Tuesday, 4 November 2014

If It's Not One Thing, It's a Gastro Bug


Six weeks ago, our babies came down with a cold. Runny nose, congested cough, run-of-the-mill stuff. For some reason, and maybe it's to do with them being premmie babies, this hung around for over two weeks. So while they were snuffly and blocked up, they were terrible with their sleep and we dished out the comfort cuddles and just did our best to roll with it.

Sure. I mean a cold is just a cold, right? It will do its thing and pass. Then we can get back to normal.

This two weeks became three weeks, and then they both came down with conjunctivitis. First Baby A woke up with red-rimmed eyes, that later on became crusty. Of course Baby J followed suit by the end of the day. So as well as the runny nose, we now had two sets of red-rimmed, crusty eyes refusing to sleep.

Fine. I mean, of course they were going to get conjunctivitis, after rubbing all that snot around their face. I got it. More quarantining of them. More hand-washing by us.

As week three became week four, and I'd finished cleaning out the last of the pus from the babies' eyes, Baby A woke up with a rash around his mouth that quickly became a hideous case of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFM). Not one to miss out, Baby J developed his case later that day.

A lot of kids get HFM, I've been told it's as contagious as a common cold. And from what I hear, lots of kids get a mild version: a few spots on their hands and feet, maybe a scattering over their bottoms.

I have a problem with both of these points.

First of all, while HFM is hugely contagious, I can't think where they'd have got it from. My big kids have both had their share of HFM - apparently kids only get it once and then they're immune (though a lot of parents would say differently). In any case, they have had no symptoms, so can't have passed it on. I asked our doctor if they could have 'carried' HFM into the house without displaying symptoms and was told no. The babies have had no contact with anyone displaying any symptoms of HFM. They actually don't even go out of the house that much, let alone have contact with random, germy people. But still they caught it. Whatever!

On the second point, let me say this: my babies had spots all over their body. Their face, arms, legs, hands and feet. Inside their mouth. All over their bottoms. Big, blistery spots. It was atrocious. Another week passed by with them in quarantine until the spots disappeared. More sleepless nights for us.

Look, I can make my peace with the mysterious HFM, that somehow shape-shifted its way into our house. That just happened to follow 4 weeks of other unwell crap for my babies. These things happen. And what's another week of sleepless nights when we're kind of getting used to it anyway? Besides, if my doctor's right, the babies were now immune from catching HFM in the future, which is a bonus for when they start day-care next year. So I manned up, and again, we just got on with things.

And finally, after five weeks of being unwell, the babies began to resume their cheery nature, glow with health and we had not a runny nose in sight. Because they were no longer stuffed up, itchy or uncomfortable, their sleep drastically improved! Relief. We were finally back on track.

And then yesterday morning, gastro came knocking at our door. We seriously hadn't even made it past five days of being well before poor Baby J was taken down. To keep him company, Baby A went off his food and became really whingey and clingy. Again, we don't know where it came from. Fortunately, Baby J wasn't too badly affected. He managed to keep fluids down, so there was no danger of dehydration. I am just praying that it hasn't passed to any of us.

But you know, with the all the practice over the last few weeks, we are now pretty good with cordoning off germy little people in our house and keeping our hands fastidiously dosed in hand sanitiser. So with a bit of luck, it might pass the rest of us by.

With a bit more luck, maybe when this one is over, we could get through a whole week without the unwell/contagious stuff. These babies have got things to do, places to go. New and improved immune systems to test out.....

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