the fever that’s like a thief in the night: a clueless mommy story

Middle of the night. Baby is asleep beside me. I’m reading on my Kindle because, well, my sleep patterns are out of whack and no doubt all the Kindle reading isn’t helping. I’m lying on my side with my back to the baby. I can feel baby stirring and whimpering but otherwise not waking up so I continue reading. When I finally turn and look, baby has somehow made it to the foot of the bed and assumed this adorable pose. I smile and go back to my reading.

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Sometime later, baby is again stirring, and I decide that maybe it’s time to move her back up the bed. I take hold of her, and get a shocker: she’s warm, even hot! She has a fever! What! When did that happen! How could I let that happen? How could I just read on Kindle while she’s developing a fever! Bad mommy!

Now really fully awake, I hastily feel her forehead, cheeks, arms. Everything feels hot. Damn. Do we have to go to the ER? At this hour? How could I let this happen?

I give the half-asleep baby a bottle so she’ll stay calm, and run quickly downstairs to fetch the paracetamol and thermometer.

I try to give baby some paracetamol. She’s having none of it, crying out in irritation and batting the medicine dropper away. I try unscrewing the bottle nipple and putting the medicine there, then offering the nipple to the baby. She’s so on to me; she’s knows there no milk there. I screw the nipple to the bottle, medicine and all, and shake furiously, hoping the milk will mask the taste. Thoroughly awake at this point, now baby doesn’t even want the bottle, and basically just cries in frustration. I don’t even want to try the thermometer now.

I prepare another, medicine-free bottle. She still doesn’t want it. Now she’s awake, cranky, and has a fever. Good job being a bad mommy so far. I have a mild panic attack. She doesn’t want her bottle! That’s definitely not normal! Is she in pain? What’s happening?

Baby gets up and scrambles off the bed, then walks off to her toys and plays. I watch cautiously. I fire off a quick but sincere prayer. She’s playing, seems her mood has improved, okay, good sign at least. Now what do I do…oh! I should wipe her down! Of course! Why am I thinking of this just now? Wet wash cloth, right away! Concrete course of action, yey!

I fetch a wet washcloth and wipe her all over, removing her pajamas and leaving them off for good measure. She submits to the procedure with some resistance, then—yes!—finally accepts some paracetamol, drinks a bit of milk, then goes off again to play. I fire off a few messages to a fellow mom who’s fortunately online, and she provides some reassurance. Yes, playing is a good sign. Yes, wipe her with wet wash cloth to cool her down. Observe.

So I observe, until eventually she decides to go back to bed. She finishes her bottle. I grow wary again, wondering how she’ll fall asleep.

Eventually, she does fall asleep, and after a while, so do I. In the morning, after another dose of paracetamol, the fever is gone. She is okay, and I am frazzled, but relieved. Bad mommy moments notwithstanding, she is fine. One year into this motherhood thing, the frazzled-bad-mommy moments are among the worst. And I need to get better at this.

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