Will this woeful pestilence ever be gone?

At 1.40am this morning my dreams were punctured by the sound of ear-splitting screams coming from the floor next to my bed.  I leaned over, my mind a fug, not sure exactly what was going on, and in my zombie-like state I picked up Piglet, who had rolled out of bed.

Rolled out of bed.

I know, I am a terrible mother.  This is what happens when you don’t follow the NHS safe sleeping guidelines, and you instead resolutely insist on co-sleeping with your breastfeeding toddler for your own selfish comfort and ease of slumber.  And the worst thing is, after the baby has rolled off the side of the bed and landed on a cold, hard bedroom floor in the middle of the night a few times, you don’t even notice it anymore, you just roll over, pick them up and plonk them on the boob to remind them that you are still there and this time, you will be the one to sleep on the outside of the bed.

This was exactly what I did.  After a minute or so, Piglet disconnected from the boob, as is his custom, and promptly started being violently sick, which is not.  It must have been a bad fall, I thought through the sleep-deprived haze.  It’s the shock.  I cleaned us both up, and paid the matter no further attention until the morning.

The morning arrived, and Piglet was not happy.  Again, this is nothing new.  I would be more surprised if he enjoyed his mother and her ever-comforting bosoms getting up at 6am and leaving him for twelve hours, sneakily substituting Granny in the bed in her place.  He got up, was promptly sick again, and this time there was an adjoining emission from the lower part of the digestive system to boot.  There was now no question about it, no it’s the shock of falling out of bed.  Piglet had caught YET ANOTHER STOMACH BUG.

It seems as though this has been approximately-without exaggeration-a fortnightly occurrence since Piglet started nursery.  That first year of his life, the year he was either at home with me or, later, with a childminder and just a handful of other children at most, he got sick approximately never.  There were colds, there were coughs, there was the Really Bad Cold he got at Christmas that had my mother, in her panic, threatening to call the doctor out on Christmas Day for a child that was merely a little hoarse, but there was no diarrhoea, and certainly no vomiting.

Aha, I assumed, it is I with my magical breastfeeding antibodies.  I am protecting my child from the onslaught of germs that the world wishes to throw at his intestines.  I am responsible for baby gut flora so impenetrable that all the plagues of childhood cannot touch him.

Well reader, I have learned not to be so foolhardy now, not to trust blindly in the wonders of breastfeeding and proclaim it to have preternatural powers of immunity, for the minute Piglet started nursery, all this changed forever.

It seems as though he is constantly picking up bugs, bugs that knock his gut flora out of kilter, and leave him screaming and shouting and pointing at the potty he has just vomited in with something between terror and anger.

“I thought breastfed babies were supposed to get LESS ill!” my mother will cry in despair, as though contrary to popular scientific opinion after a child turns one its mother’s breastmilk ceases to be of any nutritional benefit and instead turns into a toxin that weakens the immune system every few weeks and lets in any tiny, diarrhoea-causing Tom, Dick or Harry.

For a working mother such as myself, these frequent infections pose a problem not seen before in my working life: having to take time off even when not actually ill, in order to look after a dependant who is, all the while praying you won’t be next.

Sometimes I am next.  Since having a baby, I have been ill more frequently than at any other time in my life, thanks to an immunity-destroying combination of no sleep, breastfeeding, eating chocolate because I’m breastfeeding and therefore BRAP, I can eat what I want *performs Maury “you are not the father” style dance*, working long hours and no sleep again.  Repeat until exhaustion sets in and the microscopic terrors start burrowing into my small intestine and replicating at a high rate of knots.

So what is a mother to do?  Prevent a child from having any contact with his peers for fear of picking up another particularly virulent strain of Generic Sickness and Diarrhoea Disease?  Give up work? Accept that breastfeeding might not be a surefire route to one hundred per cent health at all times?

No, looks like I’ll just have to grin and bear it, and hope that all the constant use is developing a robust immune system for the challenging school years to come.  For both of us.

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36 Comments Add yours

  1. Ah this sounds so hard! My sister’s children caught, and still do catch, everything at nursery and it is such a juggling act with working and taking time off. Isn’t there some evidence that breast milk helps babies get better more quickly as the milk changes to help fight infections? Or perhaps not, I don’t know, and obviously that doesn’t help with the not catching it in the first place thing. Hmm poor Piglet, and you…this definitely deserves a bracelet surely!!!!? #kcacols

    1. Min says:

      I think so…that’s what I keep telling myself anyway!

  2. Mrs Tubbs says:

    Sorry to hear he’s been poorly and hope he’s feeling better now. We found the first year of nursery and school were terrible – we were all sick, all the time – and then they seemed to become robust and stop picking up ever germ going.

    1. Min says:

      I’m hoping that day comes soon. It seems as though everyone is in the same boat, and luckily (touch wood) Piglet has not been too poorly, it’s just annoying when he can’t go to nursery.

  3. Oh I relate to this so much. Have you read my post, The Childcare Hustle?


    I have 1yo and 3yo, both at nursery (One in baby room and the other toddler room) and my husband and I are teachers. They get germs from 4 different populations of children and if one catches something the other gets it too 100% of the time. We just had a week of chicken pox for 3yo, followedby half-term, then a week for 1yo- meaning I have missed so much work at school with Year 11 mocks so close. It is a nightmare.

    BUT when my son got to about two, he suddenly coped much better and got less ill- until his sister came along to reinforce the nursery germs. I am hoping when she hits two that they will both have developed immune systems of steel and I will be on easy street. Bound to happen. Hang in there. Hope your bubba has a spell of good health soon xx #KCACOLS

    1. Min says:

      Thank you. I’m just praying for that immune system of steel to develop soon! I will check out your post. Good luck with Year 11 mocks-we did ours just before Christmas. xx

  4. Pen says:

    Ah, yes. Cygnet only goes to nursery one day a week thanks to grandma the superhero which is just enough time for him to pick up an illness which he then needs a week to recover from. Repeat. Oh the joys. #KCACOLS

    1. Min says:

      Yep, ditto! Only he never seems to recover in time to go to nursery the next week. Today my poor brother had to look after Piglet on his day off! x

  5. wendy says:

    Oh no, sorry to hear he has been so poorly. Sickness bugs are the worst! My boy always get ear and chest infections, I don’t think I could cope with stomach bugs on top of that. Go you for breastfeeding past a year, I felt the same as you that my boobs could protect Leo from all germs. Obviously they didn’t! Hope Piglet is feeling better soon.

    Thank you so much for linking this up to #KCACOLS. Hope to see you again next Sunday x

    1. Min says:

      Touch wood Piglet has not had any ear or chest infections yet, only repeated sickness and diarrhoea. Everyone seems to be in the same boat with children catching one thing or another repeatedly for the first few years, so I guess I’ve got a lot of it still to come.

  6. Jennifer says:

    Ugh! This is also my life so I absolutely feel you. Stomach flu terrible. Just terrible. I actually thought about taking stress leave this year because both my two have been ill so much I’m practically never able to work! One thing that sort of helped my older one was learning to drink from his own cup. At nursery they seem to “borrow” each other’s cups and share germs that way, along with the usual drooling and sneezing over one another! Worth a shot? Hope your little one starts feeling better soon. Visiting from #fartglitter

    1. Min says:

      Aha, that makes sense. I bet it’s the shared cups that are doing it! Although to be honest it could be anything. The other day when I picked him up from nursery, Piglet was sticking a dummy in another child’s mouth. God knows who the dummy belonged to. Oh well, this too shall pass!

  7. Robyn says:

    Fingers crossed that Piglet soon develops a cast-iron stomach in response to all these little bugs! The first time we went to a playgroup my toddler developed a cold later in the week, it was tempting to write off playgroups for ever and keep him in the family bubble, but I don’t want him to grow up a weirdo, haha! So tough that work almost always means daycare, almost always means sickness, almost always means time off work.

    1. Min says:

      Yes it’s a vicious circle, isn’t it? Sometimes I feel like I’m paying for him not to go to nursery.

  8. Yucky. I feel the same way except its more with colds and the like over here. Touching a lot of wood, don’t want to starting getting tummy bugs now!
    Feel better little one x


    1. Min says:

      Thanks-I think he’s on the mend now. Until the next time!

  9. Oh dear, this must be really tough on both of you… DT started nursery at the beginning of January, and I was expecting perpetual sickness, but as yet *touches wood and prays* he’s been ok. But it’s early days, it’ll probably hit us in a tidal wave of vom soon…I was also ill a lot in the first year of DT’s life, and I’m surprised he wasn’t more ill than he was. Thank god for my mum in that time!
    It’s one of the things that I didn’t think about much while I was pregnant-how much they can get ill. It must be really hard when you’re trying to hold down a job too. I hope Piglets gut become super strong soon! Thanks for sharing with #bigpinklink

    1. Min says:

      I didn’t think about it at all when I was pregnant, but then I didn’t think much about any of the realities of having a child. Hope you avoid all the illness. I get ill a lot more too-I think it’s the combination of Piglet’s bugs and no sleep!

  10. Silly Mummy says:

    Oh dear! We haven’t had to contend with nursery yet, but eldest will be going in September to prepare for school the next year. I dread to think what she’ll get! I’m putting down chicken pox as a given! Nits is something I really dread too – just because it is so much work to sort out. Seriously contemplating getting the preventative stuff, despite cost! My eldest missed being in the first group for rotavirus vaccinations by literally 2 weeks. Born 2 weeks later she would have had it. But my youngest has had it. So it will be interesting to see if she does actually get less sickness bugs than her older sister, I suppose. #KCACOLS

    1. Min says:

      Piglet has had the rotovirus jab and is still breastfed, but yet he still seems to get ill all the time. I guess it’s unavoidable. To be fair though, none of his bugs have been too awful (TOUCH WOOD).

  11. I’m going through the exact same thing at the moment and it is a nightmare. Sienna started nursery in February and since then she has been unwell on and off which is just very hard to cope. She has a cold and a cough that don’t want to go away at all and last weekend we got the horrible stomach bug! Just awful so yes I understand you very well. I also breastfed both my girls too. In fact Sienna is still breastfeeding at almost 19 months but I think it does protect them but not for ever. After the year it doesn’t do much. My girls seem better this weekend so fingers crossed this stays that way. I hope your baby is better soon. This last about 2 years until they build their immune system. So unfortunately there will be more to come 🙁 Let’s just hope that there are not too many though. Thanks so much for sharing this at #KCACOLS. I would love to see you again on Sunday! 🙂 x

    1. Min says:

      Thanks for commenting. Piglet is better now, but unbelievably I have been feeling awful! If it’s not one it’s the other. I think I had this idea that with my mighty breastmilk Piglet would be protected forever, but clearly not! Will try and link up again this week.

  12. Aww… I hope Piglet is feeling better soon. It is really hard isn’t it. My Evelyn hasn’t even started nursery yet and she keeps getting colds from his brother from school. It is so not very nice and feels a little helpless when all you can do is feed them paracetamols and all other meds around the clock until they eventually get better. I’m not very looking forward sending her off to nursery in May. Big cuddle to Piglet. xx Thank you so much again Min for linking up with us on #FabFridayPost xx

    1. Min says:

      Thanks, he is better now, but I’m not feeling 100% so it’s always one of us! Hope Evelyn settles well at nursery and doesn’t catch anything.

  13. Oh I remember this well. For the first few months after the little lady started nursery she was sick what felt like every week, which meant that like you I had to take time off work. At the time it felt like all the time and was very difficult to balance parenting and working, but then at some point their immune systems catch up and everything goes back to some sense of normality. It’ll happen, just hold in there 🙂 Emily. Thanks for linking up to #MarvMondays again!

    1. Min says:

      Thanks. I keep telling myself that sooner or later, his immune system will improve, and this too shall pass. Always useful to hear from mums who’ve already been through it! Thanks for commenting.

  14. Life as Mum says:

    Oh bless. Hope he is better now. They can catch many things from nursery/school
    Thank you for linking up to #justanotherlinky

    1. Min says:

      Thanks for hosting! Yes, he’s fine now. He even managed to go back to nursery today, thank goodness.

  15. Sarah says:

    Ahhh sounds terrible. Sick in the middle if the night is never a good thing! My little girl has recently started nursery, so far no sickness. I hold my breath. Hang in there, let’s hope Piglet develops a really strong immune system! Thanks for linking up to #FabFridayPosts

    1. Min says:

      Thank you, I hope he starts getting a bit more robust soon.

  16. Sorry to hear he’s been so poorly. And it’s very true that whatever they get we will most likely get. And since my sons have been at nursery they pick up every bug or cold going. Thanks for linking up to #justanotherlinky xx

    1. Min says:

      Yep, sounds just like Piglet! x

  17. Oh yuck, poor you both.
    When I was childminding, I looked after two brothers who went to nursery 3 days per week and to me for 2, they used to bring bug after bug with them and share!
    Hope those immunities kick in soon!

    1. Min says:

      Thank you-Piglet is a lot better now, so we seem to be in a well phase. Long may it continue!

  18. I hate hate hate stomach bugs and I am sorry to hear piglet has been sick again poor you and poor piglet. I hope it is over soon. It seemed like my kids also picked up loads of things from nursery. TY for linking up with #FamilyFun ?

    1. Min says:

      He’s OK now-this was written a while ago. I’m hoping that he won’t pick any more bugs up. It’s just one after the other! Thanks for hosting and commenting.

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