Wednesday, September 27, 2006

clueless and confused

Here's a whole new arena of worries to add to my plate. What do you do when you think your baby might be sick, but you aren't positive because each symptom could be normal baby stuff — or it could be a sign of something that needs attention. Sometimes his nose sounds stuffed up and runny, like he has a cold. Other times, his breathing is clear. Sometimes it sounds like he is gagging when he nurses. Other times, he takes it like a pro. Twice today, he spit up — not just a little, but what seemed like his whole meal, all over a burp rag. He hiccups a lot. He cries a lot — is he uncomfortable, or just hungry/lonely/needing a clean diaper? His face is covered with infant acne. Is it the normal stuff, or does he have an allergy to something in my breastmilk? Mom and dad feel clueless.

According to the two main baby-reference books we have on the coffee table, any of these things might be normal baby fare. Babies spit up. Babies cry. Babies hiccup. Babies break out. Babies even get gurgly-stuffed-up nose sounds. Yet I can't help thinking something might be wrong, like he might be sick. I look things up in the index and read all the symptoms of something like gastroesophagal reflux, and I wonder: Do Daniel's symptoms fit the pattern? Does he have a cold? Or is he just a normal baby with incredibly concerned, protective parents?

I feel so hapless at times like this. When do we call the pediatrician? How far do we go trying to figure things out for ourselves from the book? In the meantime, this little boy sure is getting plenty of love and coddling!


Missy said...

Good morning Emilie - I had a lot of the same concerns when Alex was little. Do you want answers to those questions or were the rhetorical?! :)

The baby acne is normal and usually hits about 4-6 weeks. That's when Alex hit his, dare I say, Ugly stage. It went away after a few weeks. The docs say not to put anything on it. Eventually I started washing his face with water and then drying and putting aveeno unscented baby lotion on his face and I swear it dried up and went away in a few days. Not sure if that is coincidence or if it cured it.

Most of the breathing stuff you mentioned sounds normal to me. Babies lay down a lot and it's normal for them to get junk in their lungs and sound a little wheezy sometimes. The hiccups are totally normal and will go away soon. Did you feel Daniel hiccup a lot when you were PG?

We waited way too long to try Mylicon gas drops. They were awesome. We figured out Alex cried after eating sometimes due to gas. I was worried to give him medicine (anything other than breast milk). I wish I wouldn't have waited. It's totally harmless, so the next time he cries after eating and you think of it, try giving him some gas drops and see if it makes a difference. You can give them after every feeding and you can even add them directly into bottles of formula or breast milk.

And don't be afraid to call the doctor's office. I call mine whenever I have questions. It's free and it's what we over-protective parents do to make sure our children are okay. I just call, day or night, and ask for a nurse to call me back. Have you done that yet? If not, give it a shot! I just called at 5 a.m. Sunday morning because Alex has a cold and I was trying to figure out if it was croup and if I could give him anything to help him sleep better.

You and Steve are great parents. :) A few months from now you'll be able to help another new mom with these things. Once you've been through them they feel a little easier each time. Have a great day!

Missy said...

oops... sorry that was so long!

Elizabeth M said...


No babies here, just lot's of love and internet hugs.

I wish I could come over and baby-watch (heaven forbid I actually sit on Daniel!) so that you could get some ZZZs.

If it makes you feel better, just put on the investigative reporter hat and do some "research" on baby questions.

Maybe Daniel's quirks are going to be like Greenville water... perfectly safe, but kinda icky to deal with every day.

(For those who don't know, Greenville, MS, water is the color of weak tea, but is great for your health... Who cares if its safe--- it looks like someone forgot to flush the toilet?!)

Elizabeth M. said...

Who cares if it's safe

before someone takes a red pen to my last post... it was a typo!

LutherLiz said...

Hmm, I wish I had a good answer for you but I don't really. Although it is good to err on the side of caution, there is no right answer for what is normal for babies. Daniel will have his own quirks.

But I think Missy is right, you can call to ease your mind and be vigilant but ultimately it is a guessing game. I wouldn't feel guilty to be a protective parent, especially as you work to learn what is normal for Daniel. So call the Dr if you need. After all, the worry itself proves that you are a good mother!

Emilie said...

Thanks, all. It turns out I have a cold, and I suspect Daniel has the same cold. We've been putting saline drops in his nose, and that helps the congestion a little.

Meanwhile, I did call the pediatrician ... our clinic has a great service where the doctors carry cell phones on which you can ring through and get the doctor immediately even if he/she is with a patient. Pretty good service! :)

The Town Criers said...

I think you call the pediatrician whenever YOU need the reassurance. And a good pediatrician will see you and reassure you even if they think it's just normal baby stuff.

Some of that does sound like reflux. Both twins had reflux and in addition to the spitting up and snuffling, we also saw a lot of chewing motions and drawing their knees up to their chest in pain.