It’s inevitable that your baby will get sick at some point in their first year. Seeing your baby ill and suffering is truly heart wrenching. When he sneezes and gets the sniffles, you will instantly think he has the plague. Then you will feel responsible for giving him the plague. Your parents and in-laws will ask you how the baby got the plague and you will hang your head in shame as you whisper that it might have been because someone coughed on the baby and you were too slow to leap in between and suckerpunch them in their germy mouth.
Then you will be forced to go to the doctor just to allay the fears of all the hypochondriacs in the family who look at you with patronising eyes that say, “leave it to the professionals, you know nothing, you gave your baby the plague”. By now your head is saying your baby doesn’t have the plague and all he needs is a bit of baby Vicks but no one is listening because you are not a doctor. Then the doctor says the same thing and you say, ‘ha, I told you!’ but no one is listening because they are too busy rejoicing over having narrowly escaped the plague.
Well-meaning advice will be dispensed at every turn by the overly concerned grandparents. A gentle snore from having a blocked nose is translated as wheezing and a sign of a chest infection. The heating should be on full blast and the new-fangled sleeping bag that wasn’t around in their day and can’t possibly be as warm as an old fashioned quilt is treated with suspicion. Your concerns about overheating are instantly dismissed.
Armed with medicine, decongestants and questionable ancient Indian remedies, you look after your baby as best as you can. You do battle with an endless stream of snot which your baby won’t let you wipe – attempts at putting him in a headlock and restraining the rest of his body whilst sucking on the snot sucker are futile, he is just too quick and wriggly. A vapour for the room tastefully masks the ever lingering smell of poo in your house but is ineffective. Calpol will be adamantly refused and the Snuffles tub will get lost somewhere behind the bed, but somehow they start to get better. This will coincide with you starting to feel ill. But before that can happen, Hubby will steam ahead and discover he has man flu and therefore cannot do anything remotely helpful other than go to bed early.
Occasionally, you may be unfortunate enough to experience the additional side effect of diarrhoea. It’s most likely to be from a virus but you will believe that it’s because you have poisoned your baby with your cooking. Or that your inadequate cleaning led to him eating rubbish off the floor. Or your slowness at stopping him lick the aqueous cream was to blame. Ultimately, you will feel like you have failed and your baby is suffering because you couldn’t look after them properly.
Cue another visit to the doctor. This is not a happy visit. Your baby will squirm away from the thermometer. The stethoscope will be viewed with interest until it is actually used, whereupon ear-splitting screams will emerge. This will continue throughout the session. You will then have to leave quickly, whilst reassuring the doc that the screams are normal and not from pain.
The next few days are long and soul-destroying. You have no contact with anyone to prevent spreading germs. You lose count of how many pooey nappies you’ve changed. You can’t do anything because they are so clingy and fractious. The new bland diet seems worse than prison food. You get upset every time you see how sore his bottom is. Thinking it might be good to let some air in down there you leave the nappy off only for him to unload all over your jeans and carpet [epic fail]. IT’S DEPRESSING AND THERE IS NO RESPITE. This is because your baby has infected everyone in your family so they can’t help you because they are too busy coughing up their lungs and wiping their own snot. After several meltdowns you get over it. Eventually your baby gets over it too. You will become elated at the sight of solid poo, something that you wouldn’t ever have thought possible prior to having a baby.
And then the worst is over. Congratulate yourself, you have both survived.