We knew our daughter would get sick at some point, I just really hoped it would be much later. My wife caught a cold with a fever on Wednesday, and by Friday she was texting me at work, “Don’t be alarmed but Veda is sick now.” Our daughter had a temperature of 102° F. My wife called the nurse hotline provided to us by the NICU and they said at this age we didn’t need to be as concerned about her temperature but to keep a close eye on her respiration. Before three months of age any temp over 100.4° is of serious concern.
Our daughter is coming up on six months (three months adjusted for prematurity) and might have been eligible for a flu shot at her next appointment. She already receives the RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) vaccine. The Coronavirus is all over the news, but we seriously doubted that was the problem. I have heard the stories about new parents rushing their baby to the ER at the first sign of a cough and didn’t want to be that kind of parent. So we kept a close eye on her breathing and reluctantly gave her infant Tylenol to reduce her fever.
Friday night she slept on my chest, skin to skin, and my wife and I got up to feed her every few hours. We wanted to make sure she was staying well hydrated as her immune system battled it out with the illness. Fortunately, I was able to spend all day Saturday with her. My wife had a previously scheduled appointment she wanted to cancel, but I assured her we’d be okay. I looked forward to some father-daughter time and put Star Wars on the PlayStation and held her all morning.
Saturday evening I met up with my friends Bob and Tyler for coffee and we got to talking about my daughter being sick. When my daughter was born I found out Bob had also been born premature. That’s the way men console each other. I went through a difficult time, but you can’t even tell. So he mentioned he got pneumonia when he was a few months old too. “I got sick at that age but it was okay. I’m still alive, right?”
Unfortunately, in this new Dad’s mind, that meant “Holy shit! My daughter might have pneumonia!” I was also thinking about the days before our daughter’s birth where my wife’s condition continued to worsen and we thought it was just a normal part of being pregnant. I didn’t want to repeat that mistake.
I was worried that I might be overreacting as a new parent. I didn’t want to be the kind of parent that rushes to the ER every time my daughter coughs, but when I got home, our daughters temperature was still high and the Tylenol didn’t seem to help break the fever. She was starting to cough more and I was starting to worry more. “Babe, let’s call the nurse hotline again,” I said to my wife. The nurse helped us get a rough count of our daughters respirations per minute and said it seemed a little high. She recommended we take our daughter to the ER so at 10:30 pm Saturday night off we went.
At the ER they ran a test for RSV and Influenza, checked our daughters breathing and x-rayed her chest. Everything came back good except for influenza. Now everything that I have seen on the news makes it sound like you should panic when the elderly and infants get the flu, but the RN acted like it was no big deal. “We’ve seen a lot of kids for influenza right now. She’s going to be just fine.” The pediatrician prescribed Tamiflu, gave our daughter more Tylenol and discharged us. So at 1:30 am these very tired parents were back at home. This was the latest we stayed up since our daughter was born, I didn’t make it passed 11:20 pm on New Years Eve!
I’m glad that we did go to the ER as soon as we did, because if we had waited it out our daughter would have missed the window for any kind of treatment. And that is when complications can occur. Thankfully she is getting better now and I am reminded that as a parent I have to trust my instincts, and ignore my pride. The flu can progress into something more serious so it is best to err on the side of caution.
For more information on how you can protect your children from Influenza check out the following sites: