6.27.2011

When a Baby's Fever is Over 100.4


Lessons You Will Learn From This Post:
  • Seeing a baby with an iv is just plain sad.
  • Pediatricians actually have a reason for telling you to keep your babies away from other kids and anyone carrying germs for the first four weeks of baby's life.
  • I like to brag about my super human ability to be the last man standing around here, but not include the break down that follows (such as the July 2010 Shingles experience).
  • Losing power sucks.
  • Sitting in the hospital with a baby for 24 hours is B.O.R.I.N.G. (after you get over the scary part).
  • Doctor's answering services want to save you money.
  • When your baby's fever is over 100.4, pack your bags... You're going to the hospital.
W has had a summer cold that he caught from Matt who caught it from someone at work. Then he spiked a fever and the cold moved to his chest. We tried to keep him away from the baby and tried to keep Matt's baby handling to a minimum. But, despite our best intentions, the baby started a low grade fever on Wednesday night (during our no power period). I checked him every few hours. It jumped around, sitting below 100.1 until around 8 am on Thursday morning when it jumped to 100.5.

All I could hear was my pediatrician's voice telling me to keep the baby away from other kids for the first month and to immediately call the office if he develops a fever above 100.4 and to plan to make a visit to the hospital.

Below is a version of the phone calls that followed:

Answering Service: "Doctor's answering service."

Me: "Um, hi, my baby has a 100.5 fever and my doctor told me to call if it ever went over 100.4."

AS: "Would you like me to call the doctor on call?"

Me: "Yeah, I guess. This is what he told me to do."

AS: "OK, just to warn you, there will be a $50 fee. Would you still like me to call him?"

Me: "Yeah, whatever, fine. Call him. My baby has a fever."

AS: "The office opens in 45 minutes and then you wouldn't have to incur the fee. Would you like to wait?"

Me: "Not really. If the doctor said to call right away, I'm guessing he has a good reason. I'm calling because he told me to."

OK, so maybe I have a tendency to assume that the bad warnings will never apply to me and tend to zone out during these conversations in all aspects of life. So, of course I had NO IDEA why the fever might be an issue. In my head I had created a scenario in which a fever could cause brain damage and that every minute would count in saving my baby from long term complications or something dramatic. Going on...

The phone rang within in a couple of minutes and here is a little part of our conversation:

Dr: "Can you tell me what's going on with B?"

Me: "He has a fever of 100.5 and the doctor told me to call if it went over 100.4."

Dr: "OK, is he acting normal?"

Me: "Um, I don't know. I don't really know him that well, he's pretty young. But, yeah, he's normal. Sleeping more during the day, feeding more, not sleeping at night, but that's all normal for him, I guess. I'm pretty sure he has the same cold my husband and other son have. He's pretty congested. I'm the only one who hasn't caught it." (yes, I feel the need to let the pediatrician know that I'm doing just fine.)

Dr: "That could be it, but we can't make any assumptions with a baby. So, I'm going to ask you to go to the emergency room. I'd rather be safe and this is how we would normally treat an infant with a fever. I'll call and let them know you're on the way, so you won't have to wait."

Me: "Ummm, OK. So, I have to go now?"

Dr: "Yes, as soon as you can. And they might want to keep you for a night or possibly two, so you should pack a bag."

Me: "Really? Could the thermometer be a fluke? Should I retake it?" (Cue tears.)

Dr: "Are YOU okay?"

Me: (Cue more tears.) "I'm fine. Really, I am. It's just been such a long week. Everyone is sick. I haven't gotten more than two hours of sleep for weeks. I've had mastitis, then we both had thrush. All he wants to do is eat and he only sleeps during the day. And the power! Our power has been out. I haven't showered in days. Our power just came back on and now I have to leave?"

Dr: "This power thing is crazy, right? I just got here and could barely see to open the door with my key. It's hot in here and kind of smells like sewer. Our computers are down, our phones are down, and we only have enough power from the generators to keep the vaccines cold enough. I can't see anything."

And I immediately pulled it together, realizing the world is much bigger than what is going on within the walls of our little house. I needed to suck it up. After we talked through what would happen at the ER (urine test, blood test, and spinal tap to cover all the bases and then lots of antibiotics given by iv), I through a bag together and we were off to the hospital where he'd been born only four weeks prior. Too early for a return visit.

I spent 24 hours in the hospital with the baby, which meant I held him for 24 hours straight, working around his iv to hold him, nurse him, and change him. There are no swings or bouncy seats in the hospital, just your arms. Luckily, my mom, sisters, and Matt each paid us some visits while passing W around. I sat on a hospital bed, greeting the nurses coming in and out, didn't get much sleep, and may have watched Dear John in the wee hours of the night (don't judge, my choices were worse).

Now we're home, healthy and happy. Everything checked out OK and Matt got his first good night's sleep in four weeks.

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