Sick as a stuffed puppy

Early this fall I put flu shots at the tip top of our “things to do before baby” list. Not every member of our family was as motivated to cross off that particular task. I tried to explain the modern medical miracle of inoculation against a terrifying virus, but ultimately it was the promise of a lollipop that won them over to the pro-vax camp.

After Anna was born, and as we rolled deeper into flu season, headlines started popping up. There was buzz that this flu season was worse than normal, one for the books! And, by the way, the flu shot isn’t working.

Excuse me, what?

The more I learned about the flu the more anxious I became. Everywhere I went, someone told me a story of a person, a CHILD, that had died of the flu. Quick tip: mothers of infants don’t need to hear about the BuzzFeed article you read about the dangers of the flu. Trust me, there’s an even more terrifying version of that article unfolding in their head every day.

I felt like the walls were closing in, and the walls were influenza. A newborn during flu season. What was I thinking.

Almost every day this winter I’ve told Tom some version of: I can deal with sleep deprivation/the witching hour/cluster feeding/the stomach bug BUT I CANNOT DEAL WITH THE FLU.

Then, on Valentine’s Day, Mary Virginia went to preschool and came home with a bag of cards, treats, and a 101 fever.

Influenza A and a double ear infection.

Aside from a fever, a short-lived cough, and a runny nose, her main symptom was seven solid days of moodiness. Except “moodiness” doesn’t quite capture it. Suddenly I felt like one of those families who have a pet orangutang. For years that thing was the perfect family pet, and then one day the orangutang decides to shake things up a little and dismember its owners. It was just like that, but with curly hair and more tears.

She screamed and cried about everything from the taste of pepperoni to gravity. We tip-toed around her all week. We’re sorry, Mary Virginia, we can’t do anything about water being wet. But, HEY! Since you’re already in a bad mood, maybe this would be a good time to explain global warming?

I was worried about the flu because it is contagious and potentially dangerous. I wasn’t prepared for the emotional fall-out.

After a long, exhausting week, Mary Virginia is back to her normal level of grumpiness, and we’re so thankful that no one else in our family got sick.

I won’t show her these pictures until I’m sure she’s in a really, really great mood. She’ll  be furious when she sees that Spirit isn’t looking at the camera.



  1. Gayle Ann March 7, 2018

    I was diagnosed today. After being at the hospital all last week with a friend, I expected it, but still…. I did the vaccine in October, and my pneumonia vaccine is current. I’m told I won’t be as sick. All I know is she told me the test was 10 minutes, and was back in the room, wearing a mask, in under 60 seconds. I hope mine doesn’t last a week, though that is the length of the Tamiflu packet.

    • amandakrieger March 13, 2018

      ugh, i’m so sorry! the pediatrician told me yesterday that flu season is tapering. we all got the vaccine in october as well, and hopefully it’ll decrease your symptoms like it did for mary virginia. i’ve heard the tiredness is the worst part!

  2. Lenee' Gordon June 6, 2019

    I’m a nurse practitioner in the urgent care setting, and 2018’s season was SO much worse than 2019s! This year many people were surprised to even hear they were positive for the Flu. My baby girl (16 months) got sick with another virus in the middle of winter this year and acted THE. SAME. WAY. Which led to hollering and screaming at random times AFTER her illness wore off. You want to baby them when they’re sick, but geez. The side effects = spoiled.

  3. Delonica June 7, 2019

    We haven’t had much luck with getting the flu shot. My husband has to get one every year due to his military job and he hets sick every time.

  4. Melissa June 11, 2019

    My third son is our only non spring or summer birthday. When he was born I was a nervous wreak! Turns out stress doenst help immunity and we all got some form of flu and serious colds. No fun!


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