After spending all day Sunday (4am-8pm) at a precious friend's home birth, I was so disappointed to spend all Sunday night dealing with poor little Harper's first fever. I have complained in the past about not sleeping on some nights... However, until Sunday night, I don't think I understood that you could literally spend an entire night with a baby NOT sleeping at ALL. Usually on nights where Harper isn't so keen on sleeping, we can convince him to at least get a little rest by rocking or bouncing him, changing his diaper, using his sound machine and if all of this doesn't work, I can at least get a bit of rest by sleeping on my side as he nurses. But, on Sunday night, we tried and tried, but NOTHING worked. He would latch on and suck a couple of times, then he would latch off and scream in pain. The only thing that soothed him a little bit was sitting upright in the rocking chair or walking the house with him on our chest. And, as the night progressed, his little body got warmer and warmer. We could tell his teeth were bothering him because he would blow raspberries on our shoulders and stick his fingers as far back in his mouth as he could manage to get them. And, we gathered that his ears and sinuses weren't feeling too well either because the pressure of laying him down was unbearable and he would not nurse for long periods of time. I have seen many patients with these same symptoms, but as you may know, it is a lot different when you are living it out with your own child as a mom rather than being a doctor to your patient. And, I know that with teething it is common to run a fever, not sleep, have loose bowels, have a runny nose, and/or have ear/sinus pain/pressure. However, it is so much easier for me to stay level headed with my patients; at one point yesterday, when Harper hung his head and cried on my shoulder, I broke down and cried over his pain with him. It is so hard to watch my little boy hurt! But, I am so grateful for this experience because it has done nothing but convince me more to practice what I preach, and I will go into the office understanding my moms better.
So what did we do with a fever? Simple, let the body work. God is so incredible, and the way He made our bodies just amazes me. And, I am so sad to see that we constantly try to change the perfect vessel He has made. I am thankful for fevers; and, I am especially thankful that fevers come on with teething. Why? Well, if we didn't have fevers during teething, it would be much easier for us to get sick. See, the tooth has to erupt through the gum line, so this causes a series of potentially dangerous events to happen if there wasn't a protective fever set in place by our amazing Creator. When the tooth comes through, the gums are open and allow things to enter the body that normally wouldn't come through an otherwise closed system. Also, there is generalized inflammation in the face (sinuses) and ears as the teeth come through. So, without a fever, we are more susceptible to ear infections and colds and sinus infections at this time. And, mucous production increases to wash out bacteria during this susceptible time for infection. Of course I can totally understand after going through this- and struggling as I watched my precious baby deal with pain- why parents would jump for the Tylenol and Motrin. But, this simply wasn't an option or consideration for us. Why? Well, there are several reasons. For one, I trust that our bodies are perfectly created to function perfectly 100% of the time. I don't want to mess with what God has created for a purpose. If I choose to decrease his fever, I lengthen the time he has to spend not feeling good. His body turns the fever up high to kill off whatever doesn't need to be in his body, and if I turn down the temperature, his body will pause and then try to turn it back up again. Or worse, it will be more susceptible to infection, possibly acquire an infection and then have to take extra time to kill it off. So, why not just spend some miserable time letting the fever do its good, and then it will be over and we will be back to normal and happy in no time. Secondly, have you looked into the ingredients in Tylenol and Motrin? I am not going to stress out my child's developing liver and cause potential heart complications and stomach bleeding by giving my child Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen just so he can cool down his elevated temperature and be happy. And, I am certainly not going to give my child corn syrup, sugar (sorbitol) or food dyes! Isn't this one of the primary reasons why I breastfeed, to keep junk out of my child?! Did you know that 1 teaspoon of sugar decreases immunity for at least 10 hours? And, there are tons of side effects (like killing off brain cells!) when it comes to artificial and alcohol sugars so don't think that flavoring the medicines with these or going "sugar free" is a better answer either. And, corn syrup is one of the worst things you can put in your body, much less your baby's (another reason why I am so glad we breastfeed and don't do formula- since corn syrup is one of the primary ingredients in formulas), so I certainly wouldn't be giving him a medication with this ingredient just so he could feel better. Furthermore, considering sugar is one guaranteed way to decrease and stress out the immune system, it's ironic that these medications all contain it in one form or another. Isn't it just great that some of them include Splenda or sucralose instead? Do you know what makes up Splenda/sucralose? Simple- sugar and chlorine. Would I give my child chlorine? NO! So why would I give him some chlorine with sugar on a day he is miserable with fever? Beats me... Probably because parents either don't read labels, or they don't know what the ingredient is on the label, or worst yet- they trust the doctor who told them to give it to their child w/ a blind faith. No thanks, I'd rather have the miserable child with fever than these meds! You won't find me giving you the popular opinion that God gifted doctors with wisdom and knowledge to invent these wonderful meds. Nope, I think it's simply another thing we have invented to bypass God's plan and make our lives easier but not better.
There are many things we have to achieve through hard work, and health is one of them. Know what else I did not do? I did not sit around taking my child's temperature with a thermometer. Why? Do I need to see a number to tell me my child has fever? Nope, I can see he does by watching how he does not act like himself and feeling how hot his skin is to the touch. Harper feeds off of my emotions, and what better emotion to make one sick than stress? And what would stress me out more than seeing a climbing number on the thermometer? No thanks! Did I worry about the fever? Yes, my main concern was keeping him hydrated and getting him well. So, we stayed chilled out at home. I stripped him down to his diaper, and we laid in bed skin to skin and nursed as much as possible. The result? The fever is almost totally gone, he is getting back to his happy, active self, and I have a healthier child because I let his body go with what it was designed perfectly to do best- work! Fever is a time of detox and helps rid the body of toxins and keep toxins out that haven't yet entered, and studies show it decreases cancer risks too. Therefore, I may not have enjoyed the couple of days with an unhappy child, but I am so thankful that the Power that made the body can and does heal the body, and we come out on the other side better!!