Last week was hands down the craziest week of my life to date – and I’ve encountered my fair share of crazy in this life!
[For those of you who are Facebook friends with me, some of this will be familiar to you, some of it will be new info.]
One week ago we welcomed Peter into our family. His birth was incredible and beautiful and everything this momma could’ve wanted after such a difficult pregnancy. It was a celebration all around because we basically know all the nurses and doctors at CPMC at this point 🙂
The very next day (about 12 hours after I gave birth) we got a call from Nora’s daycare that she fell down and had a bad cut on her head. Paul left Peter and I at the hospital to pick her up and take her to our pediatrician. He didn’t even see the doctor! As soon as he walked into the office, the nurse took one look at her and told Paul to take her straight to the pediatric ER at the hospital I was at and to wait for a plastic surgeon to stitch her up.
Long story short, they spent the day in the ER, Peter spent the day in the nursery and I went back and forth between post-partum and the ER visiting all my babies. It was exhausting as hell. My body was not happy.
I was so emotional as it was – it hadn’t even been 24 hours since I was pregnant and on bed rest – now I’m having to watch my darling girl get glassy eyed and dazed from ketamine, while my brand new baby lay in the nursery without me. It was more than I could handle.
I had to leave the ER and go back to my room to snuggle Peter.
I went back to the ER when Nora was coming to – and watching that was even worse. She was just starting to get her words back and was writhing around. I cried and left Paul to watch over her until she was back to normal. I couldn’t physically contain her body as she writhed around so Paul took over and comforted my sweet Nora and made her feel safe.
Sidenote: Paul is the best father in the world. I don’t know what we’d do without him. He takes such incredible care of Nora.
So after that traumatizing day, you’d think things would finally settle down for our family. That’s what we thought too!
Wednesday morning the well baby pediatrician discharged Peter but told us he had a slight case of jaundice. He was confident that Peter would feed through the problem since we’re bottle feeding him donor breast milk from the milk bank on demand (the idea is to keep him eating so he pees and poops all the bilirubin out).
We followed up with our regular pediatrician the next day. She too told us the same thing – he’d likely feed through it since we’re giving him as much bottled breast milk as he wants. But he was looking really red (and if you pressed on his skin it would come back yellow) so she wanted us to come back in the next day.
At Friday’s appointment, I told the doctor how I was having trouble keeping Peter awake for full feeds. He kept falling asleep during his first burp break and wasn’t increasing his volume intake of milk. He’d also lost more weight (down to 6.5 from 6.14 at birth). She told us to head to the ER to have labs drawn and take any additional steps, if necessary.
For the second time in one week, but with a different child, we went to CPMC’s pediatric ER. The staff were wonderful and asking after Nora.
The on-call doctor wanted to test Peter’s bilirubin levels and asked if we wanted to draw from the vein or do a heel stick. I opted for the heel stick assuming it was less invasive and painful for Peter. Ummm, not sure about that decision. The heel stick is cruel. I was in so much pain watching them milk his little heel for two vials of blood. All the while he was wailing in my arms. I felt so helpless. Then I realized that they did 4 or 5 heel sticks on him when he was in the well baby nursery (to check his blood sugar b/c I had gestational diabetes and to do his newborn state screening). Ugh, the tears welled up in my eyes.
It felt like an eternity before the results came back. We found out his bilirubin level at 3 1/2 days old was 21.8. The thing about bilirubin levels is they’re assessed based on the number of hours old your child is. So, 21.8 in a 10 day old is very different than 21.8 in, say, a 2 day old. It’s sort of a sliding scale. His number was high enough to classify him as “high risk” so he was immediately admitted to the NICU and started on full blast phototherapy. He had the overhead lights as well as the blanket. They kept him from Friday afternoon until Sunday afternoon. It was very difficult to come home without Peter on Friday. I felt so empty.
His level came down nicely from 21.8 to 14.2. On Saturday afternoon, they removed the overhead lights and just had him on the blanket. His levels still decreased – but not as dramatically. By Sunday morning it was down to 13.7.
Once again we were discharged and told to keep an eye out for listlessness, decreased interest in eating, not stooling or peeing etc. We had another follow-up with our pediatrician today and we’ll go back in again on Wednesday. All is looking good at this point.
I’m trying to be brave and strong but I’m terrified for my baby. I know in my heart he’ll be fine and we got him under the lights at the right time. But of course, I still worry that there may be some long term impact. Our pediatrician said had we waited any longer, he may have need a blood exchange or worse, he may have had brain damage. A super scary statement, but the moral of the story is he got the attention he needed, when he needed it. Very grateful our pediatrician monitored him so aggressively and will continue to do so.
So, that’s an overview of our insane week. Filled with the highest of highs for a parent as well as the heart aching lows. I pray that the rest of the ride will be smooth from here…