Tuesday, September 7, 2010

a mother knows...

this is a link to an amazing story:

the doctors pronounced the baby dead.  the mom then cuddled and loved on that baby...and just did what was instinct to her.  talk.  stroke.  cuddle.  hold.  and that baby lived. 

this reminded me (in a very small way) of when linnea was just 23 days old.  she was not nursing well.  she was a bit lethargic.  she felt a bit warm.  so, we took her temp.  she had a low-grade fever.  no signs of being "sick" - no cough, no rash.  really just a "feeling" i had.  we talked about whether to take her to urgent care (because, of course, infants do not get sick during your pediatrician's office hours.  ever.).   and i had a flashback.

to 2005.  wren was just three days old and had been given her hep-b vaccination at the hospital by our pediatrician.  and when our ped came to check in on her during rounds, she had a low-grade temp.  as he was telling me that when there are no outward signs of infection it is "standard practice to admit to the nicu" my mind went mushy.  i can sort of tell you what he was telling me, but probably not even close enough.  what i did know:  my brand new baby was going to the nicu!  in my new-mommy brain, that was most certainly not a good thing!  but go she did.  and we went along.  me and my tears and the daddy.  and in the nicu they did not have a hat big enough for wren (she was a 9 lb. 10 oz baby...she equaled the weight of the triplets nearby altogether).  and as they were getting an iv going and doing all sorts of things that were painful to watch, they said that they needed to do a lumbar puncture and we had to leave.  i refused.  and they said that this was not optional:  no parents.  i guess it was probably better for me to not see her, or hear her, as they did the spinal, but i felt like we were abandoning her.  they also took blood and urine.  and nothing showed initially.  and so i spent almost 2 days "commuting" from the methodist maternity ward, to the nicu, to the cafeteria.  nursing, praying, holding, singing, crying.  we were told that the cultures that were taken needed to "grow" for 3 days and then we'd go from there.  in the meantime antibiotics were administered.  and she ate, slept, cried.  she was beautiful!  the nicu does not have private rooms - it is one large room with curtained areas for each child, or children.  there are no beds for parents - although a nurse did wheel in a recliner for me.  i refused to leave the hospital after i was discharged.  and then on day 3 of wren's hospitalization the specialist came to see us early in the morning.  the daddy was at home.  the specialist started with an apology.  apparently the spinal fluid they'd taken 3 days earlier had not been "grown".  a spinal tap done, but nothing done with the fluid!  nothing!  i was livid!  i called the daddy and tried to tell him that wren had to have another lumbar puncture and that we knew nothing more now than we did 3 days earlier!  i asked the specialist to speak to him because he could not understand me through my cries and hiccups and stammering on words that made my stomach turn.  the daddy traveled in the snow to get to the hospital as quickly as he could.  in that 25-30 minute drive he had calmed down quite a bit.  we chose to have them do a 2nd spinal tap and then we chose to go home.  i was exhausted.  we just wanted to be at our home.  no noise from various machines.  no hushed voices.  no one else around.  so, we went home and 3 days later the specialist called to tell us that wren's spinal fluid was clear with no signs of an infection. (our pediatrician thinks that wren spiked a temp from the hep-b vaccine and he stopped giving them at the hospital for a time.  but resumed a short time prior to us having linnea - so she also had her hep-b while in the hospital - which i was okay with...because i'd rather if "something" were to happen it happen while we were in the hospital).

and so...there we were...linnea just 23 days old.  me knowing she was sick.  me also knowing that the trip to urgent care would be followed by a trip to the e.r. if there was no visible signs of infection.  and so we loaded everyone up on that partially cloudy july late afternoon and went to the urgent care office.  we ended up in the e.r of children's hospital.  and the daddy had to go home and pack a bag for me to bring back.  linnea had to have the same series of fluids taken:  blood, urine, spinal.  this time, though, we knew immediately that she had meningitis.  our pediatrician told me that he believes in a "mother's instinct", so to say - because he has seen numerous times where a child does not "appear" to be ill, but the mother "knows" something is wrong.  and the mother has been right.  this was one of those times.  i just had a feeling that our brand new baby was not quite okay.  

it would take another 48 hours to determine if it was viral or bacterial meningitis.  if one has to have meningitis, the viral one is the one you want.  luckily for linnea she had viral meningitis.  it was a very long 2 days in the hospital.  but i was glad that i didn't just think that a low-grade temp was "no big deal".  not every hunch is always right...but often a mother really does know best.

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