Details of Caring For a Sick Baby

Since Wednesday night neither my wife nor I have gotten more than 2 hours of contiguous sleep.  It’s been rough for us, but not as bad as it has been for our 9 month-old baby, Cana (she turns 9 months tomorrow!).  What follows is a cathartic release, a need for this exhausted father to tell the story in detail (written in dribs and drabs over several hours).

Cana has been terribly sick for the past few days.  Actually, she’s been battling an ear infection for three weeks, but on Wednesday
night things got worse.  Around midnight she spit up her dinner-time
bottle, and was up all night sipping and wanting to be held, and
spitting up what she had sipped. 

I went to work on Thursday and Jess stayed home with Cana,
who was not keeping anything down.  By the afternoon Cana was spitting
up blood-tinged mucus.  On Thursday evening the doctor had us go to the
Emergency Department at our local hospital, where Cana was hooked up to
an IV for meds and fluids, and had some blood work done (the nurse did
an amazing job with the IV – she got it on the first stick, avoiding
the torture of multiple needle sticks!).  And that’s where we found out
she has three different infections – one in her urinary tract,
one in her gastrointestinal tract, one in her ears.  After five hours
in the hospital we went home.  Throughout the night she would cry and
take small sips of pedialyte, about every 30-90 minutes.

On Friday I took her to the doctor’s office for a follow up, where she received two additional shots – one in each thigh – of Rocefin.
During the day she continued to spit up, to alternate between antsy and
lethargic, and cry a ton.  She spent about half of the day in my arms.
Worried about her lack of energy and inability to eat – now 36 hours
without any food – the doctor recommended an old home remedy of a
teaspoon of corn syrup for her.  This worked.  She got a little more
energy, slowly took a few sips of pedialyte on 15 minute intervals, and
was keeping it down.  Yeah!  Not having eaten in more than a day, she
ate slowly throughout the night, drinking a mixture of soy-based anti-diarrhea formula and pedialyte about every 30-90 minutes.

On Saturday morning she was fairly alert and playful, but
then lost – rather explosively out of both ends – all the food she had
eaten the night before.  We returned to pedialyte for the next several
hours.  By late morning she was crashing again and, as if on cue, the
doctor called – her urinary tract infection was really bad.  The blood
culture didn’t even need the customary three days to show that she had
not one but two different infections growing in her urine.  Argh.  We were given a new prescription of amoxicillin
for one of the UTI infections, though at a smaller dosage than
previously, hoping that she wouldn’t spit it up.   Furthermore, the
doctor told us that we should be ready to go the
Emergency Department immediately if Cana spiked a 102 degree
fever or threw up two more
times.  She hasn’t done either of these so far, thank God.  Though
still antsy and needing to be held often, Saturday night was a little
better than the previous three nights – we got up with her only about
every 90-120 minutes to feed and hold her.

So far on Sunday Cana is doing alright – still lethargic,
still not herself, still wanting to be held for long periods on end,
still not eating a ton (but keeping down what she does eat!).  Right
now she is asleep and snoring, perhaps the deepest sleep she’s gotten
in days.

In my nearly four years of being a parent this is the sickest either
of our children has been.  It has been scary and unnerving, not to
mention exhausting on both physical and emotional levels.  My
experience working in a hospital helped me make sense of our Emergency
Department visit, and for that I’m grateful.  But my hospital
experience also helps me appreciate the myriad unknowns and
complications that are inherent with infections, particularly with
patients who cannot communicate.  I’ve feared the worst over these past
few days.  A doctor’s order to get my child to the emergency department
immediately, and her statement to me on Friday morning, "I’m not sure
why she’s not feeling better," will do that to me.

And throughout this ordeal Tali, our 3 year-old, has been as good as
could be expected.  With her parents completely focused on her younger
sister, Tali has received much less attention and as a result has acted
out and gotten away with eating more junk than normal (which, in turn,
makes her hyper).  Thank goodness for our church’s youth director who
spent nearly 6 hours with her on Thursday night while we were at the
hospital, and for our babysitter who took Tali out to a local fair this

Jess missed two days of work last week with Cana sick at home, and
I’ve also missed two days – including a Saturday day-time shift at the
hospital.  Balancing work and family is a very difficult thing to do,
something possible only with understanding and helpful co-workers
willing to step-up, reschedule meetings, and take over our
responsibilities at a moment’s notice.  I’m grateful for them, and
would much rather be at work than home with a sick baby – that’s for

I’m cautiously optimistic that Cana has turned the corner (though I
thought that Saturday morning, too).  Perhaps this will be the night
that I get more than 2 hours of sleep at a time.  Perhaps this is the
day that Cana will return to being herself, giggling, laughing, playing
and clapping her hands.  As much as I love how she cuddles up with me
and quietly lays her head on my shoulder when she’s sick, I’ll gladly
take the healthy Cana – the Cana who is not-so-cuddly but prefers to be
on the floor trying to crawl or who plays boisterously in my arms – any

Published by Chris Duckworth

Spouse. Parent. Lutheran Pastor. Veteran. Jedi. Political Junkie. Baseball Fan.

4 thoughts on “Details of Caring For a Sick Baby

  1. I feel for you. Neither of the girls has been that sick (Deo gratias) but I’ve frequently juggled to care for one or both. You’ll be in our prayers.

  2. Oh how I remember those days, and I’m glad they are over. We had to hospitalize our youngest when she was about 11 months. That was tough. Perhaps it doesn’t seem like it now, but this too shall pass. I hope you get some rest soon.

  3. I am at home today with a sick little one, but not nearly as sick poor Cana. I hope by the time you read this she is feeling much better.

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