Thursday, January 24, 2013

taking it one day at a time.

Wednesday 1/23/2013

I've been holding off blogging about our norovirus. I'd figured I'd wait 'til I was feeling well again, before I gave you all an inappropriate run down of this last week's nastiness.

Suddenly I'm no longer game for oversharing.

My norovirus miraculously recovered two evenings ago when my hubs mentioned he was concerned about Little Miss D's soft spot. I guess you could say I've been quite literally scared shitless ever since..

My tummy stopped its churning, and instead started clenching and twisting in anxiety. I exhaled heavily, exclaiming "Oh, please don't start me panicking over that!"

See, after our lady had thrown up on Sunday, we called the nurse to check on the protocol for medicine and such. And she happened to mention that dehydration was our biggest concern.

'Look out for a sunken soft spot.....'  she warned.

So I'd been nursing in fits and starts and she hadn't thrown up for over 24 hours. She was looking a little tired maybe, but apart from some teething issues (including frustration when she tried to nurse) she was a text book happy baby.

No fever. No crying. No sunken soft spot......

However; Daddy had identified a strange variation of this issue. A SWOLLEN soft spot.

As soon as he voiced this concern I heard a penny drop inside my head. I'd been noticing something vaguely unfamiliar about her head shape myself. So we both examined it and stroked it. And the closer we looked the larger it seemed to get. It was raised and squishy - like a large water blister.

We called the nurse, who referred us straight to the on call Doc. It was tricky to describe the exact location of the swollen spot (particularly as Momma mistakenly thought the anatomical soft spot was behind the 'bulge' we were seeing) but the iPhone came into its own capturing a few profile head shots on the 'spot' (no pun intended) which we promptly shared with the good Doctor.

He gave us two possible explanations for a benign bulge of this nature:

a) post infection trauma (or as Daddy put it - maybe she'd blown a gasket when she threw up).

b) a bump on the noggin.

There was no way she'd gotten a bump without us knowing. No way! Of course L-boy or S-boy hadn't lamped her one. Right Daddy? 

I didn't want to be one of those parents. You know? The ones who deny the only real plausible explanation. But she'd been with us all the time. ALL the time. Surely we'd have seen a bump to the head...?

It must have been the throwing up that did it. Then I remembered that Granny had babysat for an hour or so while Daddy and I napped.... L-boy was quick on the draw. Could Baby D have gotten bashed while we were sleeping?

Could I put my hand on my heart and vouch it wasn't a bump on the noggin? 

The answer was 'no'..

Based on all her other non-existent symptoms we called it a night, with a promise we'd keep an eye on it. Of course I didn't sleep too well. I lay drifting in and out of sleeping, stroking my hand over Baby's soft new hair to feel the bump.

And there it was, still bulging away in the morning.

Daddy made the (I'm glad it's not me doing it) call to Granny, who I have to say is one MIL in a million.

No, there hadn't been any incident she'd kept from us.... No L-boy or S-boy hadn't bashed Baby D on the head..... No she hadn't left her alone to fend for herself against the boys...

There were no ruffled feathers to speak of, simply genuine concern and further offers of help.

Well, that eliminated one benign explanation. Could throwing up really cause her head to bulge like that? I wasn't convinced. I was scared she had water on the brain - whatever the hell that means.

So I took her in.

I was nervous as all get out. But I didn't let on. Instead I smiled and bantered with the nurse and Doc. I was the epitome of calm and relaxed. I couldn't wait to be called neurotic.

[We invested over $1000 in peace of mind last summer when L-boy's fever had rocketed over 106DegF. We'd raced him to the emergency room for what had turned out to be a minor ear infection. I was more than eager to put $70 dollars into the peace of mind pot to have the Doc check out Miss D's head.]

But he wasn't calling me neurotic. He was looking closely at the swollen bump on her head. It was her soft spot he confirmed. The entirety of her soft spot or 'fontanelle' as it was clinically known was bulging. And he genuinely looked concerned.

Come on! Call me neurotic!! Suddenly I was wishing L-boy had lamped her one. That would have been less cause for worry, as it turned out.

The Doc never stopped smiling. He kept his game face on. But he didn't have any answers. He was reassuring that all other signs were good; There was clearly no fevering, no infection, no other symptoms to corroborate meningitis or any other scary 'bulging fontanelle' causes.

However, he continued carefully. He needed to speak to a specialist. A neurosurgeon.

My face didn't change. But I'm sure the terror was evident in my eyes.

Goodbye to the worst week of my life so far. Hello to the new worst week of my life.

And that's when the waiting game began.

I left the office holding Little Miss D tighter than ever. Everything outside looked exactly the same as it had before I went in. How could everything else be unchanged when my world was hurtling towards a black hole. I should have called the hubs but I just wanted to get us home. I wanted to hold him when I told him (Or for him to hold me.)

Told him what though, exactly? I didn't know anything. So I put my game face on, and I started smiling.

I didn't have to wait too long for an update. I'd missed a call during the drive home. I updated the hubs (still wearing my game face) and anxiously called the Doc back.

The neurosurgeon wanted to see her, but he wanted her to have an MRI first. My game face started to slip a little, but I held on to it. We had to do what we had to do...

She'd have to go under (they said). She was too little to stay still during the imaging so they'd have to sedate my baby. I could feel the sick fear in the pit of my tummy start to bubble up in panic, but I put a lid on it.

For the rest of the afternoon we waited for a time confirmation, but it never came.

And last night I wept. Then I broke my promise to the good Doc, and I Googled. In the space of a few short hours I became our in house expert on bulging fontanelles.

I didn't scare myself to death. Knowledge gave me strength. There were many benign and unexplained reasons for bulging fontanelles in healthy infants. There was hope. Of course there was!

But my research didn't lessen my fear of tomorrow. I knew I'd have to relinquish hold on my baby while a stranger sedated her and scanned her brain. While everything else was still unknown, that upcoming torture was a given.

I didn't sleep. I laid awake again stroking her head, secreting the bulge to disappear overnight.

It didn't disappear.

Thankfully though my torturous waiting didn't go on all morning. The phone rang not longer after the start of business hours with confirmation of an MRI appointment at 1:30pm. And there was more 'good' news. If we could keep her calm and swaddled, they wouldn't have to sedate her.

Thank the Lord for that! I didn't want to get my hopes up too high. Babies as young as Miss D didn't usually need sedating (they said) but that didn't mean they wouldn't sedate her, if they couldn't get a still enough image...

Once we'd jumped through all the usual insurance hoopla, The hubs, Baby D and I set off to Dell Children's hospital in Austin, leaving the boys in the hands of their great aunt.

It was a relief to stress over insurance. It was a relief to worry over the boys and the potential diarrhea disaster about to befall their aunt. It was a relief to think of anything but what was foremost in both our minds.

We arrived a whole hour early. I'd already been warned over the phone that we might wait a long time as we were being squeezed in between patients needing anesthesia, so we set up camp in the waiting room fully prepared for the long haul.

I was given a waiver form to fill out stating I wasn't pregnant so that I could be in the room with her during the MRI (Thank you, again for small mercies).

Baby D's planned procedure was a fast acquisition version. Instead of an hour, it would only take a few minutes to acquire the image. We had her swaddle with us ready to go. Our plan was to wait for our call, then wrap her up tight and bounce her to snoozeville just in time.

While we waited I walked her around, and played with her, and nursed her, and changed two poopy diapers. And eventually I even let Daddy have a turn holding her... and then we were up.


Before I had my wits about me we were shaking hands with a (Dr?) Hendel and following him across the hospital through a myriad of off white corridors and eventually into what looked like a hotel. My eyes found the stained glass chapel windows overhead straight away, and I felt my spine tingle a little. I'd never seen a chapel inside a hospital before - except in the movies.

All the while the Doc was telling us what was about to happen. but I was still stuck, like a broken record on one of the first thing he'd said,

"You have to wait in the surgical waiting room. You can't go in with her....."

But what about my waiver form?? 

I didn't object (out loud). The usual MRI room wasn't available, so they had to use one in a restricted surgical zone. I kept my chin up (stiff upper lip), and my game face on - big smile for the hubs and my girl. But my insides were churning.

What if she's scared? What if she isn't calm? What is they need to sedate her and I'm not there to hold her little hand? 

He led us to the far side of the waiting room then stopped, and waited expectantly... He wanted us to hand her over straight away?! What???? No! We're not ready! She's not swaddled!

I looked a little alarmed at Daddy.

But it was hard not to trust the doctor. He pointed to the double doors less than ten yards away and promised she'd be out of our sight for 6-7 minutes. I appreciated that preciseness.

He started to say they'd wrap her in a blanket to keep her still, but expert swaddler, Daddy, was quick on the case with our Kiddopotamos. All the while our little lady was smiling and looking around her in wonder. The Doc waited patiently, and genuinely seemed impressed by our baby swaddle (side note: someone needs to kit out Dell Children's hospital...)

Daddy laid our precious baby girl (wrapped up like a gift) in the doctors waiting arms. Her face didn't turn red, or frown. She just looked up at him earnestly and smiled. She was chilled out and settled and happy. And that made it a smidgen easier to let her go.

Both Daddy and I kissed her gently on her cheek before watching this tall stranger carry her out of sight.

"Time it." I said quietly to Daddy and he promptly turned on the timer on his wristwatch. I ran to the restroom to worry some time away.

"How long as it been?" I asked when I returned.

"A minute and a half." smiled Daddy

I laughed a little to relieve the tension. God, it was hard to wait. My heart went out to all the parents in the world waiting for their babies to come out of surgery.

In 6 long minutes we watched those double doors open and close three times. Then finally, seconds before the full 7 minutes was up, Dr Hendel came gliding through with Miss D still happily swaddled and awake in his arms. It was like watching a magician pull a rabbit out of his hat, which he'd made disappear into a poof of smoke only seven minutes earlier.

I couldn't wait to get her back in my arms.

She'd been perfect (he said). They'd gotten their image and we were free to go home and wait some more. We left around 2:00pm with the promise that we'd hear from our own Doctor not before 24 hours.

So that brings us to tonight.

The waiting would be so incredibly hard right now, except the bulging has gone (more or less.)

I'd started to notice it was a little reduced while we'd been waiting for the MRI, but I wasn't sure if that was just wishful thinking. Sure enough, by the time we'd gotten home, her head appeared almost back to normal. Almost.

I don't know what this means. I can tell you, the relief I'm feeling right now is immense, if a little premature. Last night I read about transient bulging fontanelles associated with small illnesses. I guess 'transient' could refer to two days (not two hours)?

Whatever, we're not out of the woods yet. My family's health and emotional state have been through the mill and back this week. I've cried more tears of pain and fear to last me through the rest of 2013 at least (please God).

I know I will sleep fitfully again as I worry over those results. I'll snuggle close to Baby D, and stroke her gently bulging head whispering the same plea I've chanted repeatedly ever since S-boy was a bean,

"Please keep my babies happy, healthy and safe." 


  1. I didn't want to post this without the following good news to report (or make anyone wait until I found the opportunity to write something tonight). The MRI results just came back and it's good news. Apart from a little extra fluid Little Miss D is looking great. Now I can breathe again.

  2. Thank you for the follow up! Very glad to hear it is good news.

  3. Wow! What a heart wrenching story. So relieved D is okay!!

  4. Jo, I need to hug you! Skype tonight? Xxx

  5. Thanks for the update! I'm so glad she is OK! Thinking of you and your family and sending hugs your way!

  6. Oh God, I can't believe I didn't see this post last week! I am so sorry you had to go through that; I was nearly in tears just picturing it. You are so brave; I really can't imagine having to go through such a scary ordeal. I am so glad to hear she is fine! Hugs to you, mama!

  7. Oh my goodness, Josie. I am so sorry to just be reading this now. I can't believe you had to go through all of that with your little girl. Bless your heart. Thank God, though, that the results were good.
    I know what you mean when you say you forgot suddenly about being sick yourself. There is nothing in the world that is scarier than having a sick child.
    Hugs and kisses and more hugs to you from me. Hold tight to that beautiful family of yours.