I don't know why I thought we were immune.. I guess since all the media hype dating back to the spring about the swine flu a part of me somehow stayed in denial... We stayed flu free the year before... The year before that was a different story (and the year before that) But going a year free somehow empowered me into a certain way of thinking I like to call "Mommy logic." Logic better known as: "This won't happen to me."
I was proved wrong early on a Monday morning of all things. 2:00 A.M. to be exact. A cry over the monitor made me sit up and untangle my legs from the covers as I made my way through the dark and up the stairs towards the sound of pitifulness. It sounded like Evan over the monitor, but indeed it was Ryan. He was there in the middle of his bed sitting up and reaching out for me as I walked towards him. "Uh oh" was all I could think as I scanned the bed for any sign of a upset stomach since the last time I was woken up by a cry like this he had a stomach virus. But there was no evidence of anything like that and when I reached out to pick him up his body temperature told me I we were in for it. He wasn't just hot but furnace hot. His whole body was on fire. I couldn't get the motrin in him fast enough. On top of that he was coughing and it was right then and there in the middle of his dim lit room, that I knew... This wasn't a cold. I didn't know what else to do but scoop him up and carry him into the guest room where we laid down together and I kept my hand on him the rest of the night as I feared his fever would get worse. Thankfully Motrin did it's job and he settled back down into a restful sleep. I couldn't leave him though and stayed with him until light began to form outside the window. Right about that time I could hear Evan beginning to cough from his room. It didn't surprise me. I was almost waiting for it actually. Running on adrenaline only I made my way into his room and put my hand over his forehead. He was still sleeping but also hot to the touch. Thus the flu had found us. Despite all the hand washing we had done, all the wipe downs of grocery store carts, staying away from indoor play areas...It found us regardless.
And there was nothing I could do about it.
I made doctor appointments as soon as I could. I was grateful to get one on the same day . That little voice returned (or rather my famous Mommy logic) the back of my head said maybe just maybe I was over reacting and this was just a bad bad cold. I had heard stuff had been going around. In fact pretty much since September one, if not all of us have had minor colds off and on. It's to be expected and just all a part of owning 3 and 4 year old walking germ magnets. But as I loaded the boys up on the car and heard Ryan say something about his back hurting another little alarm went off in my head. His back hurts?? He has never said anything about his back before..... It could still be something else it could still be... Maybe it wasn't.....
I was running all kinds of scenarios through my head as we checked into the doctors office and found our way to the "sick" waiting area. We were the only ones there and asked to have the boys wear little paper masks over the faces. Evan thought this was cool and pretended to be a super hero. Ryan, ever the complicated (yet adorable) one tolerated it for about 2 minutes before he decided to let the entire 2nd floor know he couldn't breathe with it on. It was no biggie though because right about the time I was demonstrating cool ways to play super hero and wear the mask, we were called back. The nurse who also wore a mask ushered us in to one of the small rooms and began to quiz me on their symptoms. I gave her a quick recap of the past 12 hours and appreciated her sympathetic head nods and "oh, poor little guys" comments. She took temperatures made a comment about their sad little eyes and disappeared promising the doctor would be in soon. We stayed busy playing with the swivel chairs, window blinds and hand made balloons compliments of the box of latex gloves on the counter. The doctor came in about 15 minutes later also adorned with a mask. He was nice as always and did a thorough check of each boy. Thankfully lungs sounded clear but in house tests proved that it was the flu. The capital "F" word flu. It was official now and so began a new phase where I move away from the Mommy Logic and into "Mommy Guilt"
I hate this phase...Because here comes the famous question: Why oh why had I not yet gotten them their flu shots...
It's not that I didn't try.. Twice actually. Once the doctor's didn't have any in yet and the second time they were out too lunch. Okay so that was minimal effort. But Mommy logic is a powerful tool... "I will get them their shots next time..."
But could I have prevented this? Was there a shopping trip where I failed to wipe down a cart? Are they sick because of me? We were at a Halloween party the day before symptoms had kicked in, are other kids going to be sick now?? What had I done? What kind of mother am I?
"Mrs Ickert" are you okay? I hear the doctor ask.
"No" I want to say. But a quick glimpse at the boys and their definite sad "don't feel good" little eyes reminded me that this wasn't about me. I had my information now, it was the flu and most likely h1n1 according to the doctor. So I needed to remain focused. I had to stop the self punishing and get them well, everything else would fall into place.
We left with a bunch of paper work on the swine flu and a personal escort at out the back door in case there were "little ones" in the waiting room the doctor explained. Even though it felt weird to be on a covert operation out the secret door of the doctors office, I certainly understood.
So we went home. The boys who for some reason had perked up a bit seemed hungry and ate a little lunch. We ate peanut butter and jelly and talked about being sick.
"I am so sorry you guys don't feel good" was all I could say.
"But I promise I will do everything I can to make you feel better."
"With your special Mommy powers?" Evan wanted to know. I kissed him on his head, which was stating to heat up again.
"Yeah baby, my special Mommy powers."
If only there were such a thing.
Turns out that special Mommy powers really don't involve much more than patience, love and again a lot of Motrin. I wish I could say that I handled the next 72 hours with extreme grace, tolerance and sugar and spice. Quite the opposite actually. We were housebound and cranky. The first day it rained so even a walk around the block was out of the question. The second day it was blue skies but too wet and chilly to be outside. I kept my sanity by taking them to McDonald's utilizing the drive through. We drove the long way to and from just to be out of the house for a bit. There fevers were like clock work. High until the Motrin kicked in and the low until it wore off. The coughing was the worst. Hard, loud congested coughing that attacked them even in their deepest of sleep. I tried everything from children's mucinex, dark honey, cool mist humidifier and Vick's Vapor rub. Maybe one of those helped... I am still not sure.
Day 3 was the worst. I was tired form not sleeping well. Ryan who kept waking up at 2:00 a.m. and insisting I sleep with him, is not the most peaceful of sleepers. On top of the coughing I was kicked, poked, felt up, and even "goosed" by this fitful little boy. He is a hard sleeper, thank goodness but a very, very busy sleeper. Needless to say I didn't get much rest but wouldn't have done anything differently. He wanted me there, that was all that mattered. Evan a year older was okay in his room by himself. He was about a day behind Ryan in his symptoms and even though he was just as clingy with me he seemed to really need his space in his room where he too slept hard. We did manage to venture out for a walk but becuase the boys were still run down and cranky we didn't get very far. Evan just wanted to collect leaves and Ryan just wanted to hold his hand. This made for a lot of crying whinning and silent curse words from Mommy. We turned around and came home; a place I was begining to dread.
We watched movies, movies and more movies. I can now recite every line to Monsters vs-Ailens (great movie though). I also have developed an intense dislike for that Moose a Moose punk on the Nick Jr channel. He can take his "I feel like I'm fallin into fall" song and shove it up his butt.
My husband as always was wonderful. On top of this being a flu week he had an intense and stressful week at work. He came home with the same look on his face that I had on mine. You know the look of "Oh dear God when are we going to win the lottery and live on a desert island" look. But as usual we maned together and did our best to power trough. Over all the flu lasted about 3 days of bad symptoms and then 2 days of recovery symptoms which sucks just as bad. Their energy level is back up but they are still coughing sneezing and running noses so I am not far behind them with the Clorox wipes, disinfect spray, tissues and Valium... (just kidding).
So our experience has come and gone and I am oddly grateful that this found us early. I say goodbye to "Mommy Guilt" and welcome "Mommy Denial" Surely this will be our only illness this year. Now their little immune systems are stronger so of course this won't happen to us again.... and it's right about here I get slapped in the face by the final and last phase of Mommy-ism's. Nothing and I mean nothing is ever what it seems. You would think after 4 1/2 years I would know this. You would think I would learn from having a week erased out of our lives that I would have some profound wisdom to spread to other mothers. Nope, not really. All I can say is hang on with both hands and remember, this too shall pass. Because in the end, they are better. Their smiles are back, their little personalities are intact. And this by far is the best phase of them all.
Feeling better Evan and Ryan Getting ready to go Trick or Treating!