When I tell you that motherhood has humbled me, you better believe me. Some of the things that I do, as well as some of the things that I was previously unaware of continue to amaze me. Some things that I thought are rather obvious clearly skip my mind in some instances.
For example, remember the other day I told you Kitty was unwell? This is how it went.
At around 8pm, it suddenly hit me that he’d been withdrawn all day, and had not been feeding well. The previous day, he’d had his cousins around, some very active 3-4 year olds and he’d stayed awake the whole afternoon looking at them in amazement and wondering who those loud noisy little people were, jumping on tables, rolling on the floor, screaming their lungs out, chasing after each other etc.
So the following day, he kept dozing off and I kept thinking it was because he was tired from the previous day’s happenings. Which I didn’t mind because it gave me the opportunity to doze off as I too was equally exhausted. And because of his elongated sleeping episodes, he fed less than usual.
At around 8pm when his father returned home from work, I told him that we’d basically been dozing all day long, and as I was telling him so, I listened to my words and that’s when it suddenly occurred to me that Kitty just might be sick. (That was a rather belated realization – now I know). The thought hit me like a thunderbolt and I started panicking. Then I felt his forehead. And almost fainted when I did so. My heart has never raced so fast and beat so loud. And I have never sweated that much. Whaaaaaat! I swear you could have fried an egg on his forehead. Three weeks later today, I still get goosepimples and shiver as I recall that moment.
I immediately went for the thermometer and when taking his temperature, I kept noting is rapid rise – 37, 37.1, 37.2, 37.3…..and because I was using a digital thermometer, I kept waiting for it to beep when the temperature had stabilized. But it wasn’t beeping. So we kept trying again and again all the time assuming we were not using the thermometer properly. And each time we tried, the figures kept rising. Now, the hubby and I didn’t know what a normal temperature was (don’t ask), though we knew it was either 36 or 37 degrees Celsius. So we decided to monitor him and see how it goes. That if it rose beyond normal (never mind we didn’t know what normal was), and if he continued not feeding well, we would take him to hospital. Meanwhile, I kept trying to feed him but he kept sleeping so I kept saying I would wait for him to wake up then take his temperature properly. Gosh, my ignorance!
But as I sat there monitoring him, my heart kept beating fast and I was so restless I could have peed on myself. So I decided to go online and google ‘infant normal temperature’. The results said that high temperature in infants under 3 months was bad. Very bad. Kitty was 11 weeks at the time. That anything above 37.5 degrees Celsius was not good. I temporarily stopped breathing at that juncture. (Why do civil servants like using that word ‘juncture’ by the way?)
With this new information, the hubby and I quickly put the thermometer under Kitty’s armpit one more time then observed the recordings. 37.1, 37.2….37.6, 37.7, 37.8, 37.9…at that time I think I must have peed on myself a little because I was in a state I cannot describe. The last reading I saw on the thermometer was 38.2 before I withdrew it from his armpit because I did not want to see where it would reach.
So we immediately began a mad rush to the hospital. The time was midnight. But before we did, it being a cold, chilly July night, I decided to ensure Kitty was warm enough for the trip to the hospital. Don’t judge me please as you read the next sentence. I dressed him up warmly in socks, mittens, a hat, a vest, t-shirt, a romper, cardigan, then wrapped him up in a thick warm blanket. Yes, I’m shivering as I recall this. Warm enough, off we sped to the other side of town –to Muthaiga.
When we got to the hospital, there was lots of paperwork to be filled out. As I did so, Kitty though was safe, secure, warm and sleeping cozily in his father’s arms. When we entered the examining room, the nurse took his temperature then hesitated. Then took it again. It was at 38.9. She instructed me to remove his mittens, socks, sweater, blanket etc as she quickly inserted some tablet up Kitty’s behind. I didn’t know this could be done on an infant. The nurse asked as if we had given him a fever reliever before we left the house, and we replied in the negative. Never mind that we always have a fever reliever in the house. Why we didn’t use it I don’t know. Anyway he was seen by the doctor, who said he had a bad throat infection.
So there you go. Interestingly, everyone I tell that story says that at his age, and with that temperature, Kitty should have already have been convulsing. It’s mothers who tell me this though, that they too have been there before. First borns they tell me, teach their parents a lot. I guess experience is the best teacher.
So there you go. Lessons learnt from that episode, and stuff that many mothers have repeatedly told me since is that:
– Observe your child keenly and any behavior that is out of his normal self should never be taken lightly.
– Always have a thermometer nearby.
– Always know what normal temperature is because the thermometer won’t help you if you don’t know what normal is.
– If the temperature is high, dress the baby lightly and possibly give him a fever reliever before taking him to the hospital
– You can also pat him with a damp warm (not cold) cloth or towel on his forehead, neck and back as this can reduce the fever
– A high fever can lead to convulsions
– Even infants are inserted medicines up their behind
– If you know your child is very sick and needs immediate attention, you can skip the queue at the hospital as other mothers will understand (hopefully). (While at the hospital, a mother brought a child who was already convulsing and she was quickly ushered to the front of the queue).
But the most important lesson I learnt that day is that God has mercy on those who genuinely don’t know. Like me and the hubby. Sema ignorance of first-time parents!