Hand, Foot and Cover Your MouthFriday, April 02, 2010
Second City Baby
"Stop. Move away from the baby."
"Cough into your sleeve."
"Please, for the last time. DO NOT TOUCH THE BABY."
These are the phrases I've been accustomed to saying over the past week while I tried to quarantine my son, who contracted hand, foot and mouth disease, from the baby. If you've ever been through hand, foot and mouth disease you know this much: as bad as it is for a four-year old, it'd be hell for a baby.
Thus, I spent the better part of my time and energy while my son was sick trying to keep his dirty paws off the innocent five-month old. And there are only so many anti-bacterial wipes one can use in a day before your hands feel like the brillo sponge you are using to clean up the germs.
But trying to keep a baby healthy is one of the great challenges of motherhood. And the rules are vast and variable. At the healthcare practice I take my children to, the advice runs the gamut.
Four years ago, it was acceptable to take your baby in public after two weeks. I remember rolling into R.J. Grunts with the newborn and relaxing over salad bar while the baby lolled in the carseat.
The second time around, however, it was H1N1 season. Not only did I stand in line to sign up to get the vaccine while pregnant, I was told not to take the baby anywhere where there were people who might be sick. You can imagine the limitations of that in the third largest city. So I did everything possible to avoid the swine flu short of wearing a hazmat suit to Starbucks.
It's all a bit ridiculous, though. Kids get sick and sometimes there's no amount of Purell that can prevent it. I know a gal who fumigates her house with so much Lysol your nose burns and her kids still cannot avoid the common cold. I know parents who are lax about germs and other kids' runny noses and their kids seem to be the only ones at school when everyone's out with the stomach bug.
I'm just trying to be vigilant without being overly neurotic. No, I don't want my baby to get what his brother brings home from school, but I also don't want to dissuade big brother from giving the little one a kiss and hug if his nose is running. I just trust my gut and cross my fingers. And keep the wipes handy.