14/08/2014 16:55 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Three Into Four: Coughing, Sneezing And Flu-Ing

Three Into Four: Coughing, sneezing and flu-ing

Diana's introduction into nursery school has brought with it many benefits. She ADORES it, she's making friends, discovering new interests and learning something every day. It's delightful to watch.

Also, D at nursery means that Liv and I getting to spend some time together à deux – for the first time ever, really - and it gives me a couple of hours to regroup and re-energise every day in a way that you simply can't when looking after a toddler (especially one who's not sleeping).

One thing that's making me really, deeply, unhappy about nursery, however? Since Diana started at the end of September, at least one person in our house – usually multiple people – has been ill.

Every. Single. Day.


When I sat in on D's first nursery session and saw all of the children happily playing, rivers of snot streaming down their smiling faces, I knew it was only a matter of time before D became a cesspool for germs.


Three days after D started, Liv began projectile vomiting on me (This happened at the school gate. Awkward). Thankfully, it was only a 24-hour tummy bug, but by the end of the week Diana had got
it and had to miss a day less than a week in. By the following week, it had wiped me out for a day and even D's daddy, who "never gets sick" and helpfully finds other people's illness a form of weakness and something to disparage, succumbed.

Looking after sick kids is heartbreaking and makes you feel utterly powerless. Cleaning up projectile vomit multiple times a day (something I'm a bit of an old hand at thanks to my beloved bulldog's gastrointestinal issues), adds another depressing layer to the situation.

Especially when your washing machine chooses to break that particular week.

Post-vomiting bug, I felt confident that we'd got our family illnesses out of the way early in the season and took D in for the new flu nasal spray vaccination that two and three-year-olds are eligible for as a safeguard, not expecting another bug to strike for months.

Naïve, inexperienced fool! You'd think I would have remembered the doctor's warning, when I brought Diana in with second bout of something in an insanely short period of time when she was a few months old and asked when things would improve. "When she finishes school," came the reply.

It only took a few days before the coughing started. First, Diana, then Liv. While coughing is standard fare on a pre-school playground, D's voice also sounded crackly, which I'm super paranoid about ever since an undiagnosed bout of tonsillitis that Diana had aged one, which looked like routine teething until Diana's voice cracked, then disappeared entirely – on a Sunday, of course – requiring me to take her to A&E to get antibiotics.

D's cracking voice this time around led me to book a doctor's appointment, which resulted in a strep diagnosis and a week of antibiotics for both girls. My throat was swabbed and a doctor called me to say that there was a growth but he wouldn't be prescribing anything and "we should let my body fight it on its own." (Side note: That is a telephone conversation you will NEVER have with a physician if you live in my native New York. You will be popping pills before they've confirmed the results of the culture).

Suffice to say, I wasn't hugely surprised when I found myself shaking and unable to get out of bed last week, suffering from a hideous flu bug. It doesn't help that I'm still breastfeeding Liv, something I find rather lovely except for the issue that it's basically a two-way, virus-swapping street between Liv and me.

Getting sick the whole time (and not really being able to take any medication for it) is the reason I stopped feeding Diana at eight-and-a-half months. After weeks of coughs and flus and tummy bugs and sneezing and weakness for one or the other of us, I just couldn't take anymore.

This past week of misery has helped me remember why.

When you can't leave your bed and are meant to be looking after two mobile children, things get tricky. The TV – and Bolshy, in my case – take on the role of life-saving, unpaid babysitters.

The menu shrinks to one dish – pasta, when you have the strength to boil the kettle – games involve playing "let's hide under the covers and snuggle for as many hours as possible" and we read books the entire time – D thankfully doesn't mind that I have no voice when we do it. She's too busy making up her own versions of every story.

D was very sweet this past week, thinking up ways to "make me better" ("Let me paint your nails, mummy!"), although now that I'm conscious again I can see that a week without her primary authority figure functioning has made her go off the rails a bit and she is pushing boundaries like never before. Or maybe that's just what three looks like?

While my household appears to be in a state of semi-permanent illness (both girls have coughs at the moment), D's flu jab and her father's (he got one for free at work) appear to be working, so far.

Which is why I'm ready to shell out £12.99 and get one for myself this week. Truth be told, I can't afford to be ill for more than about 15 minutes. Can any mum?

At any rate, Bolshy spent too much time snoozing to be a reliable babysitter...