A Crunchy Family in the Hospital

With eight teeth poking through his gums, Atticus was not a happy camper on Monday morning. He was under slept and his mouth was sore, he was unusually whiney, and extremely cuddly. As i sat him on the floor to play with some toys, he let out a grunt and started to pout. I knew that he would need to be loved on a little extra that day. With no other symptoms than teething, he had a fever of 101.

After a day of babywearing, bedtime rolled around and the littlest ginger fell asleep with ease. I debated getting up after nursing him to sleep, but decided to text and respond to emails on my phone while laying near him. At about 11:30 he began making discomforting sounds. I thought he was just having a bad dream and would fall back asleep. What ensued was not dream like, it was horrifying. As he was sleeping he started to gag, acting as though he needed to throw up, but could not. His little body started shaking, and his eyes started to roll back as he threw up frothy goo. He wasn’t responding to me, and despite only lasting two to three minutes, it seemed like forever. His temperature read 102.7, but he felt even hotter.

As a fairly naturally minded person I loathe many aspects of the forcefulness of modern medicine, but I realize it exists for many reasons. We opted to take him to the hospital, as what he experienced was not normal. We drove downtown to Children’s, and luckily did not have to wait for him to be examined. They checked us in, and asked for the details of what ensued earlier that evening. As I recounted the details, it was suggested that Atticus had a febrile seizure. A febrile seizure is more scary than dangerous, and that he should be fine. Children that have had a febrile seizures are more susceptible to having another, and we will have to monitor fevers even more carefully from now on.

The staff at the hospital, while clinical, were all extremely friendly. They asked for our detailed account of events a couple more times, and decided to collect a blood sample and urine sample. My inner crunchy-mama bear wasn’t comfortable with them pricking my baby without asking questions though, and this is why I want to share our story with you.

They asked if Atticus was up to date on vaccines. The answer was “No, he is not.” We were told that a child his age should have upwards of 25 vaccines. That sentence made my skin crawl. 25 needle pricks into a babies body by 15 months? The amount of preservatives, mercury, fillers and chemicals in those vaccines that can be arguably ineffective… my head started racing. I was underslept, my baby was sick, and I wanted to pull out my Dr. Sears fact sheet and give the doctor an earful. I refrained.

I believe that vaccines have a purpose, a time, and a place, but so many of the vaccines given these days have long-term side effects that are yet to be determined. They asked us why he had not been vaccinated entirely, and while I wanted to let the resident doctor know all of my highly researched reasons, I simply said, “I had a bad reaction as a child.”

It may not be the main reason we opt to follow a delayed and highly selective vaccination schedule, but it is true. I also didn’t want to over complicate things. We didn’t need the hospital that we went to for help to shun us for being “whack jobs,” as many people don’t agree with questioning modern medicine.

We got a couple passive eye rolls, but they were just doing their job. They work in medicine, it’s their job to believe that these medicines do the most good. We are obviously not the typical uninformed family, and you could tell that we asked more questions than anyone in the ER that morning, but he is our baby, and before we consent to them poking our son with any unnecessary needles.

All while we are being asked to recount what had happened at home, Atticus alternates between my lap, and Kevin. He nurses, he cuddles he even gets 20 minutes of shut eye between vitals. His heart rate is highly elevated hovering between 185 and 192. They inform us that his heart rate should be much lower, and three hours later he is down in the 150’s, and eventually it declined to the 120-130’s.

Prior to his heart rate decelerating, we are working with the nurses and doctors to figure out what is wrong. Up until 11PM last night, he had no symptoms other than a slight fever. That fever rose, and he vomited. By 9AM he had thrown up two more times, and his temperature started to decline with the assistance of a hefty dose of Tylenol.

While at the hospital they insisted on two things; a blood test to rule out infectious diseases and a urine test. Since an IV was being placed to draw blood, they suggested we give Atticus IV fluids. We agreed as he was bound to be a bit dehydrated after his horrid night. For the urine test they wanted to use a catheter.

Not going to happen.

The doctor said that un-potty trained children have to be cathed, and I wasn’t going to take that as an answer. Supposedly the sample can be contaminated by a non-potty trained child, but I felt that it was less risky to give Atticus 20 minutes to pee in a cup then to expose him to a foreign object in his penis upping his chance of UTIs in the future.

Using Atticus’ cues I knew that if I woke him up, he would pee between 5-7 minutes after waking, and pee he did. Daddy now gets to joke that Atticus is ready for civil servantry since he can pee in a cup.

About an hour later the preliminary results of the blood draw and urine sample came back with signs of a possible bacterial infection as his white blood cell count was high. It was recommended we give him a dose of antibiotics to rid his system of the infection, and after another hour we were allowed to leave with instructions to have a follow up with our wonderful (very accommodating) pediatrician. I had to remind myself (while questioning the doctor about WHAT the vaccination was, WHY it was needed, WHAT were the side effects, WHY did he need to be monitored, etc. etc. ) the reason we came to the hospital, and whether I liked it or not, they were trying to do what was best for Atticus. We agreed to the antibiotic, and after an hour of observation we were allowed to leave.

As we left the hospital, I held him as close as I could in our baby carrier and headed for the garage. We were going home. Hopefully we would be able to catch up on the rest we missed, but all I could think about was how lucky I was to leave the hospital with my baby in my arms as so many parents have left that hospital with far worse an outcome.

It’s been a long three days for baby bear, but he is on the mend, and as he snoozes away beside me tonight, I am cherishing our Family Bed, and knowing that if he were to start whimpering, shaking or silently choking on his own vomit, that I would be right there beside him to help him.

It’s a fine line between being an overly passionate attached parent, and being someone that hospitals loathe for being too radical, but I believe that we respected that fine line by expressing our wishes for our child, and having confidence in our decision to rear him by as natural means as possible.




About the author

Xza Louise Higgins is the founder of MommyCon, creator of The Mommy Dialogues, and punk rock mom to two year old Atticus in the great city of Chicago, IL. She is incredibly passionate about birth options, human rights, and promoting gentle parenting practices.

No Comments

  1. Allison -  March 21, 2013 - 3:51 pm

    You can use this as an example of why bed sharing, when done properly, is a good thing! Had he been in a separate room you may not have reached him in time. Prayers for Atticus!

  2. Kristine -  March 21, 2013 - 5:10 pm

    Good for you!! We only take my son to the hospital if we have to because of this. They automatically think you’re a bad parent and know nothing if un vaccinated. It’s so sad they can’t focus on the issue. I’m sorry you had to endure that and hope your baby is on the mend. Gotta love the naturopath 🙂

  3. Lara -  March 21, 2013 - 5:29 pm

    Just a slight correction to an otherwise good post… The recommended schedule of vaccines may be 25 by his age, but that is not 25 little vials and 25 little needles… Many are combined and a few ate oral. While I am crunchy in many ways (still BFing at 14 months, for one), we have done all the vaccines as recommended. l think it adds up to 27, actually. 2 were oral though and in total, she received 11 shots. 3 ea at 2,4,6 months and 2 at 12. For those against vaccinating or for delaying, there may be other criticisms, but it’s misleading to suggest the child was poked with a needle containing who-knows-what 25 times. Someone who delays actually increases the number of actual injections and contaminants…

    • Xza -  March 22, 2013 - 9:00 pm

      You are correct about the number of needle pokes. I guess I should say being injected with that many live (I realize some are not live) viruses.

  4. Charlee -  March 21, 2013 - 5:53 pm

    I too vaccinate and Bella has not had 25 shots :/ that does sound harsh. I’m crunchy in most ways but still vaccinate. Bella also had a bout with fever and teething. It was a hard week for me too! I feel your pain and wish Atticus a speedy recovery! The last pic breaks my heart! Feel better soon buddy

  5. Katrina -  March 21, 2013 - 5:57 pm

    Just an comment to Lara’s comment. She stated that someone who delays actually increased the number of actual injections and contaminants. While that may be true, it may not as well. If it’s truly just a delayed scheduled some shots may still be combined as if they were given on time and therefore may not increase the number of actual injections. But the opposite can be true as well if vaccinations are separated and given at different times.

    To each their own. May all families do what is best for their children and have healthy families.

    Prayers for Atticus and the entire family. Encouraging to see a successful post for a non-“normal” family.

  6. Tatiana -  March 21, 2013 - 6:14 pm

    Im glad to here your happy ending! I am also inspired by your courage in standing up to doctors. It inspires me to be a stronger person and speak up when I dont feel something is right. 🙂

  7. Lara -  March 21, 2013 - 7:46 pm

    Katrina, I’m sorry, you’re right… While they may increase, they also might not. I also didn’t mean any judgement…everyone has their own thoughts on vaccines and we all make the choice we feel is right for our children. I completely agree with you.

    Regardless, I’m glad Atticus is on the mend and wish you hadn’t been given such a hard time at the hospital, Xza. Sounds like you handled it extremely well though.

  8. Heather P. -  March 21, 2013 - 8:29 pm

    Preach it Momma! We are on a delayed schedule too. Its very frustrating in a small town to find a doc who works with you on that.

  9. Erin -  March 22, 2013 - 9:46 am

    Xza, you should never be afraid to show who you are as a mother! We see that you are a wonderful mama. We all parent differently and we should all be mindful not to judge each other. Don’t be afraid to tell new doctors or nurses what you do or why- if they learn something new it’s a good thing! Besides, what we learn in school is rarely what we learn in life. I’m so glad Atticus is healing!

    • Xza -  March 22, 2013 - 9:09 pm

      That is a really great way of looking at it. I guess I felt that I had to resign to the fact we were at a hospital, because what was happening to Atticus was outside the realm of scope we have as naturally minded parents. Thank you Erin! Your words are very kind.

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