Monday, March 05, 2012

An inauspicious first

mid-morning snuggles

Over the weekend, Lauren finished her first-ever round of antibiotics. She is healthy and happy, which is an important point to make as I launch into the somewhat harrowing tale of my first-ever encounter with a particular ailment.

On Monday night a couple weeks ago, I was giving Lauren a bath when I noticed a red spot high on the right side of her bottom. Looking more closely, I realized to my horror that it was a full-fledged boil! On my baby's perfect little bottom! I was unnerved not only by the sight of the blemish but also that it appeared so suddenly.

That night in the bath, the sore opened and drained. I cleaned it and put on her diaper. She seemed not to be bothered by any of this and went on to sleep soundly that night. I read a little on the Internet (search terms: "boil baby bottom"!?!), trying to read just enough to be informed but not so much that I flipped out. It appeared that it could be a staph infection and that I needed to watch for increased redness and swelling, and/or fever.

On Tuesday morning, the spot looked red but not as scary as the night before. Still, it didn't look much better. That night Lauren slept well and remained fever-free and happy, but on Wednesday morning the sore was redder and larger in diameter. I scheduled an appointment with our doctor for later that morning.

Our pediatrician looked at the sore and prodded it gently to see if she could get something for a culture. When she couldn't, she decided to forego more drastic efforts to get a sample--much to my relief--and went ahead to prescribe the antibiotic Clindamycin to treat staph. She warned me that it tasted really bitter. I didn't think too much about that at the time as I was just thankful to have a diagnosis and something to fight this scary infection. Lauren was unfazed by the exam and our doctor seemed impressed that the sore wasn't causing her pain. I lamented what this revealed about the cleanliness of my home, but the doctor said I shouldn't beat myself about it since staph is everywhere. Nonetheless, I impulsively bought some bleach when we stopped at the grocery store later to get Lauren some yogurt.

When I was filling the prescription, the pharmacist asked if I wanted to add flavoring because this medication tasted especially bitter. Then he realized the only thing he could offer was lemon oil to mask the flavor because anything else would affect the antibiotic's effectiveness. He added that he had a daughter about Lauren's age and that she would gag and throw up bitter-tasting medicine. While I appreciated the sympathetic gesture, the pharmacist's warning only made me especially dread giving her the oral meds.

The medicine smelled of antiseptic anise and lemon. And I had to give her five milliliters (one teaspoon) three times a day for ten days. The first few administrations were really terrible. My poor baby has never had medication by mouth--except for her oral rotavirus vaccines and occasional multivitamin drops (I'm so bad about remembering to give her those.)--and she cried and gagged. To make the medicine easier to swallow, I'd give her about half a milliliter at a time, which prolonged the process but seemed to help her get more down. Thankfully, Lauren never threw up and as each day went on, she was less upset by the administration and would even open her mouth for me sometimes. She is so brave! Although she never enjoyed taking the medicine, she later figured out how to blow raspberries to prevent me from putting the syringe in her mouth and seemed quite pleased with herself. She is so smart! I would let her chase every dose with breast milk, which included lots of snuggling too. I also tried to feed her at least a little yogurt three times a day. Between that, breast milk and bananas, her little tummy fared well on the antibiotics.

Honestly, giving her the medicine was by far the worst part of this whole ordeal. The sore itself never seemed to cause her any discomfort. She never ran a fever or acted like she felt sick. The morning after we went to the doctor and within 24 hours of starting the antibiotics, the sore opened up and drained again. From that point on it improved dramatically. Today it appears only as a slightly darkened place on her otherwise perfect bottom. Here's hoping this is the last time we encounter staph.

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