Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

So the thing about parenting is that you end up eating your words.  A lot.

About two years ago I wrote this post titled “Are You Crunchy or Soggy?”  I happened to reread this post this week, and I came to two conclusions.  First of all, I was/am annoying.  There I was with my ONE kid, acting like I had it all figured out.  Ugh.  I need to work on my verbage.

Second of all, there was a moment this week in which it occurred to me that I needed to take my own (rude, unsolicited) advice.  I needed to swallow my own pill, if you will.

Let me take you back to earlier this week.  Baby Middle – now 8 months old – has always been a little on the difficult side, but truthfully I feel like he is really evening out.  Each week is easier and more predictable, full of more and more giggles and smiles.  Well on Monday he began acting a little bit fussy and just generally out of sorts.

As a side note, he began sleeping through the night about 2 weeks ago, and it was/has been glorious.  It was heaven – pure heaven – but then last week it went out the door.  He was up a lot more during the night.

So, I wasn’t surprised at all when I noticed a tooth coming in on his bottom gums – his first tooth!  On Monday or Tuesday I even thought he felt the tiniest bit warm.   “No big deal,” I thought to myself.  “Lots of kids have low grade fevers when they are teething.”

So all week we went about our merry way with me telling others, “Sorry about the drool, sorry he’s so fussy, he’s getting his first tooth!”  Then on Thursday something strange happened.  He fell asleep in his carseat on the way home from Crossfit – and he had taken a good nap right before we went.  A red flag immediately went up in my mind.  I took his temperature as soon as we got home.

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I was horrified when I read 103.7!  Had he had a fever that high all week?  How could I miss that?  All of those times when I thought he was just slightly warm, was he THIS warm?  My mind began racing and I was immediately worried sick.

I called Middle’s doctor’s office immediately, hoping to speak to the nurse.  I was told that the doctor was gone for the day, four other providers were out, and the receptionist recommended I call a clinic I had never been to before.  I hung up feeling more than a little bit discouraged.  I considered going to an urgent care clinic, but then I took a look at Middle.  He was playing happily and didn’t appear the least bit uncomfortable in that moment.  I’ve heard time and time again to “treat the child, not the fever,” so I decided to wait until the next day (Friday) to do anything.  I really wasn’t sure what to do about his high fever, so I took it again an hour later.  It was still 103.7, and I was afraid to put him to bed so hot.  I gave him Motrin and we each went to bed.  It was a rough night with LOTS of wakings!  I nursed him each time he woke up to make sure he was hydrated.

The next morning I called our doctor again and this time things went well – they said they could see him at 11:30!  My angel of a mother-in-law picked Poppyseed up from our house, and off we went to College Station to see our doctor.  (I still haven’t found a local doctor because I have been waiting until Poppyseed is due for her 3 year well check.  We almost made it until then – just 2 weeks away!  The best laid plans…)

To be honest, I would drive an hour and fifteen minutes to see this doctor any time.  Dr. Rice is just the best.  I got to call on dozens and dozens of doctors when I was in sales, and she was always someone I felt like I could just TALK to.  So when I had kids, I knew I wanted her to be our physician.  And as it turned out, she was also the person that my midwife referred her expectant mothers to when an MD needed to become involved.  So after knowing her as a rep, a patient, and a mom, I feel really confident in her care and trust what she tells me.  She has now helped me wade through tongue tie issues, breastfeeding issues, and helped me deal with Middle’s reflux.  I know she isn’t the type to push medication because she was actually the doctor who encouraged me NOT to treat Middle’s reflux with any medicine – advice that I didn’t take at first when our ENT prescribed prevacid.  In the end I only gave him the medicine for a week and then discontinued it after talking about it with her for a long time.

So when she looked into Middle’s ears and diagnosed him with a double ear infection, I was pretty upset.  We talked for a long time and she did say that most infections clear on their own and do not need antibiotics.  Unfortunately, she felt pretty certain that Middle’s would not heal on his own and would need medicine.  She prescribed an antibiotic, told me to give Motrin for fever only if he appeared uncomfortable, and wished us well

I know that there is a lot of talk about how over diagnosed ear infections are, but I really do trust what Dr. Rice told me.  She even let me look into his ear myself.  She described what a normal, healthy ear would look like (grayish, concave or flat) and then told me to look and tell her what I saw.  I saw red/burnt orange bubbles that looked as if they may burst.  It made me cringe to think of how that must feel!  It looked so painful!

I was crushed.  I couldn’t believe my poor baby had a DOUBLE ear infection.  No wonder he had been so fussy all week long!  I drove straight to the pharmacy to pick up his medicine.  Unfortunately the pharmacist had not even received the order yet, and even after I walked around the store to pick up a few things, they still hadn’t received it.

Now me being me, I kind of took that as a sign to wait and see.  I had just given Middle some Motrin and he was acting really comfortable.  I decided to go home and think it over.  I read a lot about ear infections when I got back to the house.  Everything that Dr. Rice said seemed to be true based on what I read – that most infections clear on their own, but that in infants between 6 months and 23 months old with fevers over 102.2 and BOTH ears affected (which was our case) it was unlikely that it would heal naturally.  So I absolutely understood and believed that she had given us good advice.

The one thing that kept nagging at me about giving him medicine was the thought that his infection MAY be viral.  If it was viral, the antibiotics wouldn’t work, I’d basically wipe out his gut flora for no reason, and the chances of him relapsing would be really high.  The more I thought about it, and the more I read, the more confident I became that giving him the antibiotics right away could be jumping the gun.  I decided to try some natural remedies, have patience, and try to refrain from giving him any more motrin unless he was acting as if he was in pain.  Obviously I would give it to him if he was miserable, but otherwise I wanted to let the fever do its work.

This video helped me make sense of the advice I got from both our doctor and our chiropractor about treating fever.  I’ve always been scared to death of high fevers in kids, having heard horror stories of febrile seizures and such, but I finally decided to trust the advice given and lay off the motrin!

The first thing I did was read two posts about healing ear infections naturally.  One was by a friend, Chelsea, and you can read it here.  The other was by a pretty well known blogger, Heather from Mommypotomus, and her post is here.

I basically did a combination of their ideas.  Here is what I did.

1.  First and foremost, I put these drops in his ears 4 times a day.  This required Oatmeal’s help.  I nursed him while Oatmeal snuck up from behind and put 1 drop in each ear.  (I would never have done this if I had even an inkling that his eardrum had ruptured, but since I had just been to the doctor – and there was no fluid draining from his ear – I knew it hadn’t.)

Garlic mullen oil

2. Several times a day I put a few drops each of lavender and lemon in my palm, mixed it with coconut oil, and massaged it right behind his earlobes and down his neck.  This is basically where fluid drains in the Eustachian tube.  Supposedly this helps with both pain relief and to kill the infection, and I checked numerous sites to be sure that those oils were safe to use in babies.  If I had tea tree oil on hand I would have added that to the mixture, but I didn’t.  I also rubbed Thieves oil (I’d have used OnGuard if I had DoTerra instead of Young Living) on his feet several times a day.

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3. Twice a day I gave him a whole lot of supplements and immune boosters to include infant probiotics, echinacea drops, elderberry, Immugen, and fermented cod liver oil.  I just mixed it all together in a small cup and then added some breast milk and gave it to him in a dropper.

4.  Warm compresses helped soothe the ears and reduce pain, so I tried that as much as I could.  But truth be told it was really hard to hold warm washcloths on a fussy baby’s ears.  I probably only did that a few times each day.

5.  I read over and over again that onions are an old earache remedy – so we actually tried it!  I sliced an entire onion in half and baked it on 350 until it began to smell and the outer layer began to recede.  Then we held it over his ears for ten minutes.  Onion earmuffs!  Ha!  Again, this was a two person job – Oatmeal had to help.  I wish we had a picture of that!  We only did it once, but I swear he was less fussy for a few hours afterward.  I even wrapped the onion in a paper towel and put it in the corner of his crib when he napped after we were done using it as earmuffs, because supposedly it draws out infection. Hey, I figured it couldn’t hurt…

6. This may have been the home run in our treatment plan – I showed up unannounced at our chiropractor’s office on Saturday morning and had Middle adjusted.  I began going to a chiropractor myself several years ago when we lived in College Station.  I even tried a second chiropractor in College Station shortly after Middle was born to see if it would help him sleep.  It didn’t really seem to do anything, but I gave it one more try when we moved to Katy.  I found someone who had a lot of experience with kids, and he adjusts each of my kids with his hands (gently, I will add) as well as with one of those little tools – I think they are called activators?  No idea.  So Dr. Scott adjusted both Middle’s spine and ears and told me that his fever may spike initially but should go down afterward.  (Sure enough, it did.  His fever was around 102.5 the hour before his adjustment, was 103.8 about 5 hours after the adjustment, and was then normal a few hours after that.)

Other than what I said above, Middle just got a lot of TLC.  I didn’t give him any motrin after Friday afternoon because I really wanted the fever to help fight the infection.  It hovered around 102.5-103.8 for 36 hours.  Every time he got fussy I nursed, cuddled, kissed, or did whatever I could to help him.  We knew no schedule or routine – I just did what I thought would make him feel better.  Nose Frida was also a key player!

On Saturday around 5pm, after a very fussy and hot 24 hours, I took his temperature once more before bed.  103.8.  I put him to bed and wanted to cry.  My nerves were shot, I was questioning what I was doing, and I was wondering if I would make it until Monday when I had decided to go back to the pharmacy for antibiotics.  I had been praying off and on and hoped that I was doing the right thing.  At 7:30pm I heard him moving around in his crib and picked him up.  He was…. cool to the touch.  And smiling at me.  I was floored.  He slept fairly well on Saturday night, and was as happy as a clam on Sunday!  He hasn’t had a fever at all in almost 36 hours now.  I’m amazed – and relieved!

Obviously I still have a few steps to take – I’m going to keep giving him all of the remedies above, but probably a little less.  I need to call his doctor today and ask her nurse if we should come in for a recheck, and if so, when she thinks we should do that.  The thing I love about Dr. Rice is that she will probably be just as delighted as we are that he didn’t need medicine.  I think that most doctors care a lot more about their patients being healthy over being right, but that’s just me!

I was so happy in this picture - you just have no idea.  After being homebound for 3 days, it was so nice to get up and go to church on Sunday with two happy kids.

I was so happy in this picture – you just have no idea. After being homebound for 3 days, it was so nice to get up and go to church on Sunday with two happy kids.

We spent Sunday hanging out at home, making paleo cookies, and just feeling good.

We spent Sunday hanging out at home, making paleo cookies, and just feeling good.

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I would say that the most difficult thing about this entire ear infection was just the fear and discomfort that I had as a mother.  It was very stressful – no doubt – to know that my baby was sick and suffering.  I wanted the very best for him.  I worried and worried that I was causing him more pain by withholding the antibiotics. But I would just tell myself, “Lola, if this is a virus and you give him the antibiotics, you’re actually setting him up for more pain down the road.  The medicine is just a ten minute drive away should you really need it – have patience.  Viruses take several days if not more to run a course.” 

I can’t help but think that if I had given him the medicine, I’d have thought that it worked.  Dr. Rice said it would make him feel better about 24-48 hours after he took it.  It was about a day and a half after we left her office that he made the recovery all on his own.

Well, I will definitely post again after we get his little ears checked – I am taking the kids to the chiropractor again this morning for another adjustment!  Happy Monday y’all.

Side note:  I really, really encourage you to watch the short video I posted in the middle of this blog entry – I loved it and it clarified how to treat fever in little kids!

 

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Comments

  1. Yay!!! I am so thrilled it worked! My stomach seriously got twisted just reading this because I KNOW that fear and worry. Still to this day I get it every time the boys get an ear infection, and I am a pro at treating it without antibiotics. But it’s just so difficult to know what’s best. You did great!! (Now you know why ear infections are the death of me!)

  2. Carolyn Craig says:

    Hi Laura,
    Which of the essential oils of DuTerra and Young Living do you use the most? Do you find the Du Terra and Young Living products equally effective? I have always wanted to ask that of someone who has used both products. Regards Carolyn(Your moms first cousin)

    • Hey Carolyn! Well, I don’t sell either oil, so I like do think I’m pretty unbiased. I have friends that sell DoTerra and some that sell YL. As for me, I just happened to buy Young Living, and I have been really happy with them. I bought a starter kit (it contained a diffuser, about a dozen oils, and a couple of other handy things) and that got me started. It also came with a small spiral notebook that showed the uses for each oil.

      That said, the oils I cannot be without are definitely (1) Thieves, which I use for all types of illness, (2) RC, which is a blend that is great for congestion and Michael loves it, (3-5) and also Peppermint, Lavendar, and Lemon. Those last three are just really darn useful for all sorts of things! And I just ordered a bottle of Tea Tree because I wished that I had it for Johnny’s ear infection. I would have combined it with the lemon and lavendar and rubbed it behind his ears. A pharmacist once told me that tea tree is good for just about everything, so it’s about time I got some!

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