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We survived Olivia’s illness (barely)

I’ve eluded a bit in previous posts about our hellacious week prior to this with Olivia getting sick.

Yesterday was the first day since last Monday night that either of us are back to our normal selves. The worst thing about GI viruses is that they tend to come from out of nowhere. Let me tell you all about this sickness, because it sucked, you guys. Be prepared. I started typing this and it took me two and a half hours. It’s so long I’ve put in some headings to break it up because I feel bad. So grab some popcorn, or a cup of coffee and settle in. And hey, if you don’t have time, you can just skim the headings and get the jist of it.

Monday night: It starts

Last Monday night we put Olivia to bed around 7:00 p.m. I was warming up the office downstairs with the space heater because I was going to work on an article. I decided to pee quick, so I was in the bathroom when I heard her start crying at about 7:15. Chris burst into the bathroom as I was mid-wipe and held out his phone with the baby monitor pulled up: “Did she just throw up?” Sure enough, she had. A lot. It was everywhere. She was covered in it. Luckily, luckily, she had refused her dinner and only really ate a banana and nursed before bed, so really it was not much different than her ginormous spit ups she did was she was really little.


Let me interrupt by saying, I had a legit phobia of barf. Whether it’s me, or witnessing someone else, my anxiety is through the roof. A couple months ago when Chris and I were the ones to get sick and Olivia was the one to escape it, I clapped my hands over my ears as I saw Chris rush to the bathroom at 2 in the morning, a reflex reminiscent of my childhood. So—I don’t do well with it. Olivia, I’m better with, only because I’m the parent and I need to buck up. Plus, I feel really, really bad for her, so she’s lucky for that.


Anyway, we got her into the bathtub and she started playing, and Chris went to throw laundry in. We chalked it up to just a weird fluke. Her lovey and crib mattress were both in the wash, so we decided to keep her up for a bit. As Chris was reading to her later in the living room, she did it again, obviously on a lesser caliper. And then had diarrhea. She wasn’t thrilled with being changed and put into her third set of pajamas of the night. But then I started wondering if this wasn’t a virus and not just “something she ate.”

After the eighth time and the last time being a sad little dry heave (by this point, I was on the couch with her as she lay against me, piled high with towels that Chris was frantically switching out) I told him to call the nurse line through our insurance, as she was also developing a fever. The nurse told us to feed her breast milk or Pedialyte every 5-10 min for the next four hours, with the hope that something will stay down. Now you know and I know this was shit advice. By this time it was about 8:15. Chris went out for Pedialyte and rectal Tylenol (he ended up going to three stores, and no one had rectal Tylenol) and I fed her three times, for three minutes, ten minutes apart. She threw up after every time.

He finally returned and Olivia was slumped against me, worn out and exhausted. “And we’re supposed to keep this up until midnight?” I asked him angrily. I cursed, cursed the advice we were given. My triage nurse friend had suggested every 20 minutes and I should have listened to her. I couldn’t give her oral Tylenol since she was proving nothing was staying down. After the 12th vomiting episode I made Chris call the triage nurses back and when I got on the phone with her, I asked her what we were supposed to do now.

We take a trip to the emergency room

She told us we needed to go to the ER. By this time it was 10:15 so I knew we were in for a long night, Olivia included. I sat in the back seat with her for the extremely short trip to the hospital down the road, where I delivered at. She threw up again.


Let me interrupt again. I knew they were constructing a parking ramp in front of the ER. And I thought they were just rerouting the entrance to the ED, but no. They were remodeling it. Meaning the make-shift ER was in the imaging center of the hospital. And there were about 25 people crammed together in a space that fits 25 people. And I almost lost my shit. And I kick myself for not turning around right then and there and driving to Children’s in the city.


We went back and got triaged. Her temp was 102º and when I told the nurse she had started a runny nose and coughing earlier that morning, (I never thought take that into consideration), they wanted to test her for RSV and influenza. They swabbed her (she screamed) and attached an O2 sat monitor on her and suggested they may try some oral Tylenol (I guess that meant they’d give it to her once she was called back to be seen).

We went back out to the waiting room and I stayed up at the front to finish the intake with the nurse before joining Chris. I felt like my knees were touching the girl’s knee across from me. As a germaphobe… yeah. I wasn’t doing well with that. We took turns holding Olivia and trying to entertain her, because we hasn’t brought toys. I was under the stupid impression we wouldn’t have to wait long.

An hour and a half later, at 1:30 a.m., I finally walked up to the front desk.

“You’re wondering about wait time?” The receptionist asked. She gave me a sympathetic smile. “I hate to tell you this, but there’s still eight people ahead of you.”

My mouth dropped opened and I said something like, “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.” Another staff member came up behind her, “We’re running about a 4-5 hour wait time.”

I seriously start to lose my shit

I said something like, “What in the ever-loving fuck?” I told her we were still waiting on test results after she hinted that we were thinking about leaving.

So she sent me to talk to another triage nurse who told me both RSV and flu were negative, but “sometimes we do further testing and they end up being positive.” I pointed to Olivia across the room who was fussing loudly as Chris was trying to walk her, “She’s 15 months. She’s dehydrated and exhausted. I can’t stay here another 2-3 hours. I’m sorry, I can’t.” I wanted to cry. I kind of did cry. I felt so stuck. Bring her home and risk something happening? But how could we possibly stay another few hours before even being seen? Because after getting a room, you’re still there for another few hours.

He must have seen how desperate I looked. “If you can feed her a little at a time and she keeps it down, I would feel better about you leaving.”

I went back to nurse my very exhausted baby. Chris was livid. “How do you keep a dehydrated baby out here with a fever, for hours without being seen?”

I was able to nurse her twice, 20 min apart and she kept it down. They brought in a lady who was from a group home. She screamed out as they were triaging her. When finished, her worker wheeled her into the waiting room. Right into my lap. She was less than 3 feet from us, facing us, so she may as well been in my lap. Olivia was looking curiously at her, until she started screaming out. Each time, Olivia jumped violently before finally bursting into tears.

You guys. I wanted to lose my shit. Not at the lady, but just.. it was awful. I wanted to go home, we were all exhausted, Olivia most of all. I left to go sit on the other side of the waiting room and nursed Olivia again, next to a mom with a three year old who was watching something on the iPad. After 20 minutes and Olive showing no signs of throwing it back up, I went back to the triage nurse. I said she kept it down and that we just needed to leave, because nothing was even being done here. He said he felt ok with us leaving, I signed the papers and we left at 2:30 a.m. having accomplished nothing.

I gave her some Tylenol and let her nurse on one side as we lay in bed. It’s all I wanted to give her because I thought she would throw up if I gave her more, but she insisted on nursing on the other side. So I let her, totally anxious it would backfire, but she kept it down. We tried to sleep together, with Chris on the other side, but it wasn’t working. She would slip down sideways from me and fell asleep like that for a bit, but of course I’m paranoid and couldn’t sleep. Finally, at 3:30 I woke Chris and he put her back in her crib, where she fussed for a bit before passing out. She slept until 8:30, and I woke to cancel her food challenge that was scheduled that morning at the allergist.

Tuesday: I’m an idiot

All that Tuesday she was doing pretty good, nursing and even drinking some unflavored Pedialyte. I called the doctor to make an appointment and he personally called me back and said he could work her in at 4. She had had a smallish wet diaper, but by the time we went in, she had nothing since, and still had a fever.

He examined her and declared she most likely had a GI virus and that he would be shocked if she didn’t pee in the next few hours with all the nursing we were doing. Lo and behold, right before her bath that evening, she had her second wet diaper of the day. We put her to bed and she slept through the night.

Chris went back to work Wednesday, even though we were iffy about it, because we weren’t sure if she would pee, meaning we’d be back in the hospital. But he went and I woke up at almost 9:00 that morning, when Olivia finally woke up. Wow, I thought, I guess she needed her rest!


Let me interrupt that this was another dumb thing I did, letting her sleep for 14 hours.


I brought her into bed with me to nurse, and first knew something wasn’t right by how she was laying as she nursed. Limp. Arm sprawled out. When she was done, she lay there, instead of rolling into a sitting position. I sat her up and a few minutes later she spit up into my pillow. I picked her up, feeling my anxiety increase. I brought her to her room again and changed her (small wet diaper) and lay with her in the glider, texting Chris that something was wrong and I thought he should come home. He had taken the bus in so he said the soonest he could get home was 11:30. I started texting my friends, both nurses and mamas and they all said the same thing: take her in.

I lose my shit again

If you deal with anxiety, you can relate. I’m a nurse, and I am very well versed in everything that can go wrong. I didn’t think that she just didn’t feel good. I felt like Something Was Wrong. And I could only lay there with her trying not to panic as I contemplated calling an ambulance because there was no way I could drive without seeing her face as she sat in the car seat.

Normally, I am not one to post pictures of her when she’s sick, but I sent this to Chris, telling him something wasn’t right with her—that this isn’t her.

I went back to our bed and called him and as I was talking, Olivia emptied her stomach. First all over the bed and then I put the phone down and put her in my lap, all over the two of us. And I couldn’t help it: I burst into tears. I think I was incoherent enough saying things like, “I haven’t even peed yet because I don’t want to put her down!” and “I need you to come home now!” that he told me he would call his sister to come help me until he could get home.

I changed into different pajamas, stripped her, and left the mess on the bed and went out to lay with her on the couch. She slept on me as I played on the phone to calm my anxiety. And she was still sleepy, but not in that scary crashing way she looked prior to her vomiting.

My sister in law, bless her heart, let herself in and took the baby so I could go pee and take a quick shower and throw some laundry in. We gave her some crushed ice in her mesh teether and I wanted to kick myself for not thinking of doing that. Anxiety clearly was giving me tunnel vision. I used to be a triage nurse. I used to take calls of nervous moms with vomiting toddlers and didn’t think anything of it. Why was I so dense when it came to my own baby?

Anyway, Chris got home around noon and my SIL left, reassuring us that Olivia seemed ok and we didn’t need to rush off to the hospital. She had perked up a bit, but still wanted to hang out in our arms. I felt a bit foolish about the whole thing. “But you didn’t see her,” I told Chris, “She was acting so different. You would have felt the same.”

Our clinic’s triage nurse (much better than the call center nurses we talked to Monday night) told us to keep her on Pedialyte if she’ll take it rather than breastmilk since it would be easier on her tummy. She took down two doses that afternoon and the doctor called around 4:30 while she was napping to check on her and I said she still hadn’t had a wet diaper since the morning. He said he wanted to see her have three more 4 oz sippies before bedtime, she couldn’t vomit again and she needed to pee. Otherwise we needed to go to the hospital that night for fluids. He also said I absolutely cannot let her sleep all night (and I felt like a horrible person for letting her do just that the night before) and that I needed to wake her every three hours to nurse overnight.

She woke from her nap and refused all Pedialyte. “Well,” I said to Chris, “I didn’t ask what to do if she doesn’t take it…” In fact, she threw a fit so bad, we thought she was in pain and started packing our bags to take her in. Chris suggested I try nursing her just to see if she’ll keep it down. She did. Twice. And then we fed her Pedialyte from a syringe as she toddled around playing.

I set my alarm for 11, 2, and 5:00 a.m., and luckily, every time I woke her, she nursed and promptly fell back asleep.

Man down

The pediatrician in an email back to me Thursday morning said she could start some solids, on a BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce and white toast) and that she could sleep all night. She made her quota of wet diapers, but looked pale as I was nursing her to sleep that night. I decided my anxiety couldn’t handle her sleeping all night and possibly getting sick the next morning being so dehydrated and empty again, so I set my alarm for 2:00 a.m. to nurse her. It took me until 12:30 to fall asleep and then at 2:00 I went in and smelled poop. So Chris woke up to help and change her and brought her to me to nurse. He then had diarrhea himself and then I was awake almost the whole night, paranoid that he would have something worse than the diarrhea or that I would start in. See above, vomit phobia. You guys, it sucks being me.

Luckily, his didn’t last long, but we cancelled our weekend plans for my mom’s birthday lunch and I slowly started going insane caring for Olivia and now Chris and being sleep deprived. She had diarrhea 3 times but was drinking and eating solids and making wet diapers.

We eat tacos

Saturday night, we all felt well enough to get out of the house so we went to a Mexican restaurant and Olivia had a taco and rice which she loved. (Probably not good for her diarrhea though.)

All through this, I hadn’t gotten sick myself, but still felt off, like my body was trying to fight the virus off.

We conquer lava diarrhea | Together, we can do anything

Sunday, after a massive lava diarrhea blowout in her high chair, a bath, some cuss words exchanged between Chris and me as we hosed her down in our shower and one sob fit from Olivia, we all recovered and I took Olivia to my parents for a visit and my husband stayed home to disinfect and clean the house. Bless him. Oh, I married a good one.

I was really nervous for this past Monday, because I didn’t know how I would handle a lava blowout in a high chair by myself, but it went ok. No lava diarrhea, and the day went pretty well. I made a homemade chicken noodle soup with rosemary and Olivia actually ate chicken which blew my mind. She loved it.

Seriously thinking about a walk-on part in The Walking Dead

That night was awful, sleep-wise. She went down at 7:30, and slept soundly until 10:00 when I went up to bed. Then she was awake, standing in her crib and crying. I thought she had diarrhea, but when I went in there, I didn’t smell anything. I took her to bed to nurse and Chris came up to sleep. I brought her back when she was done, but instead of going back to sleep, she tossed and turned and whimpered. And I stayed awake, periodically checking my phone, positive at any moment she would barf everywhere. She didn’t. But at 12:30 a.m. and after listening to Chris snore and myself not sleep, I woke him so he could bring her to me. And she nursed again for an hour. And if you have ever had anything suckling your nipple for over 60 minutes, you probably can understand the thoughts running through my mind—mainly GET IT OFF, OH MY GOD, GET IT OFF. Holding back tears, I finally stopped her, and brought her back to bed where she stayed asleep. I was then awake until after 3:30 and she was up at 6 for the day.

And after a week of shitty sleep, I hadn’t been that exhausted since she was a newborn. My anxiety was almost out of control. I couldn’t think coherent thoughts, as evidenced by my phone call to the clinic in Texas to pay my embryo storage fees. I couldn’t remember the city they were stored in.

Yesterday, finally, I felt like myself. Olivia hasn’t had anymore diarrhea and is back to full health.

Are you still with me? Yes? Good.

She had a bad stomach bug complicated by bad dehydration. But it was my anxiety that reared its ugly head and made it so much worse, mentally for me. You guys, this week, I really thought I wasn’t cut out for this parenting thing. And it’s an awful feeling to have.

Hence the 3,000+ word blog post about it. I’m sorry, if you’re still with me, I commend you. This is long. But you know me and my record-keeping. Now please tell me you still love me after reading about my crazy and that I’m not alone in anxiety making an illness ten times worse.

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10 Comments on "We survived Olivia’s illness (barely)"

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Amie
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OK so I just thought the last two weeks had been rough with Bowen vomiting back to back weekends BUT you my dear had it way worse! We also went to the ER but that was to make sure he didn’t have pneumonia, thank goodness he didn’t. I also ended up bringing him crying to my hubby while I was also crying because I was tired, didn’t feel good myself and just didn’t know what else to do for him. Oh this motherhood thing is kickin our a$%!! Someone should be giving us a huge margarita and some cheesecake or… Read more »
Jenny
Guest

Oh, holy hell. What a nightmare! Our whole family – and I mean ALL of us – got hit with a pukey, poopy stomach bug that took a week to clear up. But it honestly wasn’t anywhere near as bad as what you dealt with. I’m so glad she’s doing better now and that everyone (knock wood) is getting back to normal. You did great through the whole thing. Don’t ever doubt that.

McKinzie
Guest

I’m sorry you had to endure that week. Like you, I do love nursing (still-at 23 months), but on the certain occasions when she has been attached to me seemingly all night, I have had the same thoughts of, “GET HER OFF ME!” I don’t think I’ve ever commented before, but I have read and enjoyed your blog since we were trying to get pregnant.

Jane allen
Guest

Laughing my way throught this entire post, becuase you have such a humourous spin on what was a total nightmare! I would have high tailed it out of the ER too. Surviving lava diarrhea is bonds for a lasting marriage for sure! so glad to hear everyone is on the mend!

Renee
Guest

Ughhhh! That sounds like an awful time. Horrifying that the ER left a vomiting, dehydrated toddler in the waiting room – especially if they suspected RSV or flu since everyone was packed into such tight quarters. I’m glad Olivia seems to be making a good recovery now. GI bugs are nasty things. I’m so with you on the vomit-phobia also (I almost cried the last time my toddler threw up…partly because I felt bad for her, but also partly because I did not want another stomach bug myself).

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