Friday, February 11, 2011


Nothing quite like the feeling of finding out that you've been focusing on exactly the wrong things.

Last weekend, both my kids got sick. LL was a feverish toddler mess, but he had weathered colds before, and I figured this one wouldn't be any different. Kermit's symptoms were newer and more mild, yet he was the one I was concerned about. I knew the drill with toddler colds -- you bring them to the pediatrician, and then you listen to the lecture about how viruses just need to run their course, take them home, keep them hydrated, nothing else to be done. It almost always feels like a wasted trip. Kermit, however, was barely one month old. Surely a cold in a one-month-old deserves a bit more professional attention!

So Monday morning, I called and made an appointment for Kermit to see Dr. K. And as an afterthought, I checked with the advice nurse to see if maybe possibly it might be a good idea to bring in LL as well? I expected the "don't be a hyper-protective mother" speech, but instead the nurse rather pointedly mentioned that lying on a couch for four days without playing or eating isn't exactly normal behavior for a two-year-old, so yes, bring him along to the appointment.

When Dr. K entered the exam room, my speech to her went something like this: "Kermit has the sniffles, and he doesn't have a fever or anything, but he's coughing, and he's only four weeks old, and I'm really concerned about him. Also, LL has been a feverish mess for four days and counting, but I'm sure he'll be fine soon." And then she examined both of them, and said, "Sorry, he has pneumonia." And I said, "Oh my goodness, Kermit has pneumonia?!?!" And she gave me the oddest look in the world, and I'm paraphrasing here, but she said something along the lines of, "No, you dolt, I'm talking about LL! You know, the one who's really acting sick! Kermit just has a cold, and it'll run its course, keep him hydrated, call if it gets worse. But LL, goodness gracious, he's really sick!"

Anyway, I felt like an idiot, because the whole time that LL had been sick, I'd been focused on making sure that he didn't pass it to Kermit. And not only did I fail at that (as if there were any doubt that Kermit would catch LL's cold) but I had somehow totally glossed over how very sick LL was. I was completely focused on the wrong kid.

So, I spent the next several days obsessing over every detail of LL's recovery. Was his fever dropping? Was he drinking enough? Was he eating more? Exactly how much more active was he than he was the day before? On Wednesday morning, Dr. K called to check on the kids. And I gushed over how much better LL was compared to when she saw him on Monday. As for Kermit... well, he wasn't getting better, but he wasn't getting worse. You know how colds are, they need to run their course.

By Thursday morning, however, as I gleefully dressed LL to head to Natasha's because he was remarkably and gloriously better, I looked down at Kermit and realized that he hadn't really eaten much the night before. And he'd spit up massive amounts of milk at his last several feedings, even though he's generally not a spitty baby. And he had been fussing at every feeding since Wednesday afternoon. And he seemed to be sleeping more than usual. I'd told Dr. K on Wednesday morning that he wasn't getting any worse, but by Thursday morning, I had a sinking feeling that he actually was getting worse now, and maybe we should bring him back to be seen.

I made a follow-up appointment for Kermit for Thursday afternoon. When I made the appointment, I kind of thought (again) that I was doing the over-protective mother thing, but by the afternoon I was glad that we were going. Still, I felt a bit silly leaving the kid with pneumonia to fend for himself at daycare while I brought the kid with the run-of-the-mill cold back to the pediatrician.

Then again, Dr. K never once said this about LL, but she said it about Kermit on Thursday afternoon: "Sorry, but this baby can't go home with you today. He needs to get to the hospital. We're calling an ambulance to take him there. Right now."

For several days, I had obsessed about Kermit's cold and missed that LL had pneumonia. And I then over-compensated and fixated so much on getting LL over his pneumonia that I completely missed that Kermit had suddenly, very suddenly, gotten a heck of a lot worse. For the second time in one week, I was focused on the wrong kid.

I'm currently admitted to Children's Hospital with Kermit, while LL is at home with his grandmother. I totally didn't see it coming, but my toddler with pneumonia is at home without his mommy because, remarkably, he is not the sickest child I have. We think that Kermit has some sort of respiratory infection, probably RSV, but we don't know for sure quite yet. His oxygen levels keep dropping, so he's getting help breathing, which thankfully is giving him enough of a boost that he has also started eating more. We've been told that he will be here for at least two days, probably more. S keeps telling me that I should feel proud of myself for realizing that Kermit was getting worse and insisting that he be seen; apparently when I made the follow-up appointment, S thought I was being silly and that Kermit was just fine. And yet, I cannot shake the feeling that I'm failing miserably at the mommy-to-two-children thing, because I can apparently only pay attention to one of them at a time, and it always seems to be the wrong one.


  1. I think you are doing a great job. You paid attention to LL to get him better and then shifted your focus to Kermit when he needed it. Besides, you can't control the germs, I am sure you are doing everything that BOTH of them need.

    I hope everyone gets better soon.

  2. Don't beat yourself up! Both kids got help, LL is getting better and Kermit will be better soon! Having two little kids is a tough job and you are doing great.

  3. What a rough week! I really hope that both kids are feeling better soon, and that you also get a bit of rest. It is so hard to strike a balance between not overreacting (and lugging your kid unnecessarily to the doctors and exposing them to a million sick germs) and making sure that an ordinary cold hasn't developed into anything else. When the fusspot had RSV it took a little under 12 hours to run the lab tests, and her recovery started pretty quickly after that. Definitely don't beat yourself up about this - you did the right thing in bringing them both in.

  4. Holy shit that sucks. You have just put into words one of my biggest fears about having another baby.

    I'd tell you not to beat yourself up, but I know you're not going to listen - its probably impossible for you to take that advice right now.

    So instead I will say I wish both kids a speedy recovery, and when this is all over try to let it go. You're just trying to do your best and doing what you can, just like the rest of us.

  5. What a tough week! But it sounds like you're doing just fine - you DID notice when Kermit got worse and took him back to the doctor and LL is already getting better, so that sounds like good mothering to me!

    Hope everyone gets healthy soon!!

  6. I can't imagine what it must have felt like to have your newborn placed in an ambulance and taken to the hospital.

    I hope both boys are feeling much better soon and that you can come to recognize that you are focused on the right thing. You placed all your energy into the health of both of your children.


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