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Jaundice (No Poo) - Part 2

photo courtesy of thrasher dave, flickr

Read Part 1 of our story here.

We arrived at the children’s hospital ER and were admitted very very quickly. The nurse wanted to take his vital signs. As soon as he put the thermometer in Tate’s bum, he pooped. And then he pooped some more. The poor kid let out more yellowy runny poo than a diaper would have ever been able to handle. We were so relieved we started laughing and smiling. The tears that had been nearly constant finally stopped.

We were so relieved and so sure we would be checking out of the hospital as soon the doctor saw us.

We were taken to another room for the baby to be examined. A crew of 8 different people came in while the doctors spoke to us. They decided that they should draw his blood and put in an IV just in case our baby’s bilirubin levels were elevated. It took the nurse three tries to get the IV in and it was all I could do not to cry out in pain for him. At one point I looked over and there was a drop of his blood on the floor. My heart ached so much I though I might die.

They started him on the light treatment and we waited for the results. The test results indicated that his level was too high (18.4) for us to leave the hospital. Then they told us that we were going to stay in the hospital overnight, possibly a full 24 hours. All I could see was money signs. I was so relieved we came in because his levels really weren’t healthy, but terrified at what the financial implications might be. Hadn’t we just racked up a huge hospital bill on Tuesday giving birth to the little guy? I’m on unpaid maternity leave, and make most of the money at our house, how were we going to pay for this?

They moved us to a room for the night. It contained a light table for Tate to lay on and two large blue lights. They strapped goggles on his little eyes to keep them from getting damaged by the light. The only accommodations they had for us were a fold out lounge chair and a glider. I tried to sleep in the fold out “bed” while our baby was treated and Steve tried to get some rest in the glider. We were only allowed to remove Tate from the lights for 30 minutes at a time, every 3 hours to nurse him. He started to fuss in the night and he had already been removed from the lights as much as the doctor would allow. My sweet husband stood by our baby stroking his legs for at least an hour to try to calm him. By morning, we were emotionally exhausted.

The nurse took his levels again at 6:00 AM, and we were relieved to hear they had dropped to 11.7. We waited to be discharged from the hospital. It took the doctor several hours to come in, and when she did she informed us that Tate had a positive result on the Coombs test. Which as far as we understood means that because my blood type is O+ and Tate’s is A+, there was an extra complication. The antibodies in my blood were attacking his red blood cells, which in addition to his lack of bowel movements, was contributing to the jaundice. They told us it was quite possible that we might have to come back to the hospital because his jaundice was more likely to return than with other infants.

Luckily, they did decide to discharge us and our sweet babe has been steadily improving ever since.

Living through this experience gave me so much respect for parents of babies with big medical problems. How could I possibly deal with my baby in the NICU? I could barely stand to watch my baby sit in a glorified tanning bed for a night. It’s really incredible how connected our heart strings are to these little people we didn’t even know just a few weeks ago.

Babble’s Newborn Care Guide: Skincare for Jaundice, Acne, Rashes, and More!

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