Friday, March 18, 2011

First Sickness

Wesley got sick.
We don't know how, but he did.
Was it the playdates?
Was it one of the many sick, coughing people we try to avoid on the street or in the stores?
Can I put him in a bubble to keep him safe?

After a day of discomfort, Wes woke last Friday night with a high fever. We gave him Tylenol and had a fitful night sleep. The next day, Wesley woke up sick. Casey went to work and Grandma D came over to help. I can't express the massive relief I felt when she said she'd come right away. It was so good have her there to help advise, reassure, and navigate the rough day that it was. It was a scary prospect to have to make decisions having never seen a baby illness before. Knowing that she had cared for babies with fevers was comforting.

We went to the doctor's office in the morning. Wes was feeling better due to Tylenol. They said he'd be fine. He was alert and less fussy than he had been earlier that morning. They said his rash was eczema. We kept checking in with the nurse throughout the day. She was concerned at his worsening condition. His fever went up again. We gave baths. Tylenol sort of worked, then seemed to not be working. We got a new thermometer, didn't know how to operate it and freaked when it said 104 degrees. We wondered if we needed to go to the ER. They said wait. We took another bath.

Casey came home. Wesley was relieved to be with him. We went on a walk and Wes got the only 20 minutes of sleep he'd had that day. Tired, sick baby. Maybe getting better? Grandma D went home.

Short nap, awakens with 103.7 temperature. Nurse tells us to go to the ER at 6pm on a Saturday night.

We go. Best ER visit ever. Very few people in the waiting room. Nicest staff imaginable. "treatment begins in 30 minutes or less" guarantee at our Hospital. And it was true. The doctor was informative, helpful, and reassuring. Wesley's temp had gone down by the time we arrived. The doctor said that because of some telltale signs (which he innumerated) he was pretty confident it was a virus which would run its course. We felt better, though still worried. Still a sick baby, but he fell asleep on the way home.

Fortunately, it was Casey's weekend. A couple days pass with an uncomfortable, restless baby. Poor, suffering baby. One rash fades and another appears. More stress about if it's the same sickness going away, if it is some other irritant, or some new thing, but Wes seems to be improving. He sleeps a lot, starts to feel better, and I rest with him. I was deeply exhausted.

Then, on St. Patrick's Day, our happy, healthy, playful, get-into-every corner of the house catch-me-if-you-can baby reemerged. My chest lifted in relief, in appreciation, in painfully exuberant joy that he is feeling better.

For a while I was in post-shock recovery. It was so intense being there, with Wesley, my baby who would scream the second I wasn't holding him and who would thrash restlessly in my arms. But the screams didn't bother me, I wished only to alleviate the pain. I'd be in the moment with him, then my mind would flicker to fears of what if the fever didn't go down, of the possible paths of the illness, of what the Tylenol was doing to his liver, of his poor little cells which were so hot, of if I should have kept him home instead of going to the grocery, if he's too little to play with others, though he adores it. But, it was easy to mostly stay present with him, to give the comfort and nurturing he so clearly needed.

Parenting is caring for another person's life--for their health and safety. A sick child throws that duty into new relief. The variables we cannot control, and those we can. The delicate nature of their bodies, and its robust ability to heal. The limits of their coping mechanisms and the power of just being present with them in discomfort. My limitations of not being able to help him, not just in little daily acts of reassurance, but in potentially life-threatening situations.

I don't consider myself an overprotective mom (though, the daughter of an infectious disease specialist, I aaaam borderline paranoid about germs), but during that fever we couldn't lower I felt very scared, very powerless. I understand the seductive quality of wanting to put your baby in a bubble. I retreat to that fantasy sometimes, but it quickly dissipates as unrealistic and undesirable.

Last Saturday was one of the most intense days in my life, even though throughout most of it, I was pretty sure he was going to be okay...

Now I watch him run around, so healthy and strong, and I feel so blissful...

1 comment:

  1. Oh Melissa! Poor little guy! It is so scary. Hal was sick this week too, but his fever was low. He had a bad cough and junk though -- he ended up having a double ear infection and RSV! I don't think Alice or Clark ever got sick until into the second year, so it was new territory for me. (Of course, Clark is in preschool now and bringing home lots of germs all the time...) Having said that, Alice has had fevers up to 105 in the past. Motrin works a lot better on bringing down those high fevers for us than Tylenol does. Scary scary scary. Sweet little Wesley, I'm so glad he's all recovered and back to normal. And I'm glad your mama heart has recovered too. :)