Pink Medicine

I lower a needleless syringe, tip filled with gooey, bubblegum pink liquid, into my 3-month-old son’s mouth.

His eyes, still blue, draw in mine, and my attention traces the edges of their almond shape.

“Okay, my boy, it’s time for the medicine that will help make you all better,” I tell him. He smiles back, revealing his sweet dimples.

My right thumb presses the plunger into the barrel of the syringe. Theo coughs. The skin around his eyes flushes red. Holding the pink liquid in the back of his throat, he lets out a cry and his tongue quivers. He catches his breath, cries out again, and gulps the liquid back. I offer him my breast.

My husband, who is a physician, and I have spent the better part of the past 4 days working to figure out what is causing my infant son’s high fevers and discussing what course of action to take.

We took every precaution to not treat our son with antibiotics unnecessarily. After receiving a positive result for a bacterial infection tonight, we chose to promptly administer them before the infection could yield more harmful effects.

My stomach aches as I reflect on the countless articles and studies I read over the past few days that emphasized the importance of a diverse and healthy gut microbiome in babies, something that a course of antibiotics could compromise.

I reach out to a naturopath friend who suggests a particular type of probiotic for me to take. I ask my mother who is traveling down here to Mexico in a couple days to bring refrigerated probiotics for Theo and I. I eat a bowl of yogurt.

As I lay down to rest with my son asleep in my arms, I am grateful to live in a time and place where I can treat my son for this infection. In a day or two, he will be healed; I don’t have to worry about my baby’s health deteriorating.

But I am left with questions about how to help my son restore the healthy bacteria in his gut, and these questions feed a swelling curiosity about what it means to nourish oneself, and in turn one’s children.

In a culture of fads and way-too-much information, where do I turn to learn to really nourish my family?

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