It is starting in the afternoon, our girl is not acting herself. She is crying way more than usually (she is normally not a crier at all if it’s not centered around food) and she seems exhausted, sleeping heavily and in intervals between the crying. I’m mad at myself for not noticing sooner but I have been so content in this new “healthy and normal” phase that I guess I just can’t imagine another illness- silly me.
By that evening we realize that it’s not a simple cold (or teething) either, baby is crying hysterically, burning hot, her tiny body shaking, throw up everywhere. The next moment she is almost motionless, passed out in my arms. It’s the weekend and after 5 pm so we call the general pediatric after-hours number. Baby is in the hysterical cry interval so it’s difficult to hear the person on the phone but she connects me to “a real” nurse. I get to answer a thousand questions while I hand over the baby to her daddy who now has to deal with a new level of hysteria. “Have we been out of the country in the last 3 weeks?” Nop, no Africa for us. The nurse brings up baby’s surgery and dwells on it, “but it was two months ago?”
Since we have taken baby’s temperature under her arm and it was 103, and since her crying is so excessive paired with the vomiting and the deep sleep the nurse would feel “more comfortable” if we talked to a doctor. She tells us to be “prepared to come in”, meaning the ER…this isn’t happening!
While we wait for the doctor, the nurse instruct us how to take baby’s temperature rectally. I hate this. I’ve seen how she cries when the nurses at her doctor’s office do this. It’s so easy to hurt baby this way. I don’t, don’t, don’t want to hurt her. Besides I heard that it is not necessary to put babies through this and a high fever is just indicating an infection, and why would you need to know the exact temperature?
The nurse is insisting however, they “NEED” to know. It is important to get the right number of degrees to determine the seriousness of the illness. Baby is a preemie under 6 months and has a history of high fevers and complications. Following her order is hard but she does sound quite stern as well as convincing. I would never hurt my child but this does seem like something we have to do in order to get the right temperature- it seems that it does matter.
Husband holds baby while I put baby oil on the thermometer, the reading beeps red with 104.7!! That can’t be right, there is no way. Even with my history of extreme fever it has only passed 104 a handful of times and that was when I was a teenager and adult, our baby is barely 5 months. The nurse tells us calmly to redo it. 104.7 still. This is insane! Nurse now tells me to do whatever I need to do to get ready to go to the ER while she instructs my husband to cool baby down with a wet washcloth and take her clothes off. We are supposed to take little one’s temperature again in five minutes and then ten.
I dash around, changing clothes, kissing my son goodnight and packing the diaper bag all the while listening to my baby crying along with my husband’s yells for help. He is saying he is “extremely uncomfortable” handling our baby this sick and please take her to the hospital. The doctor on call comes on the line and he agrees with to words “COME IN”.
I can’t believe we are here again, waiting to been seen, trying to avoid all the germs. Baby would have been only three months and I guess that is why they worry too about the extreme fever that won’t go down. Her vitals are so bad we actually get a room. Once it’s determined this has nothing to do with the surgery and isn’t “blood related”, they check her ears and stomach. Baby is crying every time they touch her and reaches a new level anytime they come near her mouth.
It’s been three hours and I’m exhausted, I know I don’t have the right to complain and my heart breaks for my little girl but right now I long for some dinner and my bed like crazy. Baby falls asleep every time the nurses or doctors leave and wakes up with a scream every time someone comes back. We see two different doctors and get transferred between three different rooms. They check her and poke her and twist and turn her. they take her bolo an her urine an gives her oxygen for her ragged breathing. I try in vain to calm her with my milk. When she doesn’t even want to eat, I know it’s serious. Baby’s vitals are so bad- they feel “it’s best” we stay the night and hook her up to an IV. But wait, what is happening, what is wrong with my baby?