Baby’s First Super-Heinous Illness

Tuesday, I came home early from work, in preparation for Winter Storm Janus, to find Charlie barfing up bananas. Then he switched to barfing up bile. Then he started barfing out his nose. He was pale to the point of being a little blue, and his pediatrician had also closed up shop for the day on account of the declining weather. He was listless and a bit like a rag doll when I picked him up, and couldn’t keep his eyes open, or closed. They were half-open and foggy.
I started trying to get him hydrated and getting the barf cleaned up off the both of us while symptom-checking on the Internet and figuring out how we might get to an emergency room. The Baby Center online symptom checker said he for sure had blood poisoning, and gave no other options. Clearly this was horse shit. “Oh, vomiting and pale? Blood poisoning. It’s super-rare and he was vaccinated against it, as are most babies, but here we are. So get off the Internet and call an ambulance.”
“Blood poisoning? Really?”
“Oh, for sure.”
“Go home, Internet; you’re drunk.”
In fairness to the Internet, once during my sophomore year of college I checked my bronchitis-like symptoms in a good, old-fashioned medical reference book. It advised me to turn to page 223 for results. Page 223 said, “Call 911. You are having a heart attack.” So I learned early on that all symptom checkers are drunk, but have not yet applied that lesson to my life. I’ve continued to spend my days checking radio buttons that describe which body parts are doing which abnormal things, and continue not to be convinced that I’m having a heart attack at this exact moment.
I texted Andy, who was also on his way home, to let him know we’d need to take a trip to the ER if Charlie didn’t start improving. I threw away all the breast milk in the fridge, in case it was contaminated. This felt tragic, since it was nearly 20 oz. I sterilized all the pumping and feeding equipment. Charlie (and I) were covered in vomit, and because Charlie’s hands and feet were cold, we took a long, warm shower. He was in no way squirmy, so it was leisurely. After a little while, he perked up enough to start batting at the shower curtain. Hooray, shower curtains are once again magical! Andy came home as we were drying off and got Charlie dressed while I got ready to try to nurse him again.
I am super-duper proud of myself that up to this point, I had not freaked the fuck out. I was calm and rational and took care of business. At this point, Charlie started drinking AND keeping it down, and the light kind of turned back on in his eyes. I said to Andy that it seemed liked we turned the corner which is great and WAAAAAAHHHHH. I started sobbing, and have been freaked the fuck out ever since.
He’s completely fine now. Chipper, even. Apart from the lingering dehydration, the whole affair only lasted three hours. But yesterday, when I texted my father-in-law to see how Charlie was doing while I was working, I never heard back. So naturally assumed that Charlie had died and that my father-in-law was waiting until I got home to break the news in person. Most of my brain knew that the lack of response was due to the fact that I’m dealing with a man who had never used a cell phone before moving in with us to help with Charlie. My first day back to work after maternity leave, he sent me a text that was just the letter “Q.” Fortunately, Andy beat me home from work and texted me a picture as proof that Charlie was fine. I’d requested a photo of Charlie holding today’s paper, but then they’d have to go out in the snow to get a paper.
All told, it was a good first illness for Charlie to have, because it was brief. It was good practice for when he inevitably gets a more serious childhood illness, which I will now spend every day fretting about until its arrival. Hooray!


See? He’s fine.



  1. OMG – you have me laughing so hard! While I very sorry for your angst – you sure make me remember the panic and helpless feeling when Andy got his first illness. It DOES get easier but then, you know that. Way to handle the emergency and I’m so happy all is well now! Love you tons, MIL

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