Tuesday, March 13, 2007
When Ben "Lost His Starch"
My dad had spring break off from his schooling and Colin had to go to California for a business trip. My parents invited Benjamin and myself to go to our old hometown, Bend, Oregon to show of our not so new "new baby." I was really excited to go on this trip. I hadn't taken time off for awhile and even though Colin wouldn't be around, I couldn't wait to see relatives and old friends.
We packed up the car with everything including Ben's acidophilus powder that I gave him every morning in his applesauce. It was supposed to be refrigerated, but my mom packed it in ice in a tupperware and we went on our way.
Cut to six hours later. Ben was a perfect child and he didn't cry at all in the car. He just ate and babbled away. While Ben was making us proud and filling our hearts with love, the acidophilus was growing into a mutated bacteria monster. Ready to attack at any time...
The next morning we all awoke refreshed and our sinuses bleeding from the high desert air. I began my normal routine with the applesauce and acidophilus. Not knowing that I was actively giving my child food poisoning. Had someone known this, they would have ran into the room screaming "nooooooo" in slow motion and knocked the tiny spoon out of my hand. This is actually what I wished had happened, because a spoonful of applesauce would have been easier to clean up than multiple pools of vomit.
I fed Ben all day long like nothing was wrong. He finally objected to some peas and then threw up all over the Klein's dining room floor. It was the motherlode. It was the Cascade waterfalls of Bend, Oregon. Ben just opened his mouth and he gave us a vivid show and tell of his diet that day. It was impressive but disturbing. As you can imagine, I freaked out.
Ben threw up, and threw up, and threw up. I was a mess physically and mentally. Jodi Klein our dear friend and hostess took everything in stride and was truly full of grace. Thank you Jodi. At the end of the night, I finally packed Ben up in the car to take him to our friends house that we were staying with. Jodi let us borrow towels to wrap Ben up in because he had soaked his other outfits and one of her daughter's shirts. With my mom in the back holding a cool whip tub under Ben's mouth, we drove off.
I finally called Colin. The "conversation" went like this:
Erin: "Ben is throwing up" (sobbing begins)
Colin:"Is he okay?"
Erin: (still sobbing)"He's so sad"
Colin:"Erin, is he throwing up right now?"
Erin: (sobbing hysterically) "I just don't know what to do"
Colin: "Erin, calm down. Are you going to be okay?"
Erin: (shorting the phone out with tears) "He's just so little. I love you I'll call you when I can talk...(sob)...Tell you more...I love you..."
Needless to say, neither of us slept well. I stayed up with Ben until 5:30am and finally turned over baby duty to my dad. Thank you Daddy.
The next day Ben was a dishrag. He stayed in our arms all day and ran a fever and pooped his pants off. At one point in the day I overheard my dad on the phone with my grandma. He was appraising her of Ben's situation. I heard him saying "Ben got sick. He has really lost his starch." I had a vision of a sad little sailboat that's sail lost it's starch and drooped. Then he couldn't sail. My mom and I looked at each other knowing that we had had the same vision. We looked at "Starchless Ben." Weeping ensued. We left the next day and welcomed Colin home with an almost re-starched Ben.
The trip was my own personal hell. I was more worried than I had ever been in my life. I absolutely never realized how much of my heart that little boy owned until that fateful day. While remembering how I felt that day, I was reminded of a very famous quote from Elizabeth Stone. it says:
"Making the decision to have a child - it's momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking outside your body."
I never understood fully what that quote meant, until I held a very sick and helpless baby, knowing that I could do nothing for him but love him and hurt for him.
I really did learn a few things about myself those few days in Bend. I learned that I am finally a real mom. I have arrived. I can tell you now with tears rolling down my face, that I would have done anything in the world to take my baby boy's pain away. I would have taken his sickness in a heartbeat. If it were possible, I would have absorbed his fever and shaken with chills for days. I would have done anything to erase the past 24 hours of hell that he had gone through. I realized, the one thing that I could do, and that I did do, was love him.
It didn't feel like it was enough at the time, but it was. Because all we can do folks, is love our babies. No matter what. Because they need us all of the time. Especially when they are sick and sad, but all other times too. So my advice to you is, unless you are ready to "forever have your heart go walking around outside your body," don't bother. If you think that you are ready, brace yourselves, you are in for a ride.
Posted by E. E. Smith