Suffice it to say, she didn't just get better as I'd anticipated/hoped. If you're short on time, I'll summarize: since Thursday, she got a lot worse, leading to three trips to the pediatrician and one trip to the hospital so far. We are finally 'out of the woods' as of this morning's pediatrician visit, and she is actually getting better instead of worse. And now I'm sick. Tag, you're it!
I'm going to write out all the boring details, because one day I might want to look back and fondly reminisce about my daughter's first big illness and trip to the ER. Or not. But I'll definitely want to see and remember the adorable pictures of her in her hospital gown that was actually ridiculously cute.
So Thursday I stayed home with her. It seemed to me that she had just your run-of-the-mill cold. We did lots of saline drops and Nose Frida* (XOXO I love you, Nose Frida. I always thought you would disgust me, but as it turns out, no. I just love you.) and sitting in the steamy bathroom and taking showers. Her eyes were kinda goopy (but not red like she had pink eye) and she started getting this deep, chest-y cough, so I called the pediatrician's office just to see if that was all par for the course, or whether I should bring her in. The nurse there thought that with the chest-cough, it would be worth bringing her in for a quick exam, so we did that. The doctor looked and listened and poked and prodded and agreed that it was most likely just a cold. He said she'd just have to ride it out, to keep doing what we were already doing, and mentioned a few things to watch for that could indicate that some kind of infection/complication was developing, and sent us on our snotty, coughy, merry way.
She was about the same on Friday, so Matt stayed home with her and I went to work. Her coughing fits got worse on Friday and she started gagging up her milk every time she finished a bottle- basically she would start coughing and it would be so violent that it would cause her to just regurgitate everything she'd swallowed. Hot, chunky formula. Yum! She was still basically happy, so we just kept doing our vigilant snot-sucking, steam-breathing routine.
Overnight, though, her coughing fits started getting worse. It was obvious that they were starting to hurt her- after she'd finish a fit, she would clearly be in pain and upset. I can totally relate- I get bronchitis every freaking year, so I know how badly those deep coughs can hurt your chest. It seemed like that was what she was experiencing. She was decidedly more miserable on Saturday- her breathing sounded rattly and congested and she was spitting up every single drop of formula she swallowed. She also had diarrhea. We tried everything we could think of- giving her only two ounces at a time (still came back up), basically living in the steamy bathroom (while snot-sucking, while Vicks-rubbing), but her breathing continued to sound worse and worse. Our doctor had said to watch to make sure it didn't look like she was struggling to breath, but by midday on Saturday, that's really what it looked like. Her whole stomach and chest were involved in every breath, and she constantly sounded like she'd just run a marathon- nonstop panting. It was obvious that she couldn't take deep breaths. After browsing Baby Center and WebMD, we decided to count her breaths- our sources said that normal breathing would be 30-40 breaths per minute, more than that was concerning, and anything over 60 breaths per minute was dangerous. We counted a few different times (and granted, we're not doctors, so there's a chance that our counts (like, what counts as a breath?) were off) and were getting between 50 and 75 breaths per minute each time. This plus her general wheezy-ness and lack of energy and lack of being able to keep food down made us decide to call the on-call nurse.
The nurse chatted with us for 15 minutes or so, but ultimately decided that we'd basically been doing everything he would recommend, and hearing about her breathing, he decided to page our doctor for us.
Our pediatrician called us back, chatted with us for a few minutes, and said that while he could see her the next morning (Sunday), he really didn't feel comfortable waiting that long. He recommended that we take her immediately to the emergency room to have her breathing monitored.
If you ever want to feel really panicked and sick to your stomach, try having your pediatrician tell you to take your daughter to the emergency room immediately.
Also, if you ever think "hey, let's move to the country! It'll be great, there will be cows and tractors and clean air!" sounds like a promising idea, please also take into account that if you ever wish to visit an emergency room with your child who is having difficulty breathing, it will take a freaking eternity to drive there.
We got the the ER and in some strange twist of fate, it was one hundred percent the opposite of what I'd expected. When I think ER on a Saturday night in the midst of a really bad flu season in a college town full of alcohol-poisoned 19-year-olds on a holiday weekend, I have really low expectations. REALLY low. And I'm not sure what happened, but it was probably the most pleasant, efficient, and un-miserable hospital experience I could even imagine. We were seen quickly (probably because infant with breathing trouble, called in by her doctor puts us in front of guy with a twisted ankle in line, but whatever- I'll take it). They almost immediately took us back to triage and got her temp (a low fever, 100.3) and heart rate and whatever else. I told the triage nurse that I would be deliriously happy if this was just a paranoid first-time mom trip and there was not a thing wrong with my baby, but she shot down that idea pretty fast. She's working way too hard to breathe. It's good that you brought her in.
Well, points for not just being a hypochondriac, I guess?
They got us a room and had us change Millie into an adorable gown. I'm sorry. I just couldn't believe how cute she looked in this thing. It didn't hurt that apparently the experience of being at the hospital was fun and exciting for her and she suddenly became super happy and full of energy- like merely walking in the doors helped her feel better or something. Or maybe it was all the lights and new sounds. Whatever- it was wonderful to just see her perk up.
|Where are we? What are we doing? Why am I wearing this? LET'S PARTY!|
Over the next few hours, she got all of those things- chest x-rays (not scary; they let Matt and I hold her up in a sitting position for them...and also gave her this tiny baby loincloth protector thing so that the rays didn't zap her tiny baby ovaries...it was adorable and funny), some Tylenol for the fever (first experience with Tylenol!), a dose of oral steroid (no problem, she was a big fan of all these fruity things in her mouth!), three breathing treatments (good times! She liked the respiratory therapist, I think.), and several ounces of Pedialyte (imagine you've had nothing except breast milk and formula for your entire life...and then you get a bottle of pure, unadulterated fruity sugar water. It wasn't hard to convince her to suck that down!!). A nurse also came and stole some of her snot and boogers via a regular bulb syringe (to send to the lab to test for RSV), and Millie was NOT a fan of that. After a lifetime of comfort and Nose Frida, she found the bulb syringe to be downright offensive.
|What is this strange air you make me breathe?|
|What's next, Mom? I'm game for anything but that bulb syringe!|
|Sophie? You come to visit me in the hospital? I WILL EAT YOUR FACE!!!|
|Sophie, you stay right there where I can see you while I breathe this funny air...|
Her chest x-ray came back semi-clear (as in, no sign of pneumonia, but did show some thickening mucus in her bronchioles), RSV test was negative, and despite her much happier demeanor, the breathing treatments didn't appear to actually be helping any. The doctor diagnosed her with bronchiolitis and said that since the breathing treatments weren't really helping, there was no reason to continue them or prescribe a nebulizer. He thought that the steroid would help keep her airways open, but that the key for us helping her breathing would be to keep trying to get (and keep) liquids in her, to keep her on Tylenol so that the fever didn't return and further distress her breathing, and to stay vigilant with our snot-sucking. After about 3 hours there, he sent us home and told us to follow up with our pediatrician on Monday- unless she started getting worse, in which case...come right back. Ya think?
We got home super late and slept the sleep of parents trying to make sure their wheezy baby is breathing...which is to say, not much.
On Sunday morning, our pediatrician called us bright and early. He'd seen the paperwork from the hospital come in and wanted to check on Millie. We told him that she really seemed about the same as she did the night before- still not breathing super great, but at least she'd kept down some Pedialyte through the night. She didn't have a fever, but her cough was still terrible and clearly hurting her. He said that he really wouldn't feel comfortable waiting until Monday to see her and asked if we could bring her in right away. On a Sunday morning. Umm...have I mentioned how much I love our pediatrician?? It is a lot. Yes sir, we'll bring her right in.
He had all of her test results and everything when we got there. He did another physical exam and listened to her chest for a long time. Unfortunately, he agreed that she didn't seem much better than the night before. He did a lot of explaining about how bronchiolas and viruses work, and ultimately declared that Millie was straddling the fence of breathing okay. She was currently just barely on the 'safe' side, but her body was working hard to pull her back to the 'not okay' side. He said that she could easily start improving at any minute, but she was equally likely to take another turn for the worse, and if we saw any sign that she was getting worse, we had to take her immediately to the hospital and he would have her admitted. Until she started getting significantly better, he would want us to bring her in every day to be monitored.
So we returned home with a fresh dose of paranoia and worry. I don't mean to over-dramatize anything, and I certainly recognize that there are children with far more serious health issues- my heart truly goes out to those kids (and parents). I can't imagine the fear and anxiety that you must manage on a daily basis- I was a basket case after only a few days of it. But hearing your doctor talk about your daughter's inability to breathe so seriously like that- I mean, breathing is important. He didn't have to tell us what happens if she loses that ability. I can connect the dots myself. So we kept our hospital bags packed and redoubled our snot-sucking, steam-breathing, liquid-pushing, and breathing-watching. It was...not restful. After awhile, you get fuzzy about how bad/good the breathing is. Her stomach is really pushing and her shoulders are pulling in...I think that's the same thing she was doing at the doctor's office this morning...but is it a little worse? Or better? Or different? Arrrrggghhh!
We made it through another day and night of constant vigilance. She'd have hours where she seemed happier, more energetic, and healthier...and then hours where she seemed to regress again. She did keep down a LOT more liquids than the previous days, though- mostly Pedialyte, but also some diluted formula (per her doctor's instructions). So that made us feel a lot better. The doctor explained that not only would the liquid keep her from getting dehydrated (duh), but it helps keep the mucus thin and not so apt to harden up in her bronchioles, which was the most important thing. So we felt MUCH better since she was finally not spitting everything up.
We woke up this morning and my general 'I feel sorta crummy' had turned into full-blown yuck- really sore throat, ears hurting, bad cough, and lost my voice. So yay. That's two of us down, with Matt coming in runner-up by still not feeling great, but not as bad as the mama and the baby. We went to our daily pediatrician's appointment, and as soon as Dr. G saw/talked to me, he was like "oh, you have croup!" Ummm...cool, I thought that was a disease only babies got. Babies and me! He explained further that they usually just don't call it croup when it's an adult, but it's basically the same. He also used my new sickness (and ability to talk and describe how I feel) to continue his diagnosis of Millie, since we probably have the same thing. Like, since she tested negative for RSV, we know it's not that particular virus causing her issues, so he had a few other likely culprits in mind...but now knowing my symptoms, he was able to eliminate a few more and somewhat conclusively decide what virus Millie has...which is all just fun trivia, anyway, because it doesn't really matter- you treat it all the same, anyway.
|Mommy, do we live here now? Is this our house?|
So that's been our exciting weekend. I am so thankful for the amazing medical care we've received and for the compassion and prayers our families and friends have given us. I keep thinking of the families with truly sick children, and I just can't imagine how difficult that must be. Cute gown aside, being in the hospital and worrying about your child's breathing is not fun...and our experience lasted only a few hours. I can't even imagine those who practically live in that situation all the time. Although we will hopefully emerge from this weekend relatively unscathed, my heart is freshly aware of those who aren't so lucky.
I hope your holiday weekends have been slightly less dramatic and a lot healthier than mine, ha. Also, please try to imagine what a failure all of my careful meal planning and laundry-doing and house-cleaning and exercising has been this weekend...ha. Best laid plans and all...but a healthy Millie (and me, I guess) is more important than all that. It can wait.
If you made it to the end of this, I applaud you. I will give you a book recommendation as your reward: The Rent Collector*. It's what we're reading for book club this month, and I haven't even finished it, but it is SO GOOD!!!! It has kept me company for many hours of watching Millie sleep...
*Amazon affiliate link. Looks like I'll be paying a lot of doctors' bills this month, ha.