AudBaby AudVerbalDiarrhea

To the mother judging another mom, please stop.

I wanted to write this story because I think it’s important.  It’s not an easy story for me to tell because I have a lot of guilt and sadness about it, but it needs to be penned down.

So a week ago, last Sunday, Penny came down with a fever.  The next day she complained of a sore throat.  One of her classmates was confirmed with Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) on Thursday, so I feared the worst.  I kept her from school on Monday and took her to the doctor, who, sure enough, detected sores in her throat.  She did have HFMD.

HFMD symptoms include, fever, loss of appetite, feeling unwell, and the infamous spots or blisters on hands, feet, sometimes the butt and genitals, and sores in the mouth.  The sores can be very painful and can stop a child from eating.

HFMD can be very contagious, especially among siblings, and especially among kids like Fighter and Penny, who play together every waking second, and regularly sneeze and (accidentally) spit at each other.  So I made the decision to send Fighter to my parents’ house where he would be safe from catching anything.

The next three days were a downward spiral.  Penny’s fever went away after a day, but she developed sores in her throat and on her tongue.  Tiny red spots also appeared on her feet and her butt, but luckily none of these grew much bigger and they never turned into blisters.  The first two days she accepted some ice cream but not much else.  On Wednesday morning though after missing dinner and her milk the night before, she drank two cups of cold milk and with a lot of coaxing, ate a bowl of porridge.  The worst was over, I thought.  I promised her that when she was all better, I would take her out for Mcdonald’s french fries hahahaha (her favorite food in the world) and buy her this Frozen Lego set she’d been wanting for ages.

In the afternoon though, she stopped consuming anything, even water.  She was so sad and moody that I was at my wits’ end.  To cheer her up, I strapped her into her stroller and took her to Toys’r’us.  We went straight to the Disney Princess aisle where she suddenly changed her mind and picked a Cinderella castle instead wtf.  I tried to bribe her to drink some water with the Cinderella castle but she continued to refuse.

By 7 pm, she had also refused any dinner, porridge, ice cream, frozen yogurt, Vitagen, Milo, soda, any kind of liquid actually.  She didn’t even want milk which in normal circumstances is her vice wtf.  It occurred to me that the night before, her diaper was completely dry, and during the day, she had only peed once.  The milk and porridge she had that morning?  They were the only things she’d consumed in 36 hours.  By now, she had even stopped swallowing her saliva, instead keeping it in her mouth until we made her spit it out.

That night, terrified she was dehydrated, I rushed her to the emergency room.  We ended up admitting her and putting her on an IV drip.  We stayed there for two nights and the entire time she was spitting up in a cup wtf.  Even spitting hurt her and she’d cry on and off until her eyes were swollen.

2018-10-21_05-13-09

She still didn’t eat but at least she was on the drip.  On the final morning, she finally drank apple juice, and best of all, she stopped spitting out her saliva!

Two things happened though that I want to mention.

The first was, I posted this photo on Instagram because I was so happy I could cheer her up even for a while.
2018-10-21_05-08-28

I didn’t expect to get comments and DMs criticizing me for bringing out a contagious child.

The truth is, I did thinkabout it before taking her out.

But the thing about my decisions when it comes to happiness vs small health risk, I tend to choose happiness. If something makes myself or others happy and there’s what I see as small potential risk to myself or others, I do it anyway.  I operate on a ‘Life is too short to worry too much’ mentality I guess, which others might see as recklessness or impulsiveness.

When we were trying to conceive, I visited Japan anyway, after the Fukushima incident when South East Asia was still awash with rumors of stillborn babies, and everyone was canceling their trips.  Because I love Japan, and I’d read up about the effects and judged it to be minimal risk.  I ate foie gras in my pregnancy before Fatty and I realized foie gras is supposed to be off limits, and then I ate the last spoonful anyway.  I don’t mind letting my kids have play dates with kids with colds because I figure that while falling sick is a possibility, it is temporary, while them being happy and making good memories is a sure thing.  That’s worth the risk to me.

So that’s how my decision to take Penny out came about.  My reasoning was five minutes in a store couldn’t hurt anyone, not when she’s strapped in her own stroller.  I knew she wouldn’t be touching anything, or interacting with anyone, and I didn’t give her anything from the store to hold; the only thing she touched was the toy we’d picked.  I saw it as a chance to cheer my sick child up against the potential risk of passing her germs to someone else, and given all the precautions I’d taken, I calculated it as a minimal risk.

I read through all the messages reproaching me.  At first I was offended and thought they were being irrational.  But after that I saw they had a point.  Even though I don’t regret trying to make Penny happy, I respect their point of view; I admit that I could have handled it differently.

IMG_20181021_173153_181

So I posted this as a response.

At that point I was still in the hospital so I didn’t give much thought to it further.  I was surprised to see the responses.  Some people thanked me, a lot of people told me they didn’t see anything wrong with what I did/they’d do the same. Yet others continued to berate me.

Screenshot_20181018-213357

This was one of those.  Nice hor.  After people come out and admit their mistake, this person still wanted to… I dunno, derive more satisfaction by stepping on me further?  My answer was damn rude cos this was the nth message I’d gotten in this vein already.
Screenshot_20181018-221314

Another one.  I was really angry and upset at this point.  There were people leaving snide comments like “Penny must have contracted hfmd from a child who has a parent with the same mentality as you.”

2018-10-21_10-43-50

Actually no.  She got it from her classmate whose first symptom was fever after their school trip to the zoo.  His mom immediately kept him home, so Penny must have caught it from him when he was asymptomatic.  Great job making judgments on other moms who are not even me, the person you’re targeting.  And good luck teaching your toddlers not to be judgmental.  Actions speak louder than words.

The worst comment though is one I’d deleted so I can’t post it here.  I can’t remember her username but her name was Liz.  In response to my apology post, she wrote something along the lines of “it’s attitudes like yours that cause Malaysia’s endless outbreaks of HFMD”.  I clicked on her profile and yep, she’s Singaporean.

Right.  Her country so good leh.  As if Singapore doesn’t get any influenza or HFMD outbreaks?  In fact, I often hear about HFMD and influenza swirling around Singapore before hearing of its arrival in Malaysia.  Every damn country deals with rampant cases, even Australia and UK  – Suet’s baby nephew in the UK just caught HFMD days after Penny.  She basically summed up my mistake and equated it to my entire country.  Liz from Singapore, message for you: get your head out of your supercilious ass.

I was so angry.  There were way more nice and understanding messages, but I got worked up over the nasty ones cos I was at a really low point then.  We were still in the hospital, Penny still wasn’t eating or drinking, and she was asking to spit up in a cup every two minutes.  I was sanitizing my hands like crazy cos she was drooling over me, my tshirt and my face wtf.  And the pain was worse at night so she woke up crying every hour for the two nights we were there.

Oh ya and this week, we discovered fleas in our house again wtf.  So in addition to worrying about Penny, and Fighter away at grandma’s, I also had to worry about the fleas taking over our household.  And then this.

On Friday, the doctor told us Penny was well enough and could be discharged.  It was also the day Fatty scheduled a house fumigation, to bomb the fleas.  The fumes are obviously poisonous, so nobody could come home until the evening about 5/6 pm.  At our usual hospital, discharging takes a few hours so I thought by the time we were done would be good timing to go home.

But suddenly this hospital damn efficient and we were discharged by 12 pm wtf.  I delayed a bit by telling the nurse we had to wait for our ride home, and then lunch came so I ate some and tried to feed Penny.  We ended up leaving at 1.30 pm and from there, I decided to wait it out at the kids’ playroom in Colony @ Eco City, since it’s much quieter there than Colony @ KLCC or say, a cafe or restaurant.

I called up Patricia, our Eco City community manager who told me nobody was currently using the room, and maybe someone uses it on average once a week.  I told her we needed to prepare cleaning supplies to disinfect the room after we leave.

When I got there, to Pat’s credit, she’d already prepared disinfectants – Dettol and Clorox and antibacterial wipes.  When we left two hours later, she stripped the bedding in the little play house we have and sent that to laundry.  Then the Eco City team and our cleaners immediately got to work airing the room, and wiping down the surfaces and toys. It was also Friday evening, and it was unlikely anyone would come in on the weekend, but I asked Patricia to tell our clients to try not to use the room during the weekend, at least not until we had sanitized it and let it air for a couple of days.

However, one of our clients saw I was there with Penny and filed a complaint.  To be honest, I was very angry and upset when I heard.  I didn’t intentionally come to the office to terrorize people, I just had nowhere to go.  And we took utmost precautions, doing everything needed to sanitize the space.  Why was Penny being treated like a leper wtf.

But I’ve calmed down since.  To be fair to that client who complained, she didn’t know that we already had an action plan and were working on it, so I can understand why she kicked up a fuss.

But to be fair to me, maybe we should all take a step back next time instead of judging a fellow mother who’s already doing her best?

2018-10-21_03-51-22

Penny has made a complete recovery. 🙂 But this is what I wanted to write about:

Without knowing her or her actions, there were people judging Penny’s friend’s mom for letting her kid pass the illness to Penny.  People, these things happen.  I don’t blame her at all, so why should you?

And after I apologized, people continued to pass judgment on me and criticize me.   Why though? Did it make you feel good to sit on your pedestal and lecture me after I’d admitted my mistake?  Do you feel like a more superior parent when you compare yourself to me?  Was it so important for your two cents to be known when we are already so down?

And people weren’t even thinking logically.  The HFMD virus is not airborne so while it may cling to surfaces, it will not float around in the air waiting to attach itself to your throat.  It is spread by direct contact with nasal or throat secretions, or poop.  But the way people were behaving, it might as well have been smallpox (which IS airborne).  Or ebola.  I’m not saying don’t be careful, I’m saying exercise your judgment and Google, and don’t give way to paranoia.

We’ve all been there – sick kids are exhausting, worrisome and heart wrenching.  As parents, loved ones and guardians of children, we all know how painful it can be.  We at least have that in common.  So maybe next time we should remember exactly that – we’re all in the same boat, raising our kids day in day out, and trying to do the best by them.  Nobody is perfect and we may make mistakes.   Yes, we can point those out, but when we do, maybe we should have a little less judgment and a little more kindness and empathy for someone else struggling as much as you.

To those who messaged with support and understanding.  Thank you.  Reading your messages really cheered me up this bad week. 🙂

  • Sharon Liew

    Hi, mother of Suet’s baby nephew here. My son had HFM and I brought him out to Marks & Spencer so he can infect other people. That’s my public service act as the world is overpopulated wtf haha.

    In truth, I did bring him out. He needed the fresh air and I needed to get grocery as I do not wish to starve to death whilst he is in recovery. Additionally, it helps me as being out is my way of passing time and distracting my unwell son. People who believe kids with HFM should be in isolation the entire time are the people who should either stay at home or buy themselves a bubble to live in. They can read up on the disease while they’re at it. The world is full of other diseases like Acute Ignorancy Febrile and Degenerative Idiocy.

    So, people can sue me if I choose to be a mother first before being a good citizen. Sue me for putting my son and my needs before others. At the end of the day, I have not caused death, my conscious is clear.

    In the UK, there is no exclusion period for HFM. Doctors and nurses have informed me that once the spots are out, it is no longer contagious. It is before the spots appear that they should be kept in isolation, but of course, you don’t know they have HFM until the spots are out. Hence the no exclusion period.

  • Anne

    I’ve been a long-time reader and I even follow you on instagram.

    But I’m Singaporean. And I would like to clarify that “Liz from Singapore” does not speak on behalf of all Singaporeans. In fact based on what you said she said, I’m not even sure if she was even intending to speak on behalf of Singaporeans, or if she was trying to suggest that Singapore > Malaysia.

    Your statement “Right. Her country so good leh. As if Singapore doesn’t get any influenza or HFMD outbreaks? In fact, I often hear about HFMD and influenza swirling around Singapore before hearing of its arrival in Malaysia.” was rather unnecessary and appears to be an attack not just on Liz but on Singapore/Singaporeans. It doesn’t even look like Liz was asserting that “attitudes like yours” do not exist in Singapore / Singaporeans. Since you had to click on her profile to find out that she’s Singaporean, she clearly must not have mentioned Singapore.

    How do you know she doesn’t think Singapore also has people whose attitudes lead to outbreaks of HFMD or other diseases? Or maybe she didn’t even have Singapore in mind when making the comment; maybe she’s thinking of other first word nations, or maybe she wasn’t even trying to compare Malaysia to another country?

    Attack Liz if you want – I’m not trying to defend her – but I think you’ve gone a little further than that.

  • Carmen

    Hi Audrey. I’ve been a long-time reader of your blog, and I’ve always liked it, but I think this post and your “admission” misses the point – that your actions may have risked other children. This is a serious concern among many parents in Malaysia (and I guess to some extent, Singapore) due to the recent outbreaks that have proved difficult to contain.

    On calculating your risks – Your shared experiences of eating foie while you were pregnant, and letting your kids play with others who have a cold are not the same thing as bringing Penny to a toy shop and children’s playground while she has HFMD. Those experiences involved risks and potential consequences that are limited to you and your children, and did not have implications on others. What you calculated as a small risk may have seemed so to you, but you nor I know the consequences our actions may bring to others if other children are infected. Firstly, while I’m sure this was a difficult experience for you, it may have been made more manageable by other factors, such as having a flexible job, help at home, or somewhere near and appropriate to move Jude to temporarily. Not every parent has these in line, and this may make others’ experiences of having a sick child just as bad or even more difficult to manage than yours. Secondly, while HFMD is manageable in most cases, it has led to fatalities in Malaysia when not handled well. It can also be a lot worse for children who are already weak. These may be some of the reasons why some parents are more risk averse than others when it comes to sickness. Regardless, limiting spread is always a responsible thing to do.

    On making Penny happy – I understand the need to make your sick child happy just for a second, and to see her smile. However, in the future, there are many other ways to do that than to bring her to a kids’ public area. The toy could have been brought to her, or she could be taken for a walk. Those would have been better than taking her to a place where kids touch everything.

    On the playground at Colony – There’s the responsibility as a parent to limit spread of a contagious disease, there’s also the responsibility as the owner of an establishment to take care of its clients. I was actually very surprised you had brought Penny to there, regardless of whether it is frequented by kids or not, or whether you took precautions and sanitized the place, or whether Penny was still contagious. The fact of the matter is that it was a children’s playground, and it looked bad that this had happened. I wouldn’t blame any customer for lodging a complaint. Imagine if a kid HAD caught HFMD from the playground, it would have looked a lot worse on you.

    Recent outbreaks in Malaysia have appeared in national news, with the MOH advising that parents keep infected children out of public spaces to avoid spread. Not only did you do that, you brought Penny to two types of places where kids are most likely to touch common things – a toy shop and a children’s playground. While I partly understand why you felt the need to do that, surely the comments you received were not unexpected, given that you posted photos of yourself doing so, with one where Penny IS touching a toy. You may have bought the toy, kept her away from other toys, went in and out of the shop in a dash etc. etc. But how do you expect your followers to presume that, given that you’ve already broken that one cardinal rule in of limiting HFMD spread? Surely you would have expected these comments, given your long-time experience as an influencer in the public eye.

    Nevertheless, I agree that some of the comments were uncalled for, mean and unhelpful, but do try to understand where people are coming from. I’m sure that many people thought what you were doing was unwise, even if they did not send you a message about it. I understand that this is the first time you’ve experienced this, and so mistakes are bound to happen. But should this ever happens again (I hope it never does), maybe it’d be good to think not only about your kids but also about the risks to others (or at least post photos less recklessly).

  • fourfeetnine

    Really?? Here the doctors say that as long as the spots haven’t healed, you’re contagious. Are you sure though?? I read up on it and didn’t see anything that says once spots are out, it’s no longer contagious.

    But I do get it though, sometimes parents have no choice because they have no help and they still have to carry on. We just do the best we can.

  • fourfeetnine

    Thank you Anne.

    I definitely don’t believe that Liz speaks for all Singaporeans. And I don’t believe she intended to speak on behalf of Singapore.

    However, she specifically said “Malaysia’s endless outbreaks”. If her belief is that ‘attitudes like mine’ cause outbreaks in general, even in Singapore or elsewhere, she would not have mentioned Malaysia in specific. It would be much easier for her to say ‘attitudes like yours is what causes endless outbreaks of HFMD”. From that statement, it’s not unreasonable for me or anyone to deduce that she’s implying a negative stance on my country.

    That said, I do agree that I came off petty about Singaporeans in response to her comment. When I wrote my blog post, I meant that outbreaks happen in SG too, as it does in other countries so why did she mention only Malaysia. But I was annoyed when I wrote this post so yes, my comment itself does sound savory, for which I apologize. I have no ill intent towards Singaporeans in general lol. Sorry about that.

  • Nia

    Hi there!

    I suppose the uproar of the Toys’R’Us incident is the worry that parents have when they imagine their own child could have been exposed to the virus and contracting the condition. It is not unfounded worry I do have to add, but stay with me here. What they do not see is your argument that you kept Penny in her seat and that she did not touch other things. As you have rightfully mentioned, HFMD is spread by droplets, so having her strapped in her chair is wise indeed; to amp it up a level, a mask would have alleviated the concerns of other parents better. You did well that you accepted other people’s point of view and apologised. Those who still decided to criticise further are taking it too far.

    On the other hand, I feel that I can understand the colony client’s complaint better. Colony is a serviced workplace, and they do pay to work there and use the facilities. They wouldn’t think about bringing their sick child to the workplace while they are working, would they? (if they are then there is probably something wrong with them, but I digress…) You are one of the representatives of the company, and while I do know that you are actually an owner/shareholder of the company, bringing your sick child to use the facility that is supposed to be used by clients seems to be… overboard? I know you have your argument that you need somewhere to bring your child to, but this is my humble opinion on the matter. I am not anyone related to that client, nor do I have anything to gain from this, but I hope this comment may compel you to see the point of view of your client…

  • fourfeetnine

    Yes I agree with you. I was upset initially I think because I was already tired and down from the whole week. But I did write that I understood she didn’t know the steps we had taken to fix the situation. It’s a fair complaint.

  • StaircaseWit

    I think it’s very important that you mentioned how Penny’s classmate came down with HFMD and was kept at home, but Penny caught it anyway. The fact is that people with HFMD are most contagious when they are asymptomatic, which seems to be when Penny picked up the virus herself.

    I don’t remember where I read this, but another parent (and doctor) elsewhere mentioned that since the virus is transmitted through body fluids like saliva and phlegm etc, you should be fine with going out so long as you’re not smearing random people with your body fluids when you’re ill. I don’t remember if they mentioned that hard surfaces were okay, and if so, why, but I imagine it is likely because you’re chances of catching the disease is a lot less if it’s through contact with a surface than with someone who’s directly coughing into your face.

    I know that for parents of children who have compromised immune systems, or even adults who have that issue for some reason, it’s very difficult to deal with contagious diseases because of the threat it can pose to them. However, I don’t think this provides anyone an excuse to act without any kindness and compassion towards other people. Most of the time, the people I’ve seen who behave poorly towards others are not dealing with this issue themselves; they usually cite a “friend of a friend” as their justification for being so rude, and I don’t think that’s right. Plus, I feel like a lot of people with compromised immune systems are aware of the dangers in general and take the best precautions they can, and acknowledge that others can only do the same, so it makes all of the outrage on the part of these people really silly tbh.

  • Asia @ Life of Rey

    People really need to mind their business. I’m glad you told those people to fuck off and didn’t make yourself be nice about it. You wanted to make a bad situation better by taking your baby girl out. Fresh air is always a good thing too when you’re sick. Fuck those judgemental bitches and keep doing what you’re doing.

  • bella red

    be strong

    womwn perfume

  • ed paul

    glad penny is fine.

  • https://www.viki.com/users/377491085940962_344 377491085940962_344

    So sorry to hear that you are so down bcos of all those moron’s comments…No worry…the sky is not blue all the time and the sun doesn’t always shine…Cheers up…u do what u think is the best…Keep it up….you cannot satisfy everyone…