My son is sick! Stop the planet!
It is a thousand blessings that we made it to the six month mark without so much as a sniffle, but last week all of a sudden I had a very upset baby with a temperature. He wouldn’t be put down and would only sleep for an hour at a time.
I was still putting it down to teething when the doctor pulled his socks off and revealed his little tootsies covered in spots. The diagnosis was the highly contagious hand foot and mouth disease – “totally common, nothing to worry about, happens to lots of children, take him home, give him some Panadol and make sure the fever doesn’t get too high.”
All routine stuff for the GP, but I sat there winded with shock.
Firstly, I had to have it explained to me that hand foot and mouth wasn’t something that only happens to cows and pigs. Secondly – HOW DID THIS HAPPEN???
Oh My God there was that time I didn’t wash my hands straight after I changed his nappy. Okay, it was more than once – oh the shame! Did I do this to him? Did it have something to do with him grabbing my parents’ cat? What about all the other children he has come into contact with? Should I have been more vigilant with wiping down his toys? With Rafferty things only fall into two categories – food and not food, and everything has to go into his mouth before a verdict can be issued. Even the chain on the swingset at the park got a bit of a suck before I could stop him. I am constantly prising things out of his hands before they make contact with his mouth, or after they already have.
The guilt rose up and hit me like a wave. I wanted to weep. I wanted to blame everyone I had come into contact with over the past two months. I wanted to erect a sign demanding sympathy.
I wanted the whole world to know JUST HOW BAD I FELT.
My next reaction was to make resolutions for the future. Never again will I let our dog so much as breathe on my child. Everything he wears, touches or sits on will be immediately disinfected with boiling water and antibacterial solution. No other children can come within a fifty metre radius of my precious angel if they have had a cold or a cough in their entire lives. I will buy a huge box of disposable gloves and never even touch the baby with my bare hands… I will be a shining example of hygiene for the world to emulate…
Fortunately in this instance for Raff the best medicine was sleep and cuddles, and I was able to make sure he had plenty of both, and the spots and the fever disappeared after just a couple of days.
It is certainly crazy what goes through your head when you have a sick child. I can only imagine what it would be like to have to deal with a more serious health crisis. I suppose this is my first introduction to mother’s guilt, and there’s gonna be a lifetime of it, along with a lot more icky viruses, no matter how much antibacterial handwash I chase him around with.