Thank you so much for all the messages and love that you sent after I posted about Ruby’s febrile seizure last week. A number of people have asked me how she is now, and I can honestly say that you would never know how unresponsive she was a week ago to see her today… right now we are in the backyard and she is using our little “fishing pool” to wet her feet so she can make foot paintings on our deck. She’s perfect. She has one more day of antibiotics from her ear infection, but she has been fever-free since last Friday.
I, on the other hand, am still adjusting. I think the experience of finding her in her bed like that has affected me more deeply than I first realized. I can’t quite describe the fear that coursed through my veins when I looked at my child and thought that she was dying. In those first minutes when she was choking and so unresponsive, before my brain kicked in and whispered “febrile seizure”, I don’t think I have ever been so afraid.
For the first day or two after it happened I must have checked on her 20 times every time I put her to sleep. I would sneak in, rip any covers off of her, check the temperature of her forehead, neck and chest and then watch her breathing for a minute to make sure she had a steady rhythm. Then I would slip out… until I heard her move ever so slightly on the monitor and the process would repeat.
I know it’s crazy, but I just… it’s been hard. I’m trying not to hover, and every day it gets a little easier. Yesterday was the first day that I forced myself not to check on her during her nap, and sure enough, she woke up completely fine. I may or may not have flown up the stairs last night when I heard her cough on the monitor, but she was fine then too. I know this fear will fade eventually, my struggle now is just not to let her see it until it does.
I’ve been so grateful to have a few quiet days at home this week. Last week was such a write off… both the kids were sick (at different times), Ruby had her seizure, the Hubster was dealing with some complications after some dental work, no one was sleeping and a host of other little things that cropped up. It got the point where the Hubster and I looked at each other on the weekend (after being up most of the night with a puking Hank) and said, “What else could possibly go wrong?”
Thankfully this week has been much, much different. After 7 of the most challenging days I’ve had since becoming a parent, I’ve enjoyed two blissfully quiet, relaxing days with the kids that reminded me why I love being at home. Right now I’m out on my deck enjoying the sunshine and a gentle breeze, watching my kids laugh and play together. If I could have a few more days like today I think I would actually feel ready for this baby to come.
Which is why I’ve been doing everything possible to keep this child in my belly for just a few more days. Despite my best efforts thus far, I can definitely tell that things are happening. I’ve felt nauseous and achy, and a little like I have the flu… much like I did in the days before Hank was born. The baby has definitely dropped, and I had some intense pressure and contractions that I thought may have been the real deal late last night.
Thankfully, after an intense conversation with this wee man in my belly, he quieted down and gave me another day… and hopefully more. I haven’t had any more contractions today, but it’s like I can feel in my gut that my time before he arrives is running short. I’m not actually due until the 26th, but I’m really not convinced that I’m going to make it that far. Keep your fingers crossed for me… this mama could use a few more quiet days before the madness begins anew. :)
This is probably going to be a long post. Last week I lived through one of my biggest fears since becoming a parent. It’s taken me a few days to process what happened and be ready to write about it, and I’m doing so for two reasons:
First, I want to remember the details in case it ever happens again.
Secondly, I feel like febrile seizures aren’t really talked about, and I think that they should be. I’m sure that someone I know has gone through one with a child, but no one has ever spoken about it with me. It’s like some taboo topic that people don’t want to talk about because they are afraid that it could also happen to them. I say that because I was one of those people.
And then it happened to us.
If you know me and are new to my little blog, or haven’t been in a while, I just want to remind you that I’ve created nicknames for everyone here to protect our privacy. So far, even though I’ve been “googled”, my little corner of the internet has never been found by my students and I would prefer to keep it that way. :)
Everything actually started last Sunday. Hank woke up in the night with a moderate fever and spent a good 24 hours under the weather. His temp spiked quite high in the afternoon (104 F), but he was still behaving fairly normally and was comfortable with some Tylenol. Within 48 hours whatever little bug he had seemed to clear his system and he was right as rain.
On Wednesday we had a totally normal day. We played outside, had dinner and then I headed out for the evening. The Hubster bought me a spa package for my birthday, so I spent an incredibly relaxing evening feeling pampered while he bathed the kids and put them to bed. He texted me to say that Ruby had been tired and fell asleep on our bed, but we both attributed it to the fact that she skipped her nap that day and had been playing hard outside.
I always check on the kids before I go to bed, and when I slipped in their room at 10pm, I noticed that she felt quite warm. I stripped all the sheets off her, but within 30 minutes she was awake and quite uncomfortable. Her fever was 101, so I gave her some Tylenol and let her lay in our bed with me. She was quite restless through the night and didn’t sleep much… a cool cloth on her forehead brought her some relief but she was pretty tired come morning.
Her fever persisted in the morning and was moderately high (102), but aside from being tired she was still very much herself. I gave her some meds around 8:30 when she complained a little and she was very content laying on the couch. She didn’t have much of an appetite, but she was pretty good to drink some water and juice throughout the morning. By 11:30 I noticed that she was falling asleep on the couch, so I helped her upstairs. On our way upstairs she made a decision that I will forever be grateful for: I initially took her to our room where I thought she could lay quietly and watch a movie to fall asleep, but she was adamant that she wanted her own bed. The key difference?
There is no monitor in our room, but there is still one in hers.
I helped her into her bed and closed the door. It hadn’t quite been long enough to give her another dose of meds, so thinking she would have a long, much needed nap I went back downstairs and got lunch for Hank. I turned on the monitor and had a few quiet moments while he ate.
Twenty minutes later I heard her start coughing. I had a distinct impression that I needed to get upstairs as quickly as my 9 month pregnant body would allow me. I opened the door to her room and found her laying on her back in her top bunk, vomiting. It seemed like she was choking, and I couldn’t understand why she hadn’t rolled onto her side like she normally would if she was sick. I helped her roll over and tried talking to her, and realized that she was having trouble holding her head up. She wasn’t convulsing or shaking, but was very unresponsive. I tried calling her name and she wouldn’t respond. I helped her sit up, then asked her to look at me… when she couldn’t even focus her eyes toward the sound of my voice I knew something was seriously wrong.
It took everything in me not to panic. I carried her off the top bunk and onto the floor and immediately called the Hubster. We live and work very close to the hospital, so I hoped that if I could reach him it might be faster than waiting for an ambulance. I called his cell phone, and thankfully he picked up quickly–expecting me to be calling saying that I was in labor. When he heard how distressed I was, he jumped in the car while I got the kids ready. If he hadn’t picked up his phone on that first call I would have called 911.
Ruby was still very unresponsive. I cannot begin to tell you how terrified I was in those first moments. She was having trouble with her movements and couldn’t really hold her head up on her own. Her eyes wouldn’t focus, and every time I asked her to look at me, her eyes would roll to the side away from where I was. She was grunting and grinding her teeth, and when I asked her some very simple questions she responded slowly in complete gibberish–an incoherent string of nonsensical sounds. I have never prayed for anything so hard as I did in those first few moments. I tried my best to hold it all together to make sure I had everything we needed for the hospital, but the fear of possibly losing a child is unlike anything I have ever experienced.
I quickly cleaned her up and changed her clothes, and ran downstairs with her. I had both her and Hank in the van just as the Hubster peeled in the driveway. He jumped out of his vehicle into the van and we flew to the hospital–less than a 5 minute drive away. All of this took place in a span of less than 20 minutes.
I was able to reach our sitter while we were driving, and made arrangements for Hank to go there so the Hubster and I could be at the hospital with Ruby. He dropped me off at the doors of our Emergency unit and I ran inside carrying her, while the Hubster sped off to drop off Hank. Ruby was no longer vomiting, but was extremely drowsy and still very unresponsive.
Our ER is usually quite busy, but I have never seen the triage line as long as it was that day. It was over 20 people long and would have taken hours to get through. I stood at the doors for one moment holding my sick four year old on top of my 9 month pregnant belly, looked at the line and just started sobbing. I managed to get out, “I think my daughter just had a seizure” and things started moving very quickly.
We were ushered to the front of the line, bypassing people that I’m sure had been there for hours. People were so nice and kind, though I’m sure that being a sobbing, hugely pregnant woman with a sick child was a pitiful sight.
We sat for a few moments at a little desk waiting for the nurse to see us, and I began to comb through the recesses of my mind for everything I knew about seizures. I actually began my teaching career working in special education, and spent several months volunteering in a high needs classroom with students who often had seizures. It was really the only reason that I knew in my heart what I had seen when I found her in her room, despite not having seen any movements or convulsions. The symptoms she was exhibiting were very similar to those I remembered the students having after going through a seizure. I remembered reading something about children and febrile seizures once, and my understanding was that they were connected to high fevers. Ruby’s temp had been high but not outrageous, so I wasn’t sure what was happening.
We were eventually taken through triage, and the Hubster was able to get back in time to meet with the nurse during her initial assessment. Her temp was still hovering around 102 (39 C), and they gave her some medication to help lower it. She finally started coming around during the assessment, and I have never been so relived to hear her sass about not wanting to have her heart rate monitored. About 35 minutes after I found her she uttered her first string of words that made sense, she looked at a woman out the window and asked, “Is that Holly?” (The name of one of our sitters).
We were taken to a “room” in emerg where we spent the next several hours monitoring her. She had wires attached all over her to watch her heart rate, blood pressure and a million other things, and she was not pleased about it. Her fever slowly came down in between visits from nurses and the ER doctor, and she napped off and on throughout the afternoon. They took blood and a urine sample to run some tests. The doctor eventually concluded that her ear looked a little infected and may have been the underlying cause for the fever, so he gave us a prescription for antibiotics, a follow up appointment with the hospital pediatrician for the next day and sent us home.
We stopped at our pharmacy on the way home so we could start her on the antibiotics as soon as possible. We seriously have the greatest pharmacist in the world–he is so friendly and makes a point to know his clients personally. As I explained the events of the day, he echoed the doctor’s advice and encouraged me to put Ruby on a schedule of alternating doses of Tylenol and Advil every three hours until the antibiotics kicked in to manage her fever. I know this is a somewhat controversial practice and not everyone supports it, but I really do feel that it made a big difference over the following 24 hours.
We made it home shortly after 6pm. Ruby’s fever started climbing again shortly after we got home. A bath, some meds and a cool cloth later I knew I wasn’t going to let her out of my sight. I helped her get comfortable in our bed, and spent most of the night with one eye open watching her. Her fever spiked again at 3:30am, but I was able to get it down quickly with another dose of meds and another cool cloth. After that she settled into a deep sleep and slept well for several hours… and awoke fever-free for the first time in over 24 hours.
After a long, long wait at the hospital we had our follow-up with the pediatrician the next day. She had me recount the events of the previous day and agreed that Ruby had experienced a febrile seizure, and that I had likely just missed the convulsions as I was trying to get up the stairs. She completed a series of neurological and reflex tests to assess her responses, and couldn’t find any lasting effects from the seizure, much to my relief. We had a conversation, then Ruby and I walked out of the hospital, ready to put everything behind us.
It’s been three days and I’m happy to say that looking at her, you would never know what we went through on Thursday. She is her usual playful, sassy self, and she hasn’t had a fever since Friday at lunch. We are continuing the antibiotics for another few days, and hopefully this will clear the infection out of her system.
It’s been a very long, worrisome few days. Every time I put her down to sleep I’ve checked on her several times… in my heart I know she is fine, but it is going to take some time before the image of how she was when I found her fades from my mind and heart.
Every healthcare professional I spoke with assured me that while seeing your child experience a febrile seizure is terrifying, they are very common and I did everything right in my response to it. Having now been through one, they also reassured me that her risk for another is no greater than any child, I just now know what to watch for. In my heart I knew they were common, and yet I feel like they are largely untalked about, which I think heightened my fear of the entire thing. No one I know of had been through one, and I had no one’s story that I could hold on to that day, knowing that everything would be okay in the end.
What I didn’t know was that febrile seizures are not necessarily connected to a specific temperature. In my basic knowledge of them gleaned from the internet prior to Ruby’s episode, I thought that that a child’s fever needed to exceed temperatures of 105 – 106 F for it to even be a possibility. She has had fevers reach 102 F before without issue, which is why I was not overly concerned when she first started with the fever. In fact, when Hank had been sick with the same thing just a few days previous his fever had been even higher without any problems, so I just managed it as I always did.
My understanding now is that the risk for febrile seizures is not just with temperature, but how quickly the body temperature rises. If a fever spikes several degrees in a short period of time, it can trigger this response… which is what happened with Ruby. What I believe happened is that even though I put her to sleep without any sheets on, she likely pulled up all her covers and caused her body temperature to rise too quickly.
I am deeply grateful that she demanded to sleep in her own bed that day. If I had followed through with my original plan to put her to sleep in my bed, I would not have heard her coughing and choking on the monitor and it could have been much longer before I went to check on her.
Thankfully everything worked out okay and she doesn’t really seem to have any memory of the event. She knows she was sick and went to the hospital, but doesn’t remember much beyond that. It is going to take me a little longer to forget, but in the meantime I am stealing an extra snuggle (or 7) and even more grateful to have her here with our family.
So, my first week of maternity leave didn’t go exactly as I hoped, but at least I was home with her the day that it happened… and thankfully this wee babe has not attempted to make an appearance. Fingers crossed that week 2 of mat leave is a little less eventful. ;)
I honestly don’t even know where June went. I feel like it was the end of May then all of a sudden I blinked and it’s July 8th. It was a jam-packed month full of loveliness–here’s a few of the highlights!
I began the month with a momentous occasion: I went out by myself for the first time since Hank was born. My hair has been falling out like crazy, so I finally booked a hair appointment and chopped off five inches in length and about five pounds in weight. Hank and I have been attached at the hip since he was born and he wasn’t terribly happy that I left, but it was so nice to have two whole hours by myself.
The head massage was pretty nice too. :)
The rest of the month was a blur of play dates, birthday parties and visiting with friends. It seemed like we had something on every other day, and while my poor chore chart sat neglected, Ruby’s social life thrived. My little bean loves to be around other kids, and I feel bad that most of the time she is stuck hanging out with me!
She is growing and changing faster than my heart can handle. She has lost all her toddler rolls and is now a tall, beautiful little girl. She is so smart, funny, independent and determined–and we’ve learned that she definitely has a temper to match her red hair. June brought us a wave of defiance that had us pulling our hair out for a while, but she seems to have calmed down and will do just about anything to avoid a time-out. Her vocabulary is the best part–every day she comes out with some new word or phrase that I have no idea how she learned. While she definitely lets you know when she wants something, her manners are wonderful and I’m so proud of her!
Today was Hank’s four month check-up, and our “little” boy weighed in at 20lbs 4.5oz. I’m not going to lie–I’ve been a little concerned about his size because he’s just so much bigger than Ruby ever was. He’s perfectly proportioned, but he’s just… big. I spoke to my doctor about it, but she had no concerns. He’s totally healthy and all his measurements are on the same curve (above 95th percentile) and she just thinks that Hank is going to be a tall, strapping young lad.
Hank has the sweetest little personality and is almost always ready with a smile. In the last four weeks he learned how to roll over (both front to back and back to front) and he surprised me with his first word: “mum”. He’s not much of a napper during the day, but he sleeps pretty well through the night so I can’t complain. :)
June also brought my 29th birthday, and a visit from the Hubster’s mom! We were so happy to have her stay with us, and we spent a wonderful week together. Ruby is still asking, “Where’s Grandma?” The Hubster took a week of holidays, and we took a trip out to Center Island, went shopping, visited with family, ate too much and probably slept too little… but it was so worth it. We’re already looking forward to her next visit!
And now here we are in July, and I’ve somehow gone nearly five weeks without writing again. I’m still not entirely sure how to fit this into my new life as a momma of two, but after reflecting seriously on the future of my little blog (more on this soon) I’m still not ready to give it up completely. I’ll figure it all out somehow.
I’m going to tell you a story.
The Hubster’s birthday was on the weekend, and we had the most lovely day on Saturday. We woke up to a beautiful sunny skies, and decided to go out on a family bike ride to check out some local yard sales. It was the kind of day that you wait all winter for–perfect temperature, beautiful warm breeze and gorgeous sunshine. It was perfect.
We ended our bike ride at the park to let Ruby run around a bit, and Hank had a snooze in the bike trailer. After our bike ride we went out for a sushi lunch as a family. Ruby was SO good in the restaurant, and the Hubster and I gorged ourselves on fabulous food. We ran a few errands after lunch, then came home and spent the rest of the day relaxing and working on a few chores around the house.
Ruby didn’t have a terribly long afternoon nap, and she played hard outside most of the day so we figured she would be pretty tired at bedtime. We read her some stories and put her down a little before 8pm. We normally hear her playing in her room for a little bit, but we weren’t surprised when we didn’t hear a peep out of her. After all, we had had a busy day.
The Hubster and I were watching the hockey game and were just starting to get ready for bed when she cried out a little before 10pm. I normally go in to check on her, so I figured she just needed to be tucked back in.
I opened the door and knelt by her bed. I kept the lights off so I wouldn’t wake her any further… but when I went to give her a hug, I noticed that her clothes felt damp. I thought that maybe she was overdressed and had sweat while she was sleeping, but when I hugged her I noticed she smelled funny. I couldn’t place the smell, but I knew it was familiar.
I quickly switched on the light.
Ruby was covered in diaper cream. My jaw dropped as I looked at her. It was all through her hair, all over her arms and legs, and all over her face.
Then I looked around the room. She had painted her bed +bedding, her table, her drawers, her cupboards and her “Baba”, her blanket that she drags around everywhere. There was also gobs of it on her turtle rug and it was mashed into the carpet. To give you an idea of how much she used, she emptied the jar at the forefront of the photo… and Sudocream spreads like creamy, white paint.
As I took it all in, I tried to figure out how she had done it. We always leave her cream up on a shelf where she can’t reach it. I quickly realized that she had taken her foam chair, carried it to the shelf and used it as a stool to climb up and get the cream.
Clever little monkey.
It was 10pm, and as she was already obviously upset I knew there was no point in getting angry with her. I called out for the Hubster, who walked in the room and just gasped. I took her down the hall to the bathroom, while he began to wipe up her artwork.
As I ran the tub and stripped her down, I realized that she must have been trying to imitate me. She loves to be with me while I get ready in the morning, and always asks for some “lotion” while I’m putting it on. I could see that she had rubbed in on her arms and legs like I do, and it looked like she had run it through her hair like I do with my mousse.
I couldn’t help but laugh as I scrubbed it off her arms and tried to get it out of her hair. A word to the wise– combing baby powder through hair will pull out any oily substance (Vaseline, diaper cream, etc). It’s a life saver.
The Hubster was still wiping down her room when we returned from the bathroom, so we quickly changed her bedding and and ordered her into bed while we cleaned up as much as we could.
We amassed a monster load of laundry, but we got most of the cream off her furniture and removed every bottle of cream and lotion from her room (as well as her chair) before putting her back to bed.
It wasn’t quite the finish we had imagined for the Hubster’s birthday, but at least it wasn’t worse. I wish I had taken a minute to take a picture, but I was just so shocked at the sight of her and her room I immediately threw her in the tub.
Seeing as she has already done her hair with Vaseline (twice), I’m sure I’ll have another opportunity in the future anyway… haha!
How was your weekend? ha.
After a long, long week I can finally put a name to the illness that has been ravaging my poor Wee-bean for the last seven days. Her fever persisted until late Friday night before it finally broke… only to make way for a rash that covered her entire torso. It wasn’t itchy, but she was SO uncomfortable and she she continued to want to be held by me all the time. I hate seeing her feeling so small.
She has not been herself for days… but this morning she finally woke up with a smile. No fever, her rash is fading and she finally had a decent breakfast. She has been happily playing and colouring since breakfast and I feel like I can finally take a breath.
Let’s just hope that Hank doesn’t catch it.
Anyway. That was my week! Today I have plans to clean / disinfect my entire house and actually go out somewhere. Aside from our visit to the doctor, we haven’t left the house since last Sunday as I wasn’t sure if she was contagious. I am dying to go check out the new summer dresses at Target– they looked so cute in the flyer! And I think I’ve earned a new dress (or two) after the week we’ve had.
I’m also testing out a new way to blog… from my phone! I find it so hard to get onto my computer for any length of time these days, so when I found a WordPress app for my phone, I thought I would give it a whirl. I generally hate typing long messages on my phone, but this actually isn’t too bad! And if it will give me a way to write more often, I’m going to run with it. :)
Well, there is a bottle of Lysol calling my name… let the Monday cleaning begin!