Saturday, August 30, 2008

Fever In, Fever Out

Just in time for the first week of school, I kissed Monkey's sleeping face two mornings ago and immediately thought, "Uh-oh."

A quick trip to the linen closet to fetch the ear thermometer confirmed what a mother's kiss had diagnosed: fever. A dose of tylenol, a call to David at work, and off we rushed to daycare, where Lovely DCP took Monkey in her arms and snuggled him in a way that made my broken heart heal up a little bit. There really was no way for me to stay home with him, not the first week of classes, and it's so nice to have someone like DCP to take care of him!

That night, his fever climbed up to a scary 104.2, which we have learned is just Monkey's way of dealing with sickness. He has been up over 105 more times than I can count, and it's just about the saddest thing on earth to see him like that, feeling so wretched.

My scariest parenting moment to date was fever-related, when Monkey had a febrile seizure in the Target parking lot, just after his first birthday. I can still see the way he looked, sitting there in the cart that night, with his little green fleece jacket and his red striped hat on. His hands were snug in little blue mittens, and we ran in for some post-Christmas necessities, late in the evening--past everyone's bedtime. He seemed normal the whole time we were piling diapers and pacifiers and whatever else in our cart, hurriedly sweeping the aisles to get out of there before the kids melted down.

Then I noticed him sort of staring blankly while we were checking out. He seemed like he was in a little zone, and even the cashier said something like, "Wow, he's about to fall asleep, isn't he?" I feel bad now because I laughed and thought it was so cute the way he had the dreamy stares, and because I had kept him all bundled up in his hat, coat, and mittens.

We got out to the van, and I remember that David loaded Jabber into his seat and gave him a Pop-Tart (yes, I know, no Parent-of-the-Year Award) while I dropped the cart into the corral and started tucking Monkey into his seat. I had his arms inside the straps when I noticed he was staring even more blankly than before. Somehow it just registered that he was not right, that he was not actually responding to his surroundings, and I began calling his name, trying to get him to look at me.

David was already in the driver's seat, and he knew something was wrong as my voice started getting more and more frantic, and Monkey didn't stop his fixed stare off to the left. Then, while I watched, his eyes rolled backwards and his whole body started convulsing stiffly. I screamed to David, "He's seizing! He's having a seizure!"

It was the scariest thing ever, the way his little face was instantly gray, like all the life was gone, and how little bits of foam frothed out of his mouth, and how his body was so stiff while it was jerking that we couldn't pick him up because we couldn't get his arms out of the straps of his seat.

David was so calm and reassuring the whole time, and I was crying and saying, "He's not breathing!" over and over again. It was terrible. I called 9-1-1 and told them my little baby was having a seizure, but by that time it was over and he was sort of sleeping in my arms in the front seat, making a little gasping cry with every breath. A fire truck came, and David talked to the paramedics so calmly, telling them exactly how long the seizure was and everything. I can't imagine what I would have done if he hadn't been there.

They wanted us to go the ER for a CT scan, so we had to put him back into his seat, and he woke up and cried so hard the entire way to the hospital. I rode the whole way standing next to his seat, trying to hold him and comfort Jabber at the same time. He cried nonstop the whole time we were getting him checked into the ER, until finally I jumped up on the examining table and nursed him. He would not stop nursing the whole time, so they drew blood, checked his temperature, everything--all while he was focused on nursing like his nummies were the only thing that existed in his universe. I was prepared for someone to make a stupid comment, but the doctor assured me that his wife had several children and nursed all of them, and obviously everyone preferred a baby happily suckling to a baby screaming like the world was over.

In the end, everything was fine and normal--it was "just" a febrile seizure and wasn't likely to do him any harm. I'm still certain that it was a reaction to his MMR vaccine, since it exactly fit into the timeline of the febrile seizure reaction in the paperwork from the CDC, but two doctors insisted it wasn't so. It's sad that doctors have become so afraid of vaccine criticism that they are pretty much unable to admit that a bad reaction could happen.

Luckily, though they said he will have a higher risk of having another seizure until he's like five or so, we haven't seen another one yet, even with about a zillion fevers in the meantime. I sure hope I never have to witness another one!


Beverly said...

That would be really scary. It's a nice breastfeeding story, though. What a nice way to comfort your child. Here's hoping you don't have to do that again!

grace said...

oh Lissa baby how did I miss this when it happened?! I'm glad he's okay that must have been so so horrible.

Sarahlynn said...

How horrifying!

During the first couple of years, I always felt grateful that I was able to breastfeed my tiny ones when they were sad/hurt/sick/scared. It was so good for all of us.

Less than 2 days after Ellie's open heart surgery, the world's best PICU nurse convinced the ICU doc, cardiologist, and surgeon to let me try breastfeeding my 12-week-old rather than shoving an NG tube down her nose. It was quite a production, lifting her to me while she was connected to so many IV lines, oxygen, pulse ox reader, and an external pacemaker. But it was worth it!

(Before the nursing, we tried a bottle so that we could measure healthy input/output. This was the one and only time in Ellie's infancy that she was willing to take a bottle; clearly she was desperate. And I was prepared. I had pumped and frozen colostrum for just that purpose. When could a child need that magical stuff more than right after open heart surgery as an 8-pound 12-week-old?!)