If and when to take your child to the doctor is always a topic of debate for new parents. You don’t want to be too reactive and knee-jerky, but you don’t want to take any chances, either. So you’re often left in the murk of internet pediatrics and outside advice, which is unanimously “take them to the doctor.” But that has to be tempered with first-hand observations and instincts, right?
In the past two weeks, one of our kids had some congestion and a cough and the other spiked a fever that sounded more like an easy listening radio station (104.5) than a body temperature. One made it to the doctor, and probably not the one you’d expect.
Bub started the domino cycle of illness that has befallen this household with what seemed like a common cold. He woke up with a crusty nose, was snotty and would wake up a couple times a night. Nothing too serious.
But after not shaking it nearly a week later, he went to bed one night and felt a little warm. Temp check, it was 101, but he seemed fine. Next day we gave him some ibuprofen, his temp was controlled, his mood fine. Then that night while my wife was still at work, I checked it and got the infamous 104.5.
With visions of Jacob’s Ladder floating in my head, I got him a cold washcloth, put him in some lighter clothes, took off his blanket, got him some water. Talked to him to make sure he was lucid, then called the doc and scoured Baby 411 for some answers. At what temperature DO you panic? When do you go to the hospital? How hot exactly is too hot?
In the end, I couldn’t find the answer, because there is no answer. Nothing hard and fast, anyway—no rubric. When the doctor called back, he explained: He’d be much more worried about a 102 temp mixed with lethargy than a normal-acting 105-er. He said keep an eye on him, bring him on Monday if it hadn’t subsided (this was Saturday). By Sunday afternoon it was normal with meds. Sunday evening, gone.
And then there’s HP. A seemingly innocuous cold is how her ordeal started as well. We were so focused on her temperature that it took us a minute to notice her heavy breathing. When she coughed it sounded like there was fluid down there. No sign of a fever anywhere, but something just felt wrong. We took her in.
Bronchialitis was the diagnosis; worse before better the prognosis—probably a good week. Hospitalizes a good number of kids her age (not that taking her to the doctor would have necessarily prevented that). However, he did give her an inhalant that seemed to help. The equivalent of a baby inhaler, we gave it to her every four hours the first day, then as needed for a day or two.
She actually did not get worse, she was already on the mend. On the third day, her eating normalized; on the fourth, she was back to her chipper self.
So I guess the moral is read the baby books, sure, but ultimately, trust yourself. We do have paternal and maternal instincts. We know when something is really wrong, usually, because we know our kids. And even if we’re a bit knee-jerky sometimes, we’re still right. Parents always are.