Things Aren’t Always What They Seem


From day one, I’ve been the mom who knows every symptom for every common, and not so common, ailment in infants. Every little tick had me rushing to Web MD and Baby Center. Every day presented me with some reason to be worried. It was so bad, at Milo’s one month appointment, the doctor asked me if I had a good support network of people and if I was getting enough sleep. No joke.

Over the last several weeks, Milo has been acting “off.” He’s waking at night, screams bloody murder when you try to lay him down to change his diaper, and will only nap in my arms. Naturally I started reading on developmental milestones, night weaning, and sleep training. My husband and I put a plan in place that he would be the one to get up with Milo at night because if I did the only thing that would soothe him was to nurse him.

Of course I tried to find a way these were all related, but my browsing was coming up empty. This week things got even worse and left me with even more questions than answers.

Milo developed a fever on Wednesday. He was incredibly snuggly and slept all afternoon in my arms. I wasn’t too worried; I chalked it up to teething. Yes, I consulted the internet and read up on how to know whether a fever is teething related.

To be safe, we called Prompt Care and spoke with a nurse. The only symptom he had was a fever. We went through dozens of other symptoms: did he have a runny nose, cough, was he tugging on his ear, etc. No, no, no. The nurse said it would be worth getting him in the next day to be checked out and to give him Tylenol through the night.

It was a long night, but we survived. The next morning, Milo’s fever was gone. He was playing and eating as usual, so we assumed we were out of the woods. Then around 3:30 that afternoon, he started feeling warm again and acting lethargic.

When Nick got home from work, we talked it over and decided to take Milo in to get checked out. We arrived at Prompt Care only to be told it would be a 2-3 hour wait. Milo didn’t seem to be in pain, it was just a high temperature, so we decided to go home and wait it out until the morning.

This night was even worse than the first. He woke every two hours and would only be consoled by nursing. By the time this morning rolled around, his temperature was back to normal. Again. It was so frustrating. His only symptom was a fever, but he didn’t even have that. I couldn’t find any answers online, so we went back to Prompt Care.

We went through all of the standard questions again. No, no, no. He doesn’t have any of this. The doctor came in, took a quick look in both ears, and confirmed he had a double ear infection. Now I know the symptoms for an ear infection; I had considered that several times. But until the fever, he didn’t show any issues other than being uncomfortable lying down. He never once tugged on either ear, which is the most common sign of infection.

The doctor warned us we’ll need to keep an eye on Milo. She said he’s the type of kid that will hit his head and we won’t know until we see the blood trickling down. Apparently Milo has a high threshold for pain, so without being able to verbally communicate that was a problem it just went undetected.

It was a good lesson for me. For one thing, I spend so much time researching symptoms. I can tell you what RSV commonly looks like, how to prevent thrush, and what the criteria for colic is. But this doesn’t make me an expert. Doctors are still experts, that’s why they spend so much time and money on schooling.

Secondly, sometimes you just have to make a judgement call. I asked several moms for advice and got several different opinions. Some said get him in right away, others said not to worry. It can be frustrating trying to make a decision, but it really comes down to what you are comfortable with. To be honest, I probably would have waited even longer to take him in except we’re going on vacation next week.

Lastly, our children are so unique. I should have already known this. Milo has never been phased by shots except the immediate pain, he hasn’t had any swelling with teething, and he can fall over and recover with remarkable speed. Yet I still hold him to the expectations and standards of the many. Milo isn’t one of the many; he’s Milo.

Lesson learned. I’m also aware of my own humanity, so I entirely expect to make this same mistake at least once more in Milo’s life. And probably the lives of my future children. In the meantime, I need to figure out how to block Web MD on my phone.


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