Simon's first ER visit

posted by Jeff | Sunday, March 21, 2010, 8:32 PM | comments: 0

Well this was a day I thought would come much, much later in Simon's life. Fortunately, we probably don't have much to worry about.

Last night, my own sickness got pretty brutal. I thought I already had a minor fever and was ready to move on, but that was not the case. By 1 a.m. I was in full shiver mode and the fever was kicking my ass. On one hand, you like to sleep through that nonsense, but when you have all kinds of f'd up dreams as a result, it blows. I had some tunes on softly to kind of ground my semiconscious self in reality, but it didn't help.

Needless to say, Diana had exclusive Simon duty. She was coping pretty well from what I could hear of her talking to him. By morning, I was beyond the worst of the fever, but standing for more than a few seconds had me wanting to yack. I was dehydrated and really hungry (and down two pounds in two days). Simon woke up at around 8:30 or so, and despite multiple feedings and diaper changes, never went back to sleep. That's unusual.

Noon rolls around, and still, no sleep for him. Diana was nearing meltdown status. I got up, got in the shower, and despite not feeling great, took the boy. I wasn't dripping snot or sneezing, so I figured touching him (with lots of hand washing) probably wasn't any more risky than being in the room with him. Diana went out to run some errands.

And he still would not sleep. Then the scary moment after 3: Wiping after a diaper change included bright red blood. My first instinct was that it was probably something like a chapped ass or maybe a little tear or fissure in his anus, but nothing to be too concerned about. Being bright red, it's a lot like what they describe around hemorrhoids. But with his inability to sleep going on eight hours, we figured we better call.

The on-call nurse asked lots of questions, and though she couldn't be sure, suspected he was probably going to be fine. She suggested getting him checked out at the ER anyway. I think everywhere else we've ever worked, you have it hammered into you to not use the ER unless there's imminent chance of death, but this is a newborn, and frankly this insurance is so good that I don't care.

There's a local ER just down the street, part of the hospital chain where Simon was born. This place was just immaculate, and the first medical anything I've seen here that felt Cleveland Clinicish. The doctor assured us that bringing him in was the right thing to do, because you can't practice medicine over the phone, and you should trust your instinct in those first six weeks. It's also funny that he was asking the nurse if he should see Simon or just wait for the next guy coming in ten minutes, but of course Simon charmed him.

Fortunately, Simon was both hungry and took a massive dump, so the doctor was able to see everything that normal babies do. Only minor blood this time, so he wasn't concerned about it. Most of his questions were around feeding, since that has been the most difficult thing for us. Last week, we finally decided to stop breastfeeding since he just couldn't get enough. The blocked ducts and the swollen lymph nodes and the pain she was enduring was frustrating her and Simon. All of the conventional advice wasn't helping. I'm convinced, especially after reading up a bit, that breastfeeding is simply a lot easier when you're 20 than it is 40. He got a good 10 days of colostrum and at least some milk, and the doctor suggested that was probably a good base for his immunity in the near term.

The amount he eats is pretty unusual, and he's just shy of 10 pounds now. He'll generally put down three to four ounces every three or four hours, but then he has these mid-course snacks of another one to three in between. He's definitely over-achieving, gaining about two pounds in two weeks. The average is something like 4 to 7 ounces per week. But he isn't doughy or marshmellowy, and the doctor says everything else looks normal. He's already trying to vocalize, exhibiting good head control and really good hand strength. At this rate he'll start college next year.

So what was the reason for him being up all day? Probably some combination of discomfort from his butt problem, gas and inadequate burping. He's been out cold now for almost three hours since we got home, along with Diana. I tried to sleep, but after an hour kept choking on my own drainage and opted to let them sleep.

We've been very fortunate to have a pediatrician and an ER doctor now with great bedside manner not just for the boy, but for the parents. We haven't been neurotic yet (at least, I don't think so), but the lack of sleep messes with your judgment. If he's going to over-achieve, I hope the first thing he considers is falling into some predictable patterns. Selfish thinking, but we could use his help!


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