By Tracy, Managing Editor
Summer isn’t just a break for me, but it’s a break for Abby. A break from daycare.
Don’t get me wrong, she hearts going to school. In fact she’s been reminding me about it all summer as she keeps saying a couple of her friends’ names along with her favorite teacher’s name. In fact, the other afternoon as we were talking about our day, while snuggling together before her nap, Abby said she wanted to go to “cool (school)” and “pay (play)” with her friends and build “yegos (legos)” with them. So obviously she misses it. But I don’t miss the sickness, and I don’t think she misses that part either.
A major part of daycare is how much Abby gets sick. It all started with innocent colds and constant nose wipes, but since Abby was blessed with RSV just in time for her first birthday, how her body dealt with illness became really bad. Like momma in a constant worry over her breathing really bad. Like the other kid in the infant room who got it ended up in the hospital really bad.
RSV did a number on her lungs. We were told it could take up to 6-12 months for her lungs to fully recover. And it’s a virus, so no meds could make it go away. All we could do was treat the symptoms. What that meant was that anytime she got the smallest cold, the cough and the wheezing would return. For months we were alternating Albuterol breathing treatments with steroid breathing treatments, sometimes every 4 hours (back to those sleepless nights), all the while crossing our fingers that she wouldn’t end up with asthma as 30% of kids who get RSV develop.
We were making rounds to the doctor’s office 2-3 times a month, sometimes for scheduled appointments, and other times for walk-in clinic visits because of all that wheezing and the fears that go along with it. (The receptionists stopped ID’ing me because we became such a permanent fixture in their waiting room.) And just about every time we went, they also discovered ear infections and treated the eye goop that seems to come with baby/toddler sickness.
It was one hot mess.
Finally in March we were referred to get Abby tubes in her ears. She’s had a couple colds since then, but the tubes have helped with the ear infections.
And in June we were fully scared out of our minds because Abby’s constant coughing would not go away. We were sent for blood work to see if she had allergies. (This came back negative, though blood allergy tests aren’t the best and Abby is too young for a full work up.) She was put on reflux meds because a bad case of it could be causing phlegm to develop in her lungs. We were sent to have her tested for cystic fibrosis (cue hysterics), which came back negative. And we decided to rehome our dog right before a referral to a Pulmonologist, and vacuumed every inch of our home.
And all of this was all going on while school for me was in session. I think I ended the school year with 1 paid day off.
By the time we got to the specialist, Abby’s coughing ceased. It was just about summer time. Colds stopped running rampant in daycare. And well, Abby no longer had dog dander to deal with. The consensus was to wait it out and see, along with an order to ween her off breathing treatments. Wait for her to return to daycare. Wait for the fall/winter season to commence, where germs proliferate. Wait to see if a return visit is needed, when as asthma diagnosis would most likely be confirmed.
In the meantime, summer has been glorious. The only runny noses to wipe are ones from toddler tantrums. The only sneezes to say “bless you” to have been for me as I’ve all of a sudden developed allergies. And the only coughing has stemmed from a drink going down the wrong way.
But in two weeks I go back to work. (I think. I probably should check on that.) Back to that germ infested place Abby goes.
I knew about all of this before she started daycare. In fact, my pediatrician reminded me on several occasions about how many more times Abby would be sick versus a kid not in daycare. (Thanks. My momma guilt really needed that.) And I found this statistic from a doctor responding to this topic on a babycenter.com expert post: “On AVERAGE, kids in daycare have 10 colds year. That means some have more like 12-14. It takes 2 weeks to get over them usually so that means a kid in daycare has (sic) about one a month if not more!!” And I’ve also been told by several people, on several occasions that once Abby is school age, her immune system will be better equipped to deal with germs flung her way. Apparently it’s supposed to provide me with some sort of solace. Maybe I will be grateful for this when she’s older, but now, I’m just tired.
I’m tired of the constant doctor bills. I’m tired of the time off from work we have to take (mostly me because (A) I’m Abby’s world and she only wants me when she’s not feeling well and (B) The hubs’ job can get pretty hectic during sickness season.). I’m tired of having to throw together last minute, crappy sub plans when Abby starts running a fever and/or barfing at 6pm at night.
Part of me wonders if daycares could do better. Part of me wonders if they had a smaller ratio of kid to teacher then there would be more eyes to watch the germ sharing. Part of me wonders if said smaller ratio would result in kids getting their noses wiped more readily. (I’ve walked in to pick up Abby on several occasions wanting to wipe another kid’s snotty nose. But that would be crossing a line…right?) Part of me just wonders.
Don’t get me wrong. As a teacher I’ve grown to appreciate all that Abby is exposed to, besides those buggies. When I pick her up, I am handed a sheet of paper that tells me what the learning target was for the day and how it was demonstrated, along with detailed notes on how she did practicing her motor skills kicking a ball, how much she giggled and enjoyed doing the hokey pokey, how well she sat during story time, how snuggly she was with her favorite teacher, how she was obsessed with trying to ride a tricycle outside, how she ate three servings of strawberry yogurt for snack, and how she stood up for herself by squawking at another kid trying to take away her toy. And I just die of cuteness as Abby says goodbye to her friends and gives them hugs and blows kisses.
I just wonder, though, if daycares weren’t so concerned with making the most money and would put just one more teacher in the toddler room, what would happen to the germs. Would mouthed toys from ill kids be taken away a lot sooner to lessen the spread of germs? Would snotty noses get wiped a lot sooner? Would Abby get sick less? Would I get sick less? (My Abby really has learned how to share just about everything with me.)
I know that life isn’t perfect, but couldn’t it be just a tad better? Couldn’t the stress that comes with being a working mom lessen just a smidgen?
EDIT: We haven’t completely been without sickness in my home over the summer. As the school year ended, I started to get phantom fevers. After a month of being poked and prodded and scared out of my mind with referrals to specialists with the word “oncology” in their titles, it was discovered that all I had was mono. And thankfully it was discovered before having to see said specialists. And really, I was glad it all happened during the summer because I have no room to take sick days for me. They are reserved for Abby.
(And if you’re a nonworking mom reading this post, please don’t tell me if my kid wasn’t in daycare I wouldn’t have to deal with all of this. I’ve made choices for my family. It comes with sacrifices. All choices come with sacrifices. No judgments please. I’ve got enough momma guilt floating around in my head for that.)