ENTertaining the idea of tubes.

January 21, 2009 at 9:08 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 25 Comments

(*ba-dum CHING!*) Bad pun, I know.

At Baby O’s 9 month appointment, the pediatrician noted from his history that he had four ear infections for four months straight. And so she referred us to an ear nose and throat specialist.

Baby O had that appointment yesterday morning.


He still has fluid in his ears from his last ear infection. Which is completely normal – it can take up to three months for fluid to drain completely from the middle ear after an ear infection. However? It makes him more prone to another, particularly since he’s often congested and the fluid usually drains through the nose. 

Since it’s January, and he’s VERY likely to get another ear infection, the ENT recommended putting tubes in his ears.

When I heard that? The crazy lady in my head wanted to grab Baby O and run away from the Very Bad Man Who Wants To Put My Baby Under General Anesthesia.

Logically? I sort of knew that he would suggest it. Because four ear infections right on top of another sort of makes Baby O the very definition of a good candidate. And well, it’s cold and flu season, people.

And truthfully, I have never been comfortable with the idea of putting Baby O on antibiotics, one right after another. I am not AGAINST them, per se, but on a macro level I worry that more antibiotics makes more bacteria resistent to antibiotics. And for me, personally, I’d prefer NOT to medicate Baby O if he can do without it.

The biggest benefit of tubes is that, if he DOES get an ear infection (which happens, the doctor did tell us this), then we can treat it with drops and not a general antibiotic. Which is a big deal, since he’s in daycare and therefore prone to getting colds and therefore more ear infections.

And it’s not like he’ll be under for FIVE HOURS or anything. The procedure takes literally 5 minutes per ear.

But still.


I go.ogled the hell out of it last night, and then J and I had a long conversation about it. And I came out of it mostly for having the ENT put tubes in. J is WAY more comfortable with the idea of the procedure than I am.

But I think it’s mostly because he doesn’t have a crazy lady in his head like I do.

More to come on this, I’m sure.

Including the post where I wig out about the fact that I have to explain to a 10 month old:

I KNOW  you’re hungry, love, and you USUALLY get a bottle right now… but mama can’t feed you this morning because, well, there’s a Bad Man Who Will Have To Put You Under General Anesthesia.

And mama is going to let him.


And because it’s Wordless Wednesday, a recent picture which makes me happy whenever I look at it for your viewing pleasure:

(I mean seriously, does he vamp for the camera or what?)



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  1. Oh gosh! There is just something about people hurting our babies that just makes us go primeval and want to tear the hearts out of those doing it – even if it is for their own good, like vaccinations or in your case – tubes. I have a hard time, more than my own children at times I’m sure, with willingly allowing a person to stab my poor babies in the arms and legs and making them cry.
    But I guess the end justifies the means. Baby O WILL be better off, and as mothers, though we take it to heart, we have to make the hard choices so that they will be healthy.
    Making those choices is the part that sucks!
    Love the new header btw – he is positively gorgeous!

  2. Hang in there. I’ve had quite a few friends whose kids have had to have this procedure and they were all happier for it. The idea of anesthesia is really scare though and I totally understand your concern. I’ll be thinking of you both! 🙂

    And he is just so handsome!

  3. You’re not a bad mama for wanting to help your baby in this way; but I do have an alternative suggestion, if you’re at all open to it: chiropractic adjustments for Baby O.

    Not a back-cracker quack-job, but a good, qualified chiro can probably help him.

    One of my friends was “converted” to chiropractic when the chiro cured her 12-m/o son of his recurrent ear infections. She had been on standard American medicine, with a “doctor knows best” mentality for all of her life, but her older son had chronic ear infections which messed up his ability to hear during an infection and led to speech therapy; and the younger son (Andrew) seemed destined to follow in his footsteps — 11 ear infections in as many months, *and* he was completely breastfed *and* he stayed at home (no day-care). The ped. sent her to an ENT who recommended tubes, and she actually had signed up for the surgery, when I suggested chiro. She decided to give it a try so that she could truthfully say that she had done all she could without resorting to surgery, but she had very little faith in it. The ENT thought she was nuts when she cancelled the surgery (which was scheduled just a week or so after her initial appt), and he and the ped. both said she’d be back with him for antibiotics and/or surgery in no time because *the only* thing that would help him was tubes, and chiropractic was quackery.

    Well, she took Andrew to the chiro, and within a few days or a week or so, his ears were completely clear, without tubes and without antibiotics. The docs said it was a fluke, and he’d get another infection in no time. He’s now 13 years old and never got another ear infection, although he did get regular adjustments (especially after falling down and getting those hard knocks on the heads babies and toddlers get). He’s got two younger brothers who have never had ear infections and get regular adjustments.

    I won’t think you’re a bad mother if you opt for tubes instead of chiro, but I just wanted to let you know of that alternative, in case you’d never thought/heard of it before.

  4. If it makes you feel better about the anesthesia fasting:

    We’ve been to Boston Childrens (a lot) and had anesthesia done (a lot – 3 sedations, 2 generals), so I’m pretty well versed in their fasting policies for kids under/around 1 year old. I don’t know if that’s the hospital you’re using, but the other major ped hospitals are likely similar.

    Babies can’t have any solid food or formula for 6 hours before the procedure.

    But clear fluids .. INCLUDING breastmilk are ok up until 3 hours before. So if you still have a freezer stash and you save a big full bottle of breastmilk for that morning, he’ll never know the difference. Otherwise, pedialyte, we were told any flavor was fine.

    That, to me, was a relief with our first go-around for anesthesia. Knowing that he wouldn’t be screaming hungry AND scared while I was busy being terrified.

  5. WHAT A CUTIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. I don’t know much about the tube thing, but I know you will do what is best for your family. I had chronic ear infections as a child and the dr was urging my mom to do the tubes. She was 8 months pregnant with my brother and said she would wait a few months after he was born. She agreed to schedule the procedure at that time for when my brother was 4 months old and from that point on I NEVER got another ear infection.

    Wishing you the best!

  7. OMG Cathy – you just MADE MY DAY. I still have freezer stash, though Baby O turns his nose up at breastmilk these days, knowing that I can use that to help him fill his tummy makes me feel SO MUCH BETTER.

    I mean, doesn’t stop the worry about anesthesia. But hey, at least he won’t be hungry. 🙂

  8. he is such a cutie!

    yeah, my Daniel had to go under anesthesia when he was 3 months old (hernia repairs). he was on breastmilk and never went more than a couple of hours without a bottle. He was screaming because he was so hungry. It was awful. He spent the night in the hospital with his Daddy by his side. I was home with his sister. I NEVER want to do that again.

  9. Glad that helped. Hopefully your anesthesia instructions will be the same, but that’s what it was for all 3 sedations and 1 of the generals. (The other general was a GI procedure, so different rules.) The longest they’ve made us fast him for at ALL was 4 hours.

    I thought of what else helped me when I found out – they generally gas the kids to sleep, and put in the IV AFTER they’re out. So they don’t feel the needle stick, either. If Baby O has strong stranger anxiety, they may even let you into the OR until he’s under, if you want. (I stayed for one sedation, and it was bad to watch, FYI.)

  10. I hear you Serenity, Lyla has had 7 ear infection since September. We just saw the ear throat specilist and he recommended putting on tubes for Lyla as well. I decided to do it, we have it scheduled for next month. I was really concerned about the fasting and sedation part. thanks for the info Cathy

  11. Good luck! I can’t imagine having to put any of my kids through any kind of procedure! I think they do better than we do in the end!

    Good luck

  12. Funny you posted this – we have ear tube surgery scheduled for February 13th (yea. Friday the 13th. Isn’t that perfect?).

    I told my husband they would have to pry my son from my vice like grip on surgery day – He was all “easy there, Terms of Endearment.” Men just don’t have the momma bear instinct. I know I am going to be a complete mess that day – anesthesia scares the hell out of me. But my one year old has had 6 ear infections in less than 3 months- its ridiculous. I feel like the tubes will help, even though the thought of that day already makes me want to puke.

    My surgery instructions say no food or drink for 8 hours before surgery – but I am going to ask at the pre-appointment about breastmilk….they did tell me he could have breastmilk directly AFTER surgery cause its considered a clear liquid. Hmmm.

  13. Ah poor Baby O! But the thing is, he’ll probably take the whole thing much better than you. Hang in there. You’re doing the best thing for your child.
    PS Sooo glad to know I’m not the only one with a crazy lady in my head!!! :oD

  14. Ugh I feel for you. We’ve been so lucky that aside from one chest cold cold that needed antibiotics in our middle baby, we’ve never had more than a cold with the kids and those have been few and far between. My hubby and I both had ear infections as a kid, mine painful and his silent/needing tubes so that was a worry for me…but so far *knock on wood* nothing. I know how worried you must be but after he had tubes(granted he was older) my hubby didn’t have any more ear issues. So they do help, and thats whats most important for Baby O right now, as you know. And he won’t even remember it. But you will…*sigh* and that does suck. So I’m sorry for that.

    Totally unrelated to his ears…OMG he has gorgeous eyes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He is going to be a little heartbreaker!!! I already want to buy him a pony!!

  15. Definitely good timing for this post. Seth is having tubes put in his ears on Feb 3rd. Just 2 weeks away. Sounds identical to what he’s been through lately. I wish you the best!

  16. I enjoyed your blog post and thanks for linking to my blog at http://www.masonb1.wordpress.com.
    I know exactly how you feel because I have been through it with both of my kids. Hang in there!

  17. Hey K, I know it’s scary but it’s such a wonderful thing. As a kid who had them twice myself, I can say that not having chronic ear infections was a really nice change! I was a bit older though, and it sucked to not be able to swim with the other kids and have to shower with a cap etc. Doing it when he’s little is the way to go.
    A good friend’s daughter also had tubes put in around 18 months – and she became a different kid. Happier, healthier – less cranky and fussy. And yea, not having ear infections all the time was the reason!
    GL hon!

  18. It is scary to have your child under anesthesia. My husband is an anesthesiologist and my youngest went through this. It took 20 minutes…hubby made me go for coffee and they called us on our cell as soon as he was out of surgery. I posted quite a bit about our experience if you want to read it. http://joz1234.wordpress.com

    I’ll check back and if you have any questions about our experience, leave a comment and I will respond!

  19. http://www.ajph.org/cgi/reprint/83/9/1321

    Not sure how large your baby’s daycare center is, but the above study (and others) have concluded that larger daycare settings (7 or more children) significantly increase the risk for ear infections (via colds) as germ management becomes more difficult. Perhaps you might consider placing the kid in a different care facility or keeping him at home or with a nanny or family member until he’s a little older and can fight off the germs more effectively. One of our neighbors is watching her niece for a few months for just this very reason.

    Alternately, I would try a chiropractor, as someone else had suggested, before surgery. Many people swear by this treatment–it is non invasive, takes a very short period of time, is gentle, and is proven to work. And most insurance programs cover up to 10 chiro visits a year. Seems it would be worth a shot before surgery. I know that time is of the essence because you certainly don’t want that fluid in his ears hanging around and causing damage, but the risks of surgery are real despite the commonality of the procedure. What does it hurt to try a chiropractor for a couple of weeks?

  20. If you are having trouble with recurring ear infections it is usually a result of the bacteria not being able to drain out properly due to the shape of the inside of the ear. My ears were the same way and so were my son’s. We both had the surgery (me when I was 3) and him when he was 12 months. It has been an amazing relief for him. He is hardly ever sick now. It was totally worth it.

    My son was in daycare too at the time, but although they are exposed to more germs, ultimately they can get sick anywhere…it is the way the body is handing it (or not)…and a different daycare and a chiropractor probably cannot do anything but provide some relief. I would be asking the Pedi if there is risk of hearing loss and get hearing tests. My son had a hearing test and you could tell he could not hardly hear some noises they made for him. When the doc took out the stuff (he tried to just drain it–but it was beyond being able to drain) he said it was gooey like bubble gum. There was not a way for that to go away without surgery. Just things to think about.

  21. My mom was a SAHM with me and my sisters. Both myself and my sister H had to get tubes put in. I agree with joz1234, it can just be the mechanics of our ears. My sister’s children also had trouble with ear infections and they were at home, no daycare.

    Now, if you Baby O had an allergy to say, I don’t know, people. Then yes, I would say take him out of daycare. However, the benefits of daycare FAR outweigh whatever “risks” may be presumed of having a child in daycare.

    I meant to also say, two of my nephews needed tubes put in his ears twice. It happens.

  22. Forgive the errors in grammar above, it’s early, I can’t have “real” coffee these days 🙂

  23. My daughter Ainsley had tubes put in shortly after her first birthday and honestly? As much as I was mortified and second-guessed the hell out of myself, it was the best decision I made for her. She had 15 plus infections before, and has had two minor ones since. She is almost 3 years old.

    Good luck!!

  24. I would be freaking out. So I imagine how much you’re freaking out. Still, logically it all makes sense. Good luck with it…


  25. Don’t freak out. This is a very easy procedure. Our now 4-yr old got one set when he was 13 months old. He started walking 1 week later. And the ear infections just stopped. They fall out in a year or two. And so, when he started getting the ear infections again after he was four, he had another set put in… he hasn’t had another one in the 3 months since.
    When our now 7 month old started getting the ear infections at 4 months old, we knew what we were headed toward. He got them last month and hasn’t gotten another yet either.
    It may cost a little depending on your insurance and doctor, but it takes 10 minutes to do and will save you and your baby countless amount of pain.

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