1.08.10: Don't let it happen to you
We have all been completely wiped out by the flu.
We were feeling pretty lousy on Christmas day, and were knocking on wood that the baby seemed to be escaping the worst of it. But, as we were putting the kids to bed on Christmas night, I noticed that Jack felt a little warm, so Will and I decided to take his temperature: 101.5. I knew that it warranted a call to our pediatrician’s office (See our chart about when to call the doctor), but I figured the doctor on call would advise us to give the baby some infant Tylenol and call back in the morning. Instead, she told us that it was “protocol” to go to the Emergency Room when a 2-month-old has a temperature that high, especially a 2-month-old who hadn’t yet had his 2-month immunizations. (Of course, they were scheduled for the following week.)
Since Julia and Charlie were already fast asleep in bed, Will stayed home with them and I bundled Jack up to head out into the cold snowy night. What I found out when I got to the Emergency Room is that it’s also “protocol” to give the baby a spinal tap, since meningitis is a worry when such a young, unimmunized baby has a fever. (The doctor told me that if the baby had been three months old, we probably could have just stayed home.) We narrowly escaped that ordeal when the baby’s bloodwork came back from the lab showing that he tested positive for the flu. We had already been admitted to the hospital for 24-hours of observation, and I was grateful to at least have a nurse on hand to help me take care of our sick baby while Will took care of Julia and Charlie at home. I decided not to give the baby the Tamiflu that was offered, since I’d read some scary things about giving Tamiflu to babies under a year old. So, there was nothing to do but try to keep the baby’s fever down, and try to help him rest with comfort measures like elevating the head of his crib mattress, running a cool-mist humidifier and, of course, breastfeeding.
I have to admit that I’m one of the women who had misgivings about getting the H1N1 vaccine while pregnant. (I'm afraid to even take Tylenol when I'm pregnant.) And since I was at the end of my pregnancy when the vaccine was coming out, I figured I’d simply wait to get it after I delivered. But, no such luck: Every time I called, our doctor’s office was out of the vaccine. And when they were having a flu clinic, I’d get a call that said: “If you can be here in the next hour, you can be vaccinated.”—which proved pretty impossible with a newborn and a sick Charlie at home.
Jack lost a bit of weight, but he seems to be doing fine now. (People like to comment on the fact that "he sure doesn't look like he's starving or anything!") But, the rest of us are still reeling a little. Don’t let this happen to you, especially since pregnant women are more susceptible to serious complications from the flu. Check out our guide to getting through the flu season, which includes information on the recent infant vaccine recall, when to vaccinate your baby, and what to do if you get the flu. I hope you don’t.
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