08/15/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

You Give Me Fever

I like to think of myself as generally "unflappable." Changing the Juban Princeling's poopy diapers doesn't usually bother me that much. Getting puked on barely elicits a reaction from me anymore. And, while I don't love it when he gets his vaccines, I don't faint or cry when they happen. I know they are good for him and I know that in five minutes he will have forgotten the whole thing.

Then, within ten days of each other, two things happened that felt like the Universe slapped me around and called me its bitch.

First, just a week shy of his 9-month birthday, the Princeling got sick for the first time. Like, really sick. Like, fever sick.

Now, I never get fevers. Ever. I could have ebola with a leukemia chaser and a side of the clap (which I don't have. Husband.), and sit in the hot sun sweating buckets and drinking hot tea, and my internal temperature would remain a rock solid 98.6. I just don't get fevers, okay?

So when I picked up the Princeling after a nap and his little body scalded me, I knew something was up. Hoping I was overreacting, I took his temperature. In his ear. Because, I'm sorry, but tushie thermometers just don't seem right to me. So I stuck the ear thermometer into his tiny ear hole: 100.2. That seemed high to me, so I did the other ear, you know, just in case he was only feverish on one side: 100.2. He seemed otherwise fine, so I gave him a bath and called the pediatrician's office. They told me to give him some infant Tylenol, keep taking his temp, and call them if it went above 100.3. So I fed him, gave him some Tylenol, and put him to bed.

At 4am he cried for his paci, and felt even hotter to me. Like, you could have fried eggs on my kid's forehead. Better mothers than I am might have kept a level head at this point, but a) I am not one of them, b) it was 4am, c) the Princeling had never been sick before, and d) I don't get fevers. Yes, I am aware that this phenomenon called "a fever" exists, but I, personally, do not have much experience with them. The last time I had a fever was the morning of my Bat Mitzvah (lucky me!) two decades ago. So, at 4am, when my little baby son's ears registered a fever of 101.5 (each), I gave myself permission to freak out. I woke up the Husband and asked him if we should take the Princeling -- my darling, tiny, precious, innocent little baby with skin made of fire -- to the emergency room. Husband, who has now been awake for mere seconds, compared to my being awake for a full five minutes, calmly suggested calling the pediatrician first. So I did, and was connected to the doctor on-call. And while I sat there with thoughts running through my head of rushing the Princeling to the hospital and having IV drips stuck into him and possibly being quarantined for potential swine flu, the doctor -- this man who has never met my baby, or me, and does not know that I do not get fevers -- told me to give him some more Tylenol and check his temp again in the morning and call if it doesn't go down. Excuse me? No ambulance? No technicians in Haz-Mat suits? No oxygen masks? Just...Tylenol? Are you joking???

The next morning the Princeling's ears registered a supernova-like 102.5, so I made my third call to the pediatrician's office in less than 16 hours. This is more times than I've called them in the past three months. They gave me an appointment for later that day, and while we waited the Princeling slept nearly constantly, waking up only to eat.

Meanwhile, he goes to daycare twice a week for half a day, so I called his daycare provider to let her know that he had a fever. She told me that, while unlikely, it was possible he was exposed to croup. I didn't know what that was, exactly, but it sounded grotesque and possibly deadly, so I was convinced the Princeling had it and Kate Winslet would play me in the movie version of The Croup From Hell.*

We finally got to see an actual doctor, in person, in a doctor's office. Even though I told him that there was a remote, miniscule possibility that the Princeling may possibly have maybe been exposed a teensy bit to croup (aka "Satan's Deadly Baby Cough and/or Fever"), the doctor, with all his "training" and "expertise" and "medical license" and whatnot, diagnosed the Princeling with: upper respiratory infection, aka The Thing My Brother Gets Approximately 18 Times A Year Every Year For His Entire Life. I was told to switch him to baby Motrin every six hours and call back within the week if the fever still didn't go down. Within the week? Wouldn't my sweet little baby be dead by then if his 102.5 fever didn't go down???

Two doses of Motrin and 12 hours later the Princeling was not only back to his usual self, albeit with a slight cough and runny nose, but he was attempting to crawl all over the living room. He actually only pushed himself backwards under his play pen, but his temperature was a rock solid 98.6. That's m'boy.

The second thing that happened that made me think the Universe was laughing at me and reminding me that, while nine months in and doing a pretty bang-up job if I do say so myself, I am still, nevertheless, a rookie mom, was that the Princeling had to have blood drawn.

Let me say that again. My tiny baby, who cannot even walk yet, or express his negative feelings in ways that don't involve tears, and doesn't even have the nubs of his baby teeth yet, had to have a long, sharp needle jammed into his arm and his blood, which he needs, taken out of him.

And yes, while my baby is in the 75th-90th percentile for his size (his nickname at home is The Kraken) and is often mistaken for a two year old because he's so big, and last week we actually met a 14-month-old who was smaller than my 9-month-old son, he's still just a little guy with not a whole lot of blood to begin with. I'm pretty sure he needs all the blood he has.

But, as part of his 9-month well-baby visit, we were given a prescription to go get his blood drawn at the hospital across the street and checked for anemia and -- please, if you are faint of heart, brace yourselves -- lead. Lead. They want. To check. My baby. For lead.

So we went across the street, and after an hour wait, I was forced to hold my son close and pin down his arms so that a stranger could tie a pinchy tourniquet around his arm and jab a sharp needle into his soft, pale baby skin and then smoosh it around in there until the blood flowed freely and far too quickly into a tube which lead to a vial which filled up with the blood of my precious sweet screaming baby son. Sweet chocolately Jesus, you might as well have gouged out my eyeballs and sawed off my limbs -- that would be less traumatic for me. I sang softly into my son's ear and rubbed his back and tried to neither faint nor cry. When it was over the technician wrapped a bright blue bandage around his arm so that he looked like one of those Confederate soldiers in Gone With the Wind when Scarlett O'Hara is trying to get the doctor to come deliver Melanie's baby.

Thankfully, the Princeling fell asleep on the way home and by the time he woke up from his nap had no recollection of the slasher movie-like atrocities that had just been committed on him. I, however, will be forced to remember it for the rest of my natural life and possibly for my next six reincarnations.

(*I know what it is now, thank you.)