Dante has been ill for the last few days, and it’s the first time he’s had a serious fever. Which means it’s time to learn yet another flavor of parental fear! Laura first reported on Tuesday afternoon that he felt hot, and it only got worse as the night went on. We took his temp via the underarm method (holding a thermometer under his arm) and it was 102.5. Despite the fact that we used a digital thermometer, this reading is kind of an approximation, because he hated having his arm held down, howling and struggling, so I’m not sure we got the most accurate reading. I could hear that his swallowing sounded different, more deliberate, and theorized that he might have a sore throat. The fact that he was refusing almost all finger foods, and only taking a little bit of food and drink in general, supported this theory. We gave him some Tylenol and gave him a tepid bath (which he also hated), then put him to bed.
The next morning he seemed better — his temp was 100.2, which is pretty much in the normal range. He was still clingy and fussy, but a lot more cheerful than the night before. His swallow still sounded funny. We called our pediatrician, who told us that we could care for him at home today, and to bring him in the next day if he was still feverish. Things went downhill from there. He had a 45-minute straight stretch of crying, very unusual behavior for him. When I got home that night, he was really hot. I stripped him down to his diaper, and he submitted limply. I took his temperature and he didn’t struggle at all, which in a way was much more upsetting than the previous night’s fight. It was 102.8. He didn’t want to do anything but lie on my chest, breathing rapidly. Freaky Dad began to emerge. I thumbed through our childhood health book, found the page on fevers, and saw this:
|Symptom||Possible Cause||Action Needed|
|Is your baby’s breathing rate faster than normal?||Pneumonia or bronchiolitis||Urgent! Call your pediatrician immediately!|
Inside my head:
Okay, he hasn’t been breathing fast all day, I don’t think. In fact, I’m only noticing his breathing because he’s lying on top of me. Still, he’s breathing awfully fast now. I mean, not super duper fast. But it does seem faster than normal. But he had pneumonia before, and it wasn’t like this. Come on, get a grip. He doesn’t have something scary or horrible. I don’t think. Oh god, what if I’m wrong? I should have taken him in today. He’s going to die tonight because I didn’t take him in. Oh this is awful. Whose stupid idea was it to trust me with somebody else’s life who can’t even fend for themselves or tell me when I’m making a dumb decision? Oh, wait that was my stupid idea. That sure was some stupid idea. Has his breathing slowed down? Maybe some. What if it slows down so much it stops?
…and so on. He cried weakly in the bath, and was asleep before I put him in the crib. It turns out that having a crying, fighting, miserable baby is not nearly as scary as having a burning hot, listless, compliant baby. Laura and I both acknowledged how creepy the whole thing felt.
Today, his fever was gone. However, his fussiness and crying was at a new high. We took him to the doc, and she confirmed that his throat is red and swollen. She advised alternating Tylenol and Motrin every 3 hours to give him pain relief. This worked okay, but he was still the most miserable I’ve seen him. He cried pretty much all night, only stopping for a maximum of a few minutes at a time. No fever, though. So things are getting better, except that they totally suck.