I had a taste of what it would be like when all four girls were sick. Livia started having really high fever and we have no clue what infection invaded her body. I always look for physical signs in her ear or around her body but whatever this was, it was internal. We usually only bring her to the doctor if the temperature was consistently over 39 degrees for more than two successive days. We’ve brought her to the doctor before when it was only one day and the doctor would always tell us its only bad if its more than four days and if so, she should go directly to the kid’s ER, and in the meantime he would prescribe us paracetamol and ibuprofen. Paracetemol and ibuprofen are mild ways to break a very high fever, and its for the child’s comfort more than anything else and its given in very small doses for young children. I’ve been to a few GPs and paediatricians now and they all seem to suggest that children only take serious medication like antibiotics for very serious problems, especially if they are infants. Livia was once put on antibiotics when she had severe diarrhea that rendered her dehydrated. She was hospitalised for four days. For all the times she had a cold, fever, cough, she would receive mild types of medication in extremely small doses or none at all.
The triplets were also running their own fevers but it was slight. But they were coughing, and sometimes a coughing fit would cause milk to spit-up. I had to change bedsheets a lot over the weekend. With them we were also adopting a wait-and-see approach, looking for signs of deterioration. You just have a better instinct for when to see a doctor after having gone through it with your first child. By Sunday morning, everyone’s fever subsided and the coughing was heard only occasionally.
The illness I find most tough are colds and flu, where their tiny noses would be blocked. Those take a lot longer to heal and make children feel extremely uncomfortable.
If no physical signs are present, the other signs that I look for when I feel the children need to see a doctor are extreme listlessness, inability to sleep or sleeping too much, refusing to eat and drink, vomiting, and not wanting me to leave their sight at all. For infants below 1, I also look for signs by feeling their soft fontanelle. A very sunken fontanelle indicates dehydration. In general, if you feel the child seems to be behaving oddly, its always better to bring them to the doctor for a check-up.
Also for infants and especially when they are less than 4 months old, we would always go to a paediatrician. We really like the one at Kinderclinic at Parkway East Hospital. When Livia was recovering from her severe diarrhea at 8 months old, the paediatrician there gave me his namecard and we could call him anytime if we had questions. Its always nice to have a doctor who understood your anxieties as a parent. A lot of doctors feel parents overreact, but a good one tries to soothe their anxieties and are there to talk about them with you. For kids more than 2 years old, we would go to the GP because its a lot cheaper than a paediatrician, especially if its a common cold and fever. A visit to the paeditrician would easily set you back by $150-300. But I guess it depends on your GP as well, but I noticed when I bring infants to the GP they do not check their soft fontanelle, the ears and inside the diapers. They would simply check their temperatures and hear their heartbeats and more often than not, prescribe medication that is not suitable for infants. So I usually never bring sick infants to GPs.
When you have children, and if you have more than one, everything in the household stops when they fall sick. And it happens more often than you prefer. When one catches something, no matter how you try to separate her from the rest, the rest somehow catches it as well. It was difficult for me to comfort children who were all sick at the same time. When it was just Livia, we would just hold her all the time, but with four being sick, we would rotate holding them and would give priority to the one who appeared most sickest. Now that she’s a lot older, there are many other ways to help her feel comfortable. She gets to watch TV all day and eat her favorite foods in small amounts like biscuits. I’m glad they are all feeling better because Chinese New Year is upon us and I want the family to enjoy it.