For the last few days, Chaise has been under the weather, which I attributed mostly to an opportunistic bug of some sort. He has had a slight fever and been cranky, but no other symptoms.
Last night, John took him to bed (he sleeps with us) and found that Chaise wouldn’t stay asleep when he put him down in the bed – he would just start to cry. John came in an announced to me that something was wrong – something new. When I held Chaise, I noticed he was cold, and not the kind of cold you get from the fan being on too high, which it was. His cheeks were cold, yes, but so was his spine and palms of his hands and souls of his feet. Nothing on him was giving out any warmth like it usually does. We took his temp under the arm and discovered it was 95 degrees (equivalent to 96 orally) and that worried me.
I went online and googled “baby has low body temperature” and the first result was a post on yahoo answers from a mother of an 18-month old with low temp wondering what to do. The only respondent, who didn’t identify himself, said to go directly to the ER, that low body temp was an emergency that could result in death. Well, that was enough to raise my body temp a couple of degrees. I dug more and more and finally concluded that 1) his temp wasn’t critically low – he had about 1.5 degrees more in the range to go before it would be considered critical and 2) we indeed needed to get his temp up asap because low body temp can cause brain damage and death. So we piled on the covers and put a hat on him and he stayed on Daddy’s chest for the next couple of hours.
During this time, I continued to search for clues online and concluded that we had probably screwed with his hypothalumus a few days ago when we took him bathing in hot springs in wintery Colorado. The temp of the water was 100 to 110 and the outside temp was 30 to 40 degrees. He seemed quite content, as we all were with cold faces but toasty warm bodies, but I think it was just too overwhelming for his baby brain to process. I wondered at how little Inuit babies fare – probably they have customs to protect baby about which we know nothing.
I pieced this homemade diagnosis together, of course, because my query on “baby has low body temperature after simultaneous hot and cold exposure” didn’t produce any results! But this really did make sense to me. The night after the hot springs, Chaise didn’t sleep well and it was because he was so hot. Then over the next couple of days, he was still hot. I hesitate to call it a fever because his forehead wasn’t hot, but parts of his body were. Why now though, after three days would his body stop overheating and just shut the thermostat off? I don’t know. One other thing kept lurking in my mind – a little girl in foster care who I met in Georgia. She had multiple physical deformities from birth, but the reason she had been removed from her mother’s custody was because Mom had left her in a car too long, the baby overheated and it caused her internal thermostat, regulated by the hypothalamus, to malfunction. The child was like a reptile – she could not warm or cool herself. The foster parents had to be ever vigilant about how much clothing she had on and room temps. This was, however, a lesser problem for this poor little one and she died not too long after I met her because of a heart defect that doctors were unable to correct.
So at 2 a.m., my mind was racing with the possibility of having blown my baby’s internal thermostat out. I imagined we would have to move to a 80-degree all-year-round climate and that he would never be able to swim, ice skate, ski and a host of other things. It was enough to bring me to my knees in prayer. Actually, when I am so desperate for an answer to prayer, the best posture I can think of is the most humble, the one that many Muslims use in their prayer – forehead to the ground. Basically, the message is, “Lord, I can’t get any lower. I am totally needy at this point.” I asked God to touch Chaise’s little hypothalamus and restore it. This is such a small thing for his Creator to do. And then I got up believing it would be done. Well, I almost got up, then I went back down and asked for faith to believe the answer to prayer and not doubt. Then I got up.
God answered both of my prayers. I went back to bed, but didn’t sleep very well. Throughout my tossing and turning, I could think of nothing more than Chaise’s body temp, but it wasn’t in doubt. I truly did believe God would work. Around 3:30, we took his temp again and it was up 2 degrees. All day long, I’ve been monitoring his temp and it’s held around 97 degrees – even after bath time and a brief time outside. I kind of wanted to test it to see if cooler situations were going to affect it. He is still pretty cool compared to how hot he has been for the last few days, but praise God, he is making his own heat.