Monday, January 19, 2015

not the best weekend's been awhile. I believe when we last chatted, Millie had "finally succumbed to some kind of cold or allergies or virus or Daycare Funk" quote innocent and optimistic me of last week. Oh Erika of last week. How naive you were.

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!
 A doctor came very quickly. I'm not even exaggerating- he was the calmest, most concerned, best listening doctor I've ever met. His bedside manner was off the charts. I have spent the rest of the weekend trying to figure out how I can get him to be my regular doctor (without actually going to the ER every time I have a need). This doctor was on point. He listened to our little health history, took notes about what her pediatrician said on Thursday and over the phone, and did a really great (in my educated opinion, ha) exam on our little panting nugget. He also complimented how cute she was, which is not important, but still appreciated. He agreed that her breathing was concerning, but said it in this way that didn't feel alarming or scary. He ordered chest x-rays, a steroid, and breathing treatments and said we'd reassess after those things happened. He also did a great job of explaining a bunch of things related to why he was ordering these things, which was really helpful, but not really worth repeating here. He also suggested we try to get her to take some Pedialyte, which Matt's parents had already gone to the store to get (the on-call nurse had suggested that, so we were already trying to get some).

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 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!
 I'm guessing it was the combination of Pedialyte, Tylenol bringing her fever (and pain?) down, and 'roids...but Millie quickly turned psychotically happy and adorable. And hyper. And precious. I think that random hospital people were just making up excuses to come in our room and see her.

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...
P.S. What is it about Sophie? Why do babies like that silly giraffe so much? Also- look how red her cheeks are when she has a fever!! I guess that'll be a good thing to know for future reference! Her cheeks match Sophie's!

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!", 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?
At any rate, although my practiced ear discerned no real difference in her breathing today versus yesterday, Dr. G was much happier with things. He also has the advantage of a stethoscope, so I'm sure that's the only reason. :) He said that her chest sounds much clearer and she's breathing at a more normal rate and with much less effort. He was thrilled and says that she has definitely turned a good corner. He still wants us to be vigilant and on top of things in case she takes a bad turn, but he seemed to feel much more confident that the worst is behind us. That definitely made US feel better! It also helps that Millie does just seem to feel better. Her coughing fits are less frequent, she's a little less snotty, and she certainly seems to have more energy. She's been playing and babbling more like her usual self.

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...

Happy Monday, friends.

*Amazon affiliate link. Looks like I'll be paying a lot of doctors' bills this month, ha.


  1. Oh wow! Welcome to the world of baby sickness. Tylenol will be your best friend. Once Millie is a bit older, if she is a bit cranky/ not herself a dose of that and 15 minutes later, happy child. Also, as I read your account of the ER I got teary eyed and nervous for you. I was remembering the one and only time we brought my daughter in and all of the scariness that is involved. It took everything I had in me to strap her in the carseat and not hold her the whole way there. So, congrats on getting past that, and hope you all feel better REALLY soon.

  2. Oh goodness, Erika....I feel your pain. My daughter was diagnosged with RSV when she was just a few months old and was admitted to the hospital. That feeling of helplessness when they are struggling to breathe is just about that hardest thing to do. I'm so glad you received such amazing medical care and your experience in the ER was a good one. Wishing you and your sweet babe a quick recovery!!

  3. Oh my goodness Erika. I'm so sorry this was your weekend. I was worrying about you this morning because you hadn't been active online in Five. Whole. Days! But I had no idea it was this. I'm so very glad that Millie is okay and improving but what a scary weekend that must have been. And welcome (even more) to parent worry.

    Every single time my kids are sick I wonder if I'm doing enough, the right thing, the wrong thing, how serious is it?!?!? And then I berate myself for not getting a medical degree before I had kids because how are we supposed to KNOW about their illnesses otherwise.

    It sounds like you and Matt were superstar parents and you get about a hundred sparkly stars for catching Millie's virus yourself so that you could be her voice and help her doctor figure out what's up. I hope you also feel better soon and don't need to wear any hospital gowns :)

  4. Poor Millie and Mommy! Glad things are looking a little brighter (for her) today. Take care of yourself!!

  5. WOW - so sorry you guys had to go through all that but happy to hear the Dr.s were pleasant. Feel better!

  6. I'm sorry friend. Poor Millie, mommy, and daddy. I'll tell you 'tis the season! Millie sounds like all the little babies we keep admitting. This respiratory season is a serious one.
    You did everything right!!! Yay for a wonderful ER experience and excellent care. Hanging out on the breathing fence is no joke, especially for children. (On the cute subject....we nurses like to say "I have the cutest one tonight!!!")
    Sending you many hugs and kisses from New York. Hope you're feeling better soon, too. Take care of yourself because you're no help to sweet Millie if you're sick!

  7. So scary! Those sound like some great doctors though. Glad my kids are the only ones that act all crazy after a breathing treatment. Hope you all get to feeling better soon!

  8. Glad she is doing better. Sick babies/kids are just the worst! Our son had a random strep infection in his LEG last fall (at 4 1/2) and spent a week in the hospital. It was super fun when the doctors were repeatedly stumped for the first 2 days of what was wrong. So you went to medical school, did a bunch of tests on my kid, and don't know what's wrong? Um... Him being older helped so much because he was able to talk about what hurt etc and being in a children's hospital kept everything in perspective when we saw really, really sick kids. Something we use with our kids every day that help keep them healthier (daycare kids as well) is Young Living essential oils. They have numerous oils that boost their immune system, kill germs, help them get over sicknesses faster...

  9. Girl! I am SO sorry! Not a fun weekend :( I'm glad she got the care she needed. yes, that little hospital gown is precious - she looks so cute despite being sick! Glad that the doctor was helpful and nice - that always makes the situation better!!! Hope she feels better soon!

  10. Gotta be honest...I abandoned reading all the details about 3/4 through...but I saw the picture of her feeling a bit better. Poor baby girl (and momma!) I hope you get to feeling better soon! (and how is she adorable even when she is sick and having trouble breathing? Cutest babe ever!)

  11. Well, boo! At least you are getting a head start on meeting 2015's insurance deductible? Glad you guys were taken good care of by all the medical peeps - I know what a refreshing change that can be after dealing with fertility doctors all the time, so yay for some redemption! Hope you girls both feel 100% better ASAP!

  12. Poor Millie and Erika! Hope you are both feeling better. I have heard of SO many babies getting terrible respiratory viruses this winter. I also wanted to second my love for the Nose Frida. I know that many people are horrified by it...but we LOVE it.

  13. Goodness gracious. I'm glad you're all on the mend. We live forever from an ER, too-darn country living. ;)

  14. "Is this our house?" Millie comes up with the best lines. My husband just asked me why I was laughing so hard.
    Glad she's recovering, and I hope you feel better quickly!

  15. So scary!! Glad she is on the mend, but hate y'all had to go through that. I know this was a sick post and I shouldn't have grinned so much, but I did - the gown, chewing Sophie's face with such ferocity, her one-liners. Such a sweetie, even sick.

  16. Noooo! Poor Millie and parents. Glad she's moving in the right direction and I hope you are, too. With breathing treatments AND steroids I'm surprised she didn't just stand up and start hopping around. Do you think your ped will take out of state clients? Maybe via facetime? I'll do all the vitals myself and he can do the consult.

  17. Oh, gosh, Erika. I'm so sorry. Those are the worst kinds of firsts, especially when they are too little to tell you what's wrong. Glad you were able to get her some amazing care and that she is on the mend. Hope you are feeling better soon, too!

  18. Poor Millie! That's sounds absolutely terrifying! I'm glad you and Matt were on top of things and took her in... I have a feeling Sam will be hard to convince that a doctor's visit is needed. Hope you and Millie are on the mend.

    PS Did they let you keep the adorable hospital gown? Like a keepsake?

  19. Hope she feels better soon! We've had the same crud around here. I'm so over this winter and all the illness it has brought upon us! Here's to hoping that spring and summer are MUCH kinder!

  20. What a nightmare. I'm so relieved to hear that Millie is doing better - I can't imagine how worried and stressed you guys have been. Sorry that it seems you've got it now :( Hope you can get some rest and feel better soon.

  21. Oh wow you have totally scared me about having a baby now :( That feeling helpless must be the worst thing ever! I am so glad to know she is feeling better though.

  22. I'm so so glad Millie is doing okay now! I hope by tonight she is back to feeling normal and healthy! We just found out last week that my niece will need surgery on her kidney when she's one :( But luckily my brother is an PA so he can help explain stuff to the rest of us non doctor people and it sounds like it'll be okay! Better to get it fixed now! BTW - The captions on your pictures always crack me up!

  23. Poor baby and poor mommy and daddy! So glad she was well cared for and hope the same is true for you!! Here's to a healthier and happier week!

  24. Erika! This sounds like a terrible weekend...I'm so sorry! But glad she is getting better! But sorry you are sick!! I wish i lived there, i would bring you some homemade chicken noodle something (or maybe my chicken pot pie). :D I hope you get to feeling better and better. Also...Millie is adorable, even when sick! xoxo

  25. Poor little girl!! That is so scary. About 6 months or so ago, Clara woke up from her nap struggling to breathe. As in, she went down for her nap totally fine, then when I got her up she was struggling bad. I knew something was off. She was also crying non stop. It was so scary driving the girls to the ER listening to her not being able to catch her breathe. Turns out she had the flu, 102 fever, an ear infection, and pneumonia. Seriously???

    So all that to say, been there and it is not fun and I am so thankful for the quick medical care and attention us mom's can get just by walking into an ER with a sick baby.

  26. Oh sweet Millie! breathing stuff is so scary with babies. Asa has RSV at a couple of months old and it was horrible. And then of course, we all got it. Praying that everyone gets healthy fast!


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