Seeing your baby sick is horrible. Our hearts go out to anyone with a child with a serious illness – you are heroes!
Our Annabelle came home from nursery on Tuesday and I naturally checked her back. Sometimes she gets eczema there and the previous week I had noticed a small rash. That rash had eased and almost disappeared over the weekend so we didn’t consider it was anything more.
As the evening continued the spots had got worse. And stretched further down her back. Annabelle then started to itch her head (well paw at it like some cute animal trying to get a fly). It seemed that in the space of a few hours our girl had gone from energetic to lethargic. Something definitely wasn’t right.
Of course we worried, Googled and called our parents. The outcome was becoming more obvious though – it looked like chicken pox. We gave her Calpol and Piritin before bed and tried to settle her. The settling did not go well. We tried everything. It didn’t help was that she didn’t want to be held or comforted so we were restricted to soothing from the sidelines.
Eventually she fell asleep. It was for 2 brief hours. The process of settling her and trying to comfort her went on all night. I took the first shift 12-3am and then Laura took over. We had her in the spare bedroom so we could at least lay with her and the other person could sleep. It was needed as I was heading to London for a two day conference (terrible timing right?!)
By the time Annabelle and Laura woke up I was on a train to London. Laura had thankfully called in sick.
Once awake Laura took our itchy, red, hot, blotching baby girl to the chemist where it was confirmed. Annabelle had chicken pox. Stocking up on calpol and calamine lotion Laura headed home. Thanks to the Instagram community we received a flood of messages of advice. Oat baths, socks filled with oats in baths, Head and Shoulders bubble bath, gels to ease itchy, keep her cool, feed her liquids, keep her hydrated. We did it all.
Well Laura did it all. My super hero of a wife, on three hours sleep, stepped up and gave our girl everything. Including the many, many hours of cuddles that were required. She cleaned up the constant puddles of drool that were flowing as pox/ulcers appeared on A’s tongue. Changed her clothes numerous times – partly as they were soaked but also to keep her cool. I was getting updates that were basically saying where the chicken pox were appearing – back, face, arms, hands, legs, chest, hair/head. By the end of day one our poor girl was covered.
The saddest part – Annabelle kept asking Laura to wash her hands to try and get rid of the spots, the poor kid hates having dirty hands.
She was lucky though. Seeing how badly other children get it she had a mild case.
On day two my Mum stepped in to let Laura go back to work – I was still in London 🙁
Mum took over with the cuddles and the drool mopping. Covered Annabelle in calamine despite the protests (which we overcame by putting The Wiggles on a mobile while we applied the lotion). She did the oat bath and tried every bit of food she could. All without success. They napped on the couch and by the time Laura came back she brighten enough to have a brief play.
When I arrived back at 9pm, after the epic napping Annabelle was still awake. I was elated, A was lifted. I was shown her new toy bus – a kind gift from a lovely friend – and even got to chase her around. It was as if the worst had passed. We were so relieved.
I may have only been 48 hours but it was a draining, emotional 48 hours. The days following saw some progression. Annabelle’s appetite was still limited. The main things she would eat included yogurts, fruit pots, pouches and milk. Although possibly the most heartbreaking thing was that she couldn’t find a way to breastfeed that didn’t hurt (we presume the sucking combined with ulcers wasn’t a good mix) and taking the bottle wasn’t much better.
On Thursday night Annabelle slept much better. We all did and it made a big difference. We all felt brighter.
Mum had her again on Friday and noted that she was brighter and more energetic. The spots were still all over but were starting to scab. A sign that the chicken pox was finished. We continued the baths and the calomine until the following Monday.
Sadly though sleep has remained elusive. Other than the respite on the Thursday night we didn’t get a consistent nights sleep fot 10 days. Before Annabelle got sick she would sleep 7.30pm – 6.30am consistently. We were getting 7.30pm – 11.30pm, working hard to get her back to sleep and then she’d wake up at 2, 3, 4 until one of us gave in and took her to the spare room. I know we were lucky to get that much sleep in the first place but not getting it was so hard. Fair play to any Mums/Dads/people raising kids who don’t get much sleep. I don’t know how you do it.
The following Tuesday our baby girl went back to nursery for a few hours to see how she went – the reports were positive. By Wednesday morning though we were woken by a poorly baby girl. This time she was burning up, full of the cold and coughing like mad. Her low immune system had meant she had picked up a virus.
As this wasn’t the first virus Annabelle has had we knew the signs and jumped into action. Calpol helped. Cuddles helped. I took a half day, my Mum arrived to help for half a day and we got through it. Thankfully the virus eased by the Friday but my goodness it had been a hard time.
We were also asked quite a few times why we hadn’t vaccinated Annabelle against chicken pox. It’s not routinely provided in the UK, in fact we didn’t even know it existed. After researching it is available for £150 if you choose to vaccinate but we don’t know anyone who has. Actually we know more people who have attended ‘chicken pox parties‘ (where you socialise with children who already have chicken pox as it’s super contagious) to ensure their children get it young (it’s deemed a mild childhood illness that becomes more severe as you get older). We did find out that in the USA, Australia and parts of Europe it is more commonly vaccinated against. Again not something we knew about!