Monday, October 3, 2011

Hives, fever, and a nerve-racking waiting game

Poor Ava's hives
As a new parent, I knew my baby girl's first bout with sickness was inevitable. But I wasn't prepared for the feeling of utter helplessness that came along with it.

Ava struggled with a blocked tear duct in her left eye starting when she was about a month old. When the duct got infected, her pediatrician put her on a course of antibiotics. But when the first course was finished, the infection returned.

I took her to a pediatric ophthalmologist, who did a procedure to open the duct and prescribed a second course of antibiotics to ensure the infection wouldn't spread.

Six days later, Ava woke up with what looked like a mosquito bite on her neck. By noon, her little body was covered in hives. It was my fourth day back at work, and Ava's fourth day in daycare. I took her to the doctor, who said she must be allergic to penicillin. She told me to discontinue the antibiotic, and that it would get worse before it got better. That was an understatement.

The next morning, Ava's hives had turned into "target lesions," which look absolutely horrific. As frightened as my husband and I were by her appearance, we took some comfort in the fact that she was still smiling at us and didn't seem to be in pain.

Unfortunately, having been exposed to other kids in daycare, Ava had caught a bug and developed severe congestion and a high fever on top of the rash.

The subsequent three days consisted of multiple doctor visits and rotating doses of Tylenol for the fever and Benadryl for the rash. By the morning of the fourth day, her bright red and purple rash had started to dissipate, and by the next day, it was gone without a trace and the fever had broken.
Ava, all better!

Nick and I were so happy when we saw Ava that morning, we both just burst into tears. All week, we had struggled to keep our composure, praying for her to get better and wishing we could somehow take the illness from her and suffer in her place. I'm sure it's only the first of many times we will feel that way.

One of the doctors who saw Ava told us that in his 30+ years as a pediatrician, he had seen a rash as severe as Ava's only a few times, but that, in each case, the child never had a rash like it again. I choose to believe the same will be true for our little peanut. And I sure am enjoying her every smile and giggle -- and her perfect baby skin -- more than ever.

Rachel Raya is a Public Relations Manager for Texas Health Resources and New Mom.

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