It’s Okay To Cry | When You And Your Baby Are Sick

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The cold and flu season has hit our household hard this year. I have had one cold after another since October, and every couple of weeks, my husband spends several days hacking and sneezing and aching. In January, Ren and I were both on antibiotics for ear and sinus infections, and I ended up having to do 2 rounds because my ear infection wouldn’t go away. Thankfully, Serenity’s ears and sinuses cleared up quickly, and she seemed to be doing fine.

Then, a few weeks ago, Nick started coughing again. A few days later, Ren started to cough, and a few days after that, so did I. Then last week, all of the adults at my in-law’s house came down with a horrible stomach flu, and I was called in for the day to watch my nieces and nephew while their parents recovered. The next day, I was down for the count with the same bug. At the same time, Nick started to have terrible body aches and a persistent headache, on top of a worsening cough, and he ended up missing work on Wednesday, Friday and Monday, and spent 5 full days in bed or wrapped in a blanket in the recliner. Amazingly, Serenity did not get the stomach bug, and neither did any of her cousins. Our coughs continued to worsen, and after my bout with the stomach flu, I never did fully recover, but was far too busy taking care of Nick and Ren to rest, which was what my body desperately needed. 

We saw a doctor at FastCare on Saturday, and after a cursory examination she put both Nick and me on yet another round of antibiotics. I was not thrilled, especially since she admitted she had no idea what was wrong with us and ran no tests, but by that point I was so exhausted I really just didn’t care anymore. She was not able to examine Ren because FastCare only handles babies over 18 months old, but she said she likely had the same thing we did. When asked if we should take her to the ER to be seen, then, she said not to bother, because she did not need antibiotics (though we supposedly did, and again, nobody was tested for anything), and to just keep her hydrated. We returned home; Nick was happy to be able to take a drug that might help, but I was extremely skeptical and fairly sure that whatever was wrong was viral, not bacterial, and that the only thing the antibiotics might do was open me up to other illnesses by killing everything in my body. Nick was so positive about the drugs, though, that I agreed to take them to make him feel better.

Nick started to feel better on Monday night, and returned to work the next morning. It was rough on me, not having him to help me with Serenity so I could rest and heal, but not being able to pay our bills would have been far worse, and I’m grateful that he was able to use a few vacation days to fill in the his missed days.

By that point, my cough was so bad that I couldn’t eat much, and my chest hurt just to breath. Serenity seemed to be a little bothered by her cough, but she was still her happy active and hungry self, so I wasn’t overly worried about her. I called our doctor to try and get an appointment for myself as I was becoming worried about my cough, but the receptionist would not put an appointment on the books for me, because I told her if I got worse in the night I planned to go to the ER. I was furious with her for being unhelpful (she also refused to have a nurse call me), but there wasn’t much I could do. We did not end up going anywhere Monday or Tuesday, as Nick was convinced that since he was feeling better, I would soon as well.

Then Serenity took a turn for the worse.

I woke up at 5am on Wednesday morning to her thrashing and screaming in her sleep. Nick flipped the lights on, and she screamed louder, kicking me and arching away from me when I touched her skin. She was burning up, and when we took her temperature it was already over 102F. We gave her Advil, and Tylenol 2 hours later, and her temperature returned to normal for a few hours, though she remained lethargic and crabby, and kept having diarrhea. Nick went to work, and we curled up in the recliner and watched cartoons all day, Ren dozing on my chest more than she was awake.

By 2pm, Ren’s fever had come back, and was hovering at 100F. I gave her more Advil, as she was not able to sleep and was clearly in a lot of discomfort, but half an hour later, her fever was up to 102.5 and still climbing. I called our doctor, and the receptionist told me to continue alternating medications and just keep her cool and comfortable. I asked about my own cough, but she seemed unconcerned and just repeated her instructions concerning Ren.

Ren’s fever remained in the low 100’s for the rest of the day, and the fever I had been nursing since Sunday remained, as well. Nick went to puppet team practice that evening, and I had almost convinced myself that I could try one more day with this horrible cough, when suddenly Serenity got really bad.

Serenity made more than 6 diarrhea diapers in a few short hours, and then at 4pm she stopped peeing, and started refusing to nurse. Despite the Advil and Tylenol, her fever started to rise again, hovering just under 103F despite all of my efforts to lower it. By the time Nick came home at 8pm, I had spoken with the on-call pediatric doctor, and determined that Ren needed to be seen in the emergency room. Since Nick could not risk missing any more work, his dad agreed to take Serenity and me to the hospital.

{ Even very ill and totally exhausted, Renny
wanted her Pig, and I couldn’t help smiling. }
We only waited 5 minutes at the ER before being rushed back to a room. We were at the hospital for almost 5 hours, and it felt like we never stopped moving.

It was quickly determined that I have Influenza, and the urgency factor rose dramatically after that as they worked to assess Serenity’s condition. By this point, she was becoming badly dehydrated. I kept trying to nurse her, but all she wanted to do was hold her *foodies* in her mouth for comfort, and she fell asleep as soon as we stopped moving, every time.

We had a team of 3 nurses, a doctor, and a medical intern, to say nothing of all of the various techs that came and went. They had to stick Serenity 4 times before they were able to get a vein to run an IV for hydration, and they were only able to get a tiny amount of blood. My poor baby has nasty bruises and puncture wounds all over both arms! *sad* She was given a chest x-ray, and that was traumatic for both of us; to immobilize a baby for x-rays, the tech places them on a little bicycle seat inside of a clear plastic tube that holds them perfectly immobile with their arms way up above their heads. Serenity tried to get away, but she was so exhausted, all she could do was wiggle her fingers and scream, looking absolutely terrified. I thought I was going to throw up, I was so upset for how scared she was! They also did a test for RSV that entailed sticking a vacuum tube up her nose and suctioning out all the gunk; she was terrified of that, too.

It was a horrible, long, exhausting 5 hours at the hospital, but in the end, they determined that Serenity did not have RSV or Influenza. What she does have, nobody knows. But the IV rehydrated her, and she began to nurse again, and when we finally got home at 3:30am, we both fell into bed and slept for almost 7 hours, like the dead.

Yesterday was, in some ways, worse than the previous day. Serenity woke up with a fever of 102.5F, and it refused to respond to her fever reducers again. I called her doctor’s office, and they told me to just get it down however I could, which was frustrating because what do they think I was trying to do??? but since that was all they could suggest, I just kept trying. She slept a lot, but did seem more lively than the day before, and she ate almost normally, and did not become dehydrated again. My mother-in-law brought me soup, and helped me give Ren her medicine, for which I am very grateful.

When Nick got home from work at 4pm, he helped me give her another dose of Tylenol. We were really worried at that point, and were trying to get through to her doctor (we called 6 times, and finally got through by calling the main hospital number and having them patch us through), because her fever was all the way up to 104.5F! Scary!! As soon as we got her to swallow the last drop of her Tylenol, Serenity suddenly threw up all over me, and her fever immediately went down to the low 100’s. We have no idea why it worked that way, and I was not the happiest I have ever been, with vomit all over me from the eyebrows to sternum, but I was so happy her fever went down I hardly cared.

We decided that was a good time to give Ren a bath, to clean her up and hopefully further lower her fever. I could not lean over the tub without going into a coughing fit, so I got in the tub with her. 30 second later, we were both scrambling out of the tub – she pooped! So we sat on the closed potty for a few minutes, Ren chatting away at Senior Ocho (her bathtub octopus toy), while Nick scrubbed the tub and refilled it.

We got back in, and I decided to rinse off the lingering vomit. I took my glasses off, and was pouring the 3rd or 4th large cup of warm water over my head, finally feeling the tension and worry start to fade away as Ren made happy play noises in front of me, when Nick came back into the room and said, “Oh hunny, she pooped again!”

I froze, then dropped the cup and started sobbing. I was pouring poopy water over my head!!!

We took a shower, then Ren and I went to bed.

Serenity is doing better today, though she is still running a fever (102F at the worse, so far). She’s still coughing, though not as much, and she still has diarrhea, though not as often. We’re both on Tamaflu, and I am sure it must be helping, but I just feel horrible. The only real relief I’ve experienced was the crushing headache left when my fever did. I’m really hoping we both feel better very soon.

I’m learning a lot about parenthood this month. I’m learning that sometimes it’s not possible to take care of your kids and husband and still rest and get well when you are also sick, but that it’s the price you pay for being a mother. I’m learning that asking for help is a good thing, even when you don’t know exactly what to ask (because what you really need is for someone to nurse your baby so you can sleep). And I’m learning that it’s okay to cry when things get to be just a little too much, as long as no one else needs you to be strong in that moment.

I’m thankful for my friend Katrina who brought be diapers when we were about to run out, and I’m thankful for family who helped me take Ren to the hospital and who came and fed me and held her so I could eat. I am thankful for a husband who works hard to support us even when he’s not feeling well, and who takes care of us when he comes home at night. And I am thankful to God, for helping the nurses find a vein so they could get fluid into my daughter, and who keeps His healing hand over her little body as she fights this illness.

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4 comments on “It’s Okay To Cry | When You And Your Baby Are Sick”

  1. Piper said:

    I hope all of you are feeling better soon! This has been a hard winter for illnesses 🙁 I have had back to back viruses or infections for months with no end in sight :/

    1. Thanks, Piper. I hope you feel better, soon, too!

  2. I hope you are feeling better now! It’s the scariest thing to have a sick baby on top of being sick yourself. Sending healing prayers your way!

    1. Thank you, dear 🙂 We are still getting over coughs and general exhaustion, but we’re finally mending. Today is the last day I have to give Ren Tamaflu, and I am SO GRATEFUL!!! It’s been horrible, making her take it. Thank you for the prayers, and the kind comment ?

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