Saturday, February 8, 2014

ups, downs

It's hard to avoid seeing the connection between my return to work and this baby's frequent illness since then. In December, it was a fever and cough that brought me first to the ER, then to our family doctor, where I was told (both times) that it was viral and therefore there was nothing to be done but wait it out.

In early January, it was a night of vomiting that led to a week of loss of appetite. Just when she seemed to perk up a bit, she was brought low by another cold. Day after day went by, wondering if she was seeming better, if her cough seemed looser, if maybe today would be the day we could entice her to eat a bit more.

Finally, last weekend, after a week spent calling home from work to find out how she fared, I took her to the ER again (as our family doctor was not available). We were seen quickly and the nurse who did the initial check-in was warm, gentle, and compassionate. Then the doctor came in and saw on her chart that she is not (yet) immunized.

I felt the shift in her energy immediately as she dismissed me as a rational person. The tone of her words became sarcastic and patronizing and I realised that I could no longer expect any help or even encouragement from her. Her biggest concern was that, since our ER visit in December, Norah hadn't gained weight. 

She decided against a chest x-ray as "the radiation from an x-ray does way more harm than any immunization would". I was told that the fact that she is not immunized "complicated things" because she could have whooping cough (never mind that she is cared for at home and has three immunized siblings, AND had only been coughing for 4 days). It was then suggested that I feed her Cheerios to fatten her up.

We've opted for yogurt, full fat milk, fruit, rice, meat, and veggies. She has perked up considerably, and although I haven't weighed her, she feels heavier on my hip and is behaving more like herself. 

It's hard on a working mama to leave her breastfed baby when she is sick. I have had to rely on my husband and mother to ply her with food, and although I was thinking it might be time to night-wean (before I turn 40 this week), I'm grateful for all those nocturnal calories she's taking in (not to mention the restorative cuddles we share when the rest of the household sleeps).

It's been a few months of ups and downs. We're on an upward swing right now and I'm crossing my fingers that with Spring starting to whisper in my ear (albeit from very far away), my girl will well on her way to wellness (without Cheerios) long before the warm breezes blow.


  1. Stephanie, I haven't commented in a while but I am still reading. It is so hard when the baby is sick. We have dealt with the ER and the not-yet-immunized child and it isn't easy. When Isaac was in CHEO last year with pneumonia it was noted that his immunisations were way behind and he was quite light for his age. I assured them that he was on a slower schedule due to a sibling who had reacted to a vaccination and that his growth rate was the same as his siblings. They respected my opinion but my heart still did flip flops. I wonder if the post-nasal drip from her cold is making her tummy sick and causing the loss of appetite. This happens quite frequently with my own children. However, these issues are nerve-wracking and very difficult when one is met by sarcasm and Cheerios ;) in the ER. My prayers are with you all.

  2. I have told my daughter to do what's best for HER family, not the rest of the world. Keep up the good work, Mama.

  3. Oh I can feel your frustration through your words. As a mama of non-immunized children myself, I know those words that seem to come out of the doctors...I know that they think they know more than we do. But most often than not, they don't! Hang in there. It will pass... m. by the way, thank you for not giving here cheerios! horrible stuff :( m.

  4. I wonder if any thought is given by medical " professionals" ( I use the term loosley here) to the damage they do by condescension? Working with 130-160 families each year pre and post- natally I see this alter parents trust in unbiased medical opinion. Many will never return, often even when it is warranted.

    1. I had the same thought. A new mother, or a mother who struggles with her confidence in the face of SO much conflicting advice out there, might feel dismissed or invalidated enough to question her instincts when her child is sick. I have yet to write a letter to the hospital, but I will definitely do it when I get a moment!

  5. That doctor is crap! That's a horrible experience. Yes, cheerios seem super nutritious and healthy for babies! haha. Oh dear. Keep doing what you guys know is best. You guys will get through. Spring is coming!

  6. This makes my blood BOIL!! Cheerios?? Has this highly educated woman not heard of GMOs? I am in the health care field (I am a primary health care nurse practitioner) and scenarios like this make me so disappointed in my fellow colleagues. Rest assured, lack of weight gain over a couple of months once a child turns one year is not uncommon whatsoever. It can often be attributed to gain in height, a child being more active (walking), and a child being more interested in their surroundings (ie. toys, siblings etc) than food. Does this physician expect her to gain weight like a 3 or 6 month old baby?!

    You nailed it when you said you were judged as not immunizing your child. It is done all the time in the health care field. I myself have been judged by some of my health care friends when they found out I was immunizing my baby on a slower schedule than the norm. I was called a 'hippie' (thank you :)and 'shouldn't you know better?'

    I have no doubt you are doing a wonderful job mama, and this physician could learn some pointers from you.
    Fluids, cool mist humidifier, fresh air, and good nutrition can go a long way - 'this too shall pass'. Thinking of you and sending healthy healing vibes your way.

  7. I hope spring will bring you more "ups". Much love to you and your family!

  8. Before I read the post I was struck by how tiny she looks in the first picture (and how pretty your shirt is). Hoping she perks up soon. In our house our youngest has whole fat milk in her Cheerios, guess I'm off to google 'GMO'.

  9. I was also taken by the first photograph. Wow. You both have the same tired expression. I am sorry that you had to deal with Dr. Cheerios. Sending healing thoughts to you and your daughter, and your husband.

  10. Oh my goodness, I am so sorry to hear all that you have been through! What a horrible experience at the ER! Sending you lots of love and hugs and healing vibes! I hope that she is feeling better! xo

  11. Dear friend, I had no idea you were going through all this. My kids aren't immunized, and I have never been treated that way at St. Francis Hospital in B.B. in all the many ER trips I've made there. You were treated so rudely, it burns me up!!! And then to suggest Cheerios? Oh my, that's all I can say. You are doing an awesome job! Peace to you!


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