Winning the lottery is great and all. However, when the odds aren’t in your favour, it’s not a very nice jackpot to win. At the time, I was wondering what I had done that was so wrong for all of that to happen to us. I mean, destiny was really kicking us when we were down!
That’s when Monday, and the nurse, arrived. Our baby girl seemed alright to us, but the nurse thought she looked a bit yellow, and her bilirubin levels (jaundice) were high. She had also lost more than 10% of her weight at birth. So, we headed off to the hospital to do more tests.
We then discovered that our precious little one had quite a jaundice and that she must be hospitalized. Even though jaundice happens to 60% of newborns (*8), it is less common to be hospitalized for that, and even less to have bilirubin levels of 300 mg when most hospitalized babies have a level of 150 mg of bilirubin in their blood (*9). Once again, luck was not on our side.
The jaundice could have been less aggressive if it had been taken care of sooner—if we had received the visit of the nurse the day after we left the hospital (as planned) rather than four days later. At least we notified the people in charge and it will be addressed so that something like this doesn’t happen to other families as well.
… AND OUR BROKEN HEARTS
Our daughter spent 4 days in the nursery receiving a treatment by UV lamps to help lower her bilirubin levels and a solution to help her gain weight. Poor little thing. It was so sad seeing her in the incubator, with a blindfold to protect her eyesight. It was a lot to go through for such a tiny baby, and it was just as bad for us, her parents.
Four weeks after being hospitalized for her jaundice, our little darling was getting better! She was a great little baby that barely cried, and that was easy-going. Everything was going for the best until we hit the next wall…
ANOTHER ROLLER COASTER
The rest of the story was a steep downhill ride, and it was frankly quite terrifying.
In the afternoon of April 15th, our little one didn’t seem to be doing so well. I took her temperature: 38,7. With a newborn baby, you don’t take any chances, so we were off to the hospital (again)! We spent 2 days there for her to be monitored. So what was it? A virus, we were told! Which one? We never knew. It just really weakened our daughter’s immune system. The worse was yet to come.
Photo credit: Jessika Robitaille
LIKE THE WHOLE WORLD WAS COLLAPSING AROUND US
It all started nine days later with a strange cry our daughter made when I put her in the car seat to go get our oldest at school. I just knew something was wrong.
When we came home, my boyfriend was there. I told him we had to take the baby’s temperature immediately. She was at 39,7. We rushed to the emergency room for the second time in less than 2 weeks. The doctor saw right away that her fontanelle was sunken. He decided to prescribe intravenous antibiotics immediately, even before having a precise diagnostic.
Our baby girl then got a lumbar puncture, a CAT-scan and an EEG. The test results arrived soon after.
I prayed to all the gods I knew of and begged all the saints whom I didn’t even believe in for it to not be something serious.
Group B streptococcal meningitis. That’s what we were told.
It was like the whole world was collapsing around us.
To start with, 30% of people are carriers of streptococcus (*10), but they will never suffer from it in any way. The bacteria is usually transmitted from mother to child through vaginal birth. The only problem in my case is that I delivered my baby by C-section (remember…) and on top of that my blood sample had tested negative for streptococcus at the end of my pregnancy. Just my luck, as they say!
But it was the other statistics we learned of that were the scariest. Less than 1% of newborn babies develop meningitis (*10). And it was our precious little girl that had it…
Out of the affected babies, 20 to 40% are left with physical or psychological aftereffects. Even worse, 20% of them don’t win their battle against the disease and pass away (*10).
Anything but good news…
Photo credit: Jessika Robitaille
AT LAST, OUR LUCK TURNED
The second day in intensive care, my daughter smiled at me. That’s when I knew everything would be alright. You know, the instincts of an emotional mother…
After an MRI, we saw that her brain wasn’t affected. She was responding well to the antibiotics and was drinking and sleeping well. No eyesight, hearing or muscle tone problems.
THE ODDS WERE FINALLY IN OUR FAVOUR
For the first time in the last year, the odds were in our favour.
The worst is now behind us. Our baby girl even put on 2 pounds during her great battle, which lasted a total of 17 days in the hospital, including the time spent in intensive care and 0–3 years units. The longtime away from home made me see the hospital setting in a whole new light. There really are amazing doctors and nurses without whom we would have been at a loss!
As I am writing this article, we have been home for a week. Everything has been going for the best! The tsunami of bad news is behind us, and I truly believe that the best is yet to come!
We were told to stay home for the next month, the time that our daughter’s immune system gets back to normal.
Sure, it’s a bit of a pain, but it’s nothing compared to what we’ve been through.
The lesson I take from all this? To all the mums out there, make the most of every moment you have with your children, because you never know what might happen next. And above all else, trust your instincts. They’re rarely wrong.
Those are the only odds that matter to me from now on.
This post was translated from French to English by:
Isabelle, 24 years old. I’m an easy-going girl; quick-witted and a devoted fan of puns. As much as I enjoy staying home binge-watching series and reading novels, I also love traveling and discovering new things.