start blogging over ten years ago.

But my blog has been relatively quiet these days. I’ve started focusing on only what I absolutely need to focus on, because this third pregnancy is getting tough. My husband keeps questioning if I need to go back to the doctor and talk about how tired I am, but I keep reminding him that this is what pregnancy looks like when you have a full time job and two kids already at home. (And also low blood pressure and low iron). I understand his concern. During my pregnancy with Gavin, my low blood pressure resulted in a serious concussion after I fainted. But this is just what pregnancy looks like in my situation. It is big and exhausting. So I do what I need to do, and I sleep when I can. Which means I’m left with very little – or perhaps no – time or mental energy to write.

But, I really miss writing. Like, I really miss it. I feel like I’ve lost a good friend – or maybe a limb. I’ve been quite sad over the last few days, thinking about how much I miss the act of getting something out through this form that is meaningful to me and to others. I miss the act of sitting down, finding my voice, and expressing myself. I miss it so much. But I haven’t been doing that lately.

This isn’t an apology. I hate blogger apologies; those “Let me just come here and write a non-post about why I haven’t been posting.” I write for a lot of reasons, but mostly, (as I’ve particularly realized lately), I write for me. So I don’t want to apologize to you. But maybe, just a little bit, I want to apologize to me: the me who is grieving for this outlet that I haven’t turned to in a while.

So, I would be lying if I said I didn’t seriously consider participating in NaNoWriMo’s spin-off initiative: NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month). A blog post every day for a month? I could do that. Heck, maybe I should just try to write every day for a month, whether I post or not. Goodness knows I wouldn’t even need to use prompts, there is so much that I’ve been wanting to say over the last little bit. It would be so good to write. My mind raced all day on November 1st as I considered this possibility, and I tried hard to seek out a time and a place (and a cooperative mind-space) to write something that day.

I went to bed without writing even a sentence.

My heart broke, but I also breathed a sigh of relief. I just can’t do it right now. I’m in a period of life where I need to be very gentle on myself. I have needed to be careful to avoid expecting too much from myself. My body’s telling me to do less these days.

Those words swimming around my head aching to be let out through my typing fingers might be lost forever, but new words will replace them as my life continues on at this wicked fast pace.

Some days I dream about the life that I will have one day: a life where I don’t have children climbing on me constantly and demanding my attention. I dream about having more freedom over my time. I dream about being able to get the words out whenever they hit, even if that is 10am on a weekday. But I don’t want to rush through this part of my life. My writing is constantly interrupted now, but that two year old who was just crying for a hug won’t be wanting a hug forever.

I miss writing, but I’ll miss this too. I can always write. But this life buzzing around me won’t stay still for a minute. And this life? These lives? Are something I created too.

My kids are crazy awesome

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