Mommy lessons: Baby with a stomach bug

I know there are harder things to attempt than dealing with a small child with tummy troubles, like climbing Mount Everest without oxygen, or trying to balance this country’s budget, but I haven’t faced many. It started innocently enough…a restless night, followed by a fussy day. Around noon (while Charlotte was playing with my friend’s baby…oops) I felt her head and she was warm, so I took her temp and sure enough, a low grade fever. Nothing to be concerned about, that is until Baby Girl started refusing her bottle (something she has NEVER done before) and when we finally got some formula down her it made a prompt reappearance, along with I am sure the contents of her last bottle. All over Daddy. Three days of that…and well, let’s just say I was a bit of a nutcase. But now we’re on the other side and I can look back at all the valuable lessons I learned through this ordeal.

1. Always call first before taking your ailing baby to the urgent care clinic.

By the time we’d determined that Charlotte was really sick, it was after seven at night. I panicked a bit when she couldn’t keep her bottle down, and insisted we take her for medical treatment IMMEDIATELY. We got ourselves and our screaming child into the car, woke her up when we got to the clinic (she fell asleep during the five minute drive) and carried her in only to find out the clinic didn’t have any appointments available and they didn’t see babies anyway. Back to the car we went, feeling foolish and helpless. We discussed the emergency room, but decided that her temp wasn’t high enough to cause alarm yet, and refusing one bottle probably wouldn’t send her into immediate dehydration. Also I was worried about exposing her to plethora of germs that inhabit hospital. By the time we got home she was fast asleep, and stayed that way until ten the next morning.

2. Don’t ever feel guilty for taking your child to the doctor.

I was able to get an appointment at Sweetums’ regular pediatrician the next day. They did the usual poking and prodding (she cried the whole time, hello mommy guilt), and tested for RSV. No infections, no RSV, just a virus or teething (teething can cause vomiting…who knew?). The doc told me just to monitor her temp and come back if her symptoms got any worse. So yes, it may have felt like a wasted trip, but the relief of knowing I wasn’t ignoring a potentially life-threatening case of the bubonic plague was worth the cost of the co-pay :).

3. Expect to do laundry. A lot.

Charlotte threw up three more times…once on Daddy, twice on me. So we’re even :). Each time I had nothing but a burp rag or small towel to catch the onslaught, which was approximately as good as using a newspaper to keep yourself dry in a monsoon. We all changed clothes several times, our furniture got a good scrubbing, and everything that could be got thrown into the washing machine set to as-hot-as-it-can-possibly-get. Thankfully all she’d had was formula, so it was really more like pouring a bottle of the stuff directly onto your lap. At least we didn’t try feeding her any green beans. Or spinach. She also had a big blowout, so the changing pad/table got a good scrubbing too :).

4. Throw all sleep schedules out the window

While she was sick Baby Girl only stayed awake for approximately one hour before showing signs of exhaustion (much like anyone else dealing with a stomach virus). Unfortunately since she was feeling so rotten it was very hard for her to get comfortable enough to fall asleep. Infant Tylenol helped, as did copious amounts of rocking, patting, soothing, and singing. I must admit I really enjoyed this aspect of her illness, since she’s usually not super cuddly. Unfortunately as soon as she started feeling better she decided she’d wasted too much time sleeping and didn’t need to do any more. Thus followed several rounds of “I’m not going to sleep and you can’t make me!” tantrums, more rocking marathons, and some very brief naps. Thankfully she wore herself out by bedtime and slept through the night. She’s still not back to her usual long naps…hoping this is just a temporary situation.

5. If Mommy doesn’t get out of the house while dealing with a sick baby, she will become Monster Mama

By day three of our illness induced confinement my sanity was definitely on the fritz. When I grumpily bade my husband goodbye after he came home from lunch by telling him to “Enjoy getting out of the house” he realized I had a rather bad case of cabin fever. The sweet, wonderful man set about curing it by first offering to stay home that evening with the patient while I go out (he kindly refrained from telling me to “get out!”), then bringing home dinner, a gorgeous bouquet of yellow flowers to “brighten my day,” and a six-pack of my favorite adult beverage. Did I mention a married Prince Charming? Because I did.

The entire episode lasted a grand total of three days, but it felt like three weeks. Or years. At one point I could barely remember a time when she wasn’t sick. But now she’s well and bouncy and crawling around just like nothing was ever wrong. In fact I think that maybe she’s extra happy, feeling as we all do the gift of good health is never more precious than after you’ve been sick (what better way for God to teach us all a little gratitude). So we survived. I’m hoping next time I will manage to keep a bit more perspective and a better attitude, knowing that “this too shall pass.” But no promises.

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