Reflections on Sick Kids and the Healing Power of The Ting Tings

I’m having a hard time remembering what it felt like to have three healthy children. I imagine it must have been idyllic -what with all the park visits and hopping in the car (fine, minivan) to take off for the grocery store on a crazy whim -we need milk? What the hell -let’s go get some! Oh and of course the sleeping through the night without anyone spiking a fever and needing to be held, administered to, spoon fed Tylenol. Let me close my eyes and try to recall that life, that carefree existence…nope…it’s gone.

The twins have some sort of respiratory illness that apparently sounds a lot worse than it is. “Plenty of fluids,” my pediatrician’s office told me this morning when I asked what to do. And do not give Tylenol and Motrin at the same time anymore. (I honestly thought this was what you do when your child has a high fever. I’m certain that my doctor told me I could layer the two but lesson learned: Don’t come to me for important medical advice because I will probably suggest Dum Dum lollipops, copious amounts of Dora and a Tylenol Motrin cocktail).

Last night sucked trying to get the babies to bed. Off and on, they’ve been deciding to scream bloody murder when it’s time to actually close the door and go to sleep. Right up until I walk out of their bedroom, they are perfect angels. We do the bedtime routine, get snuggled into cribs, music is turned on, I love yous are said, the door is closed and BOOM -screaming ensues. Although intellectually I know there is nothing wrong, my brain is not sending a memo to my nervous system and I get seized with stress. Every fiber in my being wants to run in (or make Jon go) and give comfort, find the problem (plastic Diego figure fallen out of bed) but mostly I biologically need to make it stop. Sometimes I’m able to let them cry which, again, intellectually, I know is the right thing to do because there is nothing wrong, people! And, yes, I realize that if I go in and whisper comforting words, give love pats and remind Matilda of the fabulous time we had at My Gym earlier in the day, it will reinforce that screaming brings mommy and I don’t want to do that (but oh, yet I do).

Yesterday was a bad one. I felt like an emotional hostage while Jon and I listened to Mattie scream for twenty minutes. When she did finally stop, although we were still tense, we ate chili and watched American Idol (Chicago, get your shit together). Now, in the old days, I would’ve been able to unwind with a few large glasses of Mama’s Unwinding Juice, but these days a Weight Watchers’ Fudge Cone has to do. I’m not gonna lie, it’s not the same because at 1 a.m. when Matilda was suddenly crying again and it turned out she was running a temp of 103.5, I was only too aware of what was going on and the stress barged back in full force. Fudge cones have a short stress relief half life.

Jon took the first shift with her while I slept fitfully knowing I’d need to be ready to relieve him at some point.

At 3 a.m., I lay on the couch with my slightly shaky, highly feverish, freshly puked out toddler and watched Mystery Diagnosis. It was the episode about a girl whose boob turned purple for any fans out there. Every so often, Mattie would open her eyes to little slits to hazily request “Dora Christmas!” or “Ting Tings.” Since there was no way I was going to miss the conclusion of Purple Boob (inflammatory breast cancer!), Mattie had to settle for a soft rendition of “That’s Not My Name.” It seemed to do the trick.

My baby dozed on my chest for another hour while I nuzzled into her sweaty forehead, stroking her hair, happy to just hold onto her, happy to be available and awake, so incredibly grateful to be sober. And there on the couch with almost no sleep, a sick baby and two other kids recovering from similar ailments, I found peace.

Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on January 20, 2010 7:35 pmUncategorized28 comments  


  1. Maria said,

    This is beautiful.

    As much as I hate it when my children are sick, there’s something viscerally satisfying about being the source of their comfort.

    | January 20, 2010 @ 8:26 pm

  2. rebecca said,

    My kids are just catching that same bug. They are coughing and it sounds so completely full of phlegm and gross and they are currently running low fevers. I hope they get over this soon. My poor little babies.

    | January 20, 2010 @ 8:40 pm

  3. Ellie said,

    Beautifully said. I’m in the throes of two sick kids now (vomiting, fever, strep throat, husband away, snowing – I feel like I live in a petri dish) and I fluctuate between wanting to fall on my sword, fall apart in a puddle of tears, and being SO grateful that at least I’m sober for it all. Odd to be so happy to be fully present to catch the projectile vomiting of my daughter at 3am.. but I was thinking “oh God, I wouldn’t have even woken up for this before… we would have been in serious trouble”.

    LOVE the lullaby. And I need to know.. what happened to Purple Boob?!

    | January 20, 2010 @ 8:42 pm

  4. Pamela @ 2 much testosterone said,

    Oh honey…. This is so very sweet and touching. I’ll be honest, I was getting a little “Another sober post?!”-y on you lately but this is a gem!

    | January 20, 2010 @ 8:43 pm

  5. Amanda Black said,

    What? no Motrin and Tylenol combo?… oops! I have been dosing my two sick kids with that for the past two days. Thanks for the heads up! My youngest (2 yrs) also thinks the Ting Tings have magical healing powers!

    | January 20, 2010 @ 8:48 pm

  6. Kir said,

    *sigh* I loved this post, mostly because in the midst of what was obvious sleep deprived chaos and worry, you found PEACE in your world.

    I am so happy for you for that.

    | January 20, 2010 @ 8:53 pm

  7. firsttimecaller said,

    I’m a long time listener and way too scared to tell my own tale. But I just wanted to thank you (and your commenting gang) for being my secret safe place to fall while I’m rebuilding my whole life. I admire your line about being grateful to be sober and hope to know that feeling myself someday. I want to be grateful like you, not mute and enraged and barely holding myself together like I am. I’m afraid that I’ll never feel anything but ripped off without my dear drink. I’m angry and lonely and can’t say outloud how much I miss my old life. Can I be a quiet new pal?

    | January 20, 2010 @ 8:56 pm

    • Momwith3boys said,

      I was right there with you firsttime until yesterday when I realized MAYBE the drinking does have something to do with my misery. I havent had a drink since Friday Jan. 15th and I am starting to feel better and see things clearer. Try is for a little while and if you slip – just try again. My mantra if from Dora in “Finding Nemo” – just keep swimming!

      | January 21, 2010 @ 5:21 pm

  8. Angry Julie Monday said,

    After hearing similar stories from friends lately, I’m quite glad that we only have one kid. I have two friends with 3+ kids, every other week someone is sick or they all area. It gives me complete anxiety.

    My kid has a history of fevers and febrile seizures from them. Alternate Tylenol and Motrin, every three hours. If the fever doesn’t break within 24 hours, time to go to doctor, urgent care, or ER.

    Sometimes, you just need to leave the house for an hour by yourself. Even if it is to go to Starbucks and TJ Maxx.

    and the Ting Tings can solve so many world problems. They are my primary ring tone on the Angry iPhone.

    | January 20, 2010 @ 8:57 pm

  9. Marinka said,

    why did the boob turn purple?!

    | January 20, 2010 @ 9:48 pm

  10. Aunt Becky said,

    I’m so fucking sick of sickness and being sick and sick kids.


    Purple boobs, eh? NOW THAT’S FUCKED UP.

    | January 20, 2010 @ 10:24 pm

  11. Cheryl said,

    Oh we SOOOO do the Motrin Tylenol combo, but you gotta SPACE ’em…3 hours Motrin, 3 hours later Tylenol. That keeps the fever from spiking to our She-Twin’s high fever vomitorium threshhold.

    We had a Zithromax, Orapred, Albuterol nebulizer rotation added to the Motrin/Tyl. combo this weekend too. Craziness.

    Hope all are feeling much better now…so happy to know YOU are. 🙂

    (Hey gal, keep a good thought for us—my husband’s cancer came back after 4 years clear like gangbusters…now we’re focused on giving it the beat down. Love any and all positive thoughts/energy/prayers…thanks, Stef.)

    | January 20, 2010 @ 10:33 pm

  12. Unplanned Cooking said,

    This is so touching. I’m right there with you; our baby has been sick, and neither of us has slept for a few nights, but there is something so special about nuzzling with a baby in the middle of the night when everybody else is asleep. Of course, it makes the day difficult :).

    | January 20, 2010 @ 10:34 pm

  13. Heather (qtberryhead) said,

    When my daughter used to spike 106 temps all the time, I was told to do the Motrin/Tylenol thing, and then I wasn’t, and then I was…it all depended on who I talked to. It seemed that no matter what I did, I was an idiot.
    The Tings Tings rock.

    | January 20, 2010 @ 11:11 pm

  14. Lisa Rae @ smacksy said,

    Nicely done, Mama.
    So lovely.

    | January 20, 2010 @ 11:51 pm

  15. HPSAT said,

    Thanks! I needed that! As my parenting skills are questioned by me daily… and I swear my fuse is shorter now than it was when i was drinking… but yes… being present is way better than not… and it was nice to have a conversation with my daughter and when she told me about her boyfriend – she is turning 6 – i calmly told her she was a tad bit too young for one… and maybe he shouldn’t be hugging her in the girls’ bathroom! 🙂

    | January 21, 2010 @ 12:19 am

  16. Cristin said,

    Poor kiddos!
    You know what else is torture? Missing the last 5 minutes of Mystery Diagnosis. Was it Lupus? Cancer? Retroperitoneal fibrosis with a side of Crohn’s Disease? I MUST FIND OUT!
    Love your blog. Keep it up!

    | January 21, 2010 @ 5:25 am

  17. Brianne said,

    I so appreciate your honesty and humor. Thank you.

    | January 21, 2010 @ 2:09 pm

  18. Ellen M said,

    Add me to the long list of mamas of sick babies who just cannot stay asleep for more than an hour at a time. On the one hand — poor thing! waking himself up with that horrible cough! On the other — poor me, up 7,8,9 times every night this week, and yet still somehow expected to make it to work on time. My stress relief this morning was a deli-made bacon-egg-and-cheese sandwich.

    | January 21, 2010 @ 3:07 pm

  19. Melissa said,

    Ugh, I can relate….my daughter was sick recently. She slept in my bed and I woke up (from my drunken passed out daze, to make matters worse) in a puddle of her puke in my hair, on the pillow, mattress, her hair, etc. I changed the bed and rinsed her hair but not mine. The entire next day I continued to take care of her and never got to wash my hair (or my shirt for that matter). If the breeze blew a certain way, I got a nice whiff of it juice-box flavored vomit. So lovely. Ah, the things we mommies will brave for our children’s comfort.

    | January 21, 2010 @ 4:20 pm

  20. Jill VT said,

    Just imagine in a few short months: summertime, sunlight, margaritas (OK, just messing with you!)…and our kids will stay healthy for WEEKS on end! Crazy, yes? The one good thing from all this sickness: the primal love and need your babies feel for you (and you for them!) I hope they lick this bug soon.

    | January 21, 2010 @ 6:59 pm

  21. seekingclarav said,

    I can feel your pain, and your peace. That was lovely. Good Mama.
    .-= seekingclarav´s last blog ..Loaded wishes =-.

    | January 21, 2010 @ 9:20 pm

  22. Anne DiNapoli said,

    WHY is it so damn hard to let them cry it out? Like many here, I can empathize. Loved your post and the happy ending.
    .-= Anne DiNapoli´s last blog ..Are you ready for some football….stories? =-.

    | January 22, 2010 @ 1:56 am

  23. Val said,

    Just beautiful! I know that peace, and you put it to words. Loved it.

    | January 22, 2010 @ 2:03 am

  24. Cynthia said,

    Nothing feels better than your child snuggled on your chest. Lucy has always been and still is, a snuggler. Which means, when laying down on the couch, my boobs naturally fall to the side because her head is smack dab in the middle.
    Beautiful post about being in the moment.

    | January 22, 2010 @ 12:47 pm

  25. robin said,

    Sometimes I wonder what greatness certain alcoholics get out of their recovery. And sometimes I think us Moms get the greatest reward when we get sober. We get our kids, 100%, all of them, every second. And it makes me so happy to be sober, taking advantage of their greatness.
    .-= robin´s last blog ..Drunk rainbows =-.

    | January 22, 2010 @ 5:12 pm

  26. Mommy on the Spot said,

    This is my life right now, too! Although I have not yet found my inner peace with this round. Instead, I feel guilty when my husband gets up in the middle of the night with (insert name of child who is sick this night). Why is that?

    I will think of this post tonight when whoever is sick tonight. Thank you for the inspiration.
    .-= Mommy on the Spot´s last blog ..“I feel like I am taking crazy pills!” =-.

    | January 22, 2010 @ 7:53 pm

  27. Kendra said,

    So sorry! I hope things have improved over there. I just got the kids’ galloping crud, so they’ve been informed that they have to stay healthy for at least a few days now, because Mommy hasn’t been this sick in years, and unless you want her screaming hoarsely at you while she wipes her nose and sneezes on you, you may want to be a little nicer than usual.

    But then they can go back to being their snotty feverish selves, and I’ll be a little more understanding.
    .-= Kendra´s last blog ..Deep Thoughts =-.

    | January 26, 2010 @ 5:50 pm

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