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My Worst Day as a Parent

We have been the unfortunate recipients of many germs since Eli started part-time daycare in September. I was told to expect 10 “bugs” in the first year and I am starting to lose track at this point, but at 7 months, we are definitely on track, if not exceeding those expectations. It seems like every week it’s something new and it’s getting the point that I dread working because I’m so afraid of what Eli will come home with and how long it will make my little dude miserable. But nothing can compare to last week. At least, nothing so far.

I picked Eli up at daycare at 2:30 on Thursday and he was happy as a clam on his babysitter’s lap. I loaded him into the car and drove about 10 minutes to an appointment and was more than a little surprised that he had fallen asleep on such a short drive at that time of day. He had just woken up from a nap, but for some reason, this didn’t send up a red flag at the time.

He slept for about 35 minutes and woke up a little crabby, but nothing terribly unusual. At 5:30 when I tried to put him in his high chair for dinner he had a full meltdown, resulting in another 30 minute nap, which again, unusual, but not unheard of. If he doesn’t take a good afternoon nap, he tends to like to catnap around 5pm, which may not be the best sleep habit, but it works for us. When he woke up he had dinner, a bath and went to bed around 9. He woke up for the first time at 10:30 and when I picked him up, I immediately knew he had a fever. I got him back to sleep and hoped he would sleep it off.

At 11:30 he got up again, this time inconsolably crying, so I brought him downstairs and fed him, gave him some Tylenol and tried to take him back to bed, at which point he threw up everywhere. Twice. After I changed his clothes, cleaned the carpet and the bathtub, he went back to sleep, mostly without a fuss. I foolishly again thought that maybe he’d just sleep it off, but after about an hour he made it clear that all future sleep would take place on me, so for several hours I snuggled a sad, feverish baby.

In the morning I called the pediatrician because I thought his ears might be the culprit since he had just gotten over an ear infection. As much as I hate to be one of those parents who runs to the pediatrician for every little thing, my child was completely miserable and we were supposed to go out of town in 2 days. His ears were clear, but my other theory, a sore throat, was confirmed. The doctor said it wasn’t infected, but was definitely red and irritated.

That evening, Eli completely stopped eating due to the pain. He would cry for a bottle, take one suck and scream in pain. He went about 5 hours with a wet diaper, which had us just at the brink of an ER visit since we couldn’t get any fluids into him. He would do anything he could to avoid swallowing and when he did swallow he cried and cried. We alternated Tylenol and Motrin which made him slightly more comfortable, but he was up, crying, every 3 hours all night and into Saturday. I have never seen him so miserable, nor imagined he could be so, so sad.

I have never felt so helpless, so powerless to make my child feel better. I think we both cried more that day than we ever have before. My happy baby was completely miserable and just broke my heart. I know that germs are important and that building the immune system requires this kind of thing, but it just makes me feel so much more guilty for having to work, for having to expose him to these kinds of things.

Thankfully, about halfway through the day Saturday, he turned a corner. He was still not well and not so happy, but he took a nap in the swing for an hour and even smiled once or twice. That night he slept half the night in his own room (the other half on me) and when he woke up Sunday all the medication had worn off and he was fever free. It’s been several days and while he now seems to have a new bug (seriously, I’m over winter), he was happy and healthy for Christmas and time with my family. My husband and I are both still a little shaken by it. I’m not sure we anticipated our normally easy going baby ever being quite so sad and so sick and now that we’ve seen it, we’re both terrified it’ll happen again.

Needless to say, no one is looking forward to sending him back to daycare next week less than I am.

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