The Sunday before last was my week to work in the nursery at Church.  I work in Noah’s room, which consists of toddlers between one and two years old.

I love that age.

(Assuming that no one is in a screaming mood that day, anyway.)

As it was a very crowded day in the nursery and the other worker apparently had an emergency and couldn’t make it, Chris came to help me.

…Or at least he did after he received multiple texts that were written in a tone of voice that one would naturally use to type over the sound of nearly a dozen one year olds.

Nursery copy

As you can see there, thirteen minutes had passed before he responded to my pleas.

Here’s what happened, according to him:

After Sunday School,  I stayed behind to talk to a couple of the guys. 

Since you were in the nursery,  I thought to myself, “I’m going to score some brownie points and go up in a few minutes and see if she needs any help!”

I got into a long discussion, and I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket.

(I’ll check it in a minute.) 

A couple of minutes later it went off again. (Oh, that’s just the repeat buzz when you don’t answer it.) 

A couple more minutes. 3rd buzz. (Uh-oh. That ain’t a repeat.)

Clearly, my opportunity to score brownie points was long gone.  Now was the time for damage control.

Chris arrived and we set to work.

Reading books, breaking up fights, preventing the intermixing of slobber, and we even managed to pull off snack time.  With ten kids.  All sitting still at once.  Eating only their own crackers and drinking out of only their own sippy cups.


We thought we were on a roll, and beyond a doubt deserved a Nursery Worker Of The Year Award.

Toward the end of the service, the prisoners began developing restless spirits.  After I told Chris to quit making fun of the children in his syrupy sing-song voice,

(“Your Mommy’s never going to come for you if you keep screaming like that.  The louder you scream, the longer she’ll stay away, kiddo!”)

he developed another strategy and started a rousing game of airplane.

Sure enough, within two minute’s time, all of the criers had dried up and were zooming around in a line behind Chris, arms out, “vroom”s at full blast.

Yes, yes indeed: We deserved an award.

We dumped the last tired, grumpy, hungry kid off on their parents, and sighed the most colossal joint sigh that the world has ever heard.

Fast forward to Wednesday.

Right in the middle of being stressed and haggard over Ingrid’s Drama, right in the middle of Ali’s annual career of Vacation Bible School, and on the day that Chris’ Aunt Kitty was arriving to visit for a few days.

Noah woke up with a fever of 102.4.

He had a general air of malaise and wasn’t his happy self.  I chalked it up to his usual bi-monthly dose of fever virus, and prepared myself for his hobby of not sleeping when he has a fever.

He stayed true to form and opted not to sleep.

And also, not to eat, drink, smile, or be further than one foot away from me at all times.


I muddled through Wednesday’s chaos of taking Chris to work, getting Ali to VBS, preparing for out of town company, and trying to keep Noah as comfortable as possible.  By bedtime, despite constant medication, his fever had shot up to 103.7.

Thursday, Noah arrived on the scene ten times worse.  Screaming when I tried to give him Tylenol, refusing food and drink, and moaning nonstop, all day.

By Thursday afternoon, I had fought off my usual fears of being the HypochondriParent, decided that this was much worse than a fever virus, and sped Noah to the doctor.

While I was there, I got an email from another mother from Church, asking for prayers for her twin boys that are Noah’s age, because they had a terrible fever virus.

Twin boys who were with us on Sunday.

I emailed her back, told her that Noah had it too, and I would let her know very soon what it was.

The doctor came in, asked a couple of questions, looked between Noah’s toes, then between his fingers.

“This is the moment of truth.  Hold his arms down.”

He peeked in Noah’s mouth for a millisecond, and pronounced, “Yes, it’s exactly what I thought it was.  His mouth and throat are full of ulcers.  He has Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease.”

Due to my own lifelong experience with the insufferable pain of mouth ulcers,  I was immediately brokenhearted for my poor child.  No WONDER he wouldn’t eat or drink or even take medicine.

I called my friend.  She confirmed that her boys refused medicine as well, and that she was sure they had it.  I passed on all of the tips that my doctor gave me.

By the next day, I’d heard that at least six out of those ten kids had clear cases of Hand, Foot, and Mouth, that two more were mildly sick, as of yet undiagnosed.  That left only two, and I just didn’t know about them because I hadn’t heard anything or talked to their parents.

I could literally feel the Nursery Worker of the Year Award being yanked out of our unfit hands, thanks to us somehow allowing our ten little toddling Petri Dishes to soak up some especially potent germs into their sticky, moist, germhouses.

On our watch, at least 80% of our occupants ended up sick.  60% with the worst sickness that I have ever seen one of my children encounter.

I did some research, and found out that there is an extremely horrible strand of Hand, Foot, and Mouth going around right now, especially in Alabama.  Not only is it worse, but it’s also much more contagious, infecting every kid that gets in the same county with it.

That made me feel a shred better.

We had done everything we could have done, but that virus was quite determined.

Noah was unbelievably miserable all of Thursday and Friday, and although he still wasn’t eating much, started a very gradual journey to health on Saturday and Sunday.

So.  Just in case any of you experience this nasty strain of hell, here’s what we learned:

  • It hurts to suck on sippy cups with a mouth full of sores.  Holding regular cups for them is much better.
  • I offered half a dozen different liquids at all times – most of them hurt.  Noah settled on Crystal Light Peach Tea and lukewarm water.
  • Although I bought him several things suggested (Sherbet, Pudding, Popsicles), he refused them all.  Gummies were the only thing he would eat for three days.  The cheap, Wal-Mart brand of Fruit Smile gummies.  He went through at least 20 packs of them, probably giving him temporary infantile diabetes.  But at least he got some calories.
  • The doctor suggested mixing 1/2 tsp of Benadryl and 1/2 tsp of Maalox to help coat his throat and lessen the pain.  Noah fought me to not take it.  But when I dropped the Benadryl out of the mixture, it was a little more palatable.

I really hope that none of you need ever that advice, but if you ever do, there you go.

And if you hear a rumor that we got fired  from the nursery, now you know why.

45 thoughts on “When Viruses Go Viral.

  1. Poor babies! Both of my kids have had it and it is horrible! You can also add Motrin to that mix if you haven’t already given it to them otherwise. The “miracle mouthwash” is also good for strep throat pain. I, unfortunately, know this from personal experience.

  2. My 2 yr old has it as well. (We live in SW MO.) I have no idea where she got it. Due to VBS, she hadn’t been in the church nursery for awhile. She doesn’t have the fever and very few mouth sores, but has it other places. It makes it fun trying to keep her away from me and her 2 wk old brother. DH to the rescue!

  3. Another blogger’s child has that virus and she contracted it too. Sounds absolutely awful. Poor babies. I hope it runs its course quickly and everyone gets back to their adorable selves. I was really impressed you were able to get 10 kids that age to sit still.

  4. Major had it in May and then I got it from him and it was every bit as horrible as you describe! It starts with the fever and then the rash shows up! I couldn’t walk because of the blisters on my feet. The rest of the family has avoided it and will hopefully continue to. Here’s something I learned from Dr Google that the regular Doctor didn’t tell us. About 6 weeks after he was well, Major’s fingernails and toenails started to peel off from the BASE. It looks terrible but I don’t think it hurts him. He just chews at them all day. Mine have just started it and I guess that’s the body’s way of “shedding” the virus. Also, everywhere where there was a bad blister, particularly around my fingers and the bottom of my feet, the skin will just peel off, long after the blister has receded. Hope you all are well soon because I can completely sympathize with how terrible it is!

    1. Oh how awful!! I am SO sorry – I can’t imagine having it while pregnant!!! And thanks for the fingernail warning. That’s freaky!

  5. Yikes! Glad he’s on the mend. I think you just settled the debate for me about whether or not we’ll go to McWane Ctr this afternoon!

  6. We just had it go through our church nursery too. The one year old room and the three year old room (they connect). My daughter was the first (and worst) confirmed case. I got to be that Mom who called all the other moms and pass along the great news to be on the look out for Hand, Foot, Mouth. Thankfully my other two did not get it! And we hope the virus has at least stopped spreading through the church. My youngest is still dealing with some peeling skin where she had some really bad blisters, but otherwise is doing great!
    Hope your house is on the mend soon!

    1. I’m so glad it didn’t spread through your family!! It’s really weird and age-specific as to how it spreads, but then some adults get it too. What a bizarre disease.

  7. James had it when he was about 8 months old and it was terrible! I literally paced the floor one all night while holding him and trying to get him to sleep. He was hurting so bad and I was ready to take him to the ER. The only good thing about it is that is seems to pass pretty quickly. But it is horrible for them. Take good care of him and give him lots of mommy-love.

  8. I’m so sorry! We went through that last summer and it was awful! Now it is going around the speech therapy center Eli attends and he’s been down with a fever and not wanting to eat or drink much since Saturday. I think he might have a slight case of it. It would be his 3rd time so while I guess I’d rather he be immune by now perhaps it’s keeping him from getting a rip roaring case this time. Or perhaps he just has something else. We’ll see. Anyway I’m praying Noah is on the mend really soon!

      1. so…i get to eat my smug words now. you would not believe this. samuel has hand foot and mouth disease as well. turns out the distance between SD and alabama is not too great. just took samuel to the doctor today after he developed some chicken pox looking rash on his knees and elbows and then on his feet today. sure enough, it’s not chicken pox (he’s had the vaccine anyway) but hand foot and mouth. ug. did you just have all those drink possibilities on hand or did you raid walmart for everything conceivable? samuel’s not a big drinker as it is… :( and oh, can we be facebook friends?

        1. Oh no!! I’m so sorry. I went to Publix and bought Gatorade (that’s what they said would work best), popsicle, pudding, and sherbet – he wouldn’t take ANY of it. So don’t spend a ton trying to fix it. Poor little guy – Noah feels his pain!!

          I tried to friend you the other day because my wall showed that you said something, but I couldn’t for the life of me view it. The fan pages are so diva-ish sometimes. Yes!! Friend me! I could only subscribe to yours.

  9. we had that last year when my son was about noah’s age and it was MISERABLE, mostly for him. all 3 of them had it at the same time, but the baby and the preschooler didn’t have as bad of a case as the boy did. apparently, it hits toddlers pretty hard. so sorry! (for Noah and you!)

  10. Poor Noah! I know he feels horrible!
    My husband and I had Hand, Foot and Mouth in January (as 27 year old adults!) and we both felt like we were dying! I just can’t imagine how all those babies feel! It took us about 2 weeks to get over it. And I ache just thinking about it. Just keep Ali far, far away! And you and Chris too! I hope he feels better really soon!

  11. We had it too! It was awful! Caroline, my soon-to-be one year old had it and the rash took over her eccsema and is still there! Summer illnesses stink!

  12. Yikes that sounds horrible! That went around here last year but thankfully we didn’t get it. Church nursery is the worst for spreading germs! Just a law of nature. I’m impressed that you got all those kiddos to sit still at one time! Hope Noah gets over it quickly and that none of the rest of you get it!

    1. Yes, it’s just such an enclosed space that it’s bound to happen!! At least we can all grow as a community while we commiserate together! :)

  13. Oh, you poor dear! And poor babies too! We’re in GA, and my toddler started with the same symptoms approximately 7 minutes after we arrived at our beach vacation destination. He stayed glued to me all week, didn’t eat, cried all night, and was basically just so, so pitiful. The day we left, my 4-year-old came down with it, and as soon as we got home, my poor husband got it too. It was like the man-cold x 5. At least he had a little (belated) sympathy! Anyway, there was nothing you could’ve done to prevent it. That stuff is SUPER-contagious, and you don’t know anyone has it until they’ve already infected everyone. Oh, the joys of the childhood diseases!

    1. Oh, what a nightmare!! I’m so sorry about your vacation. I can’t imagine in happening then – we’d be so crushed! And yes, it’s crazy contagious.

  14. Darn you, HF&M!!!
    Thankfully Bo wasn’t too bad off but Grey, my word! That child should win Whiner of the Year Award…because who doesn’t want to hand out an award for that?!

    I’m hoping we’re finally finished with it too. Sam isn’t showing any signs and I’m really hoping he would if he were going to get it. Glad Noah is better too!

    1. YES. Noah whined and whined and whined. Then when he was better, whined about teething. Then whined about this new sickness he had. The whining hasn’t ceased for 10 days. I feel your pain!

  15.!!! Poor Noah :( That is very sad! I’m glad the rest of you didn’t get it. I was planning on coming for birthday Sunday but now I’m not so sure… Scary!!

    1. It should be safe. They super sanitized the nursery, and it was one room over from where you guys would be. I haven’t heard of any more cases since the initial outbreak.

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