On January 16th, when Easton was 4 days old we went in for his second doctor appointment to check his weight, glucose and biliruben levels. The day he was born his glucose was low so I nursed him and they checked again and it had gone down even more. The nurse said that the pediatrician recommended giving formula to get his glucose back up. "Not a chance" was what my mind said. So I asked if I could just nurse him again and prayed that it would work. I barely had any milk (or colostrum really) because I had just nursed him less than an hour before. When they brought him back to me again his glucose was back up in the normal range! My baby boy was able to keep his virgin gut (important for natural bacteria fighting gut flora).
Ok, back to the doctor visit. He weighed 7lb, 10.5oz (up a whole pound from the last appointment two days prior), and was looking healthy as can be! I had brought Grandma Sally with me so that she could have the fun of going to a doctor appointment and meet our pediatrician Dr. Fish. Right before our appointment was done, as a by-the-way, I asked Dr. Fish to look at these little bumps that Sally had noticed on the inside of Easton's lower lip. They looked like little whitehead pimples almost, and varied in size. They didn't seem to bother him, and he nursed fine so I didn't really think anything of it. Dr. Fish took a look and didn't give me the expected response of "oh those are nothing, don't worry about it". Instead he said he was going to get a colleague to take a look too. Dr. Kats-Kelly came in (who had ok'ed our early release from the hospital), and examined them. They exchanged a "look" and then Dr. Fish proceeded to tell us that he wanted us to go straight to the hospital to start anti-viral meds because Easton could have the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV). My mind was reeling. I was so confused. I looked at my baby boy and saw a healthy big boy! Dr. Fish said that they would take a culture to see if it really was HSV, but that wouldn't get back for 2-3 days. He wanted to get a head start in case it was HSV. He said with a baby this young things could go downhill very fast. He said something about seizures and the severity of a newborn getting HSV! I really didn't feel comfortable medicating my 4 day old baby boy when we didn't even know if he was sick yet. I voiced my concerns, but Dr. Fish was adamant about this being the best course of action for Easton's safety.
Some nurses came in to draw blood in order to check his white blood cell count and his liver (two things that would be effected by the virus). They were unable to get a good spot so two more nurses tried. I stood by helpless as they held down my baby boy and repeatedly stuck my little man with needles. Finally the expert nurse came in and through the sea of bodies (there were 3 nurses helping) I noticed they were giving Easton something through a bottle nipple. I quickly asked what it was (no one had even consulted me!), and the expert nurse informed me that it was sugar water which is an analgesic to babies - in other words it helps to deadened pain. Before I could object the deed was done, and I could immediately see that it calmed my baby boy down. There went his virgin gut! But at least he wasn't in as much pain.
Finally an hour and a half since we first got there, they had poked him numerous times, sent blood to the hospital lab to be tested and done a culture which was to be sent out of state. I quickly called Dave to inform him of our dramatic change in plans and dialed my mom right after. She wasn't planning on being in Bozeman for another week and a half. Between tears and sobs I asked her if there was any way for her to come earlier. I just really needed my momma! She said that she was planning on surprising me by coming that weekend. A huge rush of relief flooded over me. It was Wednesday and she would fly in on Friday. I so needed to hear that my mom would be with me in just two more days.
Once home we dropped off Sally to watch Isabel, (thank goodness we had her to help out with Bel!) I threw some things in a bag, then Dave, Easton and I headed back to the hospital. While in the parking lot I still had an uneasy feeling about the whole thing so I called my chiropractor to get her opinion. She said that for no reason would she start ani-viral meds without knowing for sure that a child had a virus. Even then, there are things she can do form a nutritional standpoint for a virus (she is also a licensed nutritionist). A virus would have other symptoms like a fever, which Easton didn't have.
Confused and doubting even more, we called our pediatrician so that Dave could talk directly to him. The doctor said that with this type of virus sometimes the first symptom is a seizure. That was all Dave needed to hear and into the hospital we went.
The little man was poked again to get blood, and an IV was started of the anti-viral meds. Dave and I took turns holding our 4 day old baby while he was hooked up to the IV line. We also took turns getting a couple hours of sleep at a time. The blood tests that had been done earlier at the pediatrician's office came back clear. White cell count was normal, and his liver function was fine.
The silver lining in the whole situation was that at 4:29am on 1.17.13, my wonderful friend, Annie Awe gave life to Mabel O'Neill Awe. I probably would not have had the chance to be a part of the amazing miracle of life had we not already been in the hospital. Little Mabel came into the world at 4lbs 15oz, and was 4 weeks early. She had to join Easton in the NICU. While it was a less than ideal situation for both of us mammas, it was comforting for us to be able to look across the room and see a familiar face in a similar situation.
Thursday morning Dr. Fish came in to check on us and informed us that he had learned that instead of taking 2-3 days for the culture to come back it was going to take 5-7! My heart sank. I was 100% against having my baby boy who was not even a week old, hooked up to heavy duty anti-viral meds for a whole week just to possibly find out that nothing was wrong! (Which is what my mamma gut had been telling me all along.) The whole time we had been keeping our families updated and in one phone conversation with my mom, she advised getting a second opinion. We asked Dr. Fish to consult a colleague. He said that he would and promised to check back in later.The whole day Dave and I talked about options and what we felt comfortable with. Dave agreed that having him hooked up to an IV for a whole week before even knowing what we were dealing with just didn't make sense. Each time they did blood work (which was a horrible ordeal in-and-of itself!) the results came back completely normal. White blood cell count - normal. Liver function - normal. So when Dr. Fish came back later that evening and told us that we could go home! I felt like our roller coaster ride was finally coming to an end. He and another Dr. agreed that since his blood work kept coming back normal there was no reason to keep him in the hospital. Dr. Fish said that if the test for some reason did come back positive for HSV he would consult the infection disease departments of Children's Hospitals in Denver and Seattle to see if there was an alternative to putting Easton on an IV for 1-2 weeks. We would have another appointment in a couple days to check his jaundice and make sure that the little bumps were going away (they had already decreased significantly since being in the hospital).
I cant even explain the feeling of relief that rushed over Dave and I. After 24 hours in the hospital with little to no sleep, we were going home. Easton wasn't going to get the 4th dose of meds. We were going to sleep in our own bed that night and hug and kiss our Isabel who we hadn't seen in 2 days. We were taking our Easton home for good.
That Monday, we got a phone call telling us that the results came back negative for HSV. We have no idea what caused the little white bumps in his mouth.
Looking back, I wish that we would have asked if we could have just come in each day and have blood work done until the test results came back. His white cell count and liver functions would have been some of the first indicators that something was wrong. I know that with a baby that small one should never take chances, but the protective mama in me just didn't like all those chemicals being pumped into my baby when we didn't have any indicators except for some little bumps that didn't even bother him. I'm thrilled that nothing was wrong, and perhaps I would feel differently if the tests came back positive for HSV - but I do wonder if some of his tummy problems were connected to all the antibiotics that he had at birth and the anti-virals he had in his system just a few days later. In retrospect I know that we made the best decision for our baby boy with the information that we had at the time. He is healthy, growing and happy and that is truly all the matters!