Didn’t see this coming…

The past several days have been a blur, but here are the important parts.

Poppyseed has pneumonia.

This is the first time that she has gotten sick, and wow did she sure start out with a bang.  I was just telling my friend Sara last week, “She is just the healthiest little kid, and I know it’s a matter of time before she gets an ear infection or virus or just something.  Or maybe our next baby will be chronically sick all the time to make up for how easy she has been!  I wouldn’t know what to do with a sick kid!”

On Thursday/Friday she got a runny nose that we attributed to teething.  On Saturday her appetite dropped a small bit, but she was her usual happy, playful self.  Coincidentally, I even took her to her pediatrician on Friday morning for a very late 1 year well child exam (she is 13.5 months now) and the doctor took her temperature, checked her ears, looked down her throat, and said she looked great.


We were so certain that she was alright that we got a babysitter for Saturday night.  We wanted to go on a date night, and Oatmeal suggested we go and find a pool and take a dip.  He’d been working outside all day long.

So we left the house in our swimsuits, but we ended up at the movies.  The Intern was really, really funny y’all.  Not that a movie starring Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn could be anything but hilarious.

We got back at about 9:30 to a report that Poppyseed had been coughing in her sleep.  I checked on her and noted that she did feel somewhat warm, but not alarming, so I went to bed without waking her.  At 1am I woke up feeling sick (I think I had a mild stomach virus), and checked on her while I was up.  When I walked into her room she was sitting up in her crib, and when I lifted her up she was HOT.  Scary hot.  I spent the rest of the night nursing, rocking and changing her.  She was having plenty of wet diapers, probably due to all of the nursing, so I felt like I probably had it under control.

At 4am she woke up enough for me to take her temperature – 103.6.  I remembered all of the handouts we’ve been given from various doctors offices that say that fever is a good immunity mechanism in babies, so I knew that I was not going to give her a fever reducer.  We took a bath together, and then I did a hydrotherapy treatment with her that our naturopath recommended we do should she ever get a fever.   (You take a lukewarm bath with your baby and then put a cool damp fitted tshirt on them immediately after the bath.  Then you put a long sleeved dry hoodie or jacket over the damp tshirt and nurse them to sleep.  Supposedly the change in temperature can pull toxins out of them and help them to break the fever quickly.)

A middle-of-the-night snapshot of a very feverish little baby.

A middle-of-the-night snapshot of a very feverish little baby.

Despite all of the nursing and the bath/tshirt therapy, she was just miserable.  She barely moved when she was awake, and she slept fitfully.  I was especially concerned that she was breathing so heavily.  I decided to touch base with our naturopath.  She practices in Houston, but she has always told us that she is just a phone call away should we need her.  I emailed her two videos of Poppyseed so that she could see her color, behavior and hear her breathing.  Then I gave her a call.

When we spoke on the phone, she reassured me that her color looked good and the fact that she was still nursing was a great sign.  She encouraged me to keep up what we were doing, recommended a few little homeopathic remedies that we happen to have in our fridge, and then we hung up the phone.  She also mentioned that it was perfectly fine to give her a little Motrin if I thought that P could use a break.  I was walking downstairs to tell Oatmeal about the conversation when the phone rang for a second time.  It was her again.   Only this time, her voice was much more concerned.

“Lola, I’m so sorry, I just watched the video you sent me for a second time.  The first time I couldn’t hear it because my 2 year old was in the same room.  I decided to watch it again and I can hear her breathing.  It sounds like stridor and I think you need to get to an urgent care clinic so that someone can listen to her lungs.”

I hung up with her and called Poppyseed’s pediatrician’s office.  The answering service paged a doctor on call, who told us to go to the nearby urgent care clinic.  It was almost 10am, and because it was a Sunday we had to wait until noon for it to open.  In the meantime we gave Poppyseed some Motrin, and by 12pm we had almost decided to skip the urgent care clinic altogether.  She seemed fine and her fever was almost gone.  But… her breathing was still really worrying me.

We parked at 12pm and still found ourselves waiting for 2 hours.  The entire time Poppyseed was playing and cutting up like her usual self.  I was convinced that we were going to be “those parents” who brought their kid in and racked up a huge medical bill for no reason at all.  But I kept hearing Dr. Campbell’s voice in my head saying, “I really think someone needs to listen to her lungs” so I convinced Oatmeal that we should stay.


Playing in the car after the Motrin lowered her fever.

Finally a nurse called us back to a room, took her temperature (normal), and her oxygen.  The next thing we knew, a doctor (who we had not yet met) ordered a chest xray.  I was shocked and asked the nurse if that was really necessary, and could they possibly listen to her lungs with a stethoscope first?  Again, Poppyseed was acting great and I guess I was worried that they would skip straight to the expensive stuff before a doctor actually examined her.  A nicely dressed female doctor looked up from a nearby counter and told me, “I need to order a chest x-ray because her oxygen was low when the nurse checked it.”  So off we went to the X-ray department.

The nurse warned us that all babies scream during a chest x-ray, and now I know why.  They basically put these little tots in a harness inside of a plastic tube.  Thankfully Oatmeal was there, because he put on the protective jacket (only after commenting that he hoped it was long enough to cover his privates so that he would be able to have more children) and stood with her while they actually took the pictures.  She screamed bloody murder the whole time.  Again, in my head I was thinking, “This is probably so unnecessary… she probably just has a virus….” I will admit that I was just nervously laughing to keep from crying at that point.



While the doctor waited on radiology to read the x-rays, she checked Poppyseed’s ears, nose and throat and they all checked out.  They also swabbed her nose to check for RSV.  Finally the doctor came back in and said that it looked like pneumonia.  There were spots on the top of the right lung and bottom of the left lung that made her think that.  She said that pneumonia can be viral or bacterial, but in this case she “thought” it was bacterial, due to the way the spots looked and the way they were distributed.  It was sort of unnerving that she didn’t sound too confident in her diagnosis, but she was very confident that we should treat with antibiotics.

Now, I’m not saying that she was unprofessional, and she was probably right in her diagnosis.  In the end we did everything she recommended.  But as parents, we did just want 2-3 minutes to absorb everything and ask her questions.  After all, we are first time parents, so this is our first rodeo!  We asked her if she was sure it was pneumonia, and she expanded on her thoughts a bit more but not much.  It was obvious that perhaps diagnosing pneumonia is just not black and white.  We asked if antibiotics were the only option, and she immediately said something like, “When I was a kid my next door neighbor got pneumonia and was dead a week later because she didn’t have access to antibiotics.”

Wow, straight for the scare-the-new-parents-shitless tactic.  Well played, Doctor Urgent Care.  In less than 5 minutes, before Oatmeal and I even had a chance to discuss it, two nurses walked in and asked us to help them hold Poppyseed down while they injected antibiotics into each of her thighs.  There were so many tears running down so many cheeks by the time it was over.  🙁

We held our shaking little one for 15 minutes while they ruled out any chance of an allergic reaction and then checked out.  We were so happy to get home but so drained.  I think that we both very much so want the peace of mind that we did the right thing.  Under those circumstances, I think that the only thing that we may have possibly done differently would be to ask if it would be wise to wait 12-24 hours before making the call to give her the antibiotics.  Maybe we could have gone in for another chest xray and gotten a better idea of what we were dealing with.  But again, we just weren’t given the 3-5 minutes to think.  I felt pretty confident that we had done the right thing until yesterday, when I walked into her pediatrician’s office unannounced on account of all of the wheezing that she had been doing.  The PA who examined her also just didn’t seem convinced that it was bacterial pneumonia.  Well, to be clear, after examining her herself she said, “You know, this really does just sound like upper respiratory stuff….” but then when she pulled up the notes from the chest x-ray she murmured, “Well, it did have spots on the top of one and the bottom of another…. hmmm.”  I’d hate to think that she just had a bad virus, or viral pneumonia, and we still shot her up with an antibiotic cocktail.

Ah, the joy of parenting.  You never really get to know if you’re doing it right, right?!


So the GOOD thing is that Poppyseed is doing much better.  She hasn’t run a fever since Sunday.  She still has labored breathing and lots of wheezing, but the PA told me yesterday that she didn’t need a nebulizer treatment.  She has gone from not eating anything (other than nursing) to picking at a few blueberries and then finally eating some homemade chicken soup.  We are giving her the antibiotics as prescribed, because one thing I do know about antibiotics is that there isn’t much sense in giving a partial dose and allowing any bad bacteria to have the chance to get stronger and come back.  And we are going to chat with our naturopath tomorrow evening about ways we can get all of “the good bugs” that the antibiotics just wrecked back into her system.  I’m sure we’ll be doing a medley of different probiotics.

All in all, all we want is a healthy, happy Poppyseed, and it certainly seems that we are well on our way.  I’m so thankful that we have a wide array of healthcare professionals to help us navigate every turn  I hope my next blog entry brings news that Poppyseed can breathe clearly again!


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  1. Yikes, what an ordeal. Hope she’s feeling better!

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