what to do when baby is sick

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    EM momEM mom

    OK-I really need some help/advice. My daughter who is 11 months has roseola (no big deal, common childhood illness, high fevers and rash but she is dealing OK…) but she can’t go to daycare (obviously) with the fever or rash. We’re on day 7 of this illness (I think she’s almost back to normal now) but that means 5 work days that my husband and I have had to figure out how to cover these days without irking our respective bosses. Since I am in the lab I am somewhat flexible right now, but next year when I am back in clinical residency I will not be flexible AT ALL. I really feel like I need to resolve this issue before next year. My question is…what do you do when your child is sick and you HAVE to go to work? Neither of us have any family down here, we really like our daycare and like our daughter’s interaction with the other kids, and all of our friends work during the day. Anyone have any creative solutions? Even if we wanted a nanny (which we really don’t) I don’t think we can afford it….help!


    Hi there. If you remember, I’m a fellow Houstonion.

    I work for a major corp. here in downtown Houston and I know that for years we had an arrangement with one of the area hospitals (may have been in the medical center) to provide care for our sick children when they couldn’t go to school or their regular daycare and the Mom & Dad couldn’t take off work. I never used this option because we’ve always had a nanny, but I know others that did.

    Anyway, I’d be really surprised if something like this wasn’t offered for medical center staff/residents given the vast number of folks they employ that must have similar situations to yours.


    I suppose this is similar to what the other person said — my husband’s hospital (he’s a resident) subsidizes an emergency babysitting service for their workers. The way it works is that you call and say “I need babysitting STAT!” and the service the hospital contracts with tries to arrange something for you with their list of regular babysitters. They recommend giving 24 hours notice, but will certainly try to arrange it for you on less notice. It’s still rather expensive, but if you’re desperate and it’s only short-term … To see if your hospital or your husband’s workplace has something like this, I’d recommend asking human resources.

    Also, maybe you could try developing a babysitting arrangement with a college student or two? Perhaps they would be able to babysit on their off-hours on those sick-baby days. Also, maybe a nanny placement service would have people (with backgrounds already checked) who are looking for a permanent placement but would be willing to accept a week-long assignment.

    We’re finally putting both our kids in the family daycare where my daughter is (long story), but we’re still going to use my son’s provider frequently enough in the evenings or on weekends to have a relationship with her. We really like her and feel comfortable her. My in-laws live in town and help out a lot, but there have still been quite a few times when we wished we had already developed some other babysitting relationships.

    And … there’s hope. I found that my daughter just got sick less often as she got older, especially after 18 months or so.

    I’m also in a lab right now, and will hopefully be going back to medical school net July — my poor husband is then going to bear the brunt of the baby illnesses. Tag! He’s it!

    Good luck.


    This is one of the nightmares of parenting with 2-career families. :crossfingers:
    P.S. 😉 If your child seems OK to you when medicated (playful, intake OK, not too cranky, etc.), see if your childcare will admister medication, or just take them during the 6 hours the ibuprofen will be in effect. You can at least get in a partial day. You have to know your own children, but after many febrile viral illnesses in mine, I don’t keep them home any extra now.


    Knowing your child and knowing the illness are very important. For example, with roseola, when he gets the rash which is usually after the fever breaks, he is not contagious any longer. Thus, you can tell the daycare providers this. Same with hand-foot-and-mouth. Therefore, they can go even with a rash.

    Since we are a 2 doctor family, this issue has been particularly frustrating for us. If I know what is going on and it’s no big deal, I send her anyway. An example is when she simply has a cold. Chances are she got it from some other snotnosed kid there. I give her Motrin before she goes to daycare and I generally tell the provider that she has been fussy (usually true) and to give her tylenol or another dose of Motrin depending on the time at a certain time whether she needs it or not. Hopefully, no fevers because you can get some overlap with meds. Before anyone rails on me for this, she has never been really ill when I have sent her. Never with vomiting or diarrhea–I have called in sick to work with these illnesses. Her teachers all know where I work and what I do for a living and actually go overboard and call for the least little thing which I like because it gives me time to run interference, whether it is getting a dose of tylenol in her early (whether she needs it or not) or making arrangements to get her early.

    EM momEM mom

    Thanks everyone for all of the ideas and the support-last week was just really tough! There is a program down here called Childhood Initiatives that helps finds childcare for people so I plan on calling them this week and find out if they know of any kind of emergency childcare. (I’m waiting until Tuesday because I think if I had called last week I just would’ve broken down crying!). Surprisingly, despite being in a large residency program in a huge medical center there really isn’t any provisions for the residents as far as this is concerned.

    The other thing I thought of since I posted (in case anyone else is reading this thread and in the same position) is the resident spouses organization-I may be able to find a SAHM or two that would be willing to make a few extra bucks by taking in a sick kid from time to time.

    Again, thanks for all of the ideas-and if anyone else has any…PLEASE add them!



    This is such a tough issue for all working moms…and one that I’ve also struggled through. I think that this is one of those issues where it is hard to decide what the line is and how far to cross it. I can say that I missed 2 weeks of organic (and ended up with a C+ for the semester because of it) due to my son getting ill, followed immediately by my daughter and then myself….I also took a micro exam in grad school once with a child that had vomited all night long laying next to me on a blanket on the floor 😮 becuase my prof would not let me reschedule and my husband couldn’t take off work. I had paid buttloads of tutition for the course and couldn’t drop, so it was either get an F or show up with a sick child….I feel your pain!

    I definately understand the dilemna. There aren’t enough resources available for working moms.

    On the other hand, I think that sending a child to school/preschool/daycare when they are sick is irresponsible…I know that I’ll get flamed for this idea, but when you medicate your child and send them on their way, all they do is get other children sick as well. I think they also tend to hold onto their viruses a bit longer because they don’t rest.

    I don’t send my kids to school if they have a fever, headache, etc and don’t feel well, and I have suffered the consequences for that because my hubby can’t/won’t take off. That has meant that my career path has unfortunately not been full speed ahead, and I have been fraught with guilt and doubt about my career. Yet…I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    I think it is unfair to other parents to expose my sick chidren to their healthy children and I think it is unfair to my child. I hate it when friends show up for a play date and their children are sick….it means that I can count on having all three of my kids sick in the coming week as well. :boggled:

    At some point, we do have to draw the line and set a certain priority for our children. If we aren’t going to be there for them when they are sick, when are we going to be there?..It bites that it affects us professionally because there is so little appreciation for family by employers. This is definatley one of those issues that no one tells you about when they are teaching you that you can “be anything you want if you just study hard enough”….But if we really think about it…we’re putting our needs above our children’s when we aren’t able to take care of them when they are sick, etc….what kind of a message does that send to them?

    I never expected to confront these issues when I became pregnant with my first child…it never occurred to me that I would be dealing with illnesses, stitches, broken arms, etc….I imagined myself pressing on full-speed ahead into med school, putting my children in daycare and picking them up each afternoon….For all of those posters who are always asking “when is the best time to have a baby”, this is what those of us who have children mean when we say that it is all much harder once you have children. Sure..it’s physically possible to have children during 1st year or third year or internship year…sure, you will manage to get through it. Yes, it is possible to become a trauma surgeon, etc and have small babies…but there IS a cost associated with it that you have to be prepared to pay. The price is simply that you choose yourself and your career over being at home with sick children, being there when the schoolbus pulls up, seeing their first steps, hearing their first words, etc….You have to decide if it is a price you are willing to pay. If it is…then it is the right time.

    This is also one of the many reasons for the divide betwen the sahm and working mom. Many sahms are intelligent, capable women who have put their careers on hold for the sake of being there for these things.

    An aside to the person looking to have the SAHM help out…..there is nothing that I resent more right now as a sahm than my working mom friends who try and get me to do childcare for them. :(I hate saying that, but this is an online forum and since I can’t say it out loud to the people that keep calling me, I’ll say it here. I made a sacrifice for these few years and my job is to do the best I possibly can with my own offspring. No amount of money would make me take on a sick child to infect mine 😉

    I’m sorry for the totally unpc, even harsh stance here….I know that this will make me an unpopular poster, but I have chewed on this thread for a few days now and I feel like I have to say something.




    Kris, thanks for the honesty. We are a 2 doctor family too, and the way we manage is that I don’t see patients on my husband’s clinic day, so I only work 4 days a week, and the other 4 days he’s primary sick child backup since he’s academic and I get paid fee for service so if I don’t work I don’t get paid. Practically, if it looks like it’s going to be a few days, we’ll end up splitting days – I’ll cancel or reschedule patients and we’ll each take half. The big plus is that my son who is starting 3rd grade almost never gets sick after his 4 years of daycare! And my daughter, now 2, hardly ever anymore.

    When our son was in daycare there was a sick child daycare at a local hospital, but not anymore, so we have to manage. It’s my biggest fear, and it’s the only thing that periodically makes me call into question working. Not because I don’t love my work, but just because there isn’t any backup for work and I agree, ideally I’d like to be the one who is home with my kids. But if my husband is at home, or sometimes my mom or dad, I don’t think that’s a second best option. My two cents …

    EM momEM mom

    Again, thanks for all of the responses…and to be honest Kris, I don’t think you were harsh at all! I also get mad when people bring their kids to daycare sick (if they KNOW they are sick) and don’t obey the 24 hour with no fever rule. I’m known at daycare for keeping my daughter OUT of daycare a little longer than probably necessary because I can’t stand the thought that she may be cranky or crying or need extra naps and not get them or the attention she needs when she is sick.

    On the other hand, I certainly understand the desperation when taking off of work just isn’t an option and there isn’t anyone to help. Luckily my husband has been very flexible and we have been able to split days so far (at the expense of my career, which I absolutely agree is not as important as the health and safety of my daughter).

    As usual any other ideas are always welcome…and the SAHM mom is a complete last resort and only used in dire emergencies (ie meeting that will only last 2 hours-not a full day of work!) with people that I already consider very close friends (and would honestly tell me if they didn’t feel comfortable taking care of my daughter).


    Well, I do still feel badly about my perhpas…overreaction to this topic. It is also one near and dear to my heart and I struggle with this as well. For example, yesterday I had my first meeting with all of the TAs that will be working for me and wouldn’t you know it that in the morning my 4 1/2 year old was acting like he didn’t feel well…..My honest “bad-mommy” thoughts are just shameful…but I thought…”ya know..I’m home all summer for the kids…I’m there for them 24/7 and then one LOUSY day when I need to be gone for 2 hours to meet with some people he is going to get sick?????”. I could not have rescheduled this as labs start next week and we’ve had a tough time getting everyone together to meet. He ended up not being sick and everything was fine…but it could have worked out just the opposite way. Days like yesterday I get really upset too. I think back to how people always told me growing up that I could be whatever I wanted to when I grew up…I just had to study and work hard….but no one ever said “oh, and by the way, no matter how hard you work, how good your grades are, how dedicated you are to your profession, as soon as you have children everything will be turned upside down because children are a huge responsiblity and as much as society talks about how important parenting is, the role is not really valued. When your child is sick, you will have to call in and pretend that it is you that is sick or else your employer will think you can’t ‘handle’ working and children. Your children will get sick, break bones, need stitches, etc and this will inevitably happen the night before a big exam, big meeting, etc. If you work full-time, you will be chastised by sahms who think that they are making the ultimate sacrifice and you should too. If you stay at home, you will be ridiculed by working moms who think you’re just not ambitious enought to have a ‘real career’. If you dabble part-time in your career, you won’t be taken seriously by anyone.” Maybe it’s a good thing no one does say these things…we wouldn’t end up reproducing or we’d all be on prozac 😀

    OK..not that I’m feeling a littel cynical today or anything. I just feel like there is no real middle ground for moms and it makes me really upset sometimes.

    My comment about calling sahms was also more about my experience and rereading it I realize that I came off as being a bit *itchy. I apologize. My experience as a sahm right now has been that my working mom neighbors will call me at 1pm and say “can my daughter come to your house after school? I don’t have anyone to watch her today”. I end up feeling obligated…for pete’s sake, it is 1PM and school gets out in an hour and 15 minutes….is the child going to go home alone if I say NO? I have had all kinds of weird things like that happen over the last year or two and to me it feels like they are saying that I don’t have anything better to do anyway..after all, I am at home anyway. The truth though is that I’ve had to cancel afternoon plans or not take my children to an afterschool activity from time-to-time to accomodate the requests. At the end of the day, I guess you could argue that it is my choice…but I feel like I can’t say no for several reasons. One of these people is our neighbor and I want to maintaing a good relationship for the sake of our children, and the other woman is a physician who just got divorced. She works in the hospital with my husband and I feel that I will look bad if I decline….interestingly, the people who would probably look down on me the most for this are the female MDs that don’t have children. At least they seem the most opinionated about mothering of the bunch here. The other woman is the wife of my son’s boy scout troop….It becomes a very political social obligation where honesty and my needs sort of fly out the window.

    I apologize to you if anything I said was hurtful. It wasn’t intended that way. I just got a little….rude. sorry



    Hi Kris. Talk about tricky social and political obligations! Yikes! I have a good friend who occasionally asks me to take her son after school (I work 9-3) and I know it’s hard to say no, but she reminded me that ultimately she is the one who has to take care of him and that it’s not my job (this after I changed our plans to accomodate her once and she found out). Maybe my friend is just particularly cool, but I think if those moms don’t have any other backup plan except you, it won’t change unless you say no. (Or screen your calls after noon so that you can be “not home” if they call!) You have structured your life to cover your kids and scramble in emergencies — they have to find a way to do this too. It sounds like they are really taking advantage of you, and maybe they won’t even realize it until you can’t (or choose not to) do it someday. More power to you …


    Just to vent … 2 year old daughter who was fine this morning happily made it through the day at daycare today before vomiting twice and starting a fever — they called me as I was leaving to pick her up. She vomited twice more at home and sobbed as I put her to bed tonight because I wouldn’t give her anything to drink! So here’s the plan for tomorrow: husband getting research MRI in the morning so I have tried to reschedule my morning patients to the afternoon after he gets home, but have only heard back from 1 out of the 3 (and it’s now almost 10pm, did they get the messages I left???). Thank God I didn’t have any patients scheduled in the afternoon and had some flexibility. Wednesday morning, only one patient in the morning so I’ll reschedule that one and stay home, then my dad is coming in for the afternoon to cover. Praying she’ll be better by Thursday …


    Oh NOOOOOO! Here’s hoping that she has a quick recovery and that you don’t end up getting her stomach bug :tired: This whole thread really has me thinking. How on EARTH am I going to manage with one more child in two months?

    I got some bittersweet news today. One of the faculty members that I work with came to me and asked to speak to me privately. I thought I had done something wrong :tired: and instead he told me that several members of the faculty were disgusted with what had happened last semester with the course I’m teaching…I’m doing the lab and the problem was with the lecture portion and plagiarism in the lab. He told me that the faculty members were ready to have a ‘coup’ and some had stepped up to the plate and were willing to teach the lecture section on one condition: that I would commit to taking the job of coordinating the labs in the same manner that I have this summer. I really have put a lot into it…I wrote a TA lab manual, updated the lab manual for the students, came up with a Bio dept. plagiarism policy, designed a course website, etc…(pat self on back smiley 😀 Is it bad to talk about it when we do a good job :p I hope it doesn’t sound too arrogant. I really have worked hard though). But here I am 8 months pregnant finally being offered a great opportunity and I just feel….depressed about it. The timing couldn’t be worse, could it? The professor told me that I could bring the baby with me next semester and that they would accomodate me in any way. That’s a good thing, right?

    Instead, I am remembering all of the childhood illnesses, difficulties with finding good childcare, etc…and am having a tug-of-war with my heart and poor Aidan hasn’t even been born. I feel like a woman who has slowly piece-by-piece lost her mind on this issue. I told him that I would commit to it. I think I’m crazy. :boggled: I don’t suppose anyone wants to try and tell me that I’m not???


    EM momEM mom

    First of all congratulations on the offer-it is a huge honor! But as far as feeling depressed, I hear you! Every day this last few weeks I have gone to work with the express intention of quitting and getting out of the rat race. Every day I manange to get through the day but to be honest my heart is just not in it right now and I’m hoping things get better as I go back to clinicals. Of course I know I would go crazy if I actually stayed home so that isn’t really a realistic option! Whoever said you could have it all obviously had much stronger drugs than I do and/or didn’t actually have A) a job or B)kids.


    Thanks mommd2b. We didn’t get it, but my 7 year old did, missing Thursday (husband took off and went to work from 4-11pm) and Friday (I took off, son made miraculous recovery and we went out for pizza for lunch and got his hair cut, a great day except for having to reschedule all my patients!).

    Yes, having 2 is harder, but what are you going to do? The offer sounds great, you’ve put a lot into it, the department is supportive. Consider making them put it in writing — bring the baby to work, they’ll be flexible — what will they do for you? i.e. Help pay for childcare? (could you hire a student to help watch the baby in your office while you teach?)

    You don’t sound crazy to me. You sound like someone who’s a professional and who’s going to be a great mom who thinks about her kids first but also wants to do good things at work. We always have mixed motives. More power to you!

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