Reflections on Baby's First Illness…

One of my dearest friends came back to PA to visit her parents over the long weekend, and Little Man and I took a short road trip out to visit her. Sometimes I forget how necessary it is to make time for friends, especially the really good ones. As good as it was to see her, and catch up over lunch, and watch her interact with my son whom she hasn’t seen in many months, the best part of the day was lunch. Yes, the food was good, but even better was watching my son tear into the avocado chunks that I shared from my veggie focaccia sandwich.

Sure, he’s always liked avocado. It wasn’t the fact that he ate the avocado…it was the fact that he ate at all. See, he’s been sick for the past several days and has barely eaten anything. A few bites of applesauce, maybe. And he nursed, thank goodness (but for a day or two he barely even did that.) He’s usually such a happy eater, smiling and saying “Mmmmmm!” after each bite, but not this week.

He had a throat infection that had spread to his eyes, too. He wasn’t very sick, just sick enough to need a trip to the doctor and antibiotics. But this was our first time dealing with a sick baby, and I will admit that I’ve learned a lot through the ordeal.

Here are a few lessons I took from our first illness:

Playgroups are evil dens of germs and bacteria. The doctor thought a minute, mentally figuring how many days ago he probably picked up the offending bacteria, and said, “Where was he on Wednesday?” Lightbulb. Wednesday was the day we went to Mother Goose on the Loose at the library. His first playgroup ever. (I bet the offender was the boy who ran up and face-palmed him. 😡 ) No matter. It’s going to happen. I know that. Can I keep him in a bubble? Nope. Can I want to not take him back there for a little while? You betcha.

Yes, breastfed babies get sick, too. After nearly 13 months of nursing and not so much as a sniffle, I think I got a bit overconfident. Many of the women in my office have been talking about the different bugs their kids have gotten, and I was feeling pretty good about the fact that my son has been well, and that I hadn’t missed any days of work. Well, squash that. I take comfort in knowing that one short sickness doesn’t negate the lifetime of health benefits he’ll reap from having been breastfed. I also know that when he does get sick, it will almost surely be less extreme and for a shorter time than if I hadn’t breastfed him. And that makes me very, very happy.

Nothing breaks my heart as much as seeing my baby in pain, confused and inconsolable. I’m sure all you mamas out there will agree with this one. His droopy little eyes, his hot little head pressed against my chest, his sad little body walking halfway across the room, and then just laying down in the middle of the floor, sad and fatigued. Oh, it just broke my heart. I’m so, so thankful that I had my mom and dad to care for him so I didn’t have to miss a lot of work, but I hate that they had to see him like that too. I know it broke their hearts (This is their first and only grandchild, and they are softies!)  After asking the doctor, I now know that he was achy, with a very sore throat and most likely a pounding headache. Seeing him like that and not being able to take it away was the most powerless I’ve ever felt in my life, and I hated it. It did, however, make me feel very thankful for his overall health. My heart goes out to all the parents out there who have to deal with serious childhood illnesses. That takes some serious strength.

I can handle this. I know, I know. I’m probably making this sound way worse than it really was. Mamas who have been at this for a while would probably laugh at my dramatic take on it. I understand that I will have to deal with this many, many more times. But this was the first, for him and for us. After a day and a half of a fever and irritability, I called the doctor and my boy was on his way to feeling better. But, at first, I didn’t know what was wrong and I will admit that I was scared. I’ve learned so much since becoming a mom, but there are still a lot of firsts left. My main point in writing this post is that I’m learning each day that whatever happens, scary or not, Mama-mode will kick in and I will handle it to the best of my ability, and I will do whatever it takes to keep that precious little boy happy, healthy and safe. Floundering because I don’t know what to do just isn’t an option.

Each day I feel just a little more broken in as a mom, and each day I have more and more respect for all the mamas out there who have been through the endless trials and tribulations that make us stronger, smarter, and so well equipped to lead the next tribe of new moms that need our help.

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