Well, That Baby is sick. And I have to ask, is there anything worse in the job of parenting than to sit and watch your child struggle while they are sick, and know that there’s very little you can do to help them? Knowing that you basically just have to sit by and “let it run its course”, essentially?

It has to be the hardest part of parenting. Feeling helpless. Watching while your child looks helpless.


Stinkerbelle has been hit pretty hard by the cold that came home with BDH last week. She’s got a fever, and she’s coughing and sneezing, and her nose runs like a tap… all the usual stuff.

But when it is 2 am, and you have been listening to your child cough and sneeze and moan for an hour, not knowing what to do to help them — or, more accurately, knowing that there isn’t much you CAN do to help them at this age — is a terrible feeling.

You worry. You go over “worst-case” scenarios in your head (this being the time of H1N1 and all). You agonize over little things: Should I get her up and give her some Tylenol? Or will she go back to sleep? Can she breathe okay? And a million other little thoughts pass through your head.

So not only is your child sleeping fitfully at best, but you are not sleeping at all.

Last night, around 2:30, we made the decision to get up and see what we could do to help That Baby. She sounded pretty miserable. And she has never had a cough before — and BDH has decided that there are few things that sound sadder than a little person coughing in the dark in their room. So we got her up, changed her diaper, took her temperature, changed her into something cooler to help her fever, and gave her some Tylenol and a bottle. And then we tried to settle her back in for the night.

I don’t know about other kids — maybe all kids are the same — but That Baby sleeps so lightly when she is sick. Normally, we rock her to sleep and then put her in her crib, and she sleeps like a log through it most of the time. But when she is sick, it seems like she is barely dozing. Every time we tried to move her from arms to crib, she would wake up.

So, around 3:30 or quarter to four, I made the decision that I would just sit up with her. That Baby has a rocker-slash-recliner in her room (actually it’s an Ikea Poang chair — putting this chair in her room was INSPIRED in the parenting department, I have to say) so BDH got me a quilt, and I sat with That Baby in my arms and rocked her. She slept, and when she stirred I could just rock her back to sleep. And I slept some, too — because those chairs are SO COMFY. BDH came in at 6:15 or so to relieve me, and he rocked her while I went back to bed and crashed for an hour and a half.

That Baby woke up so miserable. So tired. So hot. We got her some breakfast and a bottle, but she was miserable. Not even Elmo and Abby cheered her up.

And if you want your heart ripped out and stomped on, put a tired, sick toddler down and watch her take tiny, shaky little steps. She looked SO helpless and small, I just wanted to run over and scoop her up.

But we got through the morning, with That Baby sitting on my lap quietly, watching Baby Einstein and clutching a DVD case, while I continually mopped her little nose. She didn’t complain.

And after a bottle, some Tylenol, and MUCH convincing on my part, Stinkerbelle is now napping for what I hope will be a good long snooze. Or the first of a couple short snoozes. Whatever. I am not fussy.

I can understand totally why parents are rushing to emergency rooms all over the country this flu season. It’s one thing to feel helpless while your child feels sick, but they are so totally vulnerable — you don’t want to mess around with anything so potentially dangerous. You would do anything you can to protect them.

This is just a cold. I cannot imagine the strength it takes for a parent to see his or her child through a life-threatening illness. I guess it must be like this, but to the millionth power. And here’s hoping I never find out.

Helpless little ones, helpless-feeling parents… how DO people survive childhood to adulthood?

6 thoughts on “Helpless

  1. Oh that is just the sucks! Poor baby! And poor Cinn!

    I really hope everyone is feeling better soon.

  2. Hope little one feels better soon and mom and dad can get some (what sounds like) much needed rest.

  3. Ach! So sorry she is sick. Seeing your child sick is really the worst. Hoping for a speedy recovery!!

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