Last you heard from me I was writing to you from the hospital, where Baby Girl was being treated for pneumonia and some unknown stomach-something, which was suspected to be a bacterial infection. Three days into her hospital stay (she ended up being there for four days) we had our answer: salmonella poisoning.
Yes. Seriously. Our four-month-old infant who eats no food somehow got food poisoning.
We don’t know how it happened. It’s possible she picked it up from her brothers, who had played with some turtles in a nearby pond a couple of weeks earlier. (Apparently turtles are a common carrier of salmonella – who knew?) It’s also possible (probably more possible than not) that I gave it to her, that I contracted it by handling raw food or – ahem – eating raw brownie batter or something, and then touched her bottle or pacifier and passed it on to her. (You have no idea how guilty this possibility makes me feel.)
We’ve learned that it’s not uncommon for a healthy person to carry salmonella without experiencing symptoms of it. Which normally isn’t a big deal – not unless that person is in close contact with someone with an immature or compromised immune system. Like an infant.
Hence the title of this post. Not that I (at all!) blame Baby Girl’s illness on contact with random strangers, but I’ve always been something of a germophobe and those tendencies have been amplified by this experience. With any contact our baby has with another person, I worry that a new bacteria will get her sick.
I’ve been reverting to new-momma protective, squirming when strangers approach us in public and barking “DON’T TOUCH THE BABY” at her brothers. I’m sure we’ll mellow at some point, but right now it’s just all so fresh.
But seriously – do you know how often people walk up to babies and grab their tiny hands? All the time. (Don’t they know that babies stick their hands in their mouths?) When it’s a child, I usually feel comfortable enough to chirp, “You can touch her feet, but please don’t touch her hands!” But I’ll admit I have a harder time correcting an adult. Adults should know better.
Mamas, don’t let your babies touch my baby. (Or at least not her face and hands.) And don’t you do it either.
Babies are so vulnerable and fragile. And this whole thing has been such a tremendous bother.
Baby Girl is mostly recovered now, but she was in pretty rough shape for her first couple of days at the hospital. She felt horrible, she wouldn’t eat, she was poked with needles again and again. She fussed with her IV. She slept or cried or just looked thoroughly pathetic.
Once home we had follow-up appointments and phone calls to manage, prescriptions to fill, more and more diarrhea to deal with (it can take two weeks to clear up), and (I hate to even write this) stool samples to collect from her big brothers.
Did I mention that this whole thing has been a bother? What a pain.
And we’re not done. Though (thankfully!) the first round of stool samples came back negative, we’ve got to do another round to be sure. And after a couple of days of normality, Baby Girl’s diarrhea returned, so now she’s been put on another round of antibiotics.
Gosh, she’s just the sweetest little thing.
She’s so sweet and she’s been such a champ through all of this. I sure hope we’re about done with it.