The Hazards of Daycare

Jaap Vermeulen, Jacoplane in a Neonatal intens...

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Little Miss is sick.  Again.  As I type this and begin to prepare in my mind all of my complaints about her runny, snotty nose, her hacking cough that nearly chokes her several times a day and the diarrhea that forced my husband and I to run a relay race between our offices, meetings and home today, I realize that things could be so much worse.  A mild week-long virus is nothing to complain about when some parents spend their days (and the ever-long nights) in NICU, wondering if they’ll ever get to hold their little one close again.  Others barely get to meet their child before something goes wrong and their lives are turned upside-down in turmoil.  Some parents live in constant fear that their currently healthy child will have a relapse at any moment and end up back in the hospital.  I honestly have it very good, and my complaining is ridiculous and almost insulting, even to myself, when I think about it like that.

The fact remains that my beautiful daughter is sick way more frequently than I would like, and more than seems normal.  When the daycare called this morning to tell me she needed to go home and couldn’t come back until Monday (they have a 48-hour rule when a child has diarrhea), I almost cried. 

What am I doing wrong?  Should she eat more?  Should I give her less milk and more water?  Am I using the after-meals washcloth too many times before washing it and using a clean one?  Should I wipe her hands with sanitizing wipes throughout the day?  Is our house really THAT dirty?  Does she have an immune system issue we should be treating?  Is there something the doctors missed when she was born?  Did she contract pneumonia from the little boy whose lung collapsed earlier this week?  Is her lung going to collapse?!?

Call me ridiculous, but as I finished what I was doing, gathered my things and headed to the car to go pick Little Miss up from daycare, these are the questions that slammed into each other as they frantically spun around my mind in a panic. 

I made an appointment to take her in to see the doctor (he was, surprisingly, available within two hours after I called), and the verdict was, as I’d predicted once the logical part of my brain took over, a mild virus.  It is one the doctor called a “typical daycare virus” that many kids get and just have to fight their way through as usual. 

I knew I had to ask about her immune system, but part of me was scared of the possible answers and another part of me felt embarrassed, like an overprotective, freaking-out new mom.  So I asked the first question that came to mind.

“Is she getting sick so much because that’s just what babies do?” I couldn’t meet the doctor’s eye.  My irrational side was feeding me all sorts of fears about what would happen if he said no.

Instead, he said some things that will probably put my mind at ease for years to come.

“Daycare kids spend almost the same amount of time being sick throughout the year as they do being well,” he said.  “That’s the down side, but the great thing about that is that by the time they’re in preschool, their immune systems are rock solid and they can fight virtually anything.”

Relief, I’m sure, showed in every freckle, scar and pore on my face.  Little Miss is normal.  I’m not doing anything wrong (although I’m sure some moms would argue I am – I’m working and forcing Little Miss to be exposed to these things at daycare), and, as is the truth about everything relating to parenting, this, too, shall pass.

I only wish someone would have warned me about this BEFORE the panic had time to set in.  Perhaps I need to search the market for a daycare handbook or instruction manual so I know what to expect over the next two years until Little Miss is ready for preschool…when her immune system will rock my world.

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One thought on “The Hazards of Daycare

  1. Your doctor is totally right. When I taught preschool, the kids who had been in daycare before were much healthier than the ones who had never been exposed to anything. They’re going to get exposed at some point, at least this way she won’t remember it! Also, as a teacher/childcare provider it was always so hard to have to call parents to pick up their kids…they feel for you and the chaos that having to come get Kayla causes.

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