I often write about being cocky. Recent example? Thinking that breastfeeding exclusively would help us avoid all baby sicknesses. When Stephen came down with a nasty chest cold last weekend, I wasn't terribly worried for Ada. (For myself, maybe, though to this day, I only see to have a bad case of allergies.) So, when we woke up in the middle of the night Tuesday to what sounded like one those whooping cough commercials, at first I thought I was dreaming.
A couple hours later when we woke up for the day, I had one sick baby with a chest cough, and lots of congestion. The worst part? She was acting totally normal -- smiling, playing, and laughing -- but you could tell she knew something was off.
I am actually surprised with how calm I was about the whole situation. I thought I'd be freaking out seeing a fever reading on the thermometer. Or hearing loose phlegm rattling around in my 4-month-old's tiny lungs. While these symptoms were certainly disconcerting, I kept my cool for Ada's sake. For my sake, too.
Obviously I'm no expert on the subject. This is Ada's first illness. But here's what I did to aid in her recovery. She's still on the mend, but I think we did a pretty good job helping her get there.
- I looked and listened. I made note of all the symptoms I could, in Ada's case, she had a loose chesty cough, as well as nasal congestion/runny nose, and a slight rash.
- I called the doctor. Not immediately, but when the office opened for the day. Early in her sickness, she didn't have a fever. She seemed otherwise well, carrying on like normal despite the sniffles. I had written all her symptoms down on a piece of paper because I tend to go blank when I talk on the phone. The nurse on duty assured me that everything sounded like a viral cold.
- I wrote down the instructions the nurse gave me for her care and also warning signs she gave me for when I should call again/come in to be seen. Writing everything down helped me not forget, which came in handy later when she had a fever. Like 100.4 versus 99 being a fever.
So, I was on my own . . . but not really. Thankfully, my mom and dad were around to come over and help me for a bit. We hadn't gotten much sleep the night before due mostly to the sleep regression. So, it was nice having other people around when I had to suction Ada's nose out (she screamed) and when her coughing turned ugly. It was also nice to steal an afternoon nap so I could keep up my own immune system.
The nurse gave me tons of ideas for things to do. But I didn't want to do some of them. Like give Ada warm liquids or juice (we're not there yet). Here are some things that moms on Twitter and Facebook suggested or that I came up with on my own.
- I paid close attention to Ada's sleep cues. She was in need of more rest, and I could tell she was cranky. Tossing her in her swaddle and cuddling up for a nap helped her mood tremendously.
- I literally nursed Ada back to health. I don't know if you other mommas experienced this, but Ada wanted to feed ALL THE TIME. She was attached to my boob most hours of the day, but I do think all the hydration, as well as nutrients and antibodies in breastmilk acted like medicine.
- I created a vapor den. Tossed her baby tub in our bathtub and filled it with some baby vapor bath. Then I set the shower on to hot and let the steam gather. We stayed inside for 15 minutes at a time, twice or three times a day.
- I suctioned out her nose as necessary, but not too often. Ada's congestion hadn't blocked her breathing, and I think well-meaning parents can go overboard sticking to the suggestions of medical professionals. If Ada seemed like she needed help, we'd use the bulb syringe. Otherwise, we let her be.
- We had planned to transition Ada to sleeping on her back last week since her reflux is getting much better. But due to all the congestion, we've postponed our plans and have her sleeping in her rocker chair.
- We broke out the swaddle, too. I'm going to write more about our return to swaddling soon, but since she was in her chair, we weren't worried about her rolling over. Ada has been sleeping through the night which isn't only good for US, but also best for her to get all those solid hours of shut-eye.
We were warned by the nurse and family that the cold would likely get worse before it got better. And they were, of course, right. The night after that initial day, we woke to change and feed Ada and realized her had a fever. Again, we didn't freak out. Instead, we got the handy dosage chart out and gave her some baby Tylenol (Little Remedies kind), and proceeded with our routine. Then when she was eating, she coughed, so I held her up to help her get on with it and . . . she vomited all over our bed.
It was gross any annoying to change all our bedding at 3AM, but we were mostly worried she threw up the medicine we just gave her. What to do?
So, we made a wee-hours call to the doctor. I always have anxiety about calling at odd times, but know that's what they're there for. The nurse suggested another dose, since it had been less than half an hour since we administered the medication. Then she ran through a list of symptoms and reiterated what the day staff had told me. We were golden.
Ada has been especially clingy during her illness. So, I've been baby-wearing like it's my job. Which, it sort of is. When this kid isn't on me in the Moby or Beco, I'm holding her, napping with her, or giving her tummy kisses. Stephen's taken over duties, allowing me to sneak in a bit of alone time. But things like blogging really didn't factor into my priority list.
All of the hacking and coughing had me worried that I'm next. So far, I don't seem to be getting exactly what Stephen and Ada had. But I am getting sick with something regardless. No fun at all. Thankfully Stephen has the week off from teaching for spring break. I need some R&R myself.
So, I'm going to go take advantage of the fact that he's home and go take care of myself. I'll be writing about what I'm doing after Ada gets better soon. (Mostly how I'm cleaning all her toys, etc.) She's on her way, but still has a cough and s.l.i.g.h.t.l.y elevated temperature.
Do you moms have other tips for taking care of a sick baby? I think the biggest lesson I learned is that staying calm is good for everyone involved. I strongly believe that babies pick up on emotions, so I just made myself as peaceful and available to her as possible.
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