Tuesday, June 25, 2013
"Summer's finally here!" a cheerful stranger piped as I stood pumping gas in the 35 degree (40 celsius with the humidex -- that's 104 fahrenheit) heat. "Yeah. It sure is."
The last few days were hot. Stinking, scorching hot. When you don't have air conditioning you really feel it. At least it cooled down at night sometimes so I opened all the windows to get the cool air in and then closed everything up in the morning to lock it in. I didn't think the house was too bad considering. Mind you because heat rises the bedrooms were suffocating. Fans help a little. Cool bubble baths are refreshing.
Then one day Michelle was out of sorts. More so than usual. She barely touched her cereal. She had slept a fair amount but was still tired and cranky. She wouldn't let me put her down. She felt hot but I figured it was because it was hot and when she fusses it raises her temperature even more. It wasn't until we headed to my Mom's that I realized something was wrong.
My Mom's place is air conditioned (and she likes to keep it cold. Like a meat locker.) and yet Michelle still felt warm. My Mom said "I think she has a fever." I tried giving her a tiny piece of toast and she threw up instantly. I was worried she'd get dehydrated and kept trying to give her water but she wouldn't drink it. She was crankier than ever. I have a thermometer at home but didn't have it with me and my Mom didn't have one (with all the things that she has I'd have thought she'd have one somewhere. She probably does and just doesn't remember). We took her to the walk-in clinic to get checked out.
I looked around the waiting room. My Mom had called ahead to say we were bringing in a baby with a fever. I told her to ask them if they were busy. I didn't want to subject Michelle to a long wait when she was already so miserable. Their answer was apparently "We're still taking patients" which really doesn't answer the question. I did a head count and there were about 20 people waiting there. I wondered if Michelle screaming would bump her up on the priority list. Thankfully it did and before I knew it they were calling "Michelle."
The nurse was a sweetheart. She was very kind and reassuring. She suggested I nurse Michelle to calm her down. Even though I have been trying to wean her and never feeding her during the day these were special circumstances. She hadn't eaten and wouldn't drink water so she could get dehydrated. She also could use the comfort of breastfeeding. So I nursed her. It worked like a charm. She calmed down immediately and even started to fall to sleep. I started to calm down as well. My Mom was talking a mile a minute "I'm worried she has measles. It's going around..." blah blah blah. The nurse shushed her and told us something we could do to handle stress -- a technique called tapping. She said even her young daughter was doing it. It looked simple enough. Of course when I'm carrying Michelle around in one arm and trying to do a million things it's not even an option. They say not to sweat the small stuff but it's hard not to when there's a lot of small stuff. And when you're perspiring and panting in 100 degree heat carrying an 18 lb sick screaming baby...
The doctor was not so nice. First of all I could barely understand a word he said. Between his thick accent and Michelle screaming I didn't have a clue what he was on about. At one point he was grabbing my arms (a little too roughly I might add) and trying to get me to restrain Michelle while he took her temperature in her ear. She was going ballistic. She went from being peaceful and happy in Mama's arms to being terrified and angry at the hands of an unfriendly doctor. He didn't even bother to tell me what her temperature was. He took a swab of her throat (which was a nightmarish endeavour as well with him sticking a popsicle stick and a q-tip down her throat while she screamed.) My Mom even tried mentioning the measles to him. He shook his head and started spouting off something about measles and added that she'd likely already been immunized against them (I knew she'd had a few sets of needles but I couldn't remember what they were all for.) He said he'd be back in five minutes. I nursed Michelle back to her happy place again. I started to wonder how on earth I could possibly leave her when I go back to work. I certainly couldn't leave her if she was sick. When the doctor came back he said it doesn't appear that she has strep throat. He suggested it was probably just a viral thing and that if she didn't improve in a couple of days to take her to the doctor. He gave me a requisition for a chest x-ray just in case. I thought there's no way I'm putting her through that. He really wasn't a lot of help. He said to just give her "whatever I had" at home (Luckily I did have some baby Tylenol for fever) and take her to a doctor if she wasn't better in a couple of days.
Michelle wasn't herself. She was sluggish, drowsy and wound up having a second afternoon nap. I nursed her again on my Mom's couch. She was just about falling asleep when she suddenly sat up, wide awake and in good spirits. She was laughing and cooing and chattering away in her own little language and reaching for toys. "She's back!" I thought with relief. She was her happy self again. It didn't last though. Soon she was back to fussing. I tried explaining to her that the more she cries the hotter she's going to feel. I tried putting something cold on her head, she wouldn't have it. My Mom had some little Nemo things with gel in them that you put in the freezer. Michelle chewed on them. I thought that would cool her down a little at least. I didn't know how she'd survive back at my place in the heat when she was still hot even at my Mom's ice palace (I had to put a sweater on because I was shivering).
I gave her a jar of pears for dinner and she seemed OK with that. I tried to give her her nightly oatmeal hoping to get some iron into her since she'd barely eaten anything and had no meat. She was eating voraciously, spoonful after spoonful, as though she was starving. Then all of a sudden she gagged and it all came back up.
Michelle slept on the way home and then was wide awake at home. I took her temperature and it was 100.3. I didn't even know what a normal temperature was supposed to be. I thought I remembered hearing that 96 degrees fahrenheit or so was normal. I remembered a cheesy song from the 80s "I'm hotblooded! Check it and see! I've got a fever of a hundred and three." So 103 would be a fever but maybe 100.3 wasn't too bad? I checked the internet. She was basically on the borderline. If it was any higher it may be a cause for concern. Apparently fevers aren't normally dangerous unless the baby is under 6 months old.
It's Murphy's Law I suppose and just one of life's cruel jokes that things will happen at the worst possible time. Michelle happens to get a fever on the hottest day we've had so far. If I hadn't gone to my Mom's place I would have just thought my house was too hot.
The next day I tried to keep Michelle cool by putting a cool cloth on her head, heading to an air conditioned store to get some groceries, having a cool bath and watching an Elmo DVD in the basement. She still seemed warm but not quite as bad. Her temperature was still 100. I had the ceiling fan and a tower fan on us to sleep. Not that Michelle slept much anyway. She wouldn't settle down until after midnight and kept waking all night.
When I called my sister she said it sounds like Michelle is teething. For some reason it seems to come with a fever, crankiness and lack of sleep. I did some digging online and read that for whatever reason teeth coming through the gums elevates a baby's temperature to about 100 degrees. As long as it doesn't go above that it's no cause for concern.
Parenting really has to be the hardest job you could have (and the best job you could love in spite of the challenges). Just when you have one thing sorted out there's something new to worry about. It never ends. You can never completely relax (not if you're a worrywart like me!) When I checked Michelle's temperature again it was 99. So at least it's an improvement. My sister pointed out "You don't even know what her temperature was normally." Which is true. She has always been a hotblooded little thing. She's so active she doesn't keep still so it's like she's working out all the time. And when she cries she screams until her face turns red. My little firecracker. I'm just relieved that she seems to be OK.
Michelle is sleeping as I finish typing this and hopefully will get a good sleep tonight to catch up on all that she's missed. She really enjoyed visiting her cousins and Auntie May. I was glad to see her happy and active again. Tonight when we got back home I was relieved the weather had cooled down and there was a nice breeze coming through the windows. I thought hot summer days were rough last year when I was pregnant. With a baby it's even more difficult. Of course one of these hot days we will have to head to the beach. I really don't know how that will go. I guess we'll see soon enough.