Tuesday, March 2, 2010

It's a Great Way to Lose a Few Pounds...

Olive has been sick a fair share in her ten short months. A few colds here and there, the sniffles, a cough, pink eye, an ear infection. Every new little ailment is a new adventure and sends Leanne and I running for the internet or the medical guide we have or to the phone to call the doctor. After a couple days, everything is fine.

Well, Olive and I repeated that pattern this week.

I picked up Olive from day care on Wednesday and my provider greeted me with words that shook me to my core: She threw up today. Just once. But it was a lot.

Now, first let me talk to you about how much I hate vomit. I am a thirty-year-old man who has never thrown up from drinking too much. I was so scared of over indulging and puking that if self-control was an Olympic sport, I would have won the gold as a college freshman. When I was a little kid I threw up once after having Rice Chex for dinner. Wouldn’t eat Rice Chex for years.

Basically, I hate puke.

“Well, you never know,” I thought as I strapped her into the car seat and pulled away from day care. “Maybe it was just that once.” Then she puked in the car. Something in me dies. Oh yeah, and did I mention that Leanne was on a business trip for a couple days?


So I take Olive home and change her out of her clothes. It was the first of three costume changes for her and two for me.

It didn’t take me long after getting home to realize, I have absolutely no idea what to do with a puking baby. I don’t even know what to do with myself when I’m puking. Should I hold Olive over the toilet when she pukes? How am I supposed to know this stuff?

So I call my mom. Even though she raised four children, has four grandchildren, and babysits two other kids two days a week, she really didn’t know what to do with vomiting ten-month old.

“I don’t allow that,” she tells me. It is true; my mom has often said in the past that she didn’t allow vomiting in her house. Apparently I listened to my mom. Man, she is good.

Really, no one could really tell me what to do. After consulting two books, the interweb, and my doctor’s office, the best advice I got was to watch her and if she gets dehydrated, give her some pedialyte. Apparently, everyone is so used to this throwing up thing that taking care of it is second nature. You can find reams of information on how and when to feed your baby – a pretty normal, everyday action – but ask someone about that food coming back out and they shrug and say “It’ll pass in 12-24 hours.”

After a quick trip out to Rite Aid to get some pedialyte – the apparent cure-all for stomach bugs -- Olive seemed to calm down enough for me to try an give her a couple ounces of formula. I sort of expected it to come shooting out of her mouth like a gastrointestinal geyser, but she took it down and she fell asleep. “Well, you never know,” I thought after she had slept quietly for about an hour. “Maybe it was just a six hour bug.”


Olive starts crying a couple hours later and I race up the stairs, jumping six steps at a time, and encounter a scene straight out of a high school keg party. I have to change the sheets, her pajamas, the changing table cover, her blankets, and wash her hair (another thing Olive now has in common with her mom – I have washed vomit out of both of their hair).

Relatively clean and calm, though a little shaken and certainly exhausted, it didn’t take much to get her back to sleep. I, however, spent the night hoping up to check on any cough or gurgle I heard coming from the monitor. By the next morning, everything seemed to have worked itself out of Olive’s system. It did turn out to be about a 12 hour bug. By the end of the day she was taking full bottles and eating some solid food.

Stomach bug conquered!

I can be so na├»ve. Apparently stomach bugs are more contagious than ebola. It also doesn’t help that as a parent, you can’t really quarantine a sick kid. Unfortunately, carrying your child in a sterile plastic bag, is neither safe nor socially acceptable. I also can’t lock them in a sterile safe room for the duration of the illness. If Leanne was throwing up I could stay a safe 15 feet away at all times, occasionally yelling “I’m here for you, honey!” from behind my medical face mask while Lysoling the remote control for the 18th time. Olive, however, actually puked ON me. After she threw up I would hold her close, cheek to cheek, apparently simultaneously calming her down and laying out a welcome sign for the stomach big to take residence in my own virgin gut. I would end up drinking more of the Pedialyte than the little one.

So while Olive got over her illness by Thursday morning, I spent Friday night running to the bathroom. On Saturday, Leanne tried to be a good wife and give me an afternoon to lie on the couch and recover. But by five that afternoon, she too was doubled over.

By Sunday morning, after a half a week of meals making unannounced and unwelcome second appearances, we officially had the worst smelling house in the Eastern United States.

Luckily, the bug seems to have passed through us all and we all lived to tell the tale. It has fluttered off to infect some other unsuspecting family and torture some other underprepared, overmatched, and irrationally queasy father. If I can give him a little bit of advice it would be this: don’t worry, it will pass in 12 – 24 hours.

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