As our Valentine’s festivities started to wind down yesterday, Olive began to get sick. Runny nose, sneezing fits, tiny body wracked with coughs every five minutes – the whole nine. She bunked in with me last night so I could keep an eye on her temperature, and we both had fitful sleeps interrupted by her coughing. I think she must be pretty achey as well , because she seems to have trouble getting comfortable – you know that achey-bone feeling that seems to accompany winter colds? Poor kid.
The weirdest part of this whole thing is that she is so quiet. Anyone who has spent more than five minutes around Olive usually comments on how verbal she is. (By the way “verbal”, for the non-parents among us, is somewhat of a euphemism, kind of like when you call out of control kids “spirited”. It is basically just a kind way of saying ” Wow, that kid never ever stops talking ever even when her mother is literally pleading from the front seat ‘Stop talking! Please stop talking! Just for five minutes! I need this!’ ”
She talks. A lot. And the whining has begun, too. I was warned about the whining, I thought I was prepared for the whining. But suddenly everything she says is in this high-pitched nasal drawn out whiiiiiine. And she says a lot. So there’s a lot of whining, which also means there is a lot of me saying “I can not understand you when you whine. Speak in a regular voice please” over and over again.
I have added that to the list of cliched parent-phrases I thought would never come out of my mouth. (Others include: “Do you need to poop? Are you pooping? Is that poop?” and “I am going to count to three! 1…..2….3. Shit, she called my bluff. Now what?”)
The point of this long winded tangent is that Olive is very smart and talks a lot, and most of the time – despite the whining – she talks about really clever, funny, and interesting things. But for the entire day today she has been quiet. Quiet!
It’s unnerving. I keep poking her to make sure she’s not actually catatonic, unconscious, or sleeping with her eyes open. All she wants to do is have “Mummy snuggles” which comes out, courtesy of her snuffed nose, like “bubby suggle”. Cute. But snotty.
I have broken out every hippie trick in my arsenal, and thought I would assemble them here for my future reference and yours – we are lucky that Olive is a really healthy kid and doesn’t get sick often, so it always takes me a while to remember all of this. But now I’ll know where to find it for next time (and if you know of any I am leaving out, please add them in the comments!)
1. Eucalyptus essential oil is great for relieving congested noses, coughs, and chest colds. I make my own VapoRub by mixing 15-20 drops of Eucalyptus essential oil into a small jar of my homemade lotion (which I still love and am obsessed with, by the way. I have given little jars of it to my in-laws and sisters and gotten them hooked, too. My skin has never been softer, and it uses three ingredients. Try it!) I rub the eucalyptus lotion onto her chest and back to help with congestion. Massaging a few drops of the essential oil onto the soles of her feet helps ease coughing fits, and when I bathe her I add some to the water and let it get nice and steamy.
Edited to add: A lovely reader named Allison noted in the comments that strong essential oils like peppermint and eucalyptus aren’t recommended for children under the age of ten, so using an alternative like fir oil is best.
2. Fluids & Nutrition. Olive’s appetite is gone (another oddity for this child of mine who once ate six eggs for breakfast) so making sure she is eating enough and staying hydrated has been a challenge. Coconut water is an amazing natural source of electrolytes (I drink it a lot because of my kidney condition) and because of its sweetness she is more likely to drink it than she would plain water. I typically don’t give her juices, but all bets are off at this point. Smoothies have been a hit too – I add lots of spinach, ginger, and citrus fruits to make them as healthy as possible. Using frozen fruit makes a cold smoothie, which seems to feel nice on her throat.
3. Runny Noses. I really wish I could teach her how to use a neti pot, it would help her so much, but I mean, if there is anyone out there who has successfully taught a two-and-a-half year old to use a Neti Pot without coming out looking like they’ve tangled with a mountain lion, I would love to meet you.
There are rivers of snot over here right now, and I have a Nose Frida from when she was a newborn but I have never been able to get within five feet of her with the damn thing (I don’t blame you, Olive. It’s weird.) To cut down on waste and soothe her sore nose I have been trying to use a soft warm washcloth rather than tissues/toilet paper, and a bit of coconut oil is helping soothe any chapped skin on the nose or upper lip.
4. Magic Tea my go-to cold buster. If you haven’t tried this yet, don’t be put off by the ingredients – you can’t taste the garlic and your toddler will probably like it, especially if you drink it too. If I am making a batch for Olive I will typically omit the cayenne, and double the honey.
(For persistent coughs and sore throats, a small teaspoon of plain honey can often help to coat the throat and ease soreness.)
5. Sleep. Did you just laugh out loud? Ha! Oh, sleep! Is that all? I mean, just sleep! But seriously, sleep. Ever since Olive gave up her naps I have had to be pretty careful not to let her sleep during the day or her normal 8pm bedtime gets pushed back to 10 or even 11 o’clock at night. But yesterday she went to bed at 6:30pm, and she has napped on and off all day today. Chances are that between their coughing and discomfort you will be up most of the night anyway, so you might as well take the sleep if and when you can get it (and use it productively. To write posts for your Internet Blog. For example.)
Here’s hoping Miss Olive is back to her energetic self in no time. And although it is absolutely heartbreaking seeing her like this, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t secretly loving the chance to lie in bed snuggling her all day. It’s like she’s a newborn all over again.