When Mama is sick

The past three months has dragged by very slowly. Our family has been fighting a bug that has affected everyone, one by one.

You know, the kind that the smallest kid gets and then passes it to two more and then just as we think we’re out of the woods, the one last healthy kid and adults get it too because a little toddler girl doesn’t know better yet except to keep coughing directly in our faces.

Once is hard enough, but this viral bug has gone around, merry-go-round, FOUR times.

There wasn’t a stop button.

It was a bug that it seems just about everyone has caught at some point this season but because our family has so rarely been sick – hardly even the sniffles – this one stretch of three months has been big for us.

You mamas and your little ones down with it now, I just want to say I know how you feel.

Because being sick and sleep deprived yourself when you have to take care of four sick kids and the house and three meals a day, sucks. It really does.

I could type that a few times over.

The months have crawled by with snot-filled, grubby tees and little feverish bodies and in-the-middle-of-the-night tepid baths and sponging cloths and dusty bookshelves and meals you’re glad for simply because they’re cooked, not for their flavours.

Before you know it the world gets so much smaller, filled with all of these things that don’t seem to end and the gaping isolation of quarantines, not being able to meet friends and their kids because you don’t want to pass germs.

But a season like this makes me appreciate so much more the silver lining that shines, of my mother who comes to help with meals twice a week and save the garden from becoming a jungle again.

Of friends who keep loving on me in their own special ways.

Of things that feed my soul and take my mind off being sick, like building a trellis for the vigorous passion fruit vine whose bright green grasping tendrils can’t wait for the fevers and coughs and colds to pass and stretch obliviously upward daily, higher and higher toward the sun, looking for something to climb on.

Yes, the razors in your throat can drive you completely to your knees especially when a sick baby’s been calling out every hour of the night.

You mamas cowering under the bedcovers hoping to stay there a bit longer after “waking up”, I get you. I do.

Cling on to the LOVE of God the Father. Because He is right down there with you in the trenches.

Cling on when the entire day stretches out before you like an unending blanket with the words “Mama, can I have ….”, “laundry”, “cooking”, “dishes”, “floors”, “homeschool”, and “poopy butts” crayoned in bright colours all over it.

Cling on when it feels you’re juggling everyone’s hats and your overworked husband is doing his level best because he’s down sick, too, and can’t but not do overtime on weekends.

Cling on when you feel you’ve gone nuts at some point – a few times.

Cling on and never for one moment believe the lie, “I am in this all alone.”

“I will never leave you, or forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)

Cling on to the HOPE in Jesus. Because He died, and rose again.

That day on which you entertain thoughts of throwing in the towel and going back to work in that carpeted, air-conditioned office without any runny noses or fevers or food crumbs or Legos in it – that day, those days, will pass.

And you can finally deal with the food rotting in the refrigerator.

And clear out the storeroom reeking of dead roaches piled up in the dark corners.

And find the strength to pull out the weeds in the garden and revel in the beauty of the flowering okra plants and pick so much overgrown spinach you will have pots of delicious hot soup to make them with.

“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me will live, even though they die.” (John 11:25)

when mama is sick

Cling on to FAITH in the power of the Holy Spirit. Because His presence makes all the difference in an otherwise bleak day.

How good it is in the midst of it all to feel with body, mind, heart and soul that Jesus the Good Shepherd is carrying you on His shoulder over the thorny brambly bushes through the dark valley to the quiet waters and greener pastures beyond.

How good it is to hear your four year old belt out “Bless the Lord, O my soul!” just as you struggle through the morning routine and as you wonder how you will make it through the day with that congested nose.

He is faithful, always faithful to answer, when you whisper over the pile of dirty dishes – “Let me be singing when the evening comes.”

So whisper along, won’t you?

 

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5)

 

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Sling it, wing it

I love my new sling.

The fabric is perfect for hot, tropical weather and the bright print reflects the beauty of traditional culture which I love.

Sling in car

This sling was given to me by a dear Indonesian friend who bought it on one of her holidays back to her home country a few months before Roo was born.

Recently my mother in law went to Jakarta and got me this other one.

Indonesian sling

These traditional slings may not be the most fashionable to some mamas but I love them!

They consist of a broad piece of cloth, 86cm wide and 248cm long. The material doesn’t come hemmed at both ends and you could use them as is if you don’t mind the raw edges, but I plan to hem them myself.

The baby is snuggled close to the front of your body and the sling is tightened simply by twisting one end several times and tucking it to form a knot just behind the shoulder. If the baby is carried behind, the knot is tightened at the front of the shoulder.

It took me about 5 attempts to get the knot right and Roo adjusted properly in it. I daren’t carry Roo on my back yet as she’s still so little. Traditional women don’t seem fazed by the size of their babies though; I am told that when carrying their newborns on their backs they just apply the same method of carrying them in front by ensuring that the cloth goes around the back of the baby’s head so that the baby’s neck is well supported.

Here I am with 11 week old Roo. She just had a feed and wanted to be held in her favourite position, but I had to get dinner on so into the sling she went!

Sling carry

My first sling (by Little Haven) is a modern version that is adjusted to fit using two plastic rings. I still use it whenever the traditional one is in the wash. I think the rings make it easier for first-time sling wearers to tighten the sling, but it’s simply a matter of practice before one finds it just as easy to use the traditional sling.

Sling (Little Haven)

My Little Haven sling was a gift from Sweet Man’s cousin when Puppy was born, before I knew anything about slings or their usefulness. As a first time mama, friends would ask me, “Would you like —- as a gift for your baby?”. My answer was always a tentative, “Umm, yeah sure …” because as far as baby care or baby gadgets were concerned, I was utterly clueless about what was necessary or handy and what wasn’t. Saying “Yes” to my first sling was one of the best things I ever did.

Almost 8 years on, the sling is still an indispensable part of my life. I can’t imagine how I’d manage without it.

A sling helps me …

Carry Roo and keep her happy and contented if she doesn’t want to be put down alone, while I homeschool or do chores.

Nurse Roo in public without drawing any attention to ourselves, unlike nursing covers which look like makeshift blankets with little ventilation. In a sling, people mostly think she’s just sleeping.

Put Roo to sleep anywhere, in almost any situation because it mimics the close comfort of the womb.

Feel easier during shopping trips with 4 kids as we don’t have to lug a stroller around. None of my babies have been happy for long enough in a stroller anyway.

A sling also helps me ….

Nurse Roo discreetly and still be able to gaze at her sweet little face. She can look up at me, too.

Hold two little kids’ hands, carry Roo in the sling, and cross the road at the same time.

Get some weight training!

Use a public toilet, with Roo right with me, when I’m shopping alone and there’s no one to help.

Swaddle Roo after she’s finished nursing in it and I don’t want to transfer her to a swaddle blanket (as that might wake her).

Sling wrap

These are just a few things I love about my sling, but the best would be that it helps me nurse Roo unnoticed anywhere, whenever we go out, and I don’t have to waste time expressing milk or using bottles.

The first few times I took Roo out to meet friends or family, people were simply amazed that she was so quiet. She’s had some uncomfortable moments in public like other babies of course, but during those times she was just happy being in her sling!

I haven’t been using the sling as often at home these past few weeks because of the extra hot weather and it can get pretty warm snuggled up in there. Of late the temperature has improved and I’m now using it everyday.

I love my two new Indonesian slings as they remind me of how easily and quickly traditional women get back into the swing of things after giving birth.

Some women in Sarawak villages are out working in the fields just two weeks after having their babies. They simply sling their newborns onto their backs like you would a backpack and get on with work!

Don’t you love that “I can!” attitude? Just do it, mamas!

 

How do you keep your baby happy for a good length of time while you work? Do you use a sling too?

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