40.2ºC

The temperature when your child sleeps naked in your bed beside you, whilst you shiver without a duvet.

Our little girl (14 months old) had been a little hot and sleepy all day, but this peaked at 4am when you could feel how hot she was just by touching her skin. Of course this isn’t a very accurate way to measure anything, so I groggily placed the thermometer in her ear and waited for a reading (these things are amazing by the way).

When I realised that her temperature was the highest we’d ever seen it, I instantly felt guilty for putting her to bed in PJ’s and a summer sleep bag. It’s always the same. One part of your brain is telling you that the room does get colder during the night and you don’t want her to be shivering in anything less (especially when it’s so miserable outside). But then the other part of your brain is arguing that if she’s hot, we need to focus on bringing her temperature down before worrying how she’ll be in a few hours. Welcome to the joys of parenting I guess.

I stripped her down to just a nappy, and gently stroked her hair while she screamed relentlessly in my ear. Mike had gone into the bathroom to fetch some more Calpol, and came back saying ‘I’m sure she’ll be alright’. And this is the hardest part of being a parent – knowing when to cross the line from cool, calm and collected, to hysterical. I’m naturally a very panicky person, whereas Mike is quite the opposite. Meeting in the middle is often the only way we manage to cope, but sometimes this means overriding our own natural instincts – a very dangerous game indeed. Whereas my initial thought might be to ring NHS direct or seek other medical advice, someone else’s might be to wait and see how things develop. Were we wrong for not dashing her immediately to A&E? – I’m sure some people would think so.

We based our decision on the fact that she was alert, had very wet nappies, and was drinking/feeding as normal. Seizures did cross my mind, but she calmed enough to fall asleep naturally and woke an hour later feeling normal to the touch. Only you can really judge your own child, which is what makes decisions so difficult. For every person that gives one bit of advice, there is another telling you that the opposite is true.

Differences in parenting become more and more apparent when people can so easily launch their opinions at others in the faceless, online world. I find this one of the hardest challenges, seeing as my career in writing is totally dependant on putting my words into the public domain. Knowing that I am obviously prone to depression and may very well stumble without warning, it is quite stressful knowing that there will inevitably be a day when someone hates what I write. Knowing you shouldn’t take things personally, and actually not taking things personally are worlds apart.

For now, I shall quietly thank my lucky stars that this day hasn’t come yet, and be grateful that our baby woke up this morning with a normal reading of around 37ºC. Now all we can hope for is a good night’s sleep.

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