When Your Child is Sick for the FIRST Time…

Monday afternoon, 4:30pm.  My cell phone rings.  I glance down to see who’s calling, and my stomach freefalls – DAYCARE.  Yes, that call that all working parents dread with every fiber of their being.  Their child’s daycare, school, nanny, caregiver, calling to tell you something that is important enough to relay now, and not when you pick your kiddo up.
Daycare: Hi Kristin, just wanted to let you know that Miles is running a fever of 102.2.
SILENCE
Me: (confused that there wasn’t more information in this first sentence) Is he very sick?  Is he vomiting?  Is he awake?  Should I come pick him up right now?
Daycare: Oh no, he’ll be fine.  We know you’ll be here in just a little while.
MORE SILENCE
Me: Okay, thank you.
Caregivers: I understand you don’t want us to totallyohmygoshfreakout when our kiddos are feeling under the weather, but if you could refrain from the Mary Poppins schtick when you call, that would be cool.  Because Miles has never had a fever before, let alone been sick, so you may as well be telling me that he was kidnapped.  It emits the same emotional reaction from me.
I skipped out early from work, and went to pick up my sweet little schmooglie.  His teacher tells me he’s in one of the swings in the back, in a “quiet and peaceful” area of the infant room.  They have a blanket draped over the swing.  I lift the blanket, and my eyes behold the most pitiful, sad, frowny faced little baby in the world.  No, there’s a mistake…this isn’t my son.  Do you know my son?  The one who never stops smiling, and wants to playfully grab your nose at every opportunity?  The one who kicks his feet in a fit of joy when you snort at him?  This isn’t my baby; this isn’t Miles.
But it is.  And it’s horrifically depressing.
We load up and head home.  He drifts in and out of sleep.  We get home, and I take his temp.  The thermometer reads 97.3.  STUPID THERMOMETER.
Here’s the deal…I thought his head felt warm Monday morning.  And I chalked it up to teething.  I took his temp, and it read 97.3.  So, off to school we went.  I had also taken his temp Sunday night, thinking the same thing.  And yes, it read 97.3 then as well.  And I know it’s not 97.3.
Digression into bad mom moment: The thermometer read 97.3 because I didn’t know how to use it.  After a half dozen readings and my total freak out of “how am I going to take care of him if the thermometer won’t help me?!” my husband points out that I am pushing the wrong button.  Look, we all do stupid stuff like this as first time (or even fifth time) parents.  It happens.  But when you’re in the thick of what you think is Yellow Fever, you feel not only like a complete and total moron, but a moron with an apparent vendetta against your own offspring because you CAN’T EVEN USE A THERMOMETER PROPERLY. 
We debated between taking him to his pediatrician in the morning, or taking him to Urgent Care that night.  He had a faint rash on his arms and legs.  Against my better judgment, I went to WebMD for a third opinion and became certain that he had some rare disease transmitted by bites from purple dragonflies that live in New Zealand and migrate to Florida once every seven years to choose a chubby little innocent victim to attack (Miles).  Urgent Care, it is.
Ugh, Urgent Care.  You’re like the ER, only with less blood spilling out of tree trimming related injuries.  I’m imagining swarms of invisible germs floating around the air, crawling all over your benches and chairs, and covering every form you have me sign.  But when faced with the option of waiting at least 15(!) hours to see your pediatrician, you suck it up and break out the Purell.
After a 20 minute wait, we were seen by a super friendly nurse that Miles really seemed to like.  Side note: at this point, he was smiling and laughing through his 102 degree fever.  That gave us a little peace.  The physician arrives, tells us it’s probably strep (!) and writes a prescription for Amoxicillin.  We start antibiotics that night.
Meds for an infant…that’s a joke all on its own.  First, your pharmaceutical companies are going to take something that was probably clear or white, and dye it bubblegum pink, or my favorite, grenadine red.  This is unnecessary.  My kid doesn’t care what color it is, or really what it tastes like.  His primary concern is where I’m about to stick that stupid little syringe.
Giving medicine to an infant is like giving medicine to your cat.  You have to hold his head, hope he opens his mouth long enough for you to get .5ml in (only 4.5ml to go!)  He’s going to flail and shake his head, he’s going to clamp his mouth shut and purse his lips (smart kid) and he’s going to end up with Tylenol on top of his head, which I won’t notice for another hour and instantly think he must have some horrible wound somewhere on his precious body because this very red, very sticky stuff must surely be blood!  Oh wait, why does it smell like cherries?
At least he can’t scratch or bite me.  Yet.
We head to his pediatrician for a follow-up appointment.  We’re told it’s not strep (thank goodness) and that it’s “just” an ear infection.  Okay, that I can handle.  I’m a little less WebMD paranoid now with this diagnosis.
Feeding an infant while he has an ear infection…also a joke.  His ear hurts; he doesn’t want to eat, his appetite is diminished.  We’re getting 3-4oz. in every few hours.  Not as much as we’d like, but it’s something.  He gets upset because he’s hungry.  He gets upset because I try to feed him.  He gets upset with being upset.  I cannot convince this kid that his bottle will be delicious and make his tummy happy and hey, at least it’s not pink!
Sleeping…nonexistent.  Our lives revolved in 2-3 hour increments of nap, medicine, bottle, bath.  Evan spent the better part of the first 24 hours with Miles sleeping on his chest in the recliner.  And if it was 3:15am, you can bet Miles was up and awake, staring at you like one of those creepy rave kids, wanting to know where the party was.  But as soon as he hit Evan’s chest, it was lights out.
Confession: I stayed home with Miles on Wednesday.  He was feeling better, but not 100%.  He slept on my chest most of the day.  I flopped in that recliner, watched a marathon of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, and I enjoyed snuggling with Miles.  Because that’s something he hasn’t done since he was about three weeks old.  He’s not one of those “curl up on your chest and nap” babies.  When it’s bedtime, he wants you to rock him or put him in his crib, and that’s it.  According to my husband, “He thinks he’s grown – no more baby stuff.”  So we snuggled like we did many months ago, and I loved it.
His fever finally broke on Wednesday morning, and today, he went back to daycare, smiling and bopping his teacher in the face.  We’re still up 2-3 times a night, but it’s getting better.  I’ve had more coffee than I care to admit.  Yesterday, I took a shower for the first time since Monday morning.  We’ve lost track of all time; days run together in a big blur, because our only focus is Miles.  And those last three pre-pregnancy pounds?  Gone, and then some.  You have no room for food when your child is sick.
But I can tell you that the first time that thermometer (which I know how to use andread now, thankyouverymuch) reads 97.9, you will cry tears of joy and kiss your sweet baby all over his chubby cheeks and fuzzy head.  When he smiles a genuine, hey mom I feel better smile, you’ll melt into a pile of goo.  You will laugh when giving him antibiotics now, because even though he’s fighting it and smearing pink goo everywhere, they’re working.  You will forget about every minute of lost sleep, exhaustion, worry, and hunger, because it was worth it to care for the child who is really your heart, outside of your body.  And you will thank God in Heaven, your lucky stars, the check-out gal at Walgreens and your postman that he’s getting better. 
My mom said we should get a rectal thermometer, because you can’t screw that up.  My gut tells me I could probably screw that up, too…but more than likely by thinking it was my thermometer and not Miles’ butt thermometer.  Oy.
Only 7 days of antibiotics to go,
Kristin 


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