29 July 2009

I'd like to preface this entry by saying I hope I'm not jinxing myself. I'm knocking on wood as I type.

As some of you probably remember, when Lily was a newborn she spent some time at the hospital due to having seizures. The shortish version of the story is that on her fifth day of life she had her first seizure, though it wasn't diagnosed until day seven, and she spent 4 (5?) days in the hospital, hooked up to a multitude of monitors to ensure that the Phenobarbitol she received every 12 hours prevented any more seizures from occurring. It was determined through a process of elimination that the seizures were due to a genetic foible from Liam's side of the gene pool. A number of his family members had the same problem as newborns and Liam's children will all face a 50% chance of falling into the affected category. The working theory on the cause of the seizures is that a phosphorus pump in the brain that is used during the first weeks of life is faulty, and so administering a sedative such as Phenobarb for the first six weeks gets the baby through the problem time.

It was, to put it mildly, a very crappy experience. I was a super-hormonal postpartum mom who one day had a normal, healthy newborn at home and the next day was camped out in the Neonatal Intermediate Care Nursery watching her daughter hooked up to a mass of machinery and looking so helplessly tiny. The stress of not really knowing what was going on with my daughter combined with the fatigue of coaxing a sedated baby to nurse every 4 hours round the clock and the worry about Nicholas who had been foisted off upon my parents was overwhelming.

Coming out of that heartwrenching week, Liam and I wondered if we would end up making the decision of the size of our family based on not wanting to go through that experience again. We eventually, obviously, decided to go ahead and give the Johnstone-MacPherson genetic combo another go. We do make cute kids after all.

The worry over the possibility of reliving the seizure scenario hovered over me during my pregnancy with Olivia. How would we cope this time? Would it be easier? What would happen if I needed to stay overnight at the hospital away from Lily, who has yet to spend a night apart from me? What if our choice to pursue an unassited birth led to problems with the way things were handled with our newborn? I worried. I prayed. I tried to visualize what the best case scenario could look like, and then the worst.

And so here we are, on Olivia's ninth day of life and there has been no sign of any abnormalities. The seizures, if they were going to happen, would have shown up on or around the fifth day (hence the nickname Fifth Day Fits). I've watched her closely, tensed up at odd breathing patterns, and kept her either with me or with Liam at all times.

Slowly, slowly I'm feeling like we're ok. I didn't realize until this morning when I felt happy just how tense I'd been feeling. I'm not going to have to watch my baby stiffen and turn purple as she stops breathing for the world's longest minute. I'm not going to have to check her into the hospital where she'll be jabbed and have a spinal tap like her big sister did. I'm not going to have to spent countless hours sitting in the nursery watching her vitals flash across a screen.

I'm not. I get to just stay home and breathe in the intoxicating milky scent that surrounds Olivia like a cloud. I get to sleep in my own bed, play with my other children, and enjoy the blessings in my life.


Liam J. said...

I'm glad the danger is past, too. (touch wood)

legion said...

Wow, I got tense just reading that.

I'm really glad everything's worked out so well for you guys.

(knocking on wood also)

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