Parenting

Learning to deal with fevers

Sophie had the highest fever of her life last week and it scared the pants off her mama.

Photo: pidjoe/iStockphoto

The original title of this post was “$%#&ing fevers!” but I decided to go for the more tame, conservative approach. I figure there’s probably research out there that links expletives with a lower perception of authority, so I’m opting out of being a potty mouth today. (Which doesn’t happen often. I swear like a sailor when we’re in production at the magazine. Sorry, Mom; I’ll wash out my own mouth with soap, I promise.)

But if ever there were a list of everyday topics that deserve the “eff” word, I think fevers should rank high on the list. They are downright terrifying for parents who have never experienced them before. Sure, everyone’s had a fever, and adults know that shivers and aches are related to the rise in temperature, but watching your kid go through that is completely different.

Two Friday nights ago, Soph woke up randomly at 9:30 p.m. She’d been asleep since seven or so (though fitfully, as I could hear her whimpering now and then through the baby monitor), but it’s completely out of character for her to rouse from sleep that early in the evening. The wail emitted from that tiny little girl was scary enough, but when I picked her up, the temperature of her body made my mommy instincts go into overdrive. If she had just been a bit warm, that would have been one thing; but her heart was racing and we couldn’t get her to stop crying. So I did something I swore (haha) I wouldn’t do. I called our neighbour, a doctor, and asked him to weigh in on whether we needed a trip to the emergency room.

We bundled our little girl in my winter coat and ran next door, while Soph just kept on crying. She cried while our friend took her temperature and looked her over, only stopping the sobs when distracted by their giant, gentle golden retriever. The good doctor advised that we give her some Advil (we already had) and wait it out, that the racing heart and crocodile tears were just a result of discomfort caused by the fever (which turned out not to be that high. I was imagining 105 on the thermometre, when really we were looking at just over 101. #@$%ing fevers, I tell ya!).

I know this won’t be the last temperature spike we deal with, and we’ll probably deal with worse. And I don’t envy parents who have seen their children experience more drastic side effects of fever. (One of my best friends had her little guy in hospital for two days just last month after a febrile seizure. Talk about scary.)  But as a new mama — I think I get to call myself new for at least another few months, given all the crap I’m still learning about babies — I certainly don’t look forward to nights like we had last week, no matter how minor it was in the big scheme of things. Is bubble-wrapping my kid still an option? No? Are you sure?