I love food. But also, and notably more importantly, I love my son. This week, I found myself unable to do the former, whilst also feeling as if I was failing at the latter.
This week, I got food poisoning that lasted 5 whole freaking days.
It all started when I was making some lunch for my husband(always an adventure in this household, because I used to be good at planning meals… but that’s a story for another time). For myself, I decided that I could use a light snack.
I went for a tortilla, some cheese, and pulled out some salsa and sour cream. I remembered that the salsa and sour cream had been left out for some time the last time they had been used, but couldn’t be certain of the damage, or if there was any damage really.
My ignorance became my Hell, for the next four nights.
According to this release from the CDC approximately 1 of every 25 restaurant-associated foodborne illnesses could be traced back to contaminated salsa or guacamole(c. 1998-2008). More research into Google Search University shows that because of the nature of raw ingredients in salsa, it is a pretty volatile food item that requires proper storage and handling always.
A few hours after ingesting my (unbeknownst to me) contaminated salsa-filled quesadilla, I started to feel woozy, and my stomach began to rumble. I spent the next 12 hours emptying the contents of my stomach and bowels every 20 minutes, without fail. Needless to say, I slept very little, and had almost no energy to spare in the next day. I think it was only by God’s grace that during those hellish hours, my son did not wake during any of my many trips to our bathroom.
I had hoped that after my hellish bathroom trip filled night, the next day would at least run smoothly. I was forced to abandon hope quickly.
Because I hadn’t slept all night, I was extremely tired. Because the contents of my stomach had been completely emptied my blood sugar was low, and I felt extremely lightheaded. Because there was still bacteria causing my stomach to hate me, I could not eat anything without then having to run nauseously to the toilet only minutes afterward.
This whole episode had left my 4-month old son in a state of utter confusion.
I mean, he’s a baby. Confusion is not something new to him, as opposed to everything in the world and in his life being actually quite, and always, new to him. Confusion is the one thing that I think babies are actually semi-used to. Still, there’s a difference between his regular learning confusion, and the kind of confusion that frustrates a baby.
What my son was experiencing was frustrated confusion. Mommy always plays with him, gives him lots of kisses, holds him, reads to him, sings to him, etc. Today, Mommy has put him in a chair, or under his jungle gym, now in a rocker, back under the jungle gym. There are no stories, no songs, the kisses are few, and the laughs have almost no energy. This isn’t the Mommy he’s used to.
As I sat there in my weakened state, doing to the absolute best I could manage, I could not help but wonder if my baby perhaps thought I didn’t love him as much or that I was just a different person?
I know this seems ridiculous, because: do babies really have this depth of thinking capability? I don’t know. But what I do know is that my baby cooed and cried out for my attention many times over this week, and I had little to respond to him with. When he was with his father, or grandmother, or a friend that I called over to help, he was visibly irate and uncomfortable.
My baby was sleeping all right, but at times could have been better. He was getting fed, and because of all of the toys he has, and people helping out, he was certainly still learning and being stimulated. But nothing is quite the same as when your primary caregiver is doing things for you.
You don’t get sick days when you’re a mom, and I needed almost an entire sick week. I felt like a failure.
Here’s the thing: I don’t have any recollection in my childhood of my mother ever being sick. I know that my mother is human, and as I’ve gotten older and grown more independent, I’ve certainly seen her get sick. But when she was mine and my siblings primary caregiver, I don’t remember any instance of it at all.
I remember when I was sick and she was there for me. Yet I don’t recall this from her, ever. If my mother was ever sick, man did she ever push through it so that it didn’t show. It made me wonder how she did it, because it made me believe that all parents are a little superhuman, so why wasn’t I?
Failure is hard to deal with, but sometimes, you have to give yourself a little grace to recognize that being human, you’re bound to come up short, but that doesn’t always mean you’ve failed.
This is why I had to ask for help, something that I’m not very good at, despite the acknowledgement of my many many many many many many shortcomings.
It was also important for me to let go of those things which I could not feasibly control, such as the way that other people handled the duties that I normally was in charge of. The true heroes here were my husband, mother-in-law, and friend, that all offered their help when I needed it. And maybe my son wasn’t as happy with them as he might’ve been with me in our usual routine, but he’s healthy. And there’s plenty of time to make him happy.
It’s day 5 of my recovery, and I’m stuck eating crackers and bananas while I smell my husband eating ribs. But today I was able to play with my son, and even write a blog in the couple of hours while he napped. I guess that concludes the first round of Millennial Mother Vs. Being Sick, and I’m feeling like it’s a pretty good life after all.