Tuesday, October 31, 2006

In Praise of Tylenol

Well, the Dark Angel of Feverish Misery has once again visited our household (I must have forgotten to mark the door with lamb's blood again!) And once again, there has been the fussiness and poor appetite and high fevers (which always, inexplicably, burn hotter and fiercer throughout the midnight hours, causing fitful sleep and multiple nighttime wakings soothed only by yet another bottle and a cuddle on the couch while watching the always riveting programming of late-night PBS.)
But this time hasn't felt as awful, honestly. The fever came on very suddenly, but as soon as my lips touched that flushed little forehead and I realized my baby was sick, I began bracing myself for sleeplessness and fluid pushing and hourly temperature checks and all that so that I would not be caught unprepared. Also, there has been less sniffling and congestion this time, and more fever and body aches and lots of daytime sleeping.
So maybe that's why it's been easier, or maybe I'm just more prepared this time, but whatever the reason, I am calm and patient and have had no strong urges to burst into tears or pound my head against a brick wall or anything like that. I have, however, called the local hospital's hotline to ask at what point, exactly, a fever becomes dangerously high (answer: anything over 100 degrees for a small infant, anything over 105 degrees for a child over one.) Adelay's ear temp was reading 104 on Sunday night, so we kept Tylenol in her every four hours and checked the temperature vigilantly, and by morning it was down to 102. It has since crept back to 103, but is usually hanging out at a manageable 101.
Now, let me reiterate: I didn't freak out once, even when I felt compelled to call the hospital. I was still calm and controlled. Nor did I overly berate myself when the nurse on the phone informed me that we had been giving Addy only about half the dose of Tylenol that her weight called for, and that was probably why her fever had continued to go up. I just sighed with momentary guilt, said, "Live and learn," and upped the dosage the next time. What parenting evolution is taking place in me that I did not panic and have to be talked off of my unfit mother ledge?
I don't know; maybe it's just necessity- after a certain number of mistakes, perhaps one simply numbs themselves to the onslaught of guilt in order to survive and go forward. You just cannot get hysterical every time you slip up, or you'll be in your room, calming yourself down with a time-out, more often than your temper-tantrum throwing kid.
Anyhoo, just wanted to give a shout-out to Baby Tylenol, which really does work a happy magic on hot, cranky little babies (when administered in proper doses, of course.) And let me also say this about a cool bath to bring down fevers: it does work, temporarily, but when one's child begins to shiver in the cold, and then has a shudder run through her that shakes her legs uncontrollably... Well, one might in their vigilance completely panic, thinking that their child is having a fever-induced seizure, and further traumatize their baby by snatching her out of the bath to check that her eyes are not rolling back in her head. Just, you know, a hypothetical example of something to be aware of. Not that this has happened to me, because as I stated previously, I have been cool as a cucumber this entire time. Not a single freak out.

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