Monday, July 15, 2013

The jaundice story

Gabriel and I were in hospital for almost a full week.

This was completely unexpected since I thought that with a natural birth, I would be out of the hospital within 3 days max - which for Gabriel's case, would have been Thursday afternoon.

As it turned out, Gabriel needed to have his first paediatrician ("PD") check-up 48 hours after his birth. However, since the PD only came in the morning, we would have had to wait until Friday morning to be discharged. Besides, the hospital only discharged patients in the morning.

Friday morning came and I was sooo looking forward to go home to start normal family life with hub and my 2 boys. Hub was so excited that he even cleaned up the house spick and span for our impending arrival.

Everything went well during the PD's visit until the last part when the PD mentioned that Gabriel looked pretty yellow and he would do a blood test to check his jaundice level.

I didn't think much about it because Sammy had jaundice too but he never needed any photo therapy and could still be discharged normally.

Imagine my shock when the results came back and it turned out that Gabriel's jaundice level was 18.5. Anything above 21 and baby would have to be admitted to a children's hospital for intensive therapy.

That meant that we had to extend our stay at the hospital so that Gabriel could undergo light therapy, while I took care of and fed him.

At that point in time, my breastmilk had not come in yet so I decided to give him formula milk to get more fluids into him and kick-start his bodily functions.

Friday - After one day of formula feed and photo therapy, the jaundice level fell to 18. However, this level was still too high for him to be discharged, so stay another day we had to.

Saturday - My breastmilk came in and I was sooo relieved to finally be able to pump him full with breastmilk. I was told that breastmilk is the best thing one could feed a baby to help him get over jaundice.

On Saturday evening, after one full day of breastmilk, I was hoping for the level to fall. But instead the level increased drastically to 19.5.

All alarm bells went off and Gabriel had to go for more photo therapy while my doctor was perturbed as to why the level increased with breastmilk.

They came up with some explanations ranging from breastmilk being harder for baby to digest compared to formula milk to hubby having a different blood group from me, so baby might have a blood group that would have to "fight" the antibodies from 2 different blood groups, resulting in a higher jaundice level.

Sunday evening - The jaundice level fell minimally to 19 after yet another full day of photo therapy and breastmilk.

By this time I was so discouraged about being able to leave the hospital anytime soon. All this time, my family and close friends from church were praying for Gabriel to have a speedy and uncomplicated recovery.

It was just hard for me to be at the hospital longer than expected. Plus the fact that I had a 22-month old kiddo waiting for me compounded the whole homesickness. Hubby stayed with me at the hospital for the first 2 nights and thereafter went home so that Sammy didn't have to stay overnight at his Godparents.

I missed Sammy so badly. We went from spending almost every waking moment together, to hardly seeing each other over one whole week. Sammy would be at the hospital for a few hours each day, but its hard to explain to a toddler why Mummy isn't going home with him.

He started acting weird too. From being a relatively peaceful and carefree kid, he started throwing tantrums and didn't want to listen to reason. He didn't even offer kisses anymore, even though he used to lavish his kisses on us.

I remember going to bed on Sunday evening praying and asking God for a "drastic drop" in the jaundice levels. I reckoned that since the jaundice level could increase from 18 to 19.5 overnight, I asked God for a drop from 19 to 17.5 overnight too.

To be honest, I wasn't all filled with faith that this would happen. But I figured that it wouldn't hurt to ask right?

Monday morning - The nurse took Gabriel away to measure the jaundice level and she came back with the triumphant news that the level fell to 17.6!

This was soo crazy! I had already psychologically prepared myself to stay in the hospital until Tuesday. So when the doctor came in and told me, "Frau T. you're going home today", I totally couldn't believe what I was hearing!

We only had to bring Gabriel for another check-up at the paediatrician on Wednesday to ensure that the jaundice level was still falling - it did. His current level is 16.

He drinks like a world champ, is pretty alert when awake and poos / pees like a real boy.

I think the hardest part of staying at the hospital is the waiting-and-not-knowing-what-happens-next-part. I never knew how long the entire hospital stay would be and the doctor could not give me any reassurance either. It all depended on baby's blood levels.

This was when I had to think of other moms whose kiddos are at hospital for one reason or the other. I totally take my hats off to them and I'm 110% convinced that God is the one who supernaturally sustains them as they care for their little ones and sacrifice sleep and energy in the process.

Yup. That's the long version of the entire jaundice story.

Here are some things I'm thankful about despite the ordeal. 

- We were discharged one day earlier than I expected.

- Throughout my entire stay at the hospital, I didn't have to share the room with anybody. So this meant that I had the privacy of an entire room all to myself.

- Gabriel never had to be transferred to a children's hospital where I would have to be physically separated from him, because Moms are not allowed to stay overnight with their children for jaundice cases.

- Hospital stay is entirely covered by insurance in Germany. I could extend my stay at the hospital without incurring any additional expenses.

- Amazing, caring and competent health care personnel at the hospital. We really made the right decision to go to this hospital, Charlottenhaus.

My suntanning baby
The latest shot of Gabriel doing his version of tummy time


Gcroft said...

Your little family is in my thoughts and prayers.

Pris said...

Gcroft - Thanks a lot. Really appreciate it. It's been a huge adjustment to 2 kiddos.

Bern said...

hahaha, he looks so ruddy in the last pic!

Anonymous said...

Hi, congrats on your lil one - he looks precious! Had a similar experience with my boy except we were out of the hospital already and had to be readmitted with 22 bili units (thank God for my watchful hebamme)! Anyway at that point in time I was out-of-my-mind worried that there might be some long-term damage (he was yellow up to 3 weeks after phototherapy!) but 4 years on, I can assure you that there are none! =)

All the best and greetings from Freiburg.

Pris said...

Anonymous - Thanks! Hey we have similar stories of jaundice then! Yah, thank God that your Hebamme was pretty watchful! Yah Gabriel still has yellow eyes but my Hebamme is not worried and says that he's doing really well.

Pris said...

Bern - Oh man, your English is soo "chim". I had to dictionary check what "ruddy" means!


Related Posts with Thumbnails