All parents wish their children came with an Operator’s manual. After we had our first child, we felt super confident going into the birth of our second son, Griffin. Within moments of Griffin’s birth, we realized how different each child truly is and that we had absolutely no plan.
Watching your child be sick, in pain or upset is one of the most gut-wrenching parenting experiences. Sometimes Motrin, Band-Aids and a boo-boo ice pack just aren’t enough to handle a more serious medical situation happening to your baby. We didn’t truly understand that until we had no idea how to handle the event of January 31, 2017.
It was a normal night in our process-driven home. Dad comes home from work, mom leaves to go work out. Boys play, bathe and are put to bed. Griffin had been acting a little funny earlier that day with a runny nose. Teething? A cold? I didn’t know — toddlers never clearly let you know what their needs are. So when I arrived home from my workout that night, I went to check on a congested, snoring Griffin.
After feeling his forehead, I decided that he felt warm. I changed his diaper, gave him some medicine and did something I had never done before: I took him into our bed. It may have been mommy intuition (to me, it was guidance from God), but I knew something just wasn’t right.
Within five minutes of being in our bed, our recently turned two-year-old had a febrile (fever-induced) seizure in our arms.
I had never seen someone having a febrile seizure, neither in person nor on the Internet. All we saw in that moment was our son, acting lifeless, gasping for air with his teeth clamped shut and his eyes rolling back in his head.
My normally calm husband was frantic, jumping out of bed, calling 911. “My son is dying in our arms,” I heard him telling the 911 Operator.
We had no plan, and we had no idea what was going on with Griffin.
Minutes later, we had him laying on the grass outside as we paced back and forth in tears waiting on the ambulance to arrive. I had attempted mouth-to-mouth on Griffin while the longest three minutes ( or was it really 20?) passed before our eyes.
Fast forward several weeks, and the experience is long behind us. Our son is happy and healthy, and we feel so blessed that the situation ended so positively.
We learned that febrile seizures are common. Very, very common. It is estimated that five out of 100 kids will experience a febrile seizure before they turn 6 years old.
Friends in our neighborhood and from our hometowns contacted us and said the very same thing had happened to their children. And the advice received from the children’s hospital doctor that night? Next time, do nothing. There is nothing you can do as your child is having a febrile seizure other than wait for the episode to be over.
To bring awareness to this common, yet important topic, I wanted to list just a few tips that I have researched on handling these episodes, should they reoccur in the future:
- Place your child on the floor or another hard surface to keep them away from sharp objects.
- Turn their head to the side, promoting saliva to drain out vs. into the back of the throat.
- Do not put anything in their mouth.
- Call 911 or their doctor.
To the readers whose kids have had one (or multiple!) febrile seizures, you’re not alone. I’m sure it never gets less scary, but I hope you feel the support and love that we felt in this situation.
For the moms whose kids have seizure disorders or other serious, life-threatening illnesses and deal with these complications frequently: I am so impressed by you. Sending you love and support as you guide your sweet babies as only you can do.