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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Our Stressful First Week Home

My what a crazy week our first week together was. I spent most of this week in tears because I was so stressed and worried.

We were discharged from the hospital on Friday November 7th. Anastazia's bilirubin count was 10 when we were discharged so we were instructed to take her to the pediatrician Monday morning to get another count done and to watch her coloring over the weekend. She weighed 7 pounds 3.5 ounces, which is fine because newborns are supposed to lose weight at first and she hadn’t lost too much of her body weight. While I was in the hospital the right side of my face started losing movement. It started with the right side of my tongue being numb, then the right side of my mouth wouldn't close right or smile, finally my right eye wouldn't close all the way. I had mentioned the issue to my doctor and to several nurses but they weren't sure what it could be. My doctor instructed me to go to the ER over the weekend if it got worse but the last place I wanted to go with a new baby was the emergency room. So we mostly just relaxed over the weekend. 

Anastazia didn't look too yellow but it was hard to tell because her skin is pretty dark anyways. So on Saturday I called the pediatrician's office to ask if we should bring her in before Monday. The nurse instructed me to watch her poops and if they transitioned to yellow before Sunday morning then we were fine to wait until Monday but if they didn't then we should bring her in Sunday morning. Well Saturday evening her poops transitioned to yellow and they remained yellow all through Sunday so we figured she was okay. 

“Bilirubin is the yellow breakdown product of normal heme catabolism. Heme is found in hemoglobin, a principal component of red blood cells. Bilirubin is excreted in bile and urine, and elevated levels may indicate certain diseases, including jaundice.”

Monday morning we took Anastazia to the pediatrician at 10:40 AM. They pricked her poor little heel and did a newborn checkup. She weighed 7 pounds 8 ounces. She looked good and her doctor even said she didn’t look super jaundice. She thought just by looking at her that she wouldn’t need to be put under lights. But they would call us with the results soon. After we left the pediatrician I called my doctor’s office to let them know that my face hadn’t gotten any better. The nurse said that she would talk to my doctor and call me back. When she called back she said that my doctor wanted me to go to the ER ASAP to get a brain scan to make sure it wasn’t a stroke, blood clot, or anything else serious. I instantly started crying. I was so scared and the last place I wanted to take Anastazia was the ER, but I couldn’t leave her at home because she breastfed every hour and I wasn’t sure how long I would be there. So Jairo, Anastazia and I went to the ER and Henry stayed at home with my mom.

I basically cried the whole way because I was so worried. I was still crying when we got to the emergency room. Luckily the ER by my house never has a long wait so they took us right back into a room. I have to mention that the staff there was amazing. They were so nice and made me feel much better. The doctor that saw me basically did a physical exam of my face testing the function. Then he told me that I had Bell’s Palsy.

“Bell's palsy is a disorder of the nerve that controls movement of the muscles in the face. This nerve is called the facial or 7th cranial nerve. Damage to this nerve causes weakness or paralysis of these muscles. Paralysis means that you cannot use the muscles at all.”

The doctor told me that Bell’s palsy could be more common in the third trimester of pregnancy or within the first week after delivery. It can also be more common in people with high blood pressure. I had been on bed rest for high blood pressure since I was 34 weeks pregnant and even in the emergency room my blood pressure was pretty high. I was so relieved to know that it was something that wasn’t too serious and would go away on its own. I got a CT scan just incase and it came back totally normal. The doctor started me on an antibiotic and a steroid (both safe while breastfeeding) to help shorten the symptoms. Unfortunately the treatment is more effective the sooner it is started so my symptoms could have been shortened a lot more if I had started the antibiotic and steroid when my symptoms first appeared. But at least I started them that day.

So we went home and I thought our worries were over. By this time it was almost 4 o’clock and we still hadn’t heard back about Anastazia’s bilirubin level. So I called the doctor’s office and they said they had the results but had to wait for a doctor to read them and then they would call us back. About half an hour later they called back and said that her count was 21.3, which meant that she was critically jaundice. She needed to be put under lights right away and stay under them strictly otherwise she would have to be hospitalized. Instantly I started crying again. I was so worried about Anastazia. I was so mad at the pediatrician’s office for taking over five hours to give us the results. She could have started the lights earlier that afternoon if they would have told us sooner. I also hated how the nurse was talking to me like I was a bad mom and would be incapable of keeping her under the lights. I know that is what I get for being a young mom but I still never get used to being talked down to. Of course I am going to do whatever it takes to make sure my daughter is healthy.

“Infant jaundice is a yellow discoloration in a newborn baby's skin and eyes. Infant jaundice occurs because the baby's blood contains an excess of bilirubin (bil-ih-ROO-bin), a yellow-colored pigment of red blood cells.
Infant jaundice is a common condition, particularly in babies born before 38 weeks gestation (preterm babies) and some breast-fed babies. Infant jaundice usually occurs because a baby's liver isn't mature enough to get rid of bilirubin in the bloodstream. In some cases, an underlying disease may cause jaundice.
Treatment of infant jaundice often isn't necessary, and most cases that need treatment respond well to noninvasive therapy. Although complications are rare, a high bilirubin level associated with severe infant jaundice or inadequately treated jaundice may cause brain damage.”
Her bilirubin bed and blanket weren’t even delivered until close to 6 o’clock Monday night. But we started her on it right away. She had to have the biliblanket (which really looks like a wand) strapped on her tummy and then be laying on the bilibed nonstop. We could only take her out of the bed to feed and change her. It was the hardest night ever. She HATED the bed. She would only sleep for 10-minute increments and then would be whining and crying the rest of the time. It was so hard to watch her. But I knew I had to keep her in there. I swear it was the longest night of my life. I was so excited when the sun started coming up. We had to take her to the pediatrician’s office at 7:45 AM for another foot poke. Apparently if we had been in the hospital she would have needed to be poked at midnight since her levels were so critical.

So we took her in to get her poor little foot poked. She weighed 7 pounds 8 ounces still. This time the nurse assured me that they would get the results in two hours. She said the only reason it took so long the day before was because LabCorp’s bilirubin machine was down so they had to wait for it to get fixed. This got me wondering if her results were even accurate, but oh well. So we left the office and waited. I called the office at 10 AM to see if they had received the results. They said that LabCorp’s actually has two hours from the time the pediatrician’s office calls them to arrange a pickup to actually pick up the results. So really the samples had just recently been picked up. I was pissed. The nurse told me two hours to expect the results. I got into a bit of an argument with the nurse at that point. I was so tired of waiting all day for results when I knew there were other pediatrician’s offices near me that processed the samples in the office. It had been a very stressful week and I was fed up with doctor’s offices by now.

Finally around noon the office called with the results. Anastazia’s bilirubin count was 14.5. This, they said, was really good, a huge improvement from the day before. She was no longer considered critical but we were instructed to keep her on the lights, just not as strictly. The doctor said we could take her out and cuddle her so she wasn’t so miserable. We were so relieved. I cried happy tears at this point. I was so glad my baby was getting better.

We were instructed to get Anastazia’s bilirubin count checked again the following morning before 10 AM. But honestly I was sick of waiting all day for results. There is another pediatrician’s office that is closer to my house that my cousin used to work at and she knew that they processed the results in the office, which means we would get them in 15 minutes instead of 4 hours. So we decided to take her there. Well that was even more of a joke. We were forced to wait 45 minutes to be taken back into a room. We had to wait in the waiting room with at least 10 other kids under the age of 3. (At the other pediatrician’s office that we go to, newborns are taken right back into a special waiting area near the nurse’s desk in the back so that they don’t have to be exposed to the other patients.) Then the medical assistant that helped us disgusted me. She was rude, condescending, dirty, and very unprofessional. She was annoyed that Anastazia was crying and that we wouldn’t give her a pacifier (because she doesn’t take one), but she wouldn’t let me nurse her because she wanted to be pricking her foot while she nursed. Then she put her gloves on and proceeded to type on the computer, touch clipboards, open drawers, and touch door handles and then tried to touch Anastazia. We kindly asked her if she was planning on changing her gloves before she drew blood since she had just gotten so many germs on them. Luckily she did, but not before she let us know how annoyed she was with us. She was rough while measuring Anastazia, and was just all around snotty. It was awful.

The doctor was really nice. He was patient and told us how she was measuring. She weighed 7 pounds 7 ounces, was 20 inches long, and her head circumference was 13.3 inches. She was in the 50th percentile for height and weight and 10th percentile for head. We did get her bilirubin results while we were at the office and her count was a 12. The doctor gave us the okay to discontinue using the bilibed and biliblanket. This was the best news I had heard all week!

I relayed these results to her normal pediatrician because after the joke we experienced with the medical assistant and front desk staff I was ready to put my differences with the office aside. At least my baby was getting better. Her pediatrician said that we should go in for another bilirubin count the following day (Thursday, November 13th). She said that her levels were going to rebound but they just wanted to make sure they didn’t get too high.

So on Thursday morning I took Anastazia to the office again. This was my first time driving with her by myself because Jairo was back at work. She weighed 7 pounds 9 ounces. She got her fifth foot poke, poor girl. She didn’t even cry with the poke this time. But she was quite the little kicker! She wouldn’t stop kicking the nurse that was taking her blood! I had taken her in around 9:40 AM and we actually did get the results around 11:40 AM this time. Her count was down to 11.1 so she was in the clear! The nurse said we didn’t have to take her to the doctor again until her two-week checkup.

So finally as of noon on Thursday, November 13th I could breathe. I cried one last cry of relief that our crazy first week was drawing to an end and that we were all going to be okay.

Incase it got lost in detail, here are Anastazia’s stats for the week-

Bilirubin Counts:
·      Hospital (11/07/14 at 4 AM) – 10
·      Pediatrician (11/10/14 at 11 AM) – 21.3
·      Pediatrician (11/11/14 at 8 AM) – 14.5
·      Pediatrician (11/12/14 at 9:30 AM) – 12
·      Pediatrician (11/13/14 at 9:40 AM) – 11.1

·      Birth – 7 lbs. 12 oz.
·      Discharge from hospital – 7 lbs. 3.5 oz.
·      11/10/14 – 7 lbs. 8 oz.
·      11/11/14 – 7 lbs. 8 oz.
·      11/12/14 – 7 lbs. 7 oz.
·      11/13/14 – 7 lbs. 9 oz.

·      Height – 50th percentile
·      Weight – 50th percentile
·      Head – 10th percentile


  1. That sounds like such a horrible time to be having when you just want to go home and take care of your newborn and let yourself recover too. I hope that everything is as it should be now :)

  2. Jaundice is nothing to be too worried about. Most babies get it. My sister and I both had it and my two babies had it. My son had to be put under the ultraviolet lights for three days and my daughter's count was high when we took her home. We had to bring her back the next day but she was fine.

    Malachi Cates @ Indian Crest Peds


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