Aw look, look at that beautiful new baby in your arms. Isn’t it cute, it’s perfect in every way. Fresh as a daisy and twice as cute. Savour that. Enjoy your maternity leave too, those are the golden days. Have you found a nursery yet? Somewhere fantastic for your perfect, unspoilt child to spend its days learning, playing, creating, getting messy and having fun. Have you?
What no one tells you, ok they may tell you, but you’ll fail to grasp the horror of it fully until it happens. What no one tells you is that your perfect baby will go to nursery and bring you back little gifts. How sweet. How generous. Not so.
The minute your bundle of joy starts mixing with other children, properly mixing, not just clapping hands in a circle at baby singing class, but full on 8 hours a day, they become industrial germ breeding machines. Their first six months at nursery will be spent with a runny nose, runny bum, the vomits and anything else that passes through. Our nursery is currently advising that D&V, Chicken Pox, Slapped Cheek and head lice are stalking the corridors and one child has been hospitalised with suspected viral meningitis, so we’ve all had alerts about that. It’s non-stop. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
As for me, I have thalessaemia which can mean I’m more susceptible to picking up bugs. But for those first six months after the bliss of maternity leave I was intolerably ill. Hacking coughs, stomach bugs, cold after cold after cold and the final straw, tonsillitis. I hardly slept those first six months.
It did get better, he’s built up a small amount of immunity now and he’s old enough to tell me how he feels and what hurts. This week he’s got a cough, cold and two burst eardrums. He’s got glue ear so we’re used to it, but the leakage from the bursts is gross. I won’t dwell but it’s gross.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the very bones of that boy and each time he gets ill I get the bonus of extra snuggles and cuddles. To be fair it’s not just germs he brings back, he toddles in clutching his finest works of art, biscuits and cakes he’s made and lovely little gifts like a flower he’s picked just for me. Those are the best gifts, and for that we’ll happily put up with all the germs he can throw at us and tell ourselves he’s busy building some immunity for when he goes to big school.
So as your perfect baby sleeps in your arms and you start to prepare to return to work, make sure your medicine cabinet is well stocked, bulk buy tissues, get your vitamins down you, eat your greens and prepare for germ warfare. You’re welcome.