Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Demon Baby

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.


Mingle said...

It does not seem that sanitary to change a baby's diaper at the seat. It's definitely easier, but I always felt that, unless a parent has to manage multiple kids with no help, it's just common courtesy to other patrons to change diapers in the bathroom.

Well, changing the location of a diaper change wouldn't have saved you from that stench though :(

Anonymous said...

I feel the urge to bathe in Purell.


Gizabeth Shyder said...

Mingle - it might have helped. And certainly would have lessened it a little. I think what would have really helped is if I had been a little more on the ball and insisted on moving myself and my kids.

Anon - Writing about that was so cathartic but I felt the same way last night, as if I was reliving it all over again. Strangely, I was happy that I was able to take care of my son myself and didn't have to turf him to a sitter like I would have if I was home working. Little pleasures make up for big disappointments and troubles. Being around for the tough stuff bonds humans like super glue.

Anonymous said...

It's great you were able to take care of your son, but I'm still reacting to the offending fomite. They don't call it fecal-oral transmission for nothing.

Damp, sticky, gummy pretzel bag = yecccchhhh. I have to go wash my hands, again.

Maybe I'm a terrible person but I'd have knocked that pretzel bag on the floor and kicked it under the seat.

Gizabeth Shyder said...

Well hindsight is 20/20. When you are well and embarking on an adventure you feel immune to everything, when you get sick later you wonder at your stupidity.

I think it would have been terribly smart to kick the pretzel bag under the seat. If there ever is a next time, that's exactly what I will do.

OMDG said...

I'm sure the fomite didn't help, but you probably would have gotten sick even without it. Most likely, little virus particles were released into the air when the diaper was changed. It only takes eating 5-6 individual virions to get sick. Yay norovirus! The mom should have been taking him to the bathroom to change him.... though in all honesty she might have infected the entire plane had she done that. Glad everyone is feeling better now. GI bugs are just awful.

Gizabeth Shyder said...

OK Rock Star. So now I should focus my anger on the individual virions, not the Demon Baby. Even moving couldn't have saved me from that. Takes control out of the variable entirely. Thanks for the educated opinion.

Anonymous said...

This is why I ask to have my seat changed when I'm seated near small children: they carry many diseases, and they don't keep their germs to themselves.

Unfortunately, Giz, that pretzel bag was probably the culprit. It's true that only a few virions are necessary to transmit norovirus, but according to the CDC: "The virus can also spread through touching contaminated surfaces, objects, or substances.

It is possible for norovirus to spread through aerosolized vomit that lands on surfaces or enters a person’s mouth then he or she swallows it. There is no evidence showing that people can get infected by breathing in the virus."

Gizabeth Shyder said...


Virions, schmirions. Pretzel bags, schmetzel bags.

Doesn't everyone here know it was caused by The Flying Spaghetti Monster???!!!