Close Enough for Comfort

It’s 3 in the afternoon on a Friday.  I’m tapping away on the laptop while fourteen-month-old Sweet Pea is sleeping in his sling on my chest.  As I idly kiss his head, I notice that he feels a bit warm.  Taking a break from reading my very important, up-to-date, tres cool websites on sustainable living (okay, I was probably checking Facebook for the fourth time that day), I look down at him.  His cheeks are rosy.  There are little beads of sweat on his hairline.  I fetch the thermometer, and wiggle it underneath of Sweet Pea’s arm without disturbing him.  The numbers climb rapidly.  96.5.  97.9.  99.0.  It beeps, and confirms my suspicion: 99.4.  We are officially, on a Friday afternoon, experiencing our first fever together.

I call our pediatrician and secure an appointment at 4:45, the last appointment of the day.  At the office, I snuggle Sweet Pea into the sling in the waiting room.  He’s quite hot, and looking somewhat glazed.  Nonetheless, I’m shocked when they take his temperature again and it’s hit 103.  I am desperate, having NICU flashbacks and feeling like a horrible mother.  The nurse, staring accusingly, says, “Did you give him Tylenol?!”

“No, I thought that you’d need to see the temperature…this is his first fever.”

“You should have!  I’ve seen kids have seizures at 101!”  Her attention shifts to my sling.  “You’re just making him hotter by carrying him around in THAT thing, you know!”

She storms off.  After what feels like an eternity she returns with Tylenol, lets me know that the doctor will be here in a few minutes, and leaves me near tears, alone in an oppressively yellow room with my too-hot baby, feeling horribly guilty.  Was I the cause of the fever – making him too hot in his sling?  By insisting on carrying him around, had I made my darling boy feel even worse?

The doctor arrives, and I hand him our fever log.   He asks what the temperature was when I noticed the fever, and I reply that it was 99.4.  Looking surprised, he says, “Really?  That low?”

“Yes.  He was sleeping and felt hot, and I took his temp when I saw how red his cheeks were.”

“Oh, well, that’s much lower than most parents notice a fever,” he says, before looking in Sweet Pea’s eyes, then ears.  “Oh, see this?  He’s got an ear infection.”  I look, surprised since Sweet Pea is still breastfeeding constantly.  Sure enough, the inside of the right ear looks angry and red.  While I’m not an expert on inner ear structure, I believed that one was not doing so well.  His left ear looks the same.  The doctor writes me a prescription for an antibiotic and leaves.

Now we’re just waiting for the fever to come down so we can go home.  It’s cooperating, but slowly.  I am left alone in the yellow room again with my baby who is still slightly hot, but with the glazed look departing from his eyes.  I sing to him as I apply cool cloths to his head and shoulders.  In between verses, I find myself breathing sighs of relief for – what else? – my sling and the physical closeness it fosters.  Although I couldn’t diagnose Sweet Pea’s ear infection on my own, I was more than capable of reading the early signs that his body gave me – his slight fever, his rosy cheeks, his hard sleep not even interrupted by the thermometer.  Had he spent the day outside of my arms instead of snuggled on my chest in our trusty sling for the millionth time, there’s a good chance that we’d have spent the night in the ER as his fever climbed and his ears ached.  Thankfully, that didn’t happen.

The nurse comes back to take his temperature again, but I can tell just by Sweet Pea’s obvious desire to crawl around on the floor – and his refusal to be distracted from said desire – that the fever is gone.  He is happy, wriggling in my lap, struggling against clothes (his arch-nemesis) as I get him dressed and snuggled back into the sling.  We pass the nurse in the hallway on our way out.  Sweet Pea smiles at her and so do I, confident and extremely happy that my baby is cool again because of my sling.

Kelley is pleased to report that both of Sweet Pea’s ears have made a full recovery.  She occasionally blogs at

Author: Kelley

Kelley lives joyously with her Sweet Pea and husband in northern Pennsylvania after surviving preeclampsia and sixty-seven days in a NICU. She hopes to one day be living totally sustainably and cruelty-free while teaching yoga somewhere warm. She loves nursing her baby, the Roomba vacuum cleaner, being an Obamamama, and rocking totally impractical shoes. Her infrequent blogs about life after a NICU are posted at

10 thoughts on “Close Enough for Comfort”

  1. We also get all sorts of comments when we carry our baby in a sling. From “watch out your baby will fall out one day” and “poor you, must be terrible on your back” to “only gypsies carry babies like that”, or, recently (my daughter is 12 months) I hear “this baby is a way too big to be carried like that”!

    Don’t know why nurses and old people so against babywearing…

  2. I agree, how RUDE of that nurse! And yay for all sling wearin’ mamas, we know what’s best for our LO’s!

  3. Do you mind if i ask how you’ve been able to carry him in a sling for so long? My daughter is now 19 months, but she’s lightweight for her age, and using the sling pulls badly on my back now. I know at a year we were still using it, but i was already having a hard time with it because we bought a backpack for hiking right around then to have for the summer because i had stopped going for walks because it hurt and made me cranky. I can’t figure out how to use the sling on my back. (We have a mayawrap ringsling.) Just before she turned a year i bought a mobywrap hoping a different setup would help with the problem,but i lost the instructions the first weekend i ‘practiced’ with it and haven’t used it since because i can’t figure out how. I miss having her in the sling with me, though. Today i wore her in it for the first time since October and we both really enjoyed the closeness, but i ended up taking the bus on the way home instead of walking because it was hard on my back. (Once over the summer i couldn’t pick her up or use the sling at all for about a week because i was having such horrid back pain from overuse of it.) Any thoughts or suggestions would be desperately appreciated. Thanks, and thanks for sharing your story!

  4. Sarah,
    Sorry to hear you have back pain beacause of baby wearing.
    It is may be because the type of sling/ babycarier you have. It can be dissapoiting when you already have tried a few baby-cariers and still could not find the right one for you. I do get back pain if I carry my daughter in “Baby Bjorn” or “Hug-a-bub” (wrap-around type). The one I found easy on my back is Baba sling (see pictures in It has a large shoulder padding which is soft on the shoulders and you can wear baby in many different positions. My baby is 12 kg (around 26 lb) at 12 months, not so light, but I still carry her around a lot. I do get some rather mild shoulder pain the day after if I carry her in the sling for too long (which I manage with some yoga), but almost never a lower back pain.
    The other baby carrier I heard good things about is ERGO (have not tried myself) with which you can carry an older and havier baby on your hip. Hope this helps.


  5. I had a similar experience when my oldest daughter was 3 months old. It was her first fever and it was around the same temperature. We went to the hospital by ambulance because a nurse on our free nurse-line told us to. I didn’t give her tylenol because I didn’t know to. We got there and they tookk her away from me to do a battery of highly invasive tests – trying to stick a catheter in her while she wailed and they wouldn’t let me in the room. Then they gave her x-rays. I was highly against it but they convinced me I should. In the end, nothing was wrong with her, except she had a fever. Tylenol was given and it disappeared. If only I had known to try that first I never would have taken her to the hospital. I still worry about the effects of those x-rays. Oh, and the too hot baby thing. Me too. It was winter and even though she had a fever I felt I needed to dress her up warmly because it was cold outside and I didn’t want anyone to think I was a negligent mother. Jeepers!

  6. Breastmilk is great for ear infections. Express or pump some and then use a dropper to put a few drops in each ear. Also great for eye infections.

  7. Just another good reason to wear your baby! I love my Babies Beyond Borders carrier for the back. It is much easier on my back that a front carrier. I used a Moby until my daughter was a year old, but then we switched to a back carry for walking, stores and the park.

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