Trevor has always been exceptional, and we've known that for a very long time. Most kids do not get a belly button infection, for example. But, Trevor did. The doctor was so surprised to see his belly button infection that she had an older doctor confirm what she was seeing. Then, we had to take him back to the doctor every day for 3 or 4 days, including a Sunday, for a belly button check and antibiotic shots.
But, the rare belly button infection was nothing compared to his first week of life.
After being discharged from the hospital, we took our new son home, and I proceeded to take care of him as well as I could. I was nursing. Since he was our first child, I was new to nursing, had no idea what "let-down" felt like, and marvelled at how I could nourish this newborn baby.
He was a little jaundiced when he was discharged, but his level was so low that their guidelines allowed him to be discharged. We were instructed to bring him back the next day for a repeat bilirubin check.
We took him back to Condell, where he was born, for his first re-check. It was the middle of the day, probably 1:00. I had already noticed that his mouth was dry, and I thought I should ask the phlebotomist about that, but I didn't. And, she wouldn't have been the right person, anyway.
When the doctor got his results, she called and told us to take him to Victory for another check. Victory has a bad reputation, but it was closer. After a couple of hours, she called us back and told us to do another recheck. We took him to Victory again. Daddy and I were getting a little uneasy. Neither of us had any idea what was so serious about a little jaundice. You can cure it with sunlight, for goodness' sake!
A little after the third re-check, the doctor called us and told us to take him to the ER because his level was bilirubin level was rising quickly.
During this day, third day of life, I think, I had noticed his mouth was getting dry. In hindsight, he was also becoming lethargic and losing interest in trying to eat, but babies sleep alot, and I just didn't think too much of the dry mouth or even notice the lethargy. I've always been around babies, but never had to care fulltime for a newborn. I didn't realize it wasn't normal for a baby to have absolutely no moisture in their mouth.
We took him to the Victory ER. Daddy and I were both scared at this time. We didn't know why, yet, but we were both very scared. It took about an hour for us to get admitted. During that hour, we called the doctor and asked if we should stay at Victory because they weren't getting us a room. She had told us they would have a room ready for us. She assured us we should stay put.
When Trevor finally got to the room, the doctor got to work right away. I don't remember exactly what happened, but the doctor told us, "You have a very sick baby." I think Doctors only use these words when they want to prepare you for the worst, but that didn't occur to me at the time. I just wanted to know what we needed to do fix him. The doctor continued, "the jaundice is the least of your problems. Your baby is very dehydrated."
I had tunnel vision, I think, and all I could see was the doctor. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed that Daddy was green and about to pass out. I think I may have hollered, "ARE YOU ALL RIGHT?" The doctor asked a nurse to get him a soda.
They took Trevor to a room across the hall, and they kept my screaming newborn in there for about an hour while they tried to insert an IV. They tried his arms, his legs, and finally settled in his head. His veins had started to collapse because of the dehydration.
The thing that is so scary about this to me is that I never asked about his dry mouth, and the doctors were only concerned about his jaundice. The jaundice, left unchecked, could cause permanent brain damage. The dehyrdration would have just killed him. I think if it was known how sick he was, we never would have waited an hour in the ER. I think they would have seen him or sooner, or we would have driven to another hospital.
The doctor ordered that his blood be checked every hour for sodium and bilirubin levels. The first check showed things were getting better. The second check, the sodium levels were normal. The doctor was NOT pleased with this, though, because the levels were falling too quickly. Things were adjusted, and his dehydration was under control by the next morning.
He was in the hospital for the next 5 days in an incubator under and top of lights with his little eyes covered. I think I stayed every night, and I was able to sleep part of the night by the third night. I think they brought me a bed by the fourth night! My ankles became swollen for the first time ever, my skin became dryer than ever, and I was Trevor's primary care-giver. I changed him, weighed his diapers, nursed him once my milk came in, and gave him bottles of formula. The woman who brought me food was very pleasant and helpful, the nurses, not so much.
The problem was my milk hadn't come in. The bilirubin levels weren't falling because he wasn't peeing because he wasn't getting any milk, and he became dehydrated for the same reason. And, our baby was very sick.
After this, I would tell anyone who would listen to watch for signs of dehydration in their new baby! But, there was really no need. Trevor is just an exceptional kid, most kids don't nearly die from dehydration and jaundice in their first few days of life even if their mother's milk doesn't come in. Trevor was just an exception. He's just always been exceptional. I expect he always will be.