On Saturday, Adriana had a runny nose. There were a few sneezing fits and her eyes were watery, so I assumed it was hay fever, since there seem to be so many blooming plants all of a sudden. Sunday I decided it was a cold. And Monday, as we struggled awake in the face of Daylight Saving Time, I decided again that it was just spring allergies. But, whether it was a cold or allergies, I didn't think a trip to the doctor was entirely necessary. Still, not sure if the rattle I was hearing in her breath was coming from her chest or her throat, I called the doctor's office and they told me to bring her in. I sent Brian a quick note to let him know the plan. He didn't think the doctor's trip was really necessary. I was ambivalent--whenever I call the advice nurse hoping for reassurance, they end up telling me to bring Adriana in. I picked up the phone to cancel the appointment, but called Brian's mom instead. She suggested I just go to the appointment for the reassurance, even if things were fine. Figuring that maybe we could at least get an antihistimine if the doctor thought it was allergies, I decided she was right.
And so I was surprised when the doctor, instead of telling me it was just a cold and to give Adriana plenty of fluids or agreeing that it did seem like hay fever, looked at Adriana sitting there with her dress off and expressed concern over her breathing before she'd even listened to her chest. But I think it was good that I was surprised. That surprise meant that instead of worrying or panicking I just accepted what the doctor said, as she pressed her stethoscope to my baby's back and then ordered some Albuterol treatments and a chest X-ray.
Adriana was amazingly good throughout it all. In fact, her good behavior was part of what had me and my mother-in-law concerned: while Adriana is good about sitting for stories, she is not ordinarily a kid who just wants to sit in the rocking chair and snuggle for an hour. She is not the kind of kid who lies quietly on the floor when she is set down--she either demands to be picked up or goes off to do something else--but on Monday I would find her exactly where I had left her. The frighteningly good behavior continued at the doctor's office. She sat quietly on my lap for the exam, and then patiently let me hold the nebulizer mask over her face while she received Albuterol to open up her lungs. She looked passively at the little teddy bear gadget on her finger that monitored her blood oxygen saturation (which, how on earth do those things work? I swear they must be magic) and stroked my arm with her free hand. She is normally a bit shy in unfamiliar places with unfamiliar faces, but this seemed particularly unusual. She did seem more energetic after the treatment, which brought her oxygen saturation up from 95 to 97 percent, and actually walked down to get her x-ray instead of insisting that I carry her. She sit perfectly still on the table for her x-rays, as I reminded her about the X-rays Curious George got. And back upstairs, she sat quietly for another Albuterol treatment, which brought her oxygen up to 98, while we waited for the doctor to come back with the X-ray results.
We ended up with a diagnosis of bronchiolitis in Adriana's left lung (which is often caused by RSV and can be a serious issue in babies, but is less frightening in toddlers), and we were sent off with a nebulizer to continue Albuterol treatments for the next couple of days. Realizing that I hadn't eaten in hours and that I couldn't get the nebulizer and Adriana both home on my bike, I called Brian to meet us downtown for dinner and a lift home. Adriana had a fit of energy then (Albuterol can make kids hyper), and it was good to see her back to her normal self as she did a few laps in front of the doctor's office--up the stairs then down the ramp--and then insisted on walking the block and a half to the restaurant for dinner. But at dinner she grew quiet again and ate only a bite or two of her pasta, and by the time we got home we discovered she had a fever. And because we were at home she fought us as we tried to give her the Albuterol, but eventually with snuggles from me and a Curious George story from Brian (and the promise of a "special sticker" afterward--one of the Curious George ones I've been hoarding for when we get to the bribing stage of potty training) she settled down and then went to bed without much fight.
After that I was totally drained, and yet I felt as though I imagined the Albuterol was making Adriana feel--tense and wired. The whole day was catching up to me, from the early wake-up, the shorter-than-usual break I got when Adriana took only a brief nap, and of course the craziness of what had happened at the doctor's office. None of it ended up being a big deal. Yes, she was having a bit of trouble breathing, but it wasn't a crisis by any means. Still, I had been hesitant to take her in at all, and had expected to be sent home with a pat on the head and a roll of the eyes at my first-time-mom anxiety, and had ended up holding my baby's hand for her first X-rays. I sat in the arm chair, stunned. I sent a message to a friend describing how I felt after my day. He suggested that I needed to go sledding, and as silly as that sounded (especially since I am in the bay area, not on the frozen tundra of the upper midwest) it really was exactly what I needed: the exertion of tromping uphill in the snow, the exhilaration of flying back down on a sled--just the simple physicalness of it--to help with the tension I was feeling.
Instead I went into Adriana's room and listened to her breathing, which was no longer as shallow as it had been, and then climbed into my own bed...and then went back to listen to her breathe a couple of more times before I finally managed to fall asleep.