Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Hospital + Babies = Nothing I Like About It

Babies and hospital are two words you do not want to see in one sentence, but there we were Monday with the sweet baby girl, Elke, in the pediatric emergency room. End of story: Elke had a UTI and she's fine. Thank God she's fine.

They're not sure how she got it. She's going to get an ultrasound next week to see if there are any abnormalities that might of caused it, but holy crap, holy peach-colored dressing gown, holy blue-eyed baby girl... it was the scare of my life.

When she woke up from her nap early Monday, Elke was rolling in a puddle of puke. I took her temperature which was 102 and called the doctor. They took me immediately because, well, the child was blue. She's not even a child. She's a pea-sized version of a child. She's just a baby! And she was blue. Outside of the fact that you don't ever want to see a blue baby, we were more concerned because Elke has a slight heart murmur. One of the bad signs of a problematic heart murmur is discoloration.

Temperature rises at doc's office to 103. Pediatrician takes blood, and cutting my arm off with a chainsaw would have been less painful. Elke is screaming, her arm stretched out and blue, turning purple from the needle shoved in her tiny baby, spider web-like vein. "It's positional!" My pediatrician is yelling at her nurse because the blood is barely dripping out, and not fast enough. So the nurse is trying to move the tube up and down like a game that's gone haywire. Still, Elke is screaming and she is still blue.

My pediatrician, who is not an alarmist, and who in five years with Jake has never suggested I go to the hospital, said: "I want you to go to the ER." As in, do not go home. Do not pass GO. Do not collect $200.

Dr: Are you going to be okay to drive?

Me: [Nodding head.]

Dr.: I'm this close to calling an ambulance. I need to know if you're okay to drive.

Me: I'm okay.

Not okay. Not okay. Not okay. Elke is not okay, and her not okay is far worse than my not okay. I'm her mother and I have to be OKAY. This amazing burden of being someone's mother.

The drive to the hospital is long and sweaty. We're going through a heat wave here on the east coast and the sun beats down on the car; inside it doesn't cool down fast enough. I stare at Elke through the baby mirror and wonder what our life would be like without her. I think about all of those fucking drugs I took when I was pregnant - that God -dammed hyperemesis and I wonder, I pray, Dear God, please don't make it so the drugs that kept me alive are now making my baby sick. She moans in her car seat. "We're almost there baby girl. We're almost there."

When I get her into the pediatric emergency room and pull her from that sweaty cocoon of a car seat, I see that her color is returning. And suddenly the room opens up. Suddenly, I catch a smile. Her eyes, red, and her lashes all wet, are bright again. I look around the room to see, of all things, a Wii.

A little boy, who is all hunched over, an who appears to be in pain, is approaching it.

"I don't think you should play that," his mother said. "You were complaining of your chest, your ribs, your arm hurting. I don't want you moving your arm around."

"Don't you know Wii makes everything feel better?" I say to her.

And we both laugh, and then I feel better. I can laugh. Elke is pink again. Elke even laughs, I think.

We're admitted. Doctor checks her heart. "The murmur is so slight," he says, "that I would be surprised if my resident can pick it up." Catheter. Shot of antibiotic. Ultrasound next week to make sure kidneys are okay and to possibly see why this UTI happened to a baby in the first place. I think about the peach colored gown, this polyester gown for tiny babies and am so grateful that her skin resembled the color of that gown.

Baby is all better. Her first swim in the pool will tell you as much. And she's no longer blue. She's just my beautiful snow white.


  1. So scary!! I can't imagine what that must have felt like. Good for you being able to drive yourself to the hospital. I'm glad little Elke is better. Hopefully they can get to the bottom of what caused that UTI. Poor little thing!

  2. Thanks Carolyn. Hopefully it's a one time thing. We'll see what happens when we get the ultrasound next week. In the meantime, we'll have to do a urine sample every time she has a fever... I'm going to avoid the catheter as best as I can. Hopefully we'll get a clean urine sample the old fashioned way, but it's not easy with a baby. My doc. sent me home with a lot of bags and urine cups... ugh, my poor girl!


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