In The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams tells us that to travel the universe, one should have a copy of the Hitchhiker’s Guide, which bears the words Don’t Panic on the front in big, friendly letters.
Well, I think someone should invent a Parents’ Guide to the Sick Baby that also bears the words Don’t Panic on the front in big, friendly letters. And every parent should have one.
Because there’s nothing scarier than when your child gets sick, especially the first time.
Stinkerbelle has had a cold before, and has had an ear infection, but has not really been sick. Not until yesterday.
All day yesterday, she was gassy and gurgly and spitting up. A lot. But around mid-afternoon was when she began feeling poorly.
We gave her a bit of Ovol, to help with the gassiness, and she seemed to be okay. But I noticed around 4 or so, she was really tired. Not lethargic or anything, but tired. And she was getting increasingly crabby.
I thought she was going to need her dinner and go to bed early. But around that time, BDH noticed she was very warm. We gave her a diaper change and put her in her jammies, and took her temperature. 102.4.
We started calling family for advice. And we got out baby books. We gave her a dose of Tylenol to bring down her fever, and I gave her a bottle so she could get to bed and get some sleep.
BDH was hovering around, worrying, because today he goes to Boston on a business trip. He was not keen on the idea of leaving me to deal with a baby who was feeling poorly, but I told him I would be fine. We thought she was probably starting teething, and that the fever was a result of that. I assured him that a little Tylenol, maybe a little Anbesol on the gums if she needed it, and everything would be fine.
And that is when Stinkerbelle sat up and projectile vomited all over me, the chair, and the floor.
We sat there a little stunned for a second. What just happened?
But we did not panic.
It’s hard not to panic in the face of a projectile vomiting baby — or at least, the first time it happens. Veteran parents are old hat with this sort of thing and so they can cope, get the child cleaned up and to bed with little worry. But with new parents, not so much.
But we kept our heads. Me, I was having a hard time thinking it was anything terribly serious, mostly because I was taking my cues from Stinkerbelle. And she just didn’t seem… sick. I mean, obviously she had a fever and had just yacked an entire bottle all over me. But she didn’t seem to be FEELING too sick. She was still chattering and wasn’t upset. So, neither was I.
BDH, on the other hand, snapped into crisis mode. Right down to business. He grabbed her health card and got right on the phone to Ontario TeleHealth. We spoke with a nurse who gave us some advice on what it could be, what to do to make out daughter comfortable and get her to bed, and told us how to treat her going forward. And she told us that if our daughter vomits again, we are to call them back.
So we followed her advice. And about half an hour later, Stinkerbelle barfed again.
Back on the phone with the nurses at Ontario TeleHealth. They really were awesome. More advice, this time to give our daughter a half-strength bottle in increments of 1-2 teaspoons every 5 minutes until she was full enough or tired enough to sleep, and more plans for going forward. And we wrote down our plan for the next 24 hours.
All the time I was on the phone, BDH was trying to comfort a very tired, very hungry and very upset baby. She was screaming blue murder, and she no doubt felt hot and uncomfortable. But he managed to tough it out and calm her down (hopefully without any permanent hearing loss on his part. That girl can be LOUD.)
We tried putting her to bed several times, but each time she would wake and fuss. Her tummy was empty. So it was time for a little half-strength formula.
It’s not easy to feed a very hungry baby in very small increments. But Stinkerbelle was already starting to feel a little bit better. Enough of the Tylenol must have stayed in her, and her fever was coming down a little bit. And she was smiling and playing with me. So we sat in the dark of her playroom, and I rocked her and we sang songs and played and giggled, and although she could only have a couple of sips of weak formula every few minutes, she seemed to be fine with that. She was happy to be snuggled and playing.
After an hour or so of that, a bit of formula spouted back on her — not much, but enough to signal she had had enough for now. So I put on Van and rocked her to sleep.
She went to bed with no complaint. And so did we.
I fully expected a rough night. But as I checked the clock at 1:30 am, and then at 5:40 am, I realized we had not heard a peep all night. She had slept through the night.
Hopefully, when I go get her after letting her sleep in this morning, she will be feeling better. And hopefully her appetite will have returned and her vomiting will not. And hopefully, BDH can head off on his business trip without worrying about leaving His Girls alone to cope.
So, our first little health crisis has hopefully passed, and we did okay. And, thanks in part to Douglas Adams, we knew enough to not panic.