Too Ill To Drink Coffee: A Drama In Real Life

The Squirrelly got a bunch of cool toys for his birthday, but his favorite is the Busy Ball Popper. It’s this long, snaking tube, and when you put something into one end an invisible force accelerates it until it is ejected from the other end with explosive velocity.

Speaking of which: I have the flu.

It all started innocently enough on Friday evening, when The Squirrelly refused his dinner. Unfortunately, this refusal came 30 minutes after he had injected it. While sitting in my lap. Right at the best part of The Very Busy Spider, where I get to make the goat noises. He had been making this funny little coughing sound for about 10 minutes, and I interrupted my reading to say “Oh, stop: you’re not fooling me with your fakey-cough sympathy ploy.” And then, hoo boy, he showed me.

So I panicked and insisted we drive him directly directly to the emergency room because, my god, when has a baby ever thrown up before? The Queen pretended to play along, but basically stalled and waited for me to come to my senses. “I’ll get ready to go,” she said, and then went into the bathroom and slowly bushed her teeth. Meanwhile, I did a Google search for “baby +vomiting” and got around 40 quintillion hits, and every site said things like “You should take your child to the urgent care unit if (a) he is throwing up every five minutes (b) for 350 hours continuously. Otherwise: welcome to parenthood! Hope you enjoy doing laundry, chump!” That calmed me down (or maybe I had just become apathetic and uncaring about everything, as I always do after surfing the web) and I went into the bedroom, where The Queen was still clad and her pajamas, and announced that I didn’t think a trip to the emergency room was required after all.

We put The Squirrelly to bed and the next morning he ate a modest breakfast. His appetite was diminished for the remainder of the day, but we cycled so much electrolyte solution through his system that he was as hydrated as a sea sponge. Also, he took a two-hour nap in the morning and another in the afternoon — vomit more often, kiddo! By the time he ate a smallish dinner and went to sleep Saturday evening, we thought the worst was behind us.

And then came Sunday — Palm Sunday, according to the calendar, but that we in the Baldwin household shall forever remember as “That One Day When We Were Totally Sick, Holy Shit Were We Ever Sick That Day.”

I kicked of the festivities around 5:00 in the morning. “Wow, I feel totally nauseated*,” I announced, and then went into the bathroom and proved it. “Are you pregnant?” The Queen asked when I returned. “Oh just you wait, wife o’ mine,” I retorted. “You’ll get yours.”

Well, I didn’t really retort that. But I would have had the world’s best “I told you so!” about five hours later if I had.

Since our bodies were hosting clearance sales (“Everything must go!!“) from 10 o’clock onwards, The Queen and I had about one joule of energy between the two of us, while The Squirrelly, full of vim after recovering from his bout, was a lil’ dynamo, and the whole day played out like a children’s book about cheetah kitten adopted my a family of sloths. Basically, we did the entire day in two hour shifts: one of us would lay in bed and moan, and the other would “take care of the baby,” which consisted of watching him play while they lay on the couch and moaned.

Which brings me back to the Busy Ball Popper. When The Squirrelly first received it, I was skeptical — it’s hyperkenetic and too colorful and not interactive, a TV without a volume control knob, essentially. But that was before it parented our child for an entire day. Between it and the Laugh and Learn Learning Home he was pretty much occupied for the entire day, and all we had to do was occasionally carry him to his high chair and hurl handfuls of Cheerios in his general direction. And he even had Baby Tad to give him appropriate, confidence-building affirmations (“I love you!!”), whereas the best I could muster was to crawl up to him at one point and croak “Despite the fact that you picked up this hideous disease at daycare and brought it home to your loving parents, we don’t want you to consider our suffering ‘your fault,’ although we certainly do.”

(Oh, I never mentioned that The Squirrelly began daycare? He started last Wednesday. And he got sick on Friday. And the incubation period for this illness is two days. You do the math. The only other child at the daycare Wednesday was an adorable little girl named Avery, so we have of course fingered her as the culprit, and have even been jokingly referring to the bug as the “Avery Influenza” or, when we don’t have the strength to articulate that many syllables, the “bird flu.” That’s right: we have named the disease that has made us want to die after another disease that actually kills people. This is what has passed for jocularity around here recently.)

Anyway, today we woke up feeling well enough to drink coffee, which, around here, is pretty much the continental divide between life-threatening and benign illnesses. I even ate a bowl of corn flakes, an act that was unthinkable 24 hours ago. (The only thing I ate yesterday was a single rice cake, and that took two hours of dedicated effort.) And judging from The Squirrelly, who today seems fit as fiddle, I should be tip-top again by Wednesday.

Although I’m not sure the trajectory of my recovery will mirror that of the kid’s, since the disease has affected us in profoundly different ways. We had the same symptoms, sure. But The Squirrelly took the illness in stride, weathering it like a man; whereas I weathered it like a helpless, mewling baby.

* Yeah, so I actually said “nauseous.” Sue me.

* * *

18 comments.

  1. and in yet another – they really don’t tell you this do they – moment I’m pleased to inform you that you will be sick with viruses brought home by your child for the next three years followed by a six months repeat performance each time he switches schools. If you have a few more kids you can be sick all the time.

  2. That’s no flu. That’s a bug and yes, Squirrelly will bringing home lots of them over the next few months. Welcome to daycare!

  3. So we’ve got the ball popper too. Hours of fun (once he stopped being deathly afraid of it) EXCEPT – why does the thing shoot the balls out of the machine and across the wood floor? I do not get that. Stay in the machine and go around the orange plastic spiral of fun little ball! Don’t go under the chair…again.

    or is it just ours that does that?

    Also – we had that same day about three months ago. Thank god the house has more than once bathroom and we had a crib to stick the baby in. It, along with the current respiratory ailment came from daycare, but as my mom has told me, he’s either gonna pick up his immunities now or when he goes to

  4. Daycare is not the only culprit. I am home all day with my son, and he still picks up bugs from playgroup, church nursery and goodness knows where else. We all had “the virus of doom” over the Christmas holiday and managed to share it with ALL of the extended family. It is just not Christmas Eve unless someone has to go to the hospital for fluids (Father in Law) or gagging up their toenails (all the rest of us). And yes, the baby was the culprit to start it all off- he was the first to vomit.

  5. Oh, boy. Do you ever have my sympathy. Our household did a few rounds with the stomach flu not too long ago and we don’t even have a baby.

    There is nothing, nothing in the world, that breaks down your will to live like the stomach flu. The best you can hope for is that you don’t cry out for your mommy out loud.

  6. OK, that’s weird because this just happened to us. On Saturday the baby slipped and hit her head and immediately projectile vomited peas on me, just like the Exorcist. We called the baby Dr. hotline, they said “if she throws up again in the next few hours, go the emergency room.”

    10 hours and one catscan later and many, many destroyed clothes we discovered she had the stomach flu. On Sunday. So I was sick on Sunday when you were sick.

    And thanks! We know what to ask for her birthday now! It’s on Friday…

    When I told this to my husband he said “maybe it’s one of those internet viruses.”

  7. Feed the Squirrelly mints. Starlight mints, Andes mints, meltaways, doesn’t matter. That way the puke doesn’t smell so bad. Just ask my six year old!

  8. My 3 year old has been sick every other week since starting school. He then proceeds to give it to our 1 year old. Fun fun fun. I have to give that mint trick a go.

  9. We just had it at Casa X too – – only it was the high fever flu which makes for some freak outs. I was googling “baby and fever and brain damage” when the thermometer creeped towards 103.4. He was fine the next day, albeit a little lethargic.

  10. (1) It’s not all stomach flu, you will learn to know respiratory infections, too.

    (2) In a few years, when films join your surrogate parent repertoire, it’s useful to know that Mary Poppins is over 2 hours, quite a bit longer than most other kids’ movies.

  11. Heh. Welcome to parenting! And you thought it was going to be cute and fun! You will come to know vomit, oh yes, you will.

    I remember back in the “one child” days, she was about the Squirrely’s age, when her mom and I BOTH got the “stomach bug that hurts so bad all you can do is lie on the floor in the fetal position, moaning and having stomach cramps so bad they’d curl you up on the floor in the fetal position if you hadn’t already figured that out and assumed the position already”. She sort of wandered around the living room, (fenced in by our supine bodies on the floor), playing with her toys and occassionally giving us very strange looks, like “what the hell are you to freaks doing anyway?”

    Fun times.

    And we had the “virus of doom” mentioned previously as well, as did many of our child-rearing friends.

  12. OMG I can’t wait to have a baby.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  13. What would happen to us if we never outgrew that stage of human development known scientifically as the “Putting Everything in Your Mouth Years?” We’d either be sick less, immune to every germ on the planet or – like the Boy – mobile, squealing petri dishes. Bite your fingernails on a regular basis people, can’t stress this enough.

  14. I don’t think God was doing His best planning when he made it so the baby’s sick first, then we catch it and lie on the floor and moan and plead for death while the baby, miraculously recovered, zooms around the house destroying things and demanding juice.

    Which is how we spent yesterday. McAfee’s clearly not doing it’s job.

  15. Ah, you’re not really a parent until you’ve tried to CATCH the vomit to keep it from spattering the favorite blanket. The blanket that if taken for washing will create such fits of crying and hysteronics that the sheer snot engendered by the crying with cause gagging and further vomiting.

    Yeah good times, good times.

  16. I have kids 2, 3, and 8. While I went through several years of being sick all of the time (as one poster suggested), after years of treating my immune system the way the parents treated their reproductive system in Geek Love, I almost never get sick any more. Truly, that which does not kill us makes us stronger.

    And I second the notion that you are not truly a parent until you’ve deliberately caught vomit in your hands.

  17. Between your post and the last comment, I am finding our household’s recent bout with the stomach flu much funnier.

  18. Well I am glad you said nauseous and not nauseated, because nauseous is the correct usage here. So I really do not understand why you said one and pretended to say the other.