I’m Anti-Antibiotics, Until My Kid Gets Sick
I am not a mom who rushes to the pediatrician at the first sign of illness, and I definitely think we have a big national (and international) problem with how liberally antibiotics are handed out over a small child’s slightest sniffle. I’m a big proponent of the “let it run its course” school of treating most minor childhood illnesses. So how the hell did I end up with an antibiotics prescription for my ten-month-old son’s ear infection?
Apparently my hubris in preaching the germ exposure gospel finally caught up to me three weeks ago, when both of our twins caught a nasty cold. Maybe it was the grody hotel we stayed at after a flat tire at midnight on the way home from a wedding in Ohio; maybe it was taking them to a zoo covered in other kids’ germs; maybe it was the lady at the wedding we attended who stuck her fingers in my daughter’s mouth. (Why? WHY?) Whatever the cause, both twins ended up sick and miserable, and so were their dad and I.
The edge still hasn’t worn off my new-mom instincts, which start screaming, “PANIC!” the second I see a runny nose; but I know there’s not much a doctor do for a cold, and that throwing antibiotics at the problem is worse than doing nothing at all. So we kept an eye on fevers, cranked up the humidifier, and made liberal and oh-so-disgusting use of the NoseFrida. (I know it would make it harder to tell if you were accomplishing anything, but I really wish that the nose-adjacent part of the NoseFrida were opaque instead of clear.)
Snot was drained, noses were wiped, nights were un-slept through. And pretty soon, my daughter started to get back to wreaking her usual amounts of gleeful havoc; but my son was just as miserable as ever. And on top of that, he started to flip his little lid every time we tried to lay him down for a nap or at bedtime. After two days of putting him into a car seat to sleep so that gallons of mucus weren’t pouring down the back of his throat, his fever crept over 100 and he started picking at his meals instead of his usual pattern (shovelling them frantically into his face). I decided it was time to call the doctor. Did he have strep throat? The flu? Oh, man. Should I have been panicking about enterovirus after all?
The pediatrician listened to the list of symptoms I rattled off, and I had barely finished by the time she was ready to peer into the baby’s ears. All she said when she got the instrument into his first ear was, “Oh, wow,” and the second one was, “Yikes.” The poor little guy had a double ear infection to the degree of “hella”, and that was why he was so miserable in the crib as well as why he was so uncharacteristically off his food.
“I’m going to order you some amoxicillin. He’s not allergic, is he?” The pediatrician reached for the mouse to enter a prescription into the computer, but I hesitated while I tried to bounce some happiness into the still-grousing baby on my lap.