Who likes to demonize babies? Not me. Not until now.
I was recently on a flight to Cleveland, to visit some old mentors for Winter Break with my kids. A cute, innocuous mother, petite and blond, sat in front of us on the hour flight. She carried a baby, maybe five or six months old. He was smiling, jet black hair and eyes, red streak marks on his cheeks. I smiled back, and settled into the captain's chair - both kids flanking me. They slept on the first flight, so were happy and active. Cecelia read her book, and Jack played games with me on his ipad.
A monstrous stench rose from the seat in front of us. Not sweet breast milk or formula poop, but infected, nasty poop. I silently wrinkled my nose and grinned at my kids, communicating without words. "It's OK. It will go away in a few minutes. Listen, she's changing the diaper. Hold your breath."
It happened, the explosive smell followed by the diaper change, I kid you not, at least six more times on the hour flight. In between, the mom was playing a game with the baby. Catch the bag of pretzels. The baby tossed the chewed bag of pretzels over the seat and it landed in my lap. I tossed it back, smiling hesitantly. The second time it happened, I didn't smile. The third time it landed on my son, Jack. I gave her a nasty look through the slit in the airplane seats. She laughed musically, tin like, and praised her baby's arm. "You're going to be a quarterback someday, aren't you?"
I woke up in the middle of the first night with a sore throat so nasty it brought tears to my eyes when I swallowed. Questioned and focused on the Demon Baby as the culprit. Found some Aleve and took it to sleep again. Felt guilty when my pathologist mother friend mentioned over breakfast that her daughter recently got over a cold. Maybe it wasn't the Demon Baby after all.
Day 2 my son woke up with diarrhea. I optimistically hoped it was a reaction to the pizza from the night before, and served him breakfast. After that, all hell broke loose. Poor Jack was leaking uncontrollably from stem to stern for 18 hours. Our outing to the zoo was cancelled. The girls plotted and performed a paper doll fashion show, after the dad took them to sled in the snow. Meanwhile my mom friend and I did the tenth load of laundry and communicated in amazement as Jack came back from his sixth trip to the bathroom to vomit, cheerily announcing "Well, I think I'm maybe getting better. That wasn't nearly as bad as the last one," before falling asleep exhausted on the living room couch. I finally got my Dad to call in a prescription for Phenergen so Jack could A) sleep for more than a half hour without puking and B) hopefully get through the plane ride back to Little Rock the next day.
I know, I know. I hear there was a nasty GI bug this year, we could have gotten it from anyone. But I still have flashbacks of the antisocial, red-lipped gummy smile of that Demon Baby, and the infectious havoc he wreaked on our vacation. And if I ever smell that awful smell on a flight again, or some baby is tossing bug-ridden saliva on me and my children, I will request a change of seats from the steward or stewardess. Hard lesson learned.
The GI bug lasted two weeks, spreading to me and Cecelia and requiring a couple of sick days for Jack.
Curse you, Demon Baby.