On Thursday, when Gabe first started giving indications that this stomach bug was an actual stomach bug and not just something he'd eaten, I called the pediatrician's office to get some advice, especially on keeping Josie protected from the plague. I spoke to one of the nurses who seemed very helpful and understanding and she gave me a long list of advice to follow. On Friday I spoke to her again and she gave me more advice and a list of dos and don'ts for his diet. On Saturday, he seemed worse, and Sunday he was worse still. More importantly, Saturday night and Sunday he has been miserable.
Clingy, whiny, crying, screaming for me constantly, doesn't want anything to do with Daddy, inconsolable, and impossible about everything. To make matters worse, I had been struggling with nausea since Friday night, but on Sunday morning it became very clear that I had come down with the same stomach flu that everyone else had. Dealing with a sick and miserable toddler while feeling sick and miserable yourself has been an exercise in self-control, that's for sure.
Yesterday afternoon, in a fit of desperation, I started surfing the Internet to find more advice on how to treat diarrhea in toddlers because things didn't seem to be improving. I became more and more agitated as I realized that the advice I'd been following for 4 days was in direct contrast to everything I was reading. The nurse told me not to let Gabe eat ANYTHING until his diarrhea stopped, but clearly that was an impossibility since it had been 4 days, but I'd been severely restricting his diet. I was only giving him dry toast and rice, and small quantities of those. She said to give him apple juice and sports drinks as often as possible, to make sure he wasn't dehydrated, and absolutely no milk, even Lactaid, which I'd bought because my pediatrician had previously told me that Lactaid was safe even when he was sick to his stomach. All the websites dealing with toddlers/children and diarrhea were saying the opposite. Feed them a somewhat bland diet, but don't restrict their food. Don't give them apple juice or sports drinks, or really anything sugary, because each of those causes more diarrhea. Consider giving them some dairy because studies have shown that dairy doesn't have much impact on the diarrhea.
I freaked out. I hate calling the on call pediatrician's line, but I was frantic. I left a message stating exactly my concern, that the nurse had given me what I suspected was incorrect advice and that I was FREAKING OUT. The doctor called back almost immediately, and confirmed that I needed to stop the juice, stop restricting his food, and start letting him eat, especially plenty of bananas, soup, pasta, bread, rice, etc. Happily for everyone who had been having to listen to Gabe's screaming about not having any milk, we were permitted to give him Lactaid too. I was writing up a grocery list for Josh even before we finished the call, and by the end, the doctor was incredibly apologetic and said she would speak to the nurse. Apparently her advice would have been correct for someone whose child was profusely vomiting, but not for a mild case of diarrhea caused by a stomach bug.
I am livid. Incensed. I cannot believe that I may have been making his stomach bug worse by giving him all of this apple juice. Apple juice isn't something we regularly drink, so I had no idea that copious amounts of juice can actually cause diarrhea. I could punch someone, honestly. As soon as Josh got back from the store, we started letting Gabe eat actual amounts of food. The poor thing inhaled a banana within seconds, and then ate most of a plate of plain chicken and baked potato. He was starved.
His mood improved within minutes, and today he is much happier and energetic and while still a bit grumpy, he is much closer to his normal sweet self. No more crazy tantrums, no more non-stop crying. The diarrhea is a tiny bit better, although definitely still a problem. I'm just hoping that all these binding foods will help him to improve asap.
On Saturday, my parents also finally left town, and facing a house without their help and with a newborn, a sick toddler, a sick husband, and feeling sick myself, was not a pleasant prospect. I cried most of the day on Saturday, and the guilt I felt when Gabe would turn to Josh and say "Mommy crying, Mommy sad," didn't help things either.
It has been a long week.
I face this every time I see my parents, but I'm reminded again of how much I HATE living so far away from them. This is the most absurd way to live. I shouldn't have to wait until March or April before I see my own parents, before my children see their grandparents. I shouldn't have to wait 3 months to give them a hug. This departure was even sadder because I feel like I spent almost no time with them. That sounds silly because they were here for almost a month, but between Josie's birth and all of the illnesses we've had (first my dad caught a cold, then my mom caught a cold, then my dad got gout of all the things to get in this world, then I got some crazy virus that seemed suspiciously like the flu, then Gabe got what I had, then Josh got what Gabe had, then my father in law got what Josh had, then Gabe got the stomach flu, and so on and so forth), not to mention the demands of a toddler, and trying to keep some semblance of a home, I felt like everyone was too busy to spend actual time together. When I hugged my parents goodbye at the airport, I couldn't even remember the last time I'd hugged them during the entire trip. That still makes me cry.
Hormonal much? Geez, I'm a downer today.
But all of this is to say that today has been better, even though today is the first day I'm 100% alone with both children and I've spent much of it in the bathroom due to the stomach flu. There hasn't been much crying from either Gabe or Josie, and I've fed both of them decent amounts of food, bathed Gabe and myself, and even run a vacuum quickly over the hardwood floors when I was shamed by Gabe's footie pajamas collecting piles of dust bunnies. I'd call that successful, wouldn't you?
I may just survive this two children thing after all, as long as I keep bathing everyone in alcohol and Lysol.