Let me be upfront with you. I’m a first time mum and it’s pretty obvious. I have a tendency to stress over every bump, spot or mark that shows up on my baby’s skin coupled with being a part time hypochondriac. The combination isn’t very healthy but hey, I’m a human who has had her fair share of stuff to deal with and so carry my own baggage.
The one and only time my little one Nafisa had a fever was over a year ago when she was just a few weeks old and it turned out that she, along with the whole family had covid. Because of her being under 3 months old, she was admitted into the local children’s hospital for 24 hour observation. Up until this fever, I had no other experience.
I was with my mother and it was late in the evening. I was nursing Nafisa as she loves her dudu (milk)! It’s very normal and totally cute for Nafisa to emerge from under the feeding cover, hot with slightly matted hair and bright red cheeks. This time though, I felt she was a bit hotter than usual and her mouth seemed warm as she suckled. I asked my hubby and mum to touch her forehead. They all reassured me that she was fine. She later went to sleep in her Khala’s bed. When I went to pick her up for home, her body seemed very hot. I was concerned. Everyone else said she’s ok, she must have got hot under the covers. My sixth sense wasn’t comforted by their reassurances but I ignored my mummy radar.
Roll on to 4am and Nafisa was stirring. I offered her milk and as I brought her close to me, I felt her skin burning. I got hubby to grab the thermometer and low and behold, it was reading 37.5°C! My instincts were right. My poor baby had a fever.
I read lots of Fatiha and Darood and blew over her as often as I could whilst I frantically searched in my social media health groups for what had been suggested to other mums who had asked for advice previously. Lots of skin to skin and fluids was the main advice. I thought she was possibly unwell because she had shown signs of teething so I gave her Homeopathic grade Belladonna too and offered her as much milk as possible. I also did what every inexperienced mum does and took her temperature every 15 minutes, logging it in my phone calendar as you do. I did notice that the thermometer provided different readings from each armpit. And it also gave different readings from the same armpit so I resorted to taking 3 readings each time and recording the highest one. I have been told I can be a little on the thorough side sometimes!
My WhatsApp groups of mums were fantastic and suggested different remedies based on their own experiences such as garlic cloves in her feet and apple cider vinegar compress on the nape of her neck. As much as I appreciated their advice and comforting words, Nafisa did not. She got annoyed with the garlic cloves in her socks and did not like for one second the vinegar compress. It later dawned on me that I should have let it come to room temperature before slapping it on her – I don’t think anyone who’s super hot would appreciate the shock of a cold flannel on their neck?
But truth be told, I did feel overwhelmed with all the information too. Some of the mums had advised me to give her Calpol to help bring it down. Others had said it’s best to let the fever run its course and the temperature is a sign that the body is doing its job. The NHS website said the same. But then some mums said that high fever can lead to convulsions and fits whereas other mums said Calpol just prolongs their symptoms. Some said to use compress and others said that they were told to not do anything. Some mums said 37.5C was low grade fever where others said don’t worry, their child burns up into the 40C but is absolutely fine. Some said strip her down to her nappy and others said keep a light blanket on. When I spoke to one doctor, he said use warm water to help get her temperature down and delay the Calpol until near 40C. Another doctor we spoke to said if her temperature goes over 37.3C, we should take her to A&E!
I had lots of advice and some of it was conflicting – especially from the medical profession. So I went with my gut instincts once again and decided to follow the advice of the mums who I felt had the most experience but were also very much clued on to natural holistic medicine. I am super fortunate that I have access to knowledgeable mums who are also students in naturopathy, homeopathy and allopathic medicine. I felt in many ways, their advice was more valuable and useful than the two GPs!
My Nafisas temperature got to 39.3C at its worst. The Calpol was on standby but I held back and waited and it paid off.
What I did over the two days was give her lots of skin to skin, I kept her body cool by removing her clothes but made sure that when required, I would place socks on her or bottoms. I gave her as much milk and water as I could. Every 15 minutes I would offer her a sip of water. I kept an eye on her nappy to see that she was filling it as near to normal. She lost her appetite so I gave her whatever she wanted. She seemed to want food with a bit of flavour so out came the kebabs, her favourite. I read a lot of Fatiha over her and Daroods too. One of the best pieces of advice a mum gave to me was the healing power of a positive attitude. So I remained hopeful and made dua to Allah to grant her a swift recovery.
I learnt a lot about how to deal with a fever but also about myself. I’m a stress head, I’ll be the first to admit it. But I also know my daughter better than anyone else and so I should listen to my sixth sense with more confidence. InshaAllah Nafisa does not suffer with a fever ever again but it’s something that can’t be helped as viruses have a tendency to spread and children love sharing them out!
How do you cope when your children are ill? I would love to know!
NB: This article is the life experience of one of our writers. This article should not be relied on as medical advice and you should consult a health professional if your child is ill.
Mum to a little girl who is the apple of my eye. Busy balancing my love to socialise and integrate with my community with learning to seek stillness and contentment, especially in a world which seems like a rat race with no sight of the finish line.