It’s become our motto. It’s catchy, it’s funny, and it’s true. It’s also a great way to tell if I’m talking to a parent or not. If I casually mention that babies ruin everything, and they look back at me in horror, disgust, and judgment, I can assume they’ve never had a baby spit up on their new sweater or a toddler throw a soul-crushing tantrum in the middle of the restaurant.
Say the same thing to a parent, though, and he or she will smile and nod and quickly regale you with stories about double ear infections and cancelled vacations.
Canceled vacations. Ouch. That one hits a little close to home. Josh and I were supposed to take the girls to Barbados a couple of weeks ago to visit their great-grandparents. After a long day of packing and sorting and counting diapers (somehow, no matter how many you have, it never seems like enough), we finally climbed into bed only a few hours before we needed to head out to the airport. That’s when the barking began.
We don’t have a dog. It was our toddler. It was croup. It was bad. It’s agonizing listening to your child cough, but we had learned through many, many painful nights and a variety of failed interventions that we just need to leave her alone. But croup can mean more than just a bad cough, it can mean a baby that can’t breathe. Croup has given us two trips to the ER (one for each girl) and one hospital admission for my younger daughter when she was 4 months old. Croup scares me.
And that is how I found myself on the phone with a clinic in Barbados the next morning. “Croup. C-R-O-U-P. No, it’s not asthma. It’s an inflammation of the vocal chords…” When I found myself describing the treatment, I knew our trip was doomed.
We hemmed. We hawed. We tried to tell ourselves it would be ok. In all likelihood, it would have been. But an island paradise becomes a lot less appealing when your baby is gasping for air and you’re an ocean away from the pediatric emergency room that has become all too familiar. We called our parents. We called my grandparents on the island. I kept hoping one of them would tell me to calm down and stop being such a Nervous Nelly, that it would be fine. But they all agreed that we had made the right decision not to go.
Instead of flying off to the sun and sand, we spent the morning canceling reservations. We took the girls to Ikea and tried to ease our sadness with $3 pasta. (The damn Swedish meatballs have pork in them. Being Jewish ruins everything.)
And now, here we are, heading into yet another major snowstorm with no sunny memories or sandy suitcases to gird us through the long winter. I’m trying to put a positive spin on this, but the truth is, Babies Ruin Everything.