I don’t know if you’re like me, but when in doubt I Google. So when little Miss C wasn’t comforted with one of my old reliables, i.e. nursing, diaper changing, rocking, bouncing, “shhh”ing (is that a word?) or changing her surroundings, I started to look up keywords in Google like: comfort sick infant; infant night waking because sick; sick baby at night, etc. What came up was a whole lot of nothing that helped me. I somehow got through the first sick night by holding vigil. I don’t know what good that did anyone because my baby girl still wasn’t any better, I think she was worse actually and so was I. Only difference was now we were both heavily sleep deprived.
Next day when her fever went up to 101.6 (not a huge fever I know, but a fever nonetheless) I took her to the doctor. Turns out my baby girl caught her first viral infection which manifested itself in multiple horrible white blisters at the back of her throat. Even the doctor exclaimed something to the effect of “Yikes!” I’m not going to go into what her viral infection is called medically because I plain don’t remember what the medical term is in my fuzzy brain right now. Right now all I know is that it's viral, not bacterial (so no strep) and all the doctor said was that there is no cough & cold medicine for infants. In other words, keep them as comfortable as you can and pray a couple Hail Marys tonight… um, or the next several nights.
After a second night of camping out by her crib with a pillow and a throw on her fluffy rug combined with walking back and forth from my bed to her room every hour to try and catch her before she would completely awaken from her foggy sleep, I had to make another trip to the doctor. On this day, I was nervous because even after acetaminophen and a tiresome bout of hyperness after ibuprofen, my baby girl awoke with a terrible rash that was concentrated but not limited to her bottom. Some of the rash bumps were raised greatly and others were flat but red. I thought chicken pox? Hand, foot and mouth disease? Roseola? If it was any of these, how on earth did she get that?
Luckily, the rash is just a symptom of the viral infection she has in her throat. Still though, no other means of comforting her other than easing her pain with a rotation of acetaminophen and ibuprofen every 4 hours.
It seems no one, not the doctors, not Google not anyone knows what to do when your sick, helpless child is wailing at night with no hope for comfort. Don’t get me wrong, I am not one to give meds to myself nor my own baby girl so rapidly nor in such great quantity. I’d much rather go a holistic route. The thing is that when you’re in the depths of night, desperate for sleep and peace of mind that your little is sleeping calmly and restfully you NEED a set of “go to’s” you can run through to see if anything helps. I’m a first time mom, so letting her “cry it out” is an absolute last resort.
In our case, let's just forget that I'm sick as well, breathing from my mouth and trying desperately to not cough for fear of possibly waking an almost sleeping sickie I'm holding. Let's put that aside. Right now we'll focus on the most important thing, my little bundle of unconsolable, refusing to nurse, dino-screeching child I have in my arms. Oh! Are we a hot mess... and now for the third night in a row. Now more than ever I needed a go-to list of what could possibly comfort her. Here’s what I did for her bed time routine:
- Long, warmer than usual bath with a drop of lavender essential oil in the bath water. (I was so happy to see my little squish finally smiling at me between splashes, I hadn’t seen that sweet smile in too long.)
- Nice warm towel dry and then a massage with coconut oil and a drop or two of lavender essential oil again.
- Offered her a bottle of mildly brewed fresh chamomile tea. She flicked the bottle’s nipple a few times then finally took a few swigs. After the warm tea, she finally nursed just a bit, but that was an improvement from no nursing at all earlier.
- Offered her an ice cube wrapped in a clean small towel to numb her little mouth a bit. (She didn’t nurse long and was clearly in discomfort swallowing. This little ice cube calmed her down enough that I was able to rock her to sleep.)
So that got me into the first sleep phase of the night. She woke up about 2.5 hours later, an improvement from every hour the night before, and luckily a little hand over booty shake calmed her back to sleep. Unfortunately, she woke up again 3 hours later. It was now 4:40 am and there was no consoling my baby girl. I gave her some more acetominophen and offered her milk both by breast and then bottle and then I rocked her and bounced her and left her alone and tried some more lavender oil and then walked up and down the halls rocking her… nothing worked. I finally, against my better judgement and breaking heart, tried letting her cry it out. I tried that for 30 minutes. I just couldn’t take it anymore. I know there are some die-hard moms of the” cry it out” world out there that swear by it, but I just couldn’t. Not when my little girl is sick and maybe scared and confused.
I rapidly scooped her up and she calmed down a bit. Then I cleaned her tear and snot stained face with a warm towel and she tried to suck on it. Then I had what my highschool physics teacher would call, an “AHA moment!” She’s gotta be thirsty and hungry but it hurts too much to swallow from a bottle or my breast, perhaps not this little towel though. Here’s what I did, that eventually helped me comfort my sick squish:
- Offered her a hot wet clean towel a few times. She drank plenty of warm water. When she began to refuse it, I rewet the towel again and cleaned her little face.
- I remembered that I had some frozen breastmilk in the freezer. That became a breastmilk popsicle for her to suck on.
- I rubbed a bit of Vicks VaporRub on her little chest and then dared to put a little finger of it under her nose. Right after she started to cry so I got a clean towel and wet it with some cold water and took a bit of it off, but not all. She enjoyed that.
- Then I finally offered her breastmilk again and she took it. Hungrily and sleepily she nursed and I was finally able to get her back to sleep.
- Once she was in her crib peaceful, I set up the humidifier. I realized now that that should have been done from day one. How could I have forgotten this? I guess since she didn’t have a runny nose, it just didn’t come to mind, but from now on any time she’s sick this thing is going on!
What have you done in the past to comfort your little one?