“You need to go to the ER” is the worst thing to hear from your baby’s doctor. I’ve had the unfortunate opportunity to hear that horrible statement twice now. The first time I heard it, Xander was only 3 days old and suffering from jaundice. I choked back the tears and barely could say “OK, goodbye” before hanging up the phone. When Nick asked me what did the doctor say, I buried my head into his shoulder and sobbed. It’s the worst feeling in the world when your little baby gets sick, but taking him to the emergency room heightens that feeling. There’s something scary about that place- everything seems more serious there. The colorful, cartoon atmosphere of the pediatrician office with the bubbly, young nurses whocoo at Xander and speak in high pitched voices doesn’t seem threatening. On the other hand, the stark white walls of the ER with the somber nurses, mysterious hospital equipment hanging from the walls, and the bizarre potpourri of injured, ill people sitting in the waiting room scares the hell outta me! All I want to do is huddle in the corner, tuck my poor little boy close, and shelter him from the elements of the ER.
Yesterday Xander was a little ‘off.’ He didn’t nap well all day and was a little fussy (I figured because of the lack of sleep). I noticed that his head and neck felt warm, but I shrugged it off: ‘ He’s fine.’ I’m always worried he feels warm because I’m that worry-wart type of Mom. After dinner time, he spit up which is unusual for him. Okay, I told myself, he still feels warm. Maybe I should take his temperature. So, I grabbed the quick-read thermometer and stuck it under his armpit. “99.5.” Since I took it under the arm, I’m suppose to add 1 degree making his temperature 100.5! Yikes! I decided to check it again under the opposite pit. It was “98.5”+1. Whhhaat? So I checked it again and again. The stupid thing wasn’t giving me an accurate temp. Oh, great, I told myself. I need to get an accurate reading and the only way to do that is by rectally inserting the thermometer. Where’s Nick when I need him?!! (playing volleyball) Long story short, I stuck the thermometer where the sun doesn’t shine, and discovered that Xander had a temp of 100.6. I fished for the “When to call the doctor” info papers I received in Lamaze and soon discovered that a temperature over 100.4 in a newborn calls for immediate attention. After calling the answering service at the pediatrician office, I quickly got a phone call from the on-call pediatrician who told me: “You need to take him to the ER.”
I packed a screaming Xander into his car-seat and made the 30 minute drive to the pediatric ER in West Saint Louis. I met Nick there and my brother Gwyn who had just flown in. Since it was my 2nd time to this place, I was a little bit more at ease. I knew the drill. Luckily, the place was empty and we were the only people in the waiting room. We were quickly shown to a room and I was told to undress Xander. I put him on the bed and stripped him of his clothes . . . and guess what? That silly baby started smiling and cooing. The nurse took his temp and it was 99.5, much to my relief. The pediatrician came in and checked him over. She told me his throat, ears, and chest looked amazing and thathis ailment was most likely viral. Xander was given a shot of Tylenol and we were sent on our way after paying the $75 co-pay. The doctor gave me orders to monitor Xander and his temperature. If it doesn’t disappear within 48 hours, bring him back.
So, with 1 more ER feather tucked into my hat of motherhood experiences, life goes on. I’m getting pretty good at controlling my emotions and handling an upset, sick baby. I know this is what being a mom is all about- tending to the needs of my child and mothering and nurturing him to the best of my ability. However, I seriously hope another ER visit isn’t in the near foreseeable future.