It’s a scorching outside. 31 degrees Celsius. For those south of the border, that’s about 87 degrees Fahrenheit. Now before you go calling me a baby, remember I’m in Canada. You know, we live in igloos, travel by sled dog, and ice fish daily for our dinner. Occasionally we wrestle polar bears. I’ve never lost…I digress.
I’ve got fans blowing in the house like crazy, the kids and I are lazing about. It feels like the sun exploded inside us and we can’t consume enough water to survive. Perhaps a little dramatic, but not far from reality. We decide we deserve a treat. So slurpee consumption is added to our blank to-do list. It’s five million degrees inside the van, and it’s just down the street; we opt for walking.
I put some clothes on and start my much despised sun screening process. Lathering on the sunscreen, it doesn’t take long to cover my five-year-old – she’s cooperative.The baby however, is another battle altogether.
She squirms, rolls, yells at me, and fights against it every step of the way. I can’t blame her; I too hate the process. Naturally though, I win the fight. I give her kudos for effort, and let me take this moment to say, babies are unnaturally strong. It’s freaky and it doesn’t make any sense.
The journey begins by strapping the baby in the stroller. I’ve got her little shade thing stretched out, and only her legs are exposed. I’m a little worried because it’s so hot, but then I remember I won the sunscreen battle. She’s happy. She’s ready. She’s cool.
It’s only about a ten minute walk each way, and it isn’t until the way back and I realize she’s acting funny. She has her hat pulled down over her face and she’s sagging forward in her chair. Regardless that she’s only wearing a little summer dress, the heat is still bothering her.
Picking up the pace, we make it home in record time and I strip her down to her diaper, put her on my lap in front of a fan, and we share a slurpee together. She seems fine.
When she’s done, she squirms out of my lap onto the floor. My youngest doesn’t crawl, instead, she does this little boot scoot thing where she throws her self forward until her butt comes off the ground, then with her legs stretched out she pulls them towards her body and moves forward. It’s pretty much the cutest thing ever, but she’s smiling, squawking and playing. I’m a happy daddy.
The phone rings, I answer it, and I’m on the call for less then a minute – telephone solicitor. I hate them. I look around the corner, and baby is looking up at me. Her eye is watering like Niagara Falls, her nose is running, and she looks like she’s ready to pass out. Baby is no longer having fun.
Scooping her up in my arms, and giving her my soothing “daddy is talking to baby” voice. She doesn’t look well. She’s sagging forward, beyond lethargic, and her arms are squeezing me tight. I remember I gave her fresh strawberries for the first time today, about four hours earlier. She’s had strawberry smoothies, yogurt, and jam before and loves them all, so what’s happening? My heart starts to race.
I live in a house down the street to my mother – who just so happens to be a nurse – so I call her. My step dad answers but has to walk across the house to get her. My heart is past racing, it’s nearing warp speed. I’m in Def-con 1 mode now, I can’t wait. I hang up and run across the street.
Mom doesn’t think she looks right either, something really is wrong, but it’s a million degrees in the van right now and I don’t want to take her to the hospital unless she’s having a reaction. There’s no rash of any kind, but her eye has swollen up and it’s halfway shut. It’s still watering.
It doesn’t look like an allergic reaction to the food. Maybe the heat? Her skin is scalding hot. We start sponging her with a cool cloth and she cries until I pick her up and hold her. Daddies little girl.
I call Health Link – in Alberta, it’s a free hot line that registered nurses run so you can talk to them any time about issues like this – while she’s in the sink, and run her through the day. They don’t think it’s a reaction to the strawberries, but possible the sun screen. She’s had it before though, so that can’t be it.
My heart is racing, I set the baby in the sink and run the cold water over her. She starts to loosen up and wake up a bit.
The hot line runs me through a check list of things while I run more cool water over my little girl. My heart is breaking in my chest. I screwed up, didn’t I? I’m a horrible parent, how could I let this happen?
More minutes pass and baby is getting back to normal. Her eye is red, but the swelling has gone down as I put a cold cloth against it. She starts smiling, laughing, and playing with her favorite rubber duck. She’s singing “Dad Dad Dad” and giggling at me.
My heart breaks even more, I’m not even sure if it’s beating now. How I could be so careless to let anything hurt my baby girl? She loves me so much and I’m supposed to keep her safe.
By the time the conversation is over, we’re almost certain of the cause…
Over heating, mixed with….wait for it….
Sunscreen in the eye.
*Heart failure commencing*
Because I had sun screened her entire body – including her face and hands, although careful not to get it in her eyes – she was still sweating. Not to mention she missed her afternoon nap because it was so hot. Naturally, she rubbed her eye (yes, just the one), which I didn’t remember until the nurse and I started discussing details I might have missed in my original explanation. Then the world opens up and all becomes clear.
The sun screen got in her eye, forcing it redden – an uncomfortable endeavor. Baby continues to rub, trying to make it stop. Her eye starts watering to try and wash away the invading product, and the more she rubs it, the more irritated it becomes, causing it to swell.
Missing her nap, combined with the intense heat, has caused her to overheat. She’s just a little girl, and like her dad, doesn’t care for the heat much. The sink full of cool water brings her core temperature down, causing her to become more alert. As she becomes more alert and her temperature cools, she becomes more active and playful. The cool compress I placed on her eye took down the swelling and as I ran cool water over her, it helped rinse her eye. This all normalizes her system, and baby is back to normal.
*Heart begins beating again*
Don’t go get slurpees on hot days. Just sit in your kitchen sink full of cold water.
And always protect your eyes.