Saturday, March 17, 2012

Sick Baby

GI has been sick for a week. It started as a mild cough last Friday, then evolved into a not-so-mild cough with congestion and fever, until I finally called the doctor on Wednesday, where he was diagnosed with bronchiolitis. The problem with bronchiolitis is there's not much to do about it but wait for the baby to get better. It's caused by one of several viruses, including rhinovirus (the common cold) or RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) or the flu virus. Since it's a virus, you can really only treat the symptoms and wait. The symptoms are basically cough with wheezing and fever and congestion. Ibuprofen or acetaminophen for fever works well, and for the wheezing, sometimes albuterol by inhaler or nebulizer can help open the airways a bit and ease the coughing. I have no doubt that GI caught a cold from one or the other of his brothers. He's actually had several colds, thanks to the aforementioned older brothers, but this is the first time it's evolved into anything more serious. Really, bronchiolitis typically sounds worse than it is, but some babies do end up in the hospital to be put on oxygen and regular nebulizer treatments because of the lung congestion and wheezing. Fortunately, GI isn't that bad off, but I'm frustrated because breastfeeding is the number one defense against bronchiolitis, and, well, it didn't work. I tend to like to think positively, that if he weren't breastfed, maybe he'd be even worse off. NJ had RSV at four months of age and was nearly hospitalized for it. That was a very crazy week and a story which deserves its own post, so maybe I'll treat you all to NJ's RSV story one of these days. But not today.

I read up on bronchiolitis, and it said the breathing difficulty should ease after two to three days but that the cough could last up to two weeks. So he should have been getting better. He was noticeably better yesterday, until bedtime. He coughed through the night, moaned, wouldn't nurse, and was generally very unhappy. I didn't understand this at all. My husband suggested calling the doctor again this morning, and they saw us promptly, where *drumroll* he was diagnosed with an ear infection! Lucky guy, getting a cough, congestion, and an ear infection! Again, breastfeeding is supposed to be a major defense against ear infections, so, again, I like to think that he would have had a lot more ear infections, or worse ones, if he weren't breast-fed. But that's small consolation right now. Anyway, he's on amoxicillin for that, and I hope to see a baby truly on the mend by tomorrow or Monday.

Having a sick baby is very stressful. Since babies (well, everyone actually) tend to feel worse at night, you don't get enough sleep, so dealing with anything during the day is more difficult. Plus, you feel so bad for the baby and wish there was something you could do to make him feel better, but there isn't. Plus, you try to give him medicine, and he doesn't want it, and he fights it, and you feel terrible that you're torturing him, and you can't explain that the medicine will make him feel better. Plus, because he doesn't feel well, he needs to be held and comforted more, so you don't have time to do anything else that needs doing, like paid work, laundry, dishes, cooking, and, oh, tending to your other children. Then, because of all of that stress, the other children, who really are not behaving any worse than usual, drive you crazy, and you're more short with them, and you feel bad about that, and that causes even more stress. I don't handle stress well, can you tell? Also, because the baby is sick, he vomits and snots all over you, which means you have even more laundry that you can't find time to do.

Deep breath.

I can usually handle up to three days of illness in any given child before I go a little batty. GI has pushed beyond that limit into "Oh my G-d I can't take this anymore" territory. Also, one of the cats decided to pee on NJ's bed the other morning and I nearly snapped. (That generated more laundry and necessitated changing sheets. I hate changing sheets.) I almost burst into tears in front of my older boys, but I didn't want to scare them. Trying to explain why I was crying would have been difficult. Instead, I tried to tell them in a very calm voice that mommy is very tired and irritable at the moment, and could they please try to be gentle with me. The boys, being 5 and 3, didn't show as much empathy as I had hoped for.

My husband took the two older ones out this morning, so it's quiet right now. GI is sleeping, hopefully for a while. I was able to throw in a load of laundry and write this post, and I found the willpower to fold a load that's been sitting in the dryer for two days. NJ couldn't find pants this morning.

I always remind myself that this, too, shall pass. And it shall. I am grateful that a cold here and there is usually all I have to deal with, and I feel deeply for those of you who are dealing with more chronic illnesses in your children. I can't imagine the stress of having an always-sick baby. At least I know that by this time next week, everything should be back to its normal level of craziness.

I will look back on this and realize that I can handle what comes my way. It doesn't always feel like it in the moment, but we get through it. The baby will feel better, we'll all get some sleep, the sun will come out (did I mention, it's pouring down rain today?), and the world will seem brighter. And in the meantime, we muddle through, hour-by-hour, day-by-day, and take great pleasure in the quiet moments, like this one, that come our way.

Happy Spring, everyone.

1 comment:

  1. My son had bronchiolitis around the same age as yours, same time of year (well, more like end of April) and I was a FREAK about exclusive BFing. Friends with babies/children who weren't breastfed do seem to get sick more frequently. When babies are sick, ugh, it's so hard, but the fact that you can nurse him/he can try to nurse (I know it's hard when they're congested) is awesome because I'm sure it's a great comfort to him. It may not be noticeable to you but I'm positive it makes a difference for them when they're not feeling so hot.