What I learned as a {pediatric resident}’s wife: Antibiotics

Let me start out this blog by saying that the very reason I’m writing this is because these topics are HIGHLY controversial. So, this blog is for those who are looking to justify following doctors’ orders, not for those who want to prove conventional or Western medicine is somehow lacking. If you’re looking to justify NOT following doctors’ orders, scoot on; you won’t find what you’re looking for here. I am not a medical professional and the stories I recount for you are ones that were reported on the news or recounted to me by friends. My husband cannot and will not share stories with me of his patients.

Again, we’re in residency hell and every day, I hear heartbreaking medical stories in the news or on social media. It’s so sad to really listen to the news. That’s another story for another day, but on this particular day I heard about a kid dying from something common, like an infection. As soon as Justin was home, maybe before he even walked in the door (Those of you who know me will know.), I met him and was asking him all sorts of questions about why in the world a kid would die from an infection. Don’t we have medicines that can treat infections? Like, the big guns…the antibiotics that people get in the hospital that have to be mixed by the guy that designed it and then jetted in just for this one patient? (Ok, well, that all might have been made up from an episode of ER or something, but… still.) Justin calmly walked me inside and we looked up the news story. It was a child that had died of an infection in a place like Philadelphia or something, and it was, in fact, a common infection that should have been treatable. The child died in the hospital while receiving treatment.

“Wait, what?!?! Ok, I understand that there are third world countries that don’t even have penicillin, but here in the good old US of A? In a big city? At one of the top hospitals in the nation for children? HOW does this happen?”

I might have been paranoid at this point because, if my memory serves me correctly, we were about four weeks pregnant with our first child. If that could happen in Philadelphia, it could happen anywhere.  At least, those were my {very paranoid} thoughts.

As we sat there and discussed this horrific tragedy, Justin explained why it was so important to only use antibiotics when you have a proven infection. An ear infection, strep, sinus infection, etc. However, when you just don’t feel well, or your kid doesn’t, and you go to the doctor, don’t take antibiotics unless you really need them. Antibiotics, he said, were made to fight infections in the body, but bacteria are smart little suckers. They learn how we’re treating them and then become resistant to the antibiotic that got rid of them, making an antibiotic less effective in the future. So you have to get a stronger antibiotic. Stronger and stronger until there’s nothing stronger; nothing that will kill what should be a normal infection mitigated by normal antibiotics.  This explains why, with every ear infection, my kids needed different medicines to try to clear up what wasn’t being cleared up before. This is also why we opted for tubes rather than ear infection after ear infection, antibiotic after antibiotic. Yes, I’m sure that I could have tried the garlic natural remedy, but I didn’t want to risk the speech implications of my kids not being able to hear well for weeks on end (Both Noah and Caden had ongoing ear infections for up to three months during their pivotal speech development times.), so we went with tubes over other forms of treatment.

Now, obviously, this is a worse-case scenario; your kid will most likely not get an antibiotic-resistant infection. Just like you most likely will not kill your baby while you’re bed sharing. But, my take on it from then was: if there is a possibility that my child could only have a virus, I’ll wait it out, see if things get better, and treat only when necessary. If you have any questions about why you do or do not need antibiotics, see Justin’s post here. If you’re a parent who is trying to figure out if your baby really needs medicine or not, ask! Your doctors and their staff are ready and able to answer your questions. Don’t feel guilty about calling for a runny nose or a fever; that’s what they’re there for! I wouldn’t go in for those things and risk exposure to an infection, but I’d certainly call to see if coming in was necessary or not.

Other than that, be patient with your children’s illnesses, as they usually last about a week until your little one is feeling back to his or herself again. Keep track of when symptoms start, how long they last and their severity, and enjoy the extra snuggles you’re getting while your kiddos’ bodies are learning how to fight infections!

P. S. I saw this on the news last night! Watch the video or read the article here.

What I learned as a {pediatric resident}’s wife: Bed Sharing

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Let me start out by saying that the very reason I’m writing this blog is because these topics are HIGHLY controversial. This blog is for those who are looking to justify following doctors’ orders, not for those who want to prove conventional or Western medicine is somehow lacking. If you’re looking to justify NOT following doctors’ orders, scoot on; you won’t find what you’re looking for here. I am not a medical professional and the stories I recount for you are ones that were reported on the news or recounted to me by friends. My husband cannot and will not share stories with me of his patients. So, here we go.

Residency. The hell you hear about. This is a “boot camp” for nerds, if you will. This is where you find out if your fancy, medical-school book knowledge can hold up after 30 hours of work. I mean, tired. During one shift, my husband took a catnap, got a page (yep…on a beeper…see what I mean about the nerds???) and jumped out of the bunk bed provided to residents. The problem, he quickly realized, was that he had slept on the top bunk this time, not the bottom bunk like the last five-minute nap he’d gotten. Ouch. If you’ve had a newborn, it’s similar to that…for three plus years.

There are only two real lessons I remember learning as a residents’ wife. Here is the first one: I vowed that I would never let our babies sleep in the bed with us. For some people, I’m sure it’s awesome. But not for us. And, I mean, never. We don’t even nap with our babies; if one of us falls asleep, the other takes the baby. We do have our babies in the room with us until they start sleeping through the night, but they’re in their own beds. They’re in a pack ‘n’ play or a cradle. We don’t even do nap nannies or rocking sleepers. Just beds, but in our room, as that’s what’s called for to reduce the risk of SIDS. Not sleeping with our babies is the rule in our house, because of the following story (which was reported to me by the Houston news, not my husband, for all you HIPPA people out there).

One night, a grandmother was watching a baby for her over-exhausted daughter, who also happened to be a single mom. You can completely understand here. The baby was fussy, the single mom had literally been doing everything herself for three weeks. Awful. So, her mom comes over to take the night shift one evening, but only after a hard day of work herself. As she’s holding the baby after the sweet thing had {finally} fallen asleep, grandma nodded off. Grandma was slightly reclined on a couch and the baby fell between the cracks of the couch, unbeknownst to the grandmother, mom and baby. The baby was pronounced dead soon after the paramedics arrived. The grandmother reported that she was only asleep for five minutes. I’m not sure if that’s medically possible, but that’s what she reported in the interview that I saw.

That, ladies and gentlemen, was enough for me. I know that it might not be enough for you all, but it was enough for me. It was just so… innocent. The grandma comes in to relieve the mom for a few short hours, but she can’t help but fall asleep (as any parent of a newborn so easily does) and it doesn’t take long. You say you’ll know if your baby is under you, beside you, falls off of you, but it’s so easy to just stay asleep when you’re SOOOOOO exhausted. And, for a lot of parents, bed sharing (some people call it co-sleeping) is a choice you make with your first child, when you’ve never known a tired like that.

I don’t need a study to tell me that this is one statistic I want to avoid. The truth is that it could happen to me. And I’m not a horrible mom. In fact, there are days I feel like SuperMom. But, most days, I’m an average mom who wants what’s best for my kids. I don’t want my stupidity or pride (“It will never happen to me…I love my kid too much to not know that s/he has fallen.”) to get in the way of them having the very best life they can have. In this case, the decision was easy.

For those of you considering bed sharing that have read about the myriad emotional benefits, I’d just ask you to consider room sharing, or just being physically and emotionally present with your child in the times that they’re awake. After all, because you’re not sharing the bed, they have a better chance doing just that: waking up.