In the last few weeks, our little family has marked a number of milestones:
1. I broiled cinnamon toast in the oven and there were no flames. not even little ones.
2. Lou ran a 10k (accidentally, but whatever, we're totally counting it)
3. We built a crib and then - miracle of miracles - Babycakes slept in it for the entire night
4. I resisted the urge to rock Babycakes back to sleep in my arms for an entire night
5. I showed up at work on Monday with my hair done (in something other than a ponytail and headband) and in matching clothes that were clean (not a single spit up stain in sight) before 9:00am
(hmm... I'm just realizing that #3, 4 and 5 may be related....)
and... most importantly...
What? Hospital? How?
Well, let me tell you... (brace yourself, it's much longer than necessary. but so was her stay. so it works.)
|Not a happy camper|
The whole rigamaroll began on Sunday, March 31st. Babycakes had been "off" all day and, after waking up from a long nap, she felt abnormally warm. Well above 'I was just snuggled up in my blanket and your arms' warm so I decided to take her temperature. (Which. Sidenote. Do you know how baby temperatures are taken? Rectally. Uh-huh. So. That's fun.)
I went to the handy dandy Red Cross First Aid Kit Kelsalump bought us and grabbed the thermometer.
Beep. Beep. Beep. 102.9. 102.9?!
I must have done it wrong. Let's check that again.
Beep. Beep. Beep. 103.1. 103.1???
I tried it two more times with a different thermometer and then we tested the thermometers on ourselves. (Which. Sidenote x 2. This has got to be some sort of Parenthood initiation test, right? I mean, what other club will make you think it's reasonable to test something in your mouth after it has been in a baby's bum? I don't care how much you wash the thing, it's still gross.) Average temp = 103.
So, I consulted the official mom handbook... and called my mom.
Me: MOM. Babycakes has a fever of 103. Should I call the doctor?
Me: I have her U.S. pediatrician's card in my wallet.
Me: Do I call them?
Me: And then take her to the closest hospital if they recommend she go to the doctor?
(as you can see, this call was probably unnecessary but it made me feel better)
So. Based on my mother's wise advice, I called our U.S. doc and they very kindly told us to take her to the hospital.
At which point we rushed around the apartment like crazy people. We turned off the burners - I had just whipped up a pot of homemade pasta sauce and noodles - grabbed every essential baby item we could think of and rushed to the hospital as quickly yet safely as possible.
We got to UZ Leuven - the hospital an oh-so-convenient 5 minutes away - and, after a short detour through the wrong entrance, presented ourselves at the emergency room window with "Hi. We have a sick baby."
We were directed to the waiting room and, surprisingly, were seen by a nurse within minutes. The nurse confirmed that her temp was high and said she would have to be moved to the children's ER for tests.
|In the children's ER, hoping that a bottle will make her feel better and failing.|
After a period that was surely a half an hour at most but felt like days, a doctor came in and explained that because Babycakes' temperature was so high they needed to rule out certain bacterial infections and the only way to do that was with a spinal tap. A SPINAL TAP. The doctor explained that this was usually a very unpleasant experience for babies and they recommended that we sit outside while she and three other nurses (three!) administer the procedure.
We sat outside in the hallway and fidgeted helplessly while Babycakes screamed. And screamed some more. The kind where you hear that moment of silence and you know it's not because the crying has ceased but because she is catching her breath and gathering her strength for a particularly impressive wail.
After they were finished, we went back into the room and rocked her for a few a minutes. The whole experience was so exhausting that it wasn't long until she was passed out:
While she slept, we talked with the doctor and learned that she would most likely be kept for 72 hours for observation. Seventy Two hours. Three nights. The rationale was that it would take 72 hours for the cultures from her blood tests and SPINAL TAP to develop and, in the meantime, they wanted to treat her with a wide spectrum of antibiotics to flush out any potential bacteria. If she ended up just having a nasty virus, then no harm done by being over-cautious, but if she did have a nasty infection like bacterial meningitis, she'd get 3 days of treatment into her.
As we are full believers in the "better to be safe than sorry" method as well as the "listen to the medical professional who knows a lot more than you" school of thought, we signed all the necessary papers to have Babycakes admitted and found ourselves in a private room in the children's wing of the hospital. It was 1:15am. Lou ran home for supplies - change of clothes, food (remember, dinner was on the stove when we flew out of the house) and basic toiletries.
When he got back, we sat side by side on this little chair-turned-cot and ate pasta out of a tupperware container while watching 'Mythbusters' subtitled in Dutch and listening to the rythmic beep beep beep of Babycakes' monitors.
It was easily one of the most surreal nights of my life.
If you had told my high school self that in a short 10 years I would spend a night in a Belgian hospital anxiously watching over my newborn daughter I would have called you crazy. Insane. Of all the milestones I anticipated, this was not one of them. Funny where life takes you.
After round the clock care and lots of fussing and cooing, her temperature dropped and by Tuesday afternoon it was at an (apparently) healthy 99.5. Although she was back to being her happy, smiling self, we still had to wait on the results of the cultures before we could be discharged. I used the time to do some work, watch some amazing Belgian television and brainstorm ways to entertain an 11 week old while in a small hospital room.
It went like this:
Which felt like this:
- I am SO glad that we live in Leuven and were able to communicate with the doctors and nurses without any problems. I'm not sure that would have been the case in Brussels or other parts of Belgium.
- I could not recommend UZ Gasthuisberg (the hospital) more highly. The doctors and nurses were attentive, friendly, professional, understanding and very patient with what I'm sure was their worst nightmare - first time parents. And not just that... first time American parents.
- Babycakes is not allowed to get sick again. Ever.