Cold and flu season – the great leveller. It doesn’t matter if you’re a doting relative, an adoring family friend or even a healthcare professional with a spotless sanitary record – if you have a bug of some sort, I’ve inadvertently relegated you to the sick zone.
For this, you have my sincerest apologies.
I wasn’t always this way, this germ obsessed. Honestly, in the very recent past it was an effort just to get me to brush my teeth before bed, sneeze into anything other than the wide-open air (it’s just so much more satisfying that way) or wash my hands before energetically gnawing at a pesky hang nail, totally oblivious to the fact that I just got gas from that sketchy corner station.
Shortly after returning home from the hospital after having our little one, something changed.
For all the mommies out there: do you remember that little heel prick test you had to subject your newborn to? The one that made them cry bloody murder at a Mariah Carey octave? Well, ours came back with some worrying markers for a genetic disease. After a secondary round of tests and weeks of waiting with bated breath for the new results, we were finally given the “all clear.”
It was a stressful time for me, as the disease in question (were she to have it) would be life limiting and severely aggravated by any sort of respiratory illness. During those two weeks of waiting I literally shut, sh*t, down. I shunned off visitors showing even the slightest signs of illness, making them communicate with me through glass panel doors, or drop their parcels outside.
That was then and this is now and I can’t keep using that as an excuse for my crazy. Let’s just say I’m actively working on it, but I can’t do it without your help.
So what does it mean for you to be relegated to the “sick zone?” Well, nothing overly dramatic really. You simply have to take into consideration the following rules when dealing with me, or for that matter, any mom of a newborn, because a baby’s immune system isn’t fully developed until he/she is about 6 months old.
For the love of God, just wash your hands.
You wouldn’t believe how much resistance to this I’ve seen from well-meaning visitors eager to hold the baby. Maybe it’s the awkward manner in which I approach the subject. With nervous bottled energy I tend to accidentally blurt out, “Hey, wanna wash your hands?” as soon as guests enter the door, even before the obligatory “hellos.” Yah, that might be it.
Don’t wear your bug like a badge of honour.
I’m guilty of this. Driven by my A-type personality, I used to take pride in the number of sick days I did not take from work each year. Fever, a nasty old stomach bug, a suddenly acquired smoker’s cough – nothing could hold me back from my very important-ness. I’d talk loudly to all who would listen about how sick I was and revel in the reverence I’d receive. Only now, when I see this happening anywhere near me or my newborn baby, do I realize how much I hate my old self.
When it’s real bad, just stay home.
You deserve it. I deserve it. Heck strangers on the bus, street, and everyone within a 7-mile radius deserve it.
I fully expect that there will be times when these rules can’t be applied, for a slew of reasons. But don’t worry, I’ve come up with some self-help practices to temper my crazy, and thrown in a series of non-obligatory product placements along the way (which, according to my husband, is a bit tacky). No, I am not sponsored by these products, I just really, really like them.
Buy lots and lots of washcloths: These little suckers are great for cleaning everything – from baby drool and excrement, to say, your saliva. Oh, you want to kiss every inch of my baby’s head, neck and hands after sharing that you’ve just been MIA for a week due to stomach flu? That’s ok, as soon as you’re not looking, I’m simply going to sud up one of these cheap little swaths of material with good’old soap and water and scrub her down, head-to-toe, until she shines.
My soap of choice for everyday use is an all-natural liquid hand soap from Nature Clean. Unscented is great, but Rosemary Mint also serves the dual purpose of easing anti-hand washers into submission when strategically placed in the main floor bath.
Invest in hand, toy & pacifier wipes: I highly recommend those offered by Aleva Naturals. They come in compact, easy-to-open packages, and are perfect for throwing into a diaper bag or even a small purse when soap and water aren’t available. Accidentally drop your baby’s soother on the floor of the Spryfield Bowlarama during league night? Don’t worry momma, I gotcha covered.
Drink wine: Preferably red, but white will do.
Please note, that even when perfectly applied, these practices can and do fail. Babies get sick and we’re walking proof. After 3 1/2 months my little one came down with her first virus. Although I feel like a small part of me died just a little bit (all joking aside, I actually think more than a few of my brain cells did die due to complete and utter lack of sleep for 10 straight days) I’m trying to look on the bright side.
While tending to her ailments I’ve gotten the chance to whip out some of those handy Shower gifts I received from the back of my closet, including the best little poop de-greaser I’ve ever used, the BunchaFarmers stain remover; my HelloKitty ultrasonic cool mist humidifier* and night light from Crane (which, by increasing humidity also seems to keep her room warmer at night); and my personal favourite, the NoseFrida SnotSucker.**
The last item, I can fully attest, does exactly what it says it does. Just please don’t forget to insert the accompanying filter – because no matter how much you try to convince yourself that the salty globular substance in your mouth is just a kernel from your morning oatmeal, deep down you’ll know it’s a lie.
* Humidifiers can be pricey. Rather than shell out $50-$70, to help baby breathe at night, try cutting an onion into slices and placing them 1-3 feet away from your crib. Another option is to place a little Vic’s Vapour Rub on baby’s feet and put their socks on overnight. Avoid placing the rub on their chest as it can be hard on little ones’ respiratory systems.
**The SnotSucker is a great buy but another good option is to simply take baby in the shower with you to loosen up mucus in their nasal passages. For safety reasons, this is typically a two-person job, or you could let the bathroom steam up around you and your little one without entering the shower.