Always Trust Your Mom (Or Dad) Gut
You know the saying, "trust your mom gut"? How many times do you find yourself questioning what you should do when it comes to your child(ren)? If you are anything like me, the answer to that is CONSTANTLY.
"Should we go to the drs for that cough?"
"Is that fever considered 'too high' and needs to be checked out?"
"Kiddo took a bad fall and unsure if he/she needs stitches. Do I go in or wait it out?"
The list could go on and on. Let's not forget to mention, 99% of the time, when you think your are "trusting your mom gut", it turns out to be nothing and you're sent home. (Thank God!) But that very fact doesn't help with the questioning you do to yourself. My mind constantly goes round and round and I usually go with the mindset of I'd rather be safe than sorry. I'd rather have a professional make the call that everything is ok, than me or Google. Ha! But trust me, I catch a lot of slack from it. My husband makes fun of me, he says I'd take the kids in for a hangnail. I mean after all, those things are PAINFUL! (Just for clarification, I've never actually taken them in for a hangnail.)
I'd like to take you on a little journey on what my mom gut told me and what eventually played out on a normal night that turned out to be the scariest moment of my life.
April 23, 2018 - I'll get back to this date in a minute.
The week leading up to that date, Jett (who is our preemie baby boy, born at 34 weeks), saw the pediatrician 2 times for congestion. There wasn't much, it was more nasally sounding than anything. In fact, it didn't sound anything close to a virus, and more like a sign of acid reflux, so he was prescribed Zantac.
*A little side note: Jett was sent home on a heart monitor to watch for drops in his heart rate from the hospital we delivered at.
I explained to the dr that his normal 1 alarm/day HR drop increased to 2-3/day. I knew that false alarms were an option, and the pediatrician didn't seem to be too concerned and told me that if it continued to happen, they would look more into it.
This leads me back to the day of April 23, 2018. Jett appeared perfect. He was alert when he should be, he ate when he should eat, he was having enough wet and dirty diapers. Overall, he looked beautiful and healthy. The alarm started going off, what seemed to be every couple of hours. I called the hotline that was given to me for the heart monitor and spoke to the on call nurse. I explained the increase in alarms and we discussed Jett's appearance and behavior. The nurse explained to me that she believed everything was fine and they seemed to be false alarms to replace the monitor pads. So I did.
It was absolutely perfect outside on this day. My sister, who lived 5 minutes from us at the time, called me and wanted to go on a walk, but since I was cautious on taking Jett out amongst other people since his immune system was still very weak, we decided to meet over at her house and let the kids play outside while we pushed the babies in a stroller and walked the length of the driveway over and over again. While we were walking, the alarm went off a couple of times, back to back. I began tallying how many had gone off for the day and the number scared me. I was ready to take him into Children's Mercy Hospital at that moment, but my mind started to tell me I was overreacting. The pediatrician and the on call nurse both thought they were just false alarms. So, I believed them, and pushed my gut feelings to the side, because after all, I am not the professional.
Later that evening, we were back at our house and had dinner as a family and my husband and I got our 2 other children down for bed for the night. Over the course of dinner and bedtime routine, 2 more alarms happened. That put our number at 11 for the day. Keep in mind, his "normal" was 1, maybe 2. I began to worry more and stripped him from his clothes so I could fully assess his color and breathing. Same as earlier in the day. He was perfect. As I sat on the couch with my husband, holding Jett, I just had this feeling. I was literally sick to my stomach. I decided that even though I've had numerous people tell me things sounded like they were fine, to take Jett to the ER, just to be safe.
My husband stayed home with our other two kids, who were asleep at this point, and waited to hear from me. We didn't expect much from going to the ER. We were told things sounded fine, so we thought it was just me being paranoid and anxious.
What happens next, I would never wish on my worst enemy. One of my biggest fears as a parent came to light and it was, what seemed like, a never ending nightmare.
I walk into Children's Mercy South Hospital and explain that I have a preemie who has a heart monitor and the alarms keep going off. Before I could finish speaking to front desk, a nurse comes around and looks at him and says "My goodness, he looks perfect!" and places a monitor on his foot to get his oxygen level and heart rate. The monitor starts beeping and she looks at me, then looks at Jett again and explains that the monitor appears to be broken and isn't reading correctly so she was going to try and different one. She attaches the new one to his foot and the same thing happens. She walks to get another nurse and told the nurse that both of the monitors aren't working properly and the other nurse said, "Let's get into a room and out of triage to an actual machine so we can get a better reading." I think both nurses could tell how anxious I was so they explained to me that the first 2 monitors were giving very low readings, but they appeared to be broken, because the readings weren't in line with how Jett looked or sounded. We got into a room and they hooked him up and all of a sudden, the nurses take off running and before I knew it, there were easily 10+ nurses and drs in our room.
A dr pulled me to the corner of the room and began asking me questions. I spilled every detail from his birth, to his prior NICU stay, to the last 2 weeks we've been at home, and the recent monitor alarms. I looked past the dr, though, as if he was a ghost. I could see straight thru him and see exactly what was happening to my 5lb baby boy. Jett was being poked and prodded and was screaming out for his mommy to comfort him. The dr explained to me that Jett's heart rate was in the 50's and his oxygen level was in the low 40%. The dr told me that they would be doing a spinal tap on Jett, starting an IV in his head, and then transporting him by ambulance to Children's Mercy downtown, where we would be admitted into the NICU. I sat in that ER room, stunned and in shock. I couldn't move and I could barely speak. I was able to call my husband and tell him to get to the hospital and that was about it.
The ER team worked diligently on my baby. I was explained so many different scenarios as to what could be going on, but the one thing the drs and nurses kept saying to me was "Thank God you brought him in. He wouldn't have made it through the night if you didn't."
The walk into the ambulance was numbing. My son had IV's, tubes, and wires going everywhere as he was placed into the little see-through box and carried into the back of the ambulance. The transport guys told me that I had to ride in the front, but they would have the radio on in the back the whole time so I could hear what was going on.
The 25 minute drive to Children's Mercy felt like a dream. I could hear the driver trying to talk to me to calm me down, but I couldn't seem to get out any words. I just starred out the window and watched the reflection of the blinding lights through the mirror and prayed that everything was going to be ok.
We got to the hospital and rushed up to the NICU where we were greeted by a team of drs and nurses. I am not using the word "team" lightly. There were so many people who immediately had different tasks to assess Jett as soon as we walked in. The transport team explained to everyone the findings from Children's Mercy Hospital South, while a group of drs pulled me aside to get more history and information about Jett.
That night was a blur. My eyes were swollen and puffy from non stop crying, my heart was broken from seeing my baby boy with tubes, cords, and IV's again, and my nerves were shot. His heart rate stabilized for the next 10 hours and had no real issues. The next morning, we found out that Jett had tested positive for the Rhino Enterovirus, a fancy term for the common cold. The drs seemed to think that the virus was the cause for the heart rate drops and low oxygen level. They explained to my husband and I that as long as Jett was having drops in his heart rate, we would not be going anywhere. The team was hopeful that by the time the virus was gone, all issues would be fixed.
The first couple of days were pretty scary. We had several more heart rate drops that required stimulation for Jett to bring it back up. Every single one of those drops, a group of nurses would come rushing into his isolation cube.
After 2 solid weeks of waiting for the virus to fully kick out of his system to see if the HR drops would stop, we got news that he was very anemic. And not just anemia that can be fixed with an iron supplement. Jett's bone marrow wasn't working causing his levels to be very low. A blood transfusion was scheduled.
We had to go 48 hours with no drop in heart rate for Jett to be released, and finally on May 9th, we broke free!
I can't stress enough to trust your mom (or dad) gut. No one knows your baby like you do. With the help of the alarms from his heart rate monitor and my gut telling me to take him in, our boy is still with us today and is full of happiness and joy. He has come such a long way in a year and I couldn't be more thankful for the care he received at CMH.
Parenthood is hard and always knowing what is best is hard, but always, always, always trust your gut and don't let others make you feel "silly" or "paranoid" for wanting to do what's best for your baby.
You never think it will happen to you or your family, until it does. That is one of the many reasons my husband and I felt a strong calling to find a way to give back. Stay tuned for a blog post about our reasons behind our nonprofit, 501C3 charity, Kid-Tucky Derby, and what it means to our family.