Sickness and sleeplessness

I started this year in full January-cliche mode – energetic, full of ideas for the new year, excited about all the plans I had. I wrote here about our marvellous Mauritius trip and how I’d returned feeling ‘rejuvenated’.

What a reckless word to use. The thing is, when you’re a parent, you just can’t use words like ‘rejuvenated’, ‘revitalised’ or ‘energised’. Either you’re already lying to yourself, or it won’t last long.

We got back from Mauritius and the next day, Reid was a bit out of sorts. At first, I thought it was the adjustment to being home and the late night he’d had the night before. (Our plane landed in the evening and after the whole passports-luggage-customs thing, we screeched into our driveway after 9 pm with Reid screaming in the back. Yes, Reid can handle new environments, but late nights – no.) Then later that day he sprouted a tooth, and we could see another tooth right under the gum. Ah, teething! More explanations for grumpiness.

But then he got a runny tummy that wasn’t going away and a fever that went away but then came back. He vomited all over me at 2 am, and stayed awake most of the night, not really crying, but just moaning for hours and hours in Mom’s arms. My baby who eats everything (except butternut, of all things) now wouldn’t eat at all. So while the nanny and the rest of the family kept telling me it just looked like bad teething symptoms, I still carted him off to the doctor.

Of course, the moment we arrived in the doc’s waiting rooms, Reid acted like he was cured, turning on the charm for the receptionists and giggling at their fish tank. The doctor ran some tests regardless, and we continued to monitor his symptoms during our no-sleep week.

The test results came back a few days later. Reid not only had salmonella but also E.coli bacteria! I was shocked and horrified. The doc said he likely caught something on the plane – possibly from food he ate, but it could have been something he touched (which had also been touched by someone who hadn’t washed their hands). And Reid touches everything. On top of this, he got two new teeth in the same week. The poor kid.

Sadly (but also thankfully, because yay for medicine), he had to go on his first course of antibiotics. Previously, I’d been so pleased that our fairly healthy baby had avoided antibiotics. But here we were, scratching off another baby first. The medicine’s packaging depicted a grinning dinosaur and stated ‘tasty banana flavour’ so at least there was that.

I’ve tried not to dwell too much on the helplessness I felt – helpless that I couldn’t have protected him from getting sick (short of staying home and not going anywhere, ever); helpless that hugs and boobs and bum-patting were not enough to cure him. But I guess I’m glad that my instincts were right – that I knew it was more than just teething and I took him to the doc – and that despite my own exhaustion, I made it through the horrid week somewhat sane and still conscious enough to comfort him.

Reid is feeling much better now and we have had a bit more sleep this week. I don’t think I’ll be saying I feel ‘rejuvenated’ any time soon, but I can say, without hesitation, that I feel very grateful for my healthy, happy baby. And of course, for the extra zzzs.

 

Nappy bag checklist

While spare nappies should always be at the top of your ‘to pack’ list when venturing out the house, nappy bags, it turns out, are not just for nappies. I’ve compiled a full list of what to pack (below) but here’s a little disclaimer: you don’t really need all this stuff.  Not really really. You need nappies, wipes, a spare outfit and food/milk. You will survive without the rest.

But if, like me, you’re too exhausted to remember what you need, or you pride yourself on being a Prepared Parent (laughing at myself right now), here’s a handy checklist:

  • Nappies. Take at least two more than you think you need for the outing.
  • Changing mat. I like Cherubs Care Mats. They’re soft, disposable, absorbent, and waterproof. (I’ve also used one of these as a make-shift playmat on the floor of the doctor’s waiting room.)
  • Scented nappy sacks. You need somewhere to put the dirty nappy and wipes when you’re on the move. Dischem’s Baby Thing’s Nappy Bags are great value for money. If you’re using cloth diapers, remember to pack your wetbag or a sealable plastic bag for dirty diapers.
  • Bum cream. I use Sudocrem when we use disposables, and coconut oil (or nothing) with cloth nappies.
  • Wipes (for the bum). For nappy changes, I like Cherubs or Pigeon baby wipes.
  • Hand and mouth (and all-over) wipes. Essential for older babies, particularly if your baby has started solids and/or is crawling. I love the Pigeon Hand & Mouth Baby Wipes and Stikki Fingers Family Wipes.
  • Spare baby outfit(s). Spit-ups, poopsplosions, food messes, changes in weather … There are many reasons to take a change of clothes. Don’t forget socks and/or a hat, depending on the season.
  • Spare parent outfit. Reid once peed all over me while we were out. Pack an extra T-shirt for yourself, just in case.
  • Blanket. You may need an extra blanket in cold weather. Also handy as a make-shift playmat.
  • Dummy/ pacifier.
  • Bibs. Pack enough dribble bibs, plastic-backed bibs and/or sleeved bibs, depending on your requirements. I love love love Mum 2 Mum’s Wonder Bibs.
  • Burp cloths. When I was pregnant, I thought I could get away with only owning two burp cloths. Hahahaha.
  • Formula. Pre-measure the scoops into a formula dispenser. I like ClevaMama’s Travel Container, particularly because the sections are big enough to hold seven scoops of formula easily.
  • Bottles and pre-boiled water. If you need to keep water warm, there are plenty of insulated bottle holders on the market. I’d advise getting the same brand as the bottles you’re using.
  • Sippy cup and water. For babies who have started drinking water.
  • Food and utensils. For babies who have started solids.
  • Snacks for Mom. In my early days of breastfeeding, I was ravenous all the time. A few times, I popped out the house, thinking I’d survive an hour without food (surely?), and then nearly collapsed from starvation on the drive. Buy a bunch of snack bars for a quick blood-glucose fix and leave them in the nappy bag for emergencies.
  • Toys and teethers.
  • Medicines. Which medicines you take with you depends on you and your baby (eg if your baby is sick or teething). Lately, I’ve just been packing Allergex, as I don’t know what relatives are going to stuff into Reid’s little mouth when I’m not watching, and I’d rather be safe.
  • Sunblock. Bennetts Sunblock comes as a roll-on, which is handy for wriggly babies. Eucerin Kids Sun Lotion (for children over one year) is also highly recommended.

 

What do you always pack in your nappy bag? Have I left anything off the list? Let me know in the comments below!