Friday, April 15, 2011

Apparently Maddie needs more attention

What is with me having babies that cannot get through the first few weeks of their lives without some sort of medical intervention?

Robbie - developed Pyloric Stenosis at 2 1/2 weeks old (think projectile vomiting for 3 days), required surgery.
Ellie - developed a milk protein allergy at 6 weeks old (think bloody stools in her newborn diapers), required multiple trips to the doctor and trying every formula out there before finding that Nutramigen was all she could tolerate for her first year.

Madeline decided yesterday that although she is the third child, she will not be forgotten or left out. I took her to her 2 week well visit at the pediatrician at around 11am yesterday and everything checked out - she is putting on weight, eating well, etc.

We returned home and throughout the afternoon I noticed Maddie was starting to act funny. She would start to do this exaggerated swallow 4 times in a row, then she would open her watery eyes and her face would turn red as she gasped for the breath that she was unable to get while swallowing. Then after doing tis a few times back to back, she would be fine, even falling asleep afterwards. It started to happen more frequently as the evening went on, until finally around 10pm when we headed to bed she was doing it several times every hour.

I decided to call the pediatrician on call and ask if there was anything I could be doing for her to prevent these gasping episodes, and as I was on the phone with the doctor Madeline started to swallow/gasp so frequently without much time between episodes that the doctor advised us to just head to the ER and have her checked out and monitored.

At this point Maddie was pretty upset by what was happening to her, and for the first time since bringing her home she started to really cry and get agitated. I threw a few things into her diaper bag and tried to drive the speed limit on the way to the hospital, and although her constant crying and gagging was unsettling, it was worse when she got quiet and I didn't know if she was choking or just falling asleep.

After Maddie was checked out in the ER and observed while having her swallowing episodes, the ER doctor and her pediatrician talked on the phone. They decided that since she was so little and young, and had been perfectly fine at her well visit that very morning and then had this come over her so fast, that they would feel better keeping her overnight for observation and further testing in the morning to determine what exactly was going on.

Congratulations, Maddie - you are now officially a Livingston child, having been to Central DuPage Hospital's emergency room. I think she just wanted more of my undivided time and attention, because that's what she got from 10pm last night until 6pm today!

We were admitted to the pediatric floor and Maddie was hooked up to a few monitors to ensure that everything was stable as far as her heart rate and breathing went during her episodes. And it was. She nursed through the night but the swallow/gasp struggle turned into a swallow/hacking cough by morning. When the pediatrician came in to examine her after her morning feeding, Madeline promptly spit up a good amount of her feed after being handed back to me. After feeds from then on she would get agitated and squirmy, crying unless she was up on my shoulder being patted back to sleep, often spitting up.

A speech therapist came in to observe Madeline nurse at 2pm today, and was pleased with what she saw. Then we were sent down for an ultrasound to rule out Pyloric Stenosis (since Robbie had it, they thought it was worth checking out). Negative. At this point acid reflux was the biggest suspicion, and there had been talk of inserting a PH probe into Maddie's nose down her throat and doing a 12 or 24 hour study of the amount of acid in her stomach/esophagus to determine for sure whether it was acid reflux. Thankfully the doctor decided to send us home with medicine for reflux instead.

My littlest girl and I spent most of last night and the day today like this...

I would be lying if I said I didn't appreciate the time with only Madeline, but it was hard to want to be home with Robbie and Ellie and not be able to. Our awesome babysitter was willing to come over to our this morning at 5:30am so that Rob could still go to work on time. Then my mom came over late morning to send the sitter home (to sleep!) and take care of the kids until Rob's parents flew in from New Jersey and until he was able to come home from work, thankfully earlier than normal. She also managed to clean up the house for me during nap time. There is nothing like having your mom's help in your absence, they just know what to do and how to do it and there's no judgement. My friend Cheryl surprised me by being able to come to the hospital (with a latte for me!) and keep me company for a few hours before we were discharged, and it was nice to have a good amount of time to talk fairly uninterrupted (at least by a certain 3 year old and almost 2 year old).

Rob's parents made it to the house after lunch time, and by then my dad had also come over to help entertain the kids, so they visited together until Rob came home. Then my parents left and Robbie and Ellie had a good amount of time to play with Grammy and Papa before I brought Maddie home at 6:45pm. It was fun to finally get to introduce them to Maddie!

We are still anticipating a fun weekend - breakfast with the Easter Bunny tomorrow morning at a local restaurant, celebrating Rob's birthday with both of our parents, and a lot of playing together... trains, I'm sure. I am praying that the reflux medicine kicks in fast because Maddie is only happy when she is upright in my arms for now, and obviously struggles after feeding if she's horizontal. I'm instructed to hold her as still and quietly as possible for 20 minutes after each feeding, which could prove nearly impossible once Monday comes around and I'm back to managing life with these 3 kids on my own while Rob's at work! We will see how that works out.

I'm so thankful for the good medical care we have access to, and for something so benign as reflux to be all that we are concerned about right now. These can be challenging days, especially logistically, with kids as young and close together as ours are. But we are constantly reminded of how blessed and fortunate we are to have 3 sweet healthy children, friends and family who are always willing to help out or show up when we need them most, and doctors nearby who care about our kids and are so knowledgeable.

And now we are going to bed, because we are so tired we can't think or see straight.

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