“This too shall pass”, she said, whilst I was hanging on to my last string of sanity. At about seven months old, when the seemingly endless nights of waking every second hour to feed a hungry baby had become a memory, my daughter got ill - very ill, in fact.
First it was pneumonia in one lung, then the other, then both. What seemed like a little cough had turned into one of the scariest times in my life, very quickly.
I’d returned to work when she was five months old, and had adjusted to keeping up with my workload whilst not getting enough sleep. I’d gotten used to the daily rhythm of feeding, wiping, burping and handling phone calls all with one hand. I felt like I was in control. Life, and parenting in particular, has a good laugh at you like that. Just as you think you’ve got a certain milestone, developmental phase, temper tantrum dealt with, life happens and you’re adrift in a new sea of the unknown.
I’d known something was wrong when I woke up one night and listened to my daughter’s laboured breathing. It was a hop off to the doctor the next day, antibiotics and a long email to my understanding boss about how I’d have to work from home.
I blamed myself – of course I did! We all know about the mommy guilt
that lives in our heads! I worried that I’d not been dressing her warmly at night. I worried that she’d end up in hospital if these blessed antibiotics didn’t work properly. I felt like a total failure.
When kids get sick, often the first thing to go awry is their sleeping pattern. So it is with my daughter, who slept through the night early and barely gave me any trouble. Suddenly, she couldn’t sleep. Wouldn’t sleep. Or would, and then wake up every hour, crying. After the pneumonia hit her for the third time in six weeks, I was exhausted. I rang my mum up and asked her “How did you cope with this, three times over!? Why would anyone do this to themselves!?”
She laughed and said, “This too shall pass”. I remember yelling that she had “no idea how it feels!” I’m known for making perfectly coherent sense when very tired, as you can tell.
But, she was right. My mom almost always was. My daughter got better, the medication
finally worked and I got to sleep again for an acceptable amount of hours. With so many people around me right now, bravely entering the world of parenthood soon, it’s this one thing I want to tell them, when they ask me for survival tips
“This too shall pass”, should be stuck up on your fridge, so that you see it every day. Get it tattooed on your arm, if you must, to remind you, at 2am, that babies grow up, illnesses end and every baby eventually sleeps.
What advice do you have for new parents-to-be?
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