The Troll Princess has spent the last few days suffering the effects of a particularly nasty virus. Her predicament, along with some tweets from Deckchair Guru about his little one bought to mind the first time Buster Boy suffered from ill health, and how it affected us as new parents.
Buster Boy was only two and a half months old when we travelled up to Sydney for the wedding of two of our closest friends. We’d enlisted the help of Mrsdave’s parents, who also travelled up to baby sit while we were at the wedding and thought we had planned quite well for every contingency. Naturally, it took less than 24 hours for those plans to completely fall to pieces.
We’d arrived on Thursday evening ready for a series of events planned by the groom, which began with a delicious meal sourced from a nearby Japanese restaurant. What we didn’t take into account was the effect that this would have on Mrsdave’s breast milk. In the middle of the night Buster Boy was a little unsettled, but we dismissed that as a reaction to the day’s travel. In the morning he was still quite grizzly, but once again we thought little of it.
That morning we went to Myer in the CBD to pick up our suits for the wedding and to give Mrsdave a chance to buy a new outfit, when the effect of Buster Boy’s unsettled tummy really became apparent. I was carrying Buster Boy in a baby sling trying to settle him as he uncharacteristically refused to keep still, when his tiny body finally revealed the extent of his discomfort. An inescapable stench wafted around us and a warm, damp sensation crept across my chest. Buster Boy had made a mockery of every disposable nappy ad ever aired and not only managed to render his nappy useless, but he had drenched the sling and me in a putrid, wet mess that no ante natal class could possibly prepare you for.
At the best of times department stores can be a difficult place to navigate, and anyone who has ever searched for a toilet in Myer or DJ’s with a full bladder knows exactly how I felt, so I took the only course of action that seemed reasonable at the time and changed him on the floor of the women’s wear department. With Buster Boy cleaned up and passed off to a nearby friend I made my way through labyrinthine corridors until I came across a wash room where I could clean baby clothes, the sling and my shirt.
Although Buster Boy’s explosion had temporarily bought him some relief, it was obvious that he was still quite unhappy and his temperature seemed to be rising. We were due to join the rest of the bridal party for lunch in about an hour and Buster Boy showed no sign of settling of his own accord, in fact the only thing he wanted to do was to feed in search of some comfort, but this only upset his tummy further as whatever the ingredient was in last nights dinner that disagreed with him continued to make its presence felt.
Away from home and confronting the first time that our baby had been ill was a challenge for Mrsdave and I, we found a chemist on the way back to our hotel and asked the pharmacist for some advice. The pharmacist, almost without a second thought, handed us a bottle of panadol infant drops and told us that if anything we should err on the side of dosing Buster Boy more often rather than waiting until it had completely worn off leaving him miserable again. That was it, no particular concern, just a casual piece of advice and what seemed to be the nearest item on the shelf.
When we got back to the hotel we unloaded the wet clothes and sling, grabbed Buster Boy’s rocker and opened the panadol bottle. Mrsdave, not being as prone to hangovers as I am, wasn’t a big fan of over the counter pain killers, so the idea of simply pouring this stuff down Buster Boy’s throat was quite hard for her to come to grips with. After a few minutes of arguing the point we agreed to use the panadol and I measured out the drops with a precision that would have impressed Louis Pasteur, having first quadruple checked the dosage to keep Mrsdave happy.
Within half an hour Buster Boy was asleep, his temperature had dropped and he remained settled for hours. Of course none of that should have surprised us, but it’s amazing how you react as new parents, you feel like no-one has ever had to deal with the things that you are going through and it’s almost impossible to completely trust any information source. As you become more confident that you’re not going to break your child it’s then amazing how quickly you become blasé about these types of incidents, some temperatures are barely worth bothering about and you begin to ask the chemist exactly which cocktails of over the counter drugs you can create in the hope of providing the kids with enough relief so that you can get a decent night’s sleep yourself.
Sadly for Buster Boy his discomfort had not yet come to an end, Mrsdave had been expressing breast milk to be used to feed him while we were at the wedding, and of course this kept his tummy in tumult for another day. Finally the mystery ingredient worked its way out of Buster Boy and Mrsdave’s systems and things returned to normal, although that one little incident completely changed us as parents. We had taken the step from merely being caretakers of this noisy, hungry messy little boy to being the decision makers about him, we had to rely on our own judgement about what he needed. Looking back it was a scary feeling, but also one of some pride as we took responsibility for our beautiful son.
These days the task of deciding when to start medicating a sick child is one that is done with very little concern, it’s just a part of parenting. I couldn’t tell you when we first dosed up the Troll Princess, or why, but I don’t think that I will ever forget the feelings I had that first time with Buster Boy.