I’ve just cleaned up my first barf of the day, fiftieth barf of the last few days. Dylan’s got some kind of stomach bug that’s been making the rounds at daycare, and while his spirits seem fairly high, I am ready to take my ball and GO HOME.

I don’t know why I’m such a wimp about parenting sick children, especially when you consider the fact that our family has been phenomenally lucky in that no one has had to deal with any serious illnesses — just your run-of-the-mill viruses and whatnot — but I always work myself up into such a state of anxiety about the whole thing. I run off to google things that I KNOW will return horrifying results, then I read things like BABIES CAN BECOME DANGEROUSLY DEHYDRATED IN A MATTER OF HOURS and I start plotting the fastest route to the emergency room, because never mind that gummy grin and fat diaper, he’s CLEARLY ON THE BRINK OF DEADLY INTRAVASCULAR WATER LOSS.

The frantic, stupid side of my brain reacts with total panic and a pervasive feeling of overblown doom, my few remaining normal parenting instincts feel sorry for my ailing child and wish I could make him feel better, and a shameful part of me feels whiny and inconvenienced and tired of doing laundry. It’s this giant mixture of tension and unhappiness and woe — a Stress Granola! – and I’m not even the sick one. So lame.

Most of all, I feel entirely incompetent and at a loss for what to do. If a barfy baby is still mostly good-humored and constantly willing to eat (even if he horks it up afterwards) and there’s no fever and he’s sucking down the Pedialyte, is there any point in taking him to the doctor? Why don’t kindly pediatricians make house calls any more? Why haven’t I brushed my teeth yet today? SO MANY QUESTIONS.


29 Responses to “Second-guessing”

  1. Swistle on November 13th, 2008 12:42 pm

    If they still seem all perky and plump, I don’t take them in. But I worry too.

    Sometimes if you call and ask to speak to the nurse, they have a comforting “standard time to bring the child in” policy, such as “if he’s been throwing up for more than 3 days we want to see him even if he seems fine.” Then you don’t feel like a turkey for bringing him in, but you can get some reassurance.

  2. samantha jo campen on November 13th, 2008 12:42 pm

    Geeze that has to suck. Knock on wood, we haven’t had any puking yet and dear GOD I have no idea what I will do when that time comes. I mean, he’s a baby. And puking? I can’t wrap my brain around that one, since they can’t get up and go to the bathroom before doom strikes. Oy.

    Hope it all blows over soon and no one else gets sick too.

  3. JennB on November 13th, 2008 12:46 pm

    I’m home with a baby with pinkeye in both eyes (this is round 2, round 1 over the weekend he had a rash in reaction to the medicine) and a 3-year-old who was initially sent home because they thought she had lice!!!! but then she was cleared and my husband gave her the option of staying home. WHY GOD WHY!
    (and yet, I have time to read blogs. Priorities).

  4. Pete on November 13th, 2008 12:48 pm

    One time my son was puking up everything, even water. Doctor said if he was still doing it in five days to bring him in. He cleared up on the fifth day. Being a guy I just worried he wouldn’t mess up the couch. That and my wife had to take time off work to watch him.
    Good luck.

  5. Eric's Mommy on November 13th, 2008 12:50 pm

    It is so hard to decide when to call the Dr. and when it is just nothing. Eric was never really sick as a baby (now he gets ear infections every other day) just the usual run of the mill colds and stomach bugs.
    When he was real little and still toddling around he fell and bashed his nose off of our hard couch. He was screaming and crying there was no blood but I was sure his nose had to be broken. So we took him to the emergency room and he was fine.
    Now whenever he is sick (he’s 6 now) we can handle it a little better. My Mother in law is no help though, as soon as he has the slightest cough or runny nose she tells us we should take him to the Dr.
    Speaking of barf though, the last time Eric was sick he was sleeping in our bed about a year ago and he suddenly sat up and started coughing, which usually leads to barfing. So I freaked out and grabbed him and kind of threw him toward the end of the bed and he projectile vomited across our bedroom.
    I could probably sleep through a fire truck driving through our bedroom but one cough that I think will lead to barf, and I spring into action.

  6. Erica on November 13th, 2008 12:50 pm

    Wow, you just summed up exactly how I feel when my 2 year old gets sick. I become a total mess, panic and feel like the world is coming to an end.

  7. Vicki on November 13th, 2008 12:55 pm

    Living your life right now- with my 3yr old. Not good times in ANY. WAY. I get the same way you do- anxious, shaky. And I’m such a horrible mom that I just can’t be in the room when he’s actually throwing up.


  8. Korinna on November 13th, 2008 1:22 pm

    I happen to find the barf so…startling. Like, “Maybe this will stay down. Looks good. Looks real gooood.” And then–BLAMO! It all comes spraying back out in a very scary fashion.

    Ezra ends up smiling while I’m doing the Scooby Shuffle covered in spray trying to figure out what to do next.

    Tending to sick kids is SO not glamorous, so I think the sweaters on your teeth are way forgive-able.

  9. Joanne on November 13th, 2008 2:04 pm

    I always worry but it sounds like Dylan doesn’t need to go to the doctor. With my first one, I brought him in for everything, I figured $15 was little to pay for my sanity. With my second one, I figure as long as she’s eating (drinking) and her eyes seem clear and she’s peeing and all the rest of the signs are good, I just wipe it up and do the laundry. It can be SO freaking depressing! I don’t know if mine are sick yet but MY GOD did I just deal with some nastay diapers. I hope it gets better soon!

  10. Christina on November 13th, 2008 2:30 pm

    I feel this way ALL the time. Glad I am not the only one.

    Our three month old has been sick for like two weeks – runny nose, not sleeping well, ear tugging but otherwise she is happy a dang clam also. I keep wondering if I should take her to see a doc but keep putting it off because if it was a **bad** ear infection wouldn’t she be more angry, cry-y, upset about it!? SO I keep waiting.

    I hate that there is no guide book for this stuff and also I do not want to be that annoying parent who calls the doc 65,573 for every little cough, sniffle, etc but it would be dandy if she slept well again, you know?!

  11. jenn on November 13th, 2008 2:52 pm

    two weeks of not sleeping and ear-pulling is too long in my opinion. you don’t want it to become chronic.

  12. BethanyWD on November 13th, 2008 4:00 pm

    Gosh, this DOES SUCK. Here’s my ass-vice (feel free to completely ignore): truly dehydrated kids have dry lips/tongue, a high heartrate and no urine output for 24 hours. Yes, it does sound like poor Riley has a BAD stomach bug, but as long as he seems in relatively good spirits and keeps drinking/eating; he is probably okay.

    Man, mothering is HARD. Keep up the good work.

  13. Amy on November 13th, 2008 4:56 pm

    If you take him to the doctor now he’ll just throw up in your car! No, really, if you’re giving him pedialyte and his diapers are wet, don’t worry. If he gets a high fever and isn’t peeing……..then worry! he could have zombieitis!

  14. deannagabriel on November 13th, 2008 8:07 pm

    coming from a medical professional (a pediatric nurse for 5+ years and an almost pediatric nurse practitioner), if he seems to be in good spirits, is able to keep down fluids and is without a really high fever (103 degrees under the arm or in the ear) id say youre pretty safe with just doing your best to keep him well hydrated and letting him ride it out. its especially reassuring that it seems to be making the rounds at daycare. if he starts getting lethargic, isnt able to keep down fluids, starts getting cranky and just isnt himself, or lasts more than 3 days without getting any better…give a call to the doctors office and see what they say. im sure theyre up to date on the bugs running around your “neighborhood.” also, if he has diarrhea–stay away from the pedialyte and just stick with water if you can. while it seems kind of counterintuitive, the high sugar content in pedialyte can make diarrhea worse. if diarrhea isnt an issue and hes able to keep it down, stick with the pedialyte. also, if you find yourself changing dry diapers, its best to give the doctor a shout as well.

    i know this isnt a house call, but i hope it makes you feel a little bit better! its the best i can do from here in nyc…

    keep your chin up. sick kids suck and thats all there is to it. theyre damn lucky theyre so cute, or else wed all ship em back! feel better, dylan!

  15. Sharri on November 13th, 2008 8:17 pm

    Yep. I get EXACTLY the same when my six year old is sick. Except I imagine that my panic during sickness is WAY worse than anyone else’s could possibly be. It makes me feel so much better knowing I’m not alone…THANKS ALL.

  16. sundry on November 13th, 2008 8:18 pm

    Thanks, you guys! I called our pediatric nurse line today and they were all OMG TAKE HIM IN and once I got him there the doctor examined him and was all, yeah, he’s got some kind of stomach bug.


    They gave me some milk-free formula, though, because apparently milk can trigger stomach upset? And he hasn’t barfed all day/night so far on the Pedialyte/oatmeal diet, so knock wood. NOW YOU MUST SLEEP WEE ONE, THE OFFICE IS ON.

  17. Lesley on November 13th, 2008 8:28 pm

    I got nothing except I wish I could manage a gummy grin when I’m down with nausea (which has to be one of the worst sensations on earth).

    Babies must literally live in the now. Five seconds ago? Projectile vomiting. Right this second? Life’s cool! Never happens to me.

  18. willikat on November 13th, 2008 9:59 pm

    Whenever I have kids, I don’t know how I’m gonna take care of them when they are sick. When MY DOG barfs, I feel panicky and like I might have to take her to the emergency vet. Sometimes I cry. It’s terrible. So I can only imagine how taking care of little people could be so anxiety-making.
    I hope baby gets better soon so you can get back to your regularly scheduled life. :)

  19. MichelleH on November 14th, 2008 12:15 am

    I have no good advice to offer as I’m a total newbie with an 8-week-old baby but I have to say you couldn’t have described the feeling more perfectly. I can’t tell you how many times in the last 8 weeks I have desperately wished I had the money to hire a live in nurse instead of calling the pediatrician’s cell phone on Sunday mornings. I’m pretty sure I read the same articles about dehydration too, which is why I spend what seems like hours hovering over my baby looking for “sunken fontanels” All I can say is you are not alone.

  20. Kristi on November 14th, 2008 1:31 am

    That is just the worst feeling, isn’t it? The worry-fear-guilt cocktail is alive and well at our house too. No puking yet, but I know it’s coming!

  21. victoria on November 14th, 2008 6:41 am

    I have great advice for you: move to New Zealand, where they have a free nurses’ hotline, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, devoted exclusively to dispensing advice to parents with infants. Isn’t that GENIUS? Imagine how many frantic, sleep-deprived parents of colicky babies have been spared tremendous emotional trauma just because the Kiwis are smart enough/Socialist enough to make sure everyone in the country has constant access to a soothing and informative voice at all hours of the day and night?

  22. Krissa on November 14th, 2008 7:25 am

    @Christina – I have heard horror stories that I don’t want to pass on in your sleep-deprived, worried state, but – two weeks is a long time, and for whatever reason, some babies just don’t seem affected by ear infections the way older kids/adults are. I’d take her in.
    Free advice, take it for what it’s worth. I hope your kiddo gets to feeling better soon.

    @Victoria – that? Is amazing!

  23. eve on November 14th, 2008 7:52 am

    Baby stomach bugs are crappy, but even worse is knowing that there is a 99% chance that you will catch the same bug after tending to your sick babe, no matter how many frickin’ times you wash your hands! On a happier note, I still recall how miraculous it seemed when my son turned three and was finally capable of puking into an appropriate recepticle.

  24. MRW on November 14th, 2008 10:13 am

    Ah eve, good times. My son is 6 and I still clearly remember the stomach bug he got at about 3.5 because at that time he could barf into a bowl! Sometimes pathetic how low parenting has brought my standards for something to celebrate.

  25. monkey on November 14th, 2008 11:58 am

    Kind of off-topic but I just noticed your Twitter. I wrote a little rant on bamboo (which btw, is just rayon) a long time ago and it gets an incredible number of hits. And I guess some online bamboo linen seller was getting kind of huffy about my little rant and just wrote me this hilarious letter/blog comment today about how it’s all hogwash and bamboo has antibiotic properties wahwahwah. I didn’t publish it (it came to me for moderation) because I figure bamboo already has deceptive marketing on my side.

    Also of note-my post got noticed by a textiles professor at UMD who wrote to me saying I was absolutely right.

  26. monkey on November 14th, 2008 11:59 am

    Sorry-that should be bamboo already has deceptive marketing and a gigantic PR machine on ITS side.

    My wee blog is taking a stand! Shaking its little fist!

  27. Sarah on November 14th, 2008 3:04 pm

    I’m ALWAYS anxious when my kids are sick!! I’m holding out hope for you that it goes by quickly!! Cleaning up puke is NO FUN.

  28. BA on November 14th, 2008 4:10 pm

    I would say ride it out. If there is no fever and he’s staying hydrated, there’s nothing they will do anyway. It’s probably just the rotavirus. It’s always worse and lasts awhile the first time they get it, but it slowly starts to get easier each time they get it. Look at adults. We get the rotavirus all the time and it usually only lasts a day or two. Unfortunately in kids it seems like it never ends. I bet if Riley gets it (hopefully he won’t) it won’t last nearly as long as Dylan’s.

  29. Renee on November 17th, 2008 12:13 pm

    I used to feel that way too. I am going to tell you that it’s not going to get better especially when they are old enough to impale themselves on various household objects….everything can become a dangerous implement…

    It got better when I went and took an entry level Medical Response class. I was terrified and didn’t know if I could do it but it was the best damn experience of my life and about 6 months after I completed the course, Erica, youngest was about 5 at the time, had been outside with her Dad, who took his eyes off of her for .005 seconds and she climbed up on an old tractor disc, the big thing with all the blades?

    And she slipped and sliced open her calf. Not bad but bad enough that if I hadn’t had the experience of going through that class, I would have f’ing FREAKED THE HELL OUT.

    Instead, I evaluated her, evaluated the injury, fixed it, knew that her tetnus shot was up to date, and that was that.

    At a later date, I asked the doctor in the emergency room (I volunteered there for over a year) what they would have done and he said I completely called it right. It was deep enough to have needed stitches but it was in a place where they would NOT have done that. They would have cleaned and advised me to keep it clean and dry until it healed.

    For a gash that was about 1/5″ deep and about 4″ long on the curve of her calf, she has no scar from it.

    But they cover a lot of ailments and stuff like what to look for in dehydration patients including kids.

    Best experience ever and worth every bit of the $65 I paid for it. Community colleges and local fire departments offer this stuff all the time.

    Just my .50 cents. :)

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