The first time my son was truly sick, he came down with RSV, and I was sure the entire family was going to die. But I survived—not just RSV, but the stages of a child’s first illness.

Stage 1: Fear. One day out of nowhere, my baby’s flushed face and red, angry eyes told me something was afoot. The thermometer flashed 101.0, and I instantly knew both that death was upon him and that it was my fault.

Stage 2: Insomnia. All night, I stared unblinking at our video monitor. Is he wheezing? Why are his hands by his side and not his head? Is that a sign of brain damage? Is his fever climbing? Will he spontaneously combust?

Stage 3: Despair. Next morning, my baby was smiling. But then the cough started, and I was sure he had pneumonia. A quick Google search told me it may be nothing, or he could die in a week.

Stage 4: Ignorance. “It’s RSV. We’ll set you up with a defibrihoozonizer,” my pediatrician said as I slowly died inside. I’ve never heard of the disease or a defackoulizer. (Turns out it was a nebulizer. The things you learn.)

Stage 5: Disgust. Three days with the nebulizer, and I hit a wall of mucus. I bought something called a NoseFrida, used it once and shall never speak of it again.

Stage 6: Back to fear. On Day 7, I took the nebulizer and the baby back to

the pediatrician. “He’s good to go,” the doctor said. Hooray! Rejoice! I carried my baby out and gave a merry farewell to the receptionists. Then a stray child sneezed in the direction of my baby carrier. I gave him three baths that day.


Carrie Taylor is a native Texan and mother of one.      


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