Thursday, January 15, 2015

Hospital Diaries: Part II

The story of Jayne's hospital stay last September. Part I here. Part III here

That first night in our room in the pediatric unit felt endless. Jayne was restless and in pain. Her fever wasn't coming down with Tylenol, so the nurse brought in wet washcloths to wrap around her neck and back to cool her down. Jayne would cry out at the cold of the cloths, and they were warmed through within minutes. Her fever temporarily lowered after these applications but would ultimately spike again. It felt awkward to hold her. She had wires and tubes coming off her arm and foot, and her little forearm was taped to a tiny board to keep her wrist from bending and dislodging the IV line. Adrenaline coursed through me from fear the Tylenol wasn't working like it should, and I spent the night nursing, rocking, and holding my very miserable baby. I would attempt every hour to lay her down and would get to lie down myself for two minutes or so before she began to fuss again. I think I got about 30 minutes of sleep total that night.

{Jayne, eyes still fever-red, after she started to get better.}

Our nurse, Tina, was amazing. She anticipated our needs, didn't make me feel stupid or bothersome, and went above and beyond in caring for Jayne. "Normally I wouldn't come in so often," she said, "but I'm going to check on Jayne every 30 minutes to monitor her temperature and make sure you don't need anything." I was so grateful for her companionship and attention on one of the longest nights of my life. 

Jay and I both stayed with Jayne in the hospital each night. During the few hours she slept, we curled up together on the narrow couch, our exhaustion overtaking our discomfort. I only left the hospital once during our five day stay; I couldn't imagine leaving our baby in that place alone. The nurses told us that the screaming baby next door wanted to be held, but his parents weren't there and the nurses couldn't be with him all the time. I was so grateful my parents lived close by and were able to take Kate so we could focus on caring for Jayne.

{The pull-out couch where Jay and I slept.}

We met Jayne's pediatrician the next day. She informed us that Jayne's blood culture showed signs of bacteria growth, indicating a blood infection. Our baby was septic. I didn't know much about sepsis except that it's bad, potentially very bad, and I spent the rest of the day in a hazy panic. It was then I was grateful for the lumbar puncture, as traumatic as it was, since sepsis increased the odds that Jayne could have meningitis. Obtaining the CSF sample at the beginning ensured that if there was infection, we would know as soon as possible.  

We learned from a renal ultrasound that Jayne's left kidney had hydronephrosis (swelling from excess fluid). Though her urine culture wouldn't show any bacteria growth until Thursday, it was becoming clearer that the sepsis was very likely secondary to a UTI. 

Jayne's temperature had lowered and, for the most part after that, the fever was controlled with revolving doses of Tylenol and occasional ibuprofen. Tuesday night was much better: she slept for 2-3 hour stretches and was more calm.

Wednesday morning, Jay went back to work. Before he left, he noticed Jayne's skin was white. It was eerie. Like the rest of us, she has never had much pigment in her skin, but she normally had the pale, rosy complexion of a redhead. Those healthy pink undertones were gone; Jayne was a pallid porcelain. Her ginger hair and pink lips offered the only contrast on her sweet face.

When I expressed this concern to the doctor, she explained that because Jayne's body was seriously ill, it had pulled blood from less important areas like her skin to help fight the infection. It reminded me of times I'd looked in a mirror when I was sick with gut-churning nausea to see my face bloodless and ashen.

{Jay filled out Jayne's "about me" section}

Jayne's little system was addled by the strong doses of IV antibiotics. She had horrible diarrhea and a worsening diaper rash, and Wednesday night, if she wasn't nursing, she was screaming. We bounced her, rocked her, shushed her, patted her, held her. She still screamed. Jay and I were both exhausted, and we felt helpless and desperate. I finally lay down with her on the couch and she calmed as she fed. Just then, our new night nurse came in and offered to take Jayne to the nurses' station for a little while so we could get some rest. Since Jayne was finally dozing, we declined but told her we might take her up on it later.

About an hour later, I was awoken from my doze by Jayne's renewed screams. I began to have what I can only assume was an anxiety attack. I quickly passed the baby to Jay as the strength drained from my body and my arms and legs shook uncontrollably. I ran to the bathroom, dry heaving, and asked Jay to call the nurse to take Jayne. 

After she whisked Jayne away, Jay gave me a blessing that my body would calm and I would be able to rest. I lay down and instantly felt better--my shaking stopped, the nausea vanished. It was a miracle.

Feeling somewhat guilty but intensely relieved, we crammed onto the couch and fell asleep. We slept for five hours. When I woke up, I almost started crying from intense gratitude. I told the nurse those hours of sleep were the greatest gift anyone could have given me in that moment. Jayne had spent the night sleeping in a swing at the nurses' station after taking a bottle and fussing a bit.

{Jayne in the little hospital swing}

After that night, things were on the upswing. We learned Jayne's infection was from a strain of E. coli that was, thankfully, responsive to all antibiotics. She had a blood draw that, while still showing inflammation markers, was clean. She was much more herself on Thursday, content to lie in her bed and look around and make sweet noises. Her fever spiked briefly one more time in a last little cough of effort, but then it left for good. 


  1. Wow, Lindsay, so scary! I am so glad that it "left for good." You're one amazing mom!

  2. What a terrifying journey for you all! No doubt those were the longest days and nights of your life. :( I'm so happy that everything passed and turned out well for your sweet Jayne in the end.

    1. Thanks, Lacey! Glad your little boy is doing better.

  3. Oh my. Thank you God that it did leave. I'm so sorry you had to endure that. What a stressful experience. I'm so glad you have Jay and that the medical professionals were so supportive. Nurses are just awesome like that :)