Forgive me fellow parents, for I have sinned.
It has been 10 days since my son's last solid bowel movement. And I sent him to daycare.
Committing the cardinal sin, I sent a sick kid to daycare, and while I know it is wrong, I did it nonetheless.
Bring on the hate, I can take it, and I know I deserve it. But I, like many parents who admitted to doing the same thing when I sought advice, had no choice.
Winter stinks. Maybe it's because I don't ski or skate and hate the bottoms of my pants being soaked by grey sludge and I hate the feeling of frozen nose hair and wind cutting through my bones. Or maybe it's because I'm afraid of losing my job due to the incessant illness this evil season brings upon our kids and ourselves.
I know that this is totally judgment worthy. But I also know many parents do it, and that they, like my husband and I, have to pick the lesser of two evils: Send a sick kid to daycare or risk losing the employment that allows us to feed said kid.
Employers can be understanding of needing to miss work for children's illnesses (though many are not) but even the best employer will get frustrated when it's the third day in one week, or, if I was a single parent these last two weeks, the seventh day in two weeks. I am lucky enough to have my husband to share the shouldering of kids' sick days. I can't even imagine what a single parent with little to no support would do.
My son has no fever. He is in good spirits. What he has is an upset belly that doesn't seem to want to get better. By daycare standards, he should be kept home until he's been better for 24 hours. By my standards, if he's on day 10 of an upset belly and otherwise fine, he has to go to daycare because neither my husband nor I can afford to tick off our bosses anymore. We are both in new jobs. We don't have family who is currently able to help. It is our only choice.
I realize this is going to get me flack and judgment and debate and finger pointing. I realize people are going to say "You're the reason my kid gets sick. I can't afford to miss work either! "Why does your family take precedence over mine?!?" And they are all fair statements. And awful though it sounds, my answer ultimately is that I need to make sure my kids are fed. I need to make sure my husband and I keep our jobs.
Day one, I will keep my child home to protect yours and help him get better. If my child is sneezing and feverish and miserable, I will keep him home as long as possible. But I'll further admit that if I can drug him so that he's healthy and happy for a part of the day, after day one or two I'll probably try that and drop him at daycare and pray I don't get the call to pick him up.
Many parents will judge this. Many more will admit, probably only to themselves, that they would do, have done and will do the same thing.
I admit my sin. I feel guilty. But I will have to repent rather than recant. I'll have to ask for forgiveness rather than permission.
We held out as long as we could, keeping my son home for 3 days the same week my daughter was home sick for one. It's the dirty little secret no one likes to admit, but I will.
I can only hope that the recent Supreme Court decision that forces companies to accommodate necessary child care accommodations opens the door to parents being allowed to use their sick days for their children. But until employers are forced to be OK with employees missing multiple days of work to care for sick children, parents like me will continue to be forced to send them with a bug, pray for the best, and ask for forgiveness.
<strong>Fact:</strong> This myth just will not die. So let's clear this up: You <em>cannot</em> get the flu from your flu shot. Why? That vaccine is made from a dead or inactive virus that can no longer spread its fever-spiking properties. <a href="http://www.everydayhealth.com/cs-cold-flu-pictures-myths/colds-and-flu-whats-true.aspx#/slide-4">In rare cases, a person may experience a reaction to the shot</a> that includes a low-grade fever, but these reactions are not <em>The Flu</em>, Everyday Health reported. Note: Even though the flu shot cannot cause the flu, there are a number of other <a href="http://www.everydayhealth.com/cold-and-flu/flu-vaccines.aspx">reasons not to get the vaccine</a>, including for some people with an allergy to eggs or a history of Guillain-Barre Syndrome.
<strong>Fact:</strong> Unfortunately, even after slapping a bandage on that injection site, you <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/vaccineeffect.htm">may only be about 60 percent protected</a>, according to the CDC. That means, yes, you <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/01/08/168814935/can-you-get-a-flu-shot-and-still-get-the-flu">can still get the flu after your shot</a>. Some people may be exposed to the flu in the two weeks it takes for the vaccine to take effect, reports NPR. Others might be exposed to a strain not covered in the vaccine, which is made each year <a href="http://www.flu.gov/prevention-vaccination/vaccination/index.html">based on the viruses experts predict will be the most common</a>, according to Flu.gov. (This year's batch seems to have been matched well to what is actually going around, NPR reports.)
<strong>Fact:</strong> Plain and simply, antibiotics fight <em>bacteria</em>, not viruses. The flu -- and colds, for that matter -- are caused by viruses. In fact, <a href="http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/ucm078494.htm">antibiotics kill off the "good" bacteria</a> that help to fight off infections, so that viral flu may only get <em>worse</em>.
<strong>Fact:</strong> Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, while often dubbed the "stomach flu," are <a href="http://www.flu.gov/about_the_flu/seasonal/">not typically symptoms of seasonal influenza</a>, which, first and foremost, is a respiratory disease, according to Flu.gov. The flu can sometimes cause these issues, but they won't usually be the <em>main</em> symptoms -- and are more common signs of seasonal flu in children than adults.
<strong>Fact:</strong> Younger, healthy adults aren't among the <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/flushot.htm#high-risk">people the CDC urges most strongly to get vaccinated</a>, like pregnant women, people over 65 and those with certain chronic medical conditions. The young and healthy will more often than not recover just fine from the flu, with or without the shot. But protecting yourself even if you don't think you need protecting can actually be an act of good. The <a href="http://healthland.time.com/2011/10/13/no-excuses-a-brief-guide-to-the-flu-shot/">more people are vaccinated, the fewer cases of flu we all pass around</a>, which in turn offers greater protection to those at-risk groups.
<strong>Fact:</strong> Mom or Grandma probably told you this one at some point, and while you might not feel so cozy if you head out the door straight from the shower, doing so doesn't exactly condemn you to bed. <a href="http://www.health.harvard.edu/flu-resource-center/10-flu-myths.htm">The <em>only</em> way to catch the flu is to come into contact with the virus</a> that causes it. That might happen <em>while</em> you are outside in the cold, and flu season does certainly happen during cold weather, but it's not because you're cold that you catch the bug.
<strong>Fact:</strong> It's not antibiotics that cure-seekers should be looking for. While the two antiviral drugs available to fight the flu aren't a quick fix, they <em>can</em> <a href="http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/features/top-13-flu-myths?page=2">reduce the length of your bout of the flu and make you less contagious</a> to others, according to WebMD. This year's earlier-than-usual flu season has already led to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/10/flu-vaccine-shortage-tamiflu-_n_2448519.html">shortages of one of the drugs, Tamiflu</a>, in the children's liquid formulation, according to the medication's manufacturers. However, a number of experts in countries around the world have questioned Tamiflu's efficacy in fighting the flu, and some have even <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/12/tamiflu-evidence-british-medical-journal-cochrane_n_2117287.html">suggested a boycott until further data is published</a>.
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