On Nov. 5, 2018 at 3:30 AM, I was awakened by my 15 month old crying. At first I just laid in bed, not wanting to move. She normally sleeps through the night, and when she does wake up, most of the time she will get herself calmed and back to sleep. 5 minutes go by…still crying. 10 minutes go by…still crying. Finally, my husband got up to go take care of her. I let out an inward sigh, relieved that I didn’t have to go do it. After all, Papa can get her calm just as easily as Mama can, right?
About 5-10 minutes later my husband had returned to our room with a now naked-except-for-diaper baby who had cold feet, legs, hands, and a burning up torso and forehead. I could feel the heat radiating off her when I took her from my husband. He told me he had taken her temperature and it was 100.9 F. He gave her ibuprofen, undressed her to cool her down, and brought her to me.
Background: I’m a registered nurse. I’m not normally rocked by fevers, vomit, chills, etc. However, I’m a home health geriatric nurse. Pediatrics are not my thing. Never have been. It takes a lot of work for me not to get freaked out if a baby is in distress. Multiply that by 100x when it comes to my own.
Present: I instantly went skin-to-skin with her in hopes that my temperature would help to regulate hers. I then asked for Tylenol instead of Ibuprofen because that medication specifically is for fevers. She wasn’t throwing up, so I knew she wasn’t in danger of becoming dehydrated…yet. Basically, I kept telling myself, “Babies are resilient. Babies have fevers all the time. Fevers can be good things as long as they don’t climb too high. She is okay. She is okay. She is okay. She. Is. Okay.”
So there I was, with this toddler plastered to my chest, cuddled so closely and tightly I could feel her blood pumping in her small little chest. She cried every time I tried to move her off me or tried to lay down all the way. I was terrified until her fever broke at 5:30AM, two hours later. At that point, I knew we were in the clear and I could relax a little.
The reason that I was so scared was because it was my little one’s first fever. I’d never dealt with a fever in so small a person before, and I undermine myself because I don’t think I’m good at pediatrics in my nursy-brain. Thinking back on it, there are things I know I could have done differently, and things that I am very, very, thankful I already had in place.
- I had Tylenol (Acetaminophen) in the house ready to go, with knowledge of correct dosage based on her weight.
- I had a working thermometer.
- I had friends on speed-dial that I would have called if I started to doubt myself.
- I had prior training to let me know when to take her to the E.R. if necessary.
- My husband was home and ready to help with whatever was needed.
Without these basics in place, I would have been sunk (though having a husband around is not exactly basic, but it was pretty essential on my inner list so that’s why he’s there). My baby went pretty long in her short life for not having a fever. I wish my spouse and I had discussed a plan for such things prior to it happening, but hey, live and learn. We have a plan in place now! It’s been a little over a week and my little one is almost back to her perfectly happy self, but you can bet my Mama-radar is up and I’m paying much better attention. Hopefully we won’t get to that place again anytime soon.
My parting words for you all that I hope you got from this story: Stay vigilant, your baby will need you at unholy hours and that’s okay, have a working thermometer around, and for goodness sake keep Tylenol in the house!