It was only a few weeks ago I was thinking, ‘I haven’t awarded myself a Mama Badge in ages. Thankfully, there hasn’t been anything so momentous, or awful or challenging that I felt it warranted it.’
Oh Amie. When will you learn? Thoughts like this only tempts the Gods of Parenting…
Day 1: prepare the battle stations
“Hello, is that Little Miss’ Mummy? This is The Nursery. I’m afraid Little Miss has the initial signs of chickenpox, you’ll need to come pick her up.”
It all made sense; we’d had a rough weekend, she hadn’t wanted to eat (very unusual for our little gannet!) and had been up at 4:30am on Sunday (ga!). I’d thought she was teething, but suddenly the it all fell into place.
I prepared for battle.
- Calpol? Check.
- Baked beans, eggs and some other Little Miss’ favourites? Check.
- Plenty of tea and coffee? Check.
- Chocolate biscuits? Check.
*NB: these are for me. Not Little Miss. Nurse Mama needs her fuel.
Just needed Calamine lotion from the pharmacy and we were good to go. (In actual fact, our pharmacy recommended a chickenpox cooling gel instead as it doesn’t dry them out as quickly, making them less itchy – apparently.)
FYI; according to NHS Choices chickenpox usually appear in clusters on the tummy and chest, face, scalp, behind the ears, arms and legs. Basically, they are everywhere. Little Miss went on to have them in her mouth, her ears, on the palms of her hands and all over her vagina as well. Let the good times roll!
They first appear as a group of three or five, often on the tummy, almost like small red pimples, then will start to spread. These pimples become fluid filled blisters that eventually dry out and form scabs. (Read more about the chickenpox virus, symptoms and treatment on the NHS website.)
When I picked her up, Little Miss had about five spots on her torso and was tearing round the nursery as usual, excited to show me the Easter basket she had made. Frankly, she didn’t seem ill at all.
Day 2: false hope
Little Miss woke in high spirits with only a couple more spots here and there. I
smugly optimistically stupidly thought perhaps we’d have it easy, ‘a light dose,’ and I’d be able to get some work done during nap time.
But nap time never came…
The calm before the chickenpox storm: chilling in the garden with tea and crumpets, before the fever hit and the itching began.
We had a lovely morning. The sun was shining, Little Miss had me bird watching at the bottom of the garden and we made bird feeders to hang in the trees. We had tea and crumpets on the patio and eventually, thinking I’d have worn her out, brought her in for a nap so I could log into my work emails.
But when I changed her diaper I was shocked to find a lot more spots had appeared during the morning, particularly in the diaper region. And without the distraction of the garden, she seemed to realise she actually didn’t feel too well at all.
Her fever kick in, the itching began and every hour, I swear more spots appeared before my very eyes.
By bedtime, she was beside herself. She hadn’t eaten since our crumpets in the garden (how long ago that felt) and she just wanted to be held.
Bath time was the happiest I saw her. The pharmacist recommended adding 5 teaspoons of sodium bicarbonate to her usual bath water (no soap or bubbles) to ease the itching twice a day. It definitely did the trick, though the effects were sadly short lived once she was out of the bath.
We ordered a take-away but before it had arrived she was awake again. We brought her down to sit with us to try and distract her from the itching and calm her down.
I’d had about three mouthfuls of dinner when she started throwing up. Around 10pm, she finally just collapsed on me, exhausted.
Day 3: hell
Around midnight, she was up again.
I think we must have the only child in the world who doesn’t like sleeping in their parents’ bed. At times like this, when you’re dead on your feet and your arms can’t take much more holding (she’s getting really heavy now she’s two!) I feel very envious of those parents who’s kids want nothing more than to snuggle under the duvet with Mama or Daddy and dose at their side…
We tried one of us sleeping in her room, but she didn’t want that either. She wanted to be held but the warmth set the itching off. Basically, nothing was right.
She threw herself round the cot, desperate to ease the discomfort and eventually was sick again – though there wasn’t really anything left in her system.
We were shattered. The only other time I’ve seen her in such a state was a year ago when she had a particularly bad reaction to the MMR vaccine.
Around 4am, exhausted, we rang NHS Direct and asked for advice.
Vomiting and drastic behavioural changes are a sign of complications, such as meningitis. (You can read more about chickenpox complications on the NHS website.) While we were on the phone, in one of her more violent ‘fits’ to rage and discomfort, she hit her head quite hard and went limp in the OH’s arms. It was only for a moment, but it was long enough.
We yanked on some jeans and a hoodie and headed for A&E.
Of course, by the time we got there, she was fine. She charmed the receptionist, was good as gold for the nurses and gave the doctors her most dazzling smiles, even making them laugh. We were kept in for observation for five hours but eventually they agreed, there was nothing wrong with Little Miss apart from chickenpox.
Little Miss fell asleep on the way home. I too fell into bed utterly spent. The OH, on the other hand, who had a major project launching that week (nice timing Little Miss) went downstairs, made some coffee and jumped on a conference call. How he survived that day without a nap I still don’t know.
We’ve been told since that day three is the worst.
We can confirm, day three is by far the worst.
When Little Miss woke up, we mainly watched movies. My mum brought her some stickers and a note pad, which she was quite taken with. But she only had the energy to play with them for a short time before she was lying on one of us again.
You know a toddler’s really ill when they can’t even manage jelly…
The OH made her some jelly (recommended by the doctor as a way to keep her hydrated) in hope of tempting her to eat something. She was very pleased with her “wibby wobby” but all she could manage was a few mouthfuls. You know a toddler’s ill when they turn down jelly.
She didn’t eat dinner, and after her bath, fell asleep in my arms in her towel utterly exhausted from the night before. We decided not to try and wake for her bottle; she was dead away already and we even managed to get her into her pjs without her so much as flinching.
Day 4: light at the end of the tunnel
On day 4, she woke up a smidgen brighter. She was still itchy and lethargic, but she seemed genuinely disappointed she wasn’t able to bring herself to eat more than half her usual portion of scrambled eggs and she managed to do all the stickers Nina had brought her the day before.
She still wouldn’t nap during the day as usual and to be honest, with the itching, I didn’t push it as I didn’t know how I could stop her scratching her spots (which we were starting to turn to scabs) if she was in the cot without supervision.
Around 4pm, she fell asleep next to me on the sofa (I watched at least five minutes of My Little Pony before I realised I could have been doing anything other than watching god forsaken My Little Pony!).
It was also on Day 4 our internet went down. All we saw of The Land Before Time was was the opening credits before it all went dark… After a long conversation with Virgin, it became clear we were going into the Bank Holiday, in quarantine, without Netflix or Apple TV… the horror!
That night, Little Miss managed a relatively decent night considering. She drank all her bottle (unlike day 3) and went to sleep almost the instant I put her in the cot. We were up and down a few times in the night, mainly to change her diaper because the wetness bothered the spots on her bum or to apply cooling gel to her spots in the night. It was a far cry from the night before.
Day 5: a new dawn
Quarantine lasts until every last spot has scabbed over. But having only left the house in five days to go to A&E, I was suffering somewhat from cabin fever.
Little Miss was pretty much completely scabbed over by day 5- she seemed to have a bit of a whirlwind recovery after traumatic day 3. Being Good Friday, we were both off work and it was glorious weather. Spring had finally arrived. So we were a bit naughty and took her to the garden centre to buy some plants and seeds to sort out our little garden for the Summer. We simply made sure she didn’t come into contact with anyone else that was there, particularly the old folk.
Fed up of quarantine: by day 5 Little Miss’ energy was coming back so we enjoyed some family fun in the garden.
She really enjoyed potting our plants with us and the change seemed to do her good, though she still tired quickly and slept for nearly three hours that afternoon after such an exciting morning.
But my heart breaking moment of the week came on day 5.
We were playing dress up. Little Miss was twirling in a tutu and asked me to open the wardrobe to look the mirror. Thrilled she was a bit more like her old self, I obliged, not thinking.
As soon as she saw her reflection her face fell. One of the worst affected areas for Little Miss was around her mouth and she hadn’t seen how bad they were until that moment. Her hand flew to her face shocked. She so clearly understood this wasn’t how she was supposed to look and I tried to explain that it was ok and they would go away soon. I felt awful and nearly cried at her little face falling.
She managed to eat a bit more each day as the weekend went on and returned to nursery as usual after the bank holiday.
A week later, she still had some scabs on her body but on other than that, she was pretty much right as rain.
Sadly, she has picked a couple of the scabs, mainly on her face unfortunately. Apparently Bio Oil helps reduce the scarring, so we’re lathering her in Bio Oil after her bath each night. I guess only time will tell if this actually does the trick…
See the other Mama Badges (and Dad badges) we’ve awarded ourselves.