21. Not being mentally prepared for stomach-turning situations. As I mentioned last time, flu ravaged our house early in the season. Actually, no—the stomach “flu” isn’t actually the flu, I read, but rather some gastrointestinal virus that makes a mess of pretty much everything. In this instance, hardcore symptoms lasted about 36 hours per individual, the first being me, and the second poor little Eloise. I suppose where I went wrong was skimming through the parts in baby books that discussed what to do in the event of an illness. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe Eloise was immune to illness, but I figured that it would be easy enough to sort out when she did finally succumb to the world of germs. And I guess I presumed her first illness would involve sniffles or some coughing—not projectile vomiting over my shoulder about twelve times in the space between breakfast and her afternoon nap.
I don’t know that I would’ve been any less startled had I read up on infants and stomach viruses, but I may have felt a little less desperate as I waited for the pediatric nurse to return my call. (She was supposed to get back within an hour, and don’t think I wasn’t back on the horn when her call was two minutes overdue.) Also, unless you frequent a pediatric unit with five patients, it’s likely you’ll get the quickie treatment that I received: “Yeah, you’ll need to do this for five minutes, and then after three minutes . . . and then you might want to . . .” WHAT? “Please repeat, for I think I have vomit in my ear canal.” Those nurses field such calls so frequently in one day, one can understand their hurry; but perhaps they forget new motherhood and how it feels as though every little decision you make just might harm your child for all eternity. My kid has struggled with sleep for much of her baby life, and all of a sudden she decided to sack out, without her little sleep bag, on the living room floor. I thought she was done for.
So, this is why I suggest reading the chapters on stomach bugs and, now that we’re amid ever-mutating flu strain season, the flu chapter as well.* Although I had instruction from the nurse and help from other mother friends, I don’t think I followed every step exactly; however, somewhere deep down my mothering instincts kicked in (perhaps for the first time ever), and we made it out of the illness unscathed. Not my clothes, though. I went through four shirts before I opted to throw a bath towel over my shoulder. And that wasn’t even my idea; it was my husband’s.
*Make sure you have your Pedialyte on hand, too. No one wants to risk vomit in the car. Ew.