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It’s All About The Sneeze

When I started writing for Parentous, I didn’t know what exactly my agenda was. Was it going to be about my experiences as a mother or my experiences as a grandmother? Was it going to be an advisory or was it going to be a rant? And above all, would I be able to sustain a weekly column as it were generating content that is interesting to general parenthood?

It’s All About The Sneeze - When To Seek Medical Attention For A Baby

Surprisingly, things have a way of sorting themselves out and somehow I’ve managed to find something to write about and share week after week with all you out there in our cyber world. This week the topic just presented itself when P sneezed his first sneeze early Monday morning. Of course, he has sneezed the occasional sneeze these past eight months but it was not the sneeze that has you wondering if he was sick or not.

Now, Bombay has no winter to speak of and it is quite common for children to swim the year round in open air pools (yes, even in the monsoon it is safe enough for children to swim, opine the experts because the temperature of the water is always warmer than the ambient temperature) especially children of people who swim every day and find no reason not to swim when the temperature dips to 25 degrees as it has done these past few days.

Well, whether it was the swim that did it or the Imminent Eruption of the Great Tooth, an event that we’ve been anticipating with nail-biting fervor over the past seven months (yes, my daughter thought she felt his tooth as early as one month after he was born!), poor P’s sneeze set two entire households comprising completely rational adults rushing for their boxes of tissues, their steam inhalers, pediatric drops, ayurvedic remedies and generally anything that would get the smile back on his otherwise cheery face. But a cold is a cold and will run its course and babies, no matter how much care we take off them, will occasionally have the little sneeze that causes a storm in our teacup.

And, as with everything that is baby related, an illness however minor opens up a Pandora’s Box of Advice from strangers and well wishers alike.

Apply a paste of nutmeg on his nose advised my mother-in-law, it dries up everything inside and will help him breathe.

Put a drop of warm water with some salt in each nostril. Everything will come out like a dream, advised the same mother-in-law

Don’t feed him banana today. Bananas are cooling advised his other grandmother who doesn’t believe in any medication at all.

Don’t wash his head today s commanded his other grandfather.

Don’t give him a bath at all advised the baby’s father.

Dress him in woollies and keep him warm advised my own husband who refuses to wear a sweater in Europe in winter claiming that all the spaces he visits are centrally heated.

Oh! Once you get a cold, it will stay for a whole week, pronounced my father-in-law the original Prophet of Doom.

Put a tiny bit of Vicks and give the baby steam inhalations, pronounced my daughter’s boss at the hospital

Are you crazy? countered the other, Steam burns are worse than a cold!

Luckily, this was all I had to deal with since we didn’t take baby out of the house and everyone went off to work leaving the baby in my care. My daughter, the baby’s mother had given me a set of instructions which were essentially to watch out for any rise in temperature, increase in the frequency of sneezing and coughing and generally keep him in good humour and rested till she came home from work.

Baby P was a bit subdued when he came home this morning, showing no signs of having wrecked his parents’ sleep the night before. Of course I didn’t give him a bath, nor did I apply any paste of nutmeg. But I did put some Nasoclear (which is actually a saline solution) in his nostrils, I did dress him warmly and indulged him with some TLC which included sleeping in my lap, eating in his room and generally chilling with his pacifier while he recuperated in bed. He was a bit testy and did have the occasional cough followed by a sneeze but overall he looked amused and bewildered at the anxious looks all around.

Babies are helpless little creatures and even the tiniest ripple in their general being causes a state of panic among the adults responsible for their care. Like animals, they are unable to tell us exactly what they feel and unlike us, their condition can change from wellness to illness in just a flash. Yet pediatricians somehow get annoyed with constant phone calls and make you hesitant to keep calling.

But, I honestly feel that taking a sick child to the clinic is more likely to worsen the infection and would rather wait a while before rushing off. So where exactly is the tipping point? When do you call the doctor and when do you not? When do you trust your instinct and when do you not? And above all, how can you keep calm and sift out the chaff from the grain, taking advice that helps and ignoring that which does not?

As a mother of two thirty-year old daughters and a grandmother of a nineteen week old grandson, Sunita Rajwade has been there and done that. A hands on mom, she has seen two girls grow successfully through baby hood, toddler hood, adolescence and adult hood; solving their maths problems and contributing to their angst of growing up with a mom “who doesn’t understand”. But now as a grandmother, she’s being appreciated for her “wisdom” and “understanding” and would like to share my experiences of this wonderful journey from motherhood to grandmotherhood