Apr 26, 201308:18 AM
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In Sickness: Dealing with a Sick Child
You can see the lingering roseola rash on Georgia's face here, but she is back to all smiles again.
I never like to be overly cutesy or precious about the fact that my husband and I both have weekly blogs on the same website, but the truth of the matter is that his runs on Thursday and mine runs on Friday, so sometimes he scoops me.
And that happened this week: He wrote yesterday about the hellish week we’ve had with two sick kids (and Ruby, thankfully healthy, out on spring break) -- and now I’m going to write about it again.
We have had a hellish week, folks. It started on Saturday, when I took Georgia out of her car seat following a birthday party for one of Ruby’s friends and noticed she felt a little warm. I put it down to the fact that the car had been a little warm and didn’t think about it until I picked her up from her nap and realized she was hot. I took her temperature: 100.9. Still, though, I thought it was teething or something – until it rocketed up to 102 that night. Tylenol brought it down to 99ish, but on Sunday, it hit 102.6, and we shelled out $60 to take her to urgent care – only to be told to just wait it out and keep giving her Tylenol. Sunday night, it got up to 103.3 (incidentally, a great oldies radio station in St. Louis), and Tylenol barely budged it. My pediatricians’ office, the truly amazing and heroic Hales Pediatrics, opens at 8:30 a.m., and I was on the phone with them at 8:32, scheduling an appointment for the baby. They swabbed her throat for strep and flu. They took blood from her sweet tiny arm. The poor little pumpkin just leaned against me the whole time, crying but too weak and sick to even protest all that much.
That night, her fever climbed to 104.2. I sat up most of the night, cradling her hot tiny body against mine, rocking her, crying with her. Her chubby hands, when she reached up to touch my face, were on fire. Her mouth, when she’d nurse for comfort, was boiling. I have felt this helpless before – this is my second kid, after all, and Ruby has been sick plenty – but it never gets any easier.
Tuesday, her fever responded better to the alternating doses of Tylenol and Motrin we were giving her every three hours, dropping down in the 99.5 range, and by the middle of the night, her fever was gone, even after the medicine wore off. I took her temperature about 25 times between 2 a.m. and 9 a.m. on Wednesday, and it was normal, normal, normal, blessedly normal. And then she broke out head to toe in a rash.
Thanks to our doctors, though, we were expecting the rash – actually hoping for it because a rash would be an answer: A rash would mean roseola. Roseola is harmless, aside from the risk of seizures from the high fever, which are themselves also apparently harmless (but I am pretty sure I would have lost my shit completely if Georgia had had a seizure).
So now, Friday, the fever is gone, the rash is fading, and I am wiped out. I am so tired, so so so tired – but beyond that I have a stress hangover, I think.
I never really thought Georgia was going to die or anything, but as my husband wrote in his blog yesterday, he and I both know all too well that parents do have to bury their kids sometimes. Between them, his parents and mine had five children; now it’s down to just him and me. That’s not typical, by any means, but the days are not long past when a bacterial infection or virus meant possible – if not probable – infant death. It’s hard not to think about that when you’re cradling a feverish, whimpering, flushed-cheeked infant, pressing her hot hands against your lips, holding your cheek against the top of her hot, sweat-damp, fuzzy head. It’s hard not to be weak with gratitude for modern medicine, vaccinations, antibiotics (although yes, I know it wouldn’t have helped in this case because roseola is viral, not bacterial). It is a good reminder of just how lucky we are while also serving as a reminder of how absolutely terrifying parenthood can be, how much we love our kids, how much we stand to lose.
Even Ruby understands this on some level. A couple of weeks ago she said, thoughtfully, “I'm scared to have kids when I grow up because what if they get hurt or die?”
I responded as best I could, although I was considerably taken aback by this kind of analysis from a 6-year-old. “Well, don't let being scared stop you. Anything worth doing is scary, and having kids is the best thing ever. But yes, it is scary because you love them so much that it’s hard to think of anything happening to them. All you can do is just teach them to make good choices and hope that that keeps them safe.”
And she thought about it for a few minutes and then spoke up again: “Mom, I think that maybe I will wait and not get a convertible as my first car.”
Thank you, Ruby.
And thank you, Hales Pediatrics. And thank you, inventor of the digital ear thermometer. And thank you, Internet, for teaching me everything there is to know about roseola. And of course, thank you to all four of our parents for having the courage to raise us and for being there for us now as we fret about our own kids.
And now if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for the weekend. I have certainly earned it this week.