Parenting While Sick Is A Whole New Level Of Hell

You haven’t known true misery until you’ve breastfed while throwing up.

Written by Kristen N. Winiarski
Little girl sitting on her white bed in cozy bright and warm kids bedroom with pastel green backgrou...
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Dealing with a house full of sick kids is hard. Getting sick yourself as a mom and still having to parent is hard. But taking care of sick kids while sick? Having to breastfeed a toddler while throwing up? That’s a whole new level of burnout, and it’s been a defining experience for parents the last two years — as I can all too well attest.

We don’t get sick often, but sometimes my husband brings illnesses home from work. And despite doing our best for two years, we all ended up with Covid-19. And when we did, it knocked our entire family out for practically the entire month.

I’d dealt with sick kids before, and been sick as a parent, but that was little colds, nothing like this. I was completely unprepared for what we were heading into, as Covid took each of us out, one after another. My 5 year old was the last — and a complete champ, by the way — but the 3 year old was another story.

It hit him before me, so I was a stellar mom — compassionate, patient — on his first day being sick. But when it hit me on his day two, I had a hard time trying to juggle his crankiness along with my own.

Have you ever breastfed while throwing up? I have. It’s no picnic. My son only nurses at night, and luckily the vomiting had subsided by then. But I was dehydrated, and because he was sick, he wanted to nurse more, especially overnight when we both felt our worst.

My husband and I worked as a team. When one of us felt worse, the other stepped up. Nevertheless, both my husband and I had to take time off, and, because I’m self-employed, I feel like I haven't caught up to my old pace. It's like I'm still feeling the effects of burnout even over a month later.

We found, once again, that place we went in postpartum: survival mode. We essentially watched movies for over a week straight, screen time rules be damned. The house stayed in a perpetual state of messy because no one was cleaning (to be fair, the kids weren’t making a huge mess, either). We had grocery bags on the floor to serve as additional garbages for used Kleenexes while my son and I stayed snuggled under a blanket on the couch half asleep most of the time.

We were all just resting as much as we could and trying to feel better. The pure exhaustion is no joke, but we all do the best we can. It’s really all you can do — and that’s okay.

Kristen N. Winiarski spends much of her days battling her kids' hangry moods with bacon and Cookie Monster impressions. She also encourages dance parties as P.E. whenever possible. Kristen started writing at just 10 years old and excels in writing about motherhood, history, classic movies and also writes fiction. You can find her at https://knwiniarski.com.