Holding my Baby Through the Long Feverish Night
By Jasmine Wood
Perhaps the warm thaw of the last several days has you feeling like I do?
I feel like there is an itch deep down that just needs to be scratched, the eternal itch for spring. The itch for new life, for many shades of green, the itch to spy a newly emerged crocus and to feel the caress of warm spring sunshine on your cheek!
Alas, whether that little rascal the groundhog sees his shadow or not, chances are we are in for another good month or two of winter.
From our home to your home, tis the season of runny noses!
As we slowly journey through the second half of winter, cold and flu-like illnesses abound. In fact, last winter season most of the illnesses my family endured occurred between January and March. There are certain experiences in parenthood that facilitate your evolution as a mother or father and I feel strongly that tending to a sick child is one of these experiences. Caring for a sick child brings up a whole array of emotions in us; including empathy, helplessness, self doubt and confidence!
As parents we are able to whole-heartedly empathize with our children, who are sick, but are unable to fully vocalize what they are going through.
After my daughter was sick for the first time I realized that I was now able to understand a concept my mother had repeated to me throughout my life “Once you are a mother, when your child is in pain, so are you. You feel their pain.” I realized just how true this was when Little Rita caught her first cold at 6 months old; every time she coughed I experienced pain somewhere deep inside my gut.
It physically hurt me to watch my daughter go through the minor pains and discomforts of illness.
I remember feeling very vulnerable and questioning my instincts as a parent. At any given time I might have had ten different questions running through my head “Is her body’s response to the cold a normal reaction?”, “When should we call the Doctor” “Is having a cough supposed to affect her breathing like this?” and so on, and so on. I could practically drive myself mad!
Understanding the nature of our immune system and how minor illnesses help to strengthen it did not help me cope with caring for my sick child.
The sleepless nights and hours of laying up listening to her congested breathing patterns had me feeling totally frazzled and filled with self doubt. With Rita’s first cold, we scheduled a visit to the Doctor. She did the routine, listened to her heart and her lungs, checked her eyes, ears and throat and reassured mom and dad that she was going to be fine after the “respiratory virus” ran its course.
Relief ran through me like a cool drink of water on a hot day.
Beyond relief, there was confidence; confidence in my parenting instincts reinforced by our pediatrician letting us know we had been caring for our little girl properly. As a first time parent, I knew to follow my instincts but at the same time the looming fear that we were solely responsible for this tiny little being made me feel insecure.
Having dealt with many colds and sleepless nights since our first experience I now carry with me self-confidence which stems from experience. Since I now bring with me the experience of caring for Rita while she progressed through a cold and came out on the other side perfectly healthy I also carry with me a stronger coping mechanism and a greater faith in my maternal instincts.
I have grown as a mother through Rita’s illnesses.
Although, I now feel much better equipped to deal with illnesses when they enter our home, it doesn’t make the emotional aspect of dealing with illness any easier. Two years later, every time I hear her cough my heart breaks a little knowing she is experiencing discomfort that I cannot make go away!
But, there is something very important I have learned about nurturing a sick child; even though you cannot take away the symptoms, you can offer your child something no one else can: the loving and tender comfort of a mother.
The nurturing medicine of a mother holds its own unique healing properties! Simply by being there when you child wakes up in a feverish fit to caress their cheek and wipe the hair from their face, as a full body handkerchief for them to wipe their runny nose on, and most importantly as loving arms to embrace and comfort them: you are helping your child to recover! So, remember next time you find yourself facing the dreaded cold or flu, by providing the simple things mother does best, tender love and care, you are also providing a pathway to a speedy recovery for your child!