The “Night Before Oprah” Day

I thought Oprah day would feel different. It was exciting to do it, but I watched the show with my husband in our infant son’s hospital room. Not the viewing party I had envisioned.

Early Sunday morning, Rex felt hot and was needy. He didn’t want to sleep alone. We took his temp and seeing a temp of over 101, we gave him Baby Tylenol. He seemed better but drowsy most of the day. In the afternoon, I noticed the fever had returned. I gave him Tylenol and held him for two hours. When I checked, the fever was still there. Odd. When I got ahold of his doctor, I was a little surprised that she said, “Take him to the emergency room.”

At 8:30p.m., Rex and I waited for an hour, and then Mark showed up. He had to wait for our babysitter to be with Vivien and Oliver. The ER waiting room is bleak and dirty. Rex was sleepy in my arms. Sometimes, I could get him to nurse. I looked like hell and was pretty sure some of the sketchy and forlorn folks were getting a glimpse of my breast, but the ER wears us all down so even naked flesh is not appealing.

Mark and I were shocked when (after an hour in the ER exam room) the doctor told us plainly that Rex needed to be hospitalized for 48 hours (I said, “Well, I’m going with him”), have a catheter take his urine, have an IV and blood drawn, and have spinal fluid extracted. Doc, he is 7 weeks old. I just left a hospital after delivering him. Isn’t this an ear infection?

We learned that any fever for a baby under 2 months is a red flag for Meningitis. And I learned that we could all get through what the doctor told us would be “one of the roughest nights of our lives;” he wasn’t making that up.

They wheeled Rex and I on a gurney to another room off the ER. By now, it was close to midnight. Before everything began, I said to Mark, “I’d feel so much better if I could do this instead of him.” “Yes,” he agreed.

I lay on the gurney, sometimes nursing Rex, always holding him. First was the catheter to get a sample. Not pleasant, but not the worst. Now the IV and a blood sample. I knew from Cool Mom readers to ask for the best stick, and one nurse said she was. I felt she was too young to be, but another nurse agreed. I lay Rex down on the gurney, and he was already crying. He knew. As I went to his feet, I saw my husband move Rex’s side. I have never seen Mark cry, but now his face was red, and his eyes filled with tears. We tried to reassure Rex as the needle went in his tiny arm.  But no, all she did was bruise him. Not the best stick after all. I picked Rex up and started to nurse him. Within minutes I heard “Ready, mom?” from a middle-aged, stone-faced nurse who had taken the other nurses’ places. “Oh,” I said. “Are you good at this?”

“Yes,” she answered, and she was just old enough to make me believe her. She put the IV in the top of his hand. It worked. They taped a little board covered in gauze to keep it in place. After that, Rex was ready to nurse, which was a relief to me, and it meant we were two-thirds over with this torture. New shift brought a new nurse whom I really liked: a slender man who seemed very bright and compassionate. Later I would learn he was a former Marine who had done two duties in Iraq, which made me trust him more. He and the doctor wanted to wait while I nursed before the spinal.

When the time came, Mark and I wanted to get it over with. The former Marine said we could stay or leave the room. That “different parents do both.” Mark asked me what I wanted to do. I said, “If Rex has to go through this the least we can do is be here with him and let him know we haven’t left him.”

The Marine put Rex gently on his side and held his body in place while the doctor–who I liked- shot Lidocaine into Rex’s back. I got down on the floor and put one hand on his head, stroking, the other to his hand. Rex gripped my finger with his whole fist. Strangely, when the doctor extracted the spinal fluid, Rex stopped crying and his face took on a look of resignation, like, “Oh good, they are just going to keep doing stuff to me.” It broke my heart, and yet I thought him so brave. Then it was over. The Marine said the fluid was clear, and he doubts Rex has Meningitis. But we have to wait 48 hours for the cultures, and while Rex is in the hospital, they will give him the antibiotics by IV in case he does have Meningitis.

It was 3 a.m., and we were still in the little room when the residents asked us the same questions about Rex’s illness. I finally told mark to go home. No point in both of us being ruined. He left to return in the a.m. to bring me breakfast. And he needed to be home when Viv woke up. I had called my sister Carole’s house after midnight, and her dear husband Kevin said right away, “What can we do?”  I asked them to take care of Viv the following day, which they did.

I nursed Rex as all our bags and car seat, were loaded next to me and we were finally wheeled into our own room on the pediatric level. Our new home. I so was tired I had to stare at the crib for a minute before I realized I wouldn’t fit. They kindly wheeled a regular bed in as they knew I needed to hold Rex all night.

And I did.

20 thoughts on “The “Night Before Oprah” Day

  1. Dear Daphne,
    I am so sorry to hear that Rex is sick. I am praying that he will get better soon, and that you will get doctors and nurses who know what they are doing and will take good care of you and your baby. Keep holding your baby, you are his best medicine.

  2. Daphne,
    I’m praying for you and Rex and the rest of your family! My daughter had to have a spinal right after she was born and it was torture for me. Hope the tests come back clear and you can go home soon!!!!


  3. “If Rex has to go through this the least we can do is be here with him and let him know we haven’t left him.”

    You are such an awesome mother, and Mark sounds like an awesome father, too. Watching kids get poked and prodded is the worst. I still haven’t recovered from the IV my oldest had to have over 2 years ago. I don’t know how parents with chronically ill children do it.

    I hope those cultures come back as expected (with NO meningitis), of course. I am glad you recognized that something was weird and called, and that you have access to excellent medical care. It’s important that all parents with newborns know that a fever, even one that isn’t especially high, but is stubborn, can be a dangerous thing in a very young infant. Good job spreading the word.

    You looked awesome on Oprah. Proud to sort of know you, in the loosest, “I read your blog and watch your vids,” sense of the word “know.” 🙂

  4. We had to do the same thing with our youngest when he was 10 days old and had a seizure. I remember it all. I stayed the whole 5 days he was in the hospital. You have to. Who else will be their voice when they come in and stick and prod. Yes, I was that mom, I asked about everything they did , and even asked that they not do. Thank God you stayed, otherwise they do go ahead and stick and draw and no one there to hold the baby. Heart breaking. Babies do know their mom and dad are there, and they do calm at the sound of mama’s voice and the feel of daddy’s strong arms. They do. Awesome job. I hope he is better. But my heart breaks for you, because I know the feeling of watching your baby and fearing the worst. I pray he’s better, and isn’t it something how these things happen and we realize what is important in life. It’s Rex.

  5. Oh, Daphne – I am so sorry. God Bless and I’ll be praying for you all.

    p.s. I saw Oprah yesterday and loved it! 🙂

  6. Ugh. I’m sorry. There is nothing more difficult than watching your kids go through something like that, especially when they are just a baby. I hope you are home and all feeling much better soon.

    (I think I might have left the room. You are a stronger woman than I am.)

  7. What a difficult process! I hope that Rex is okay, and I’m glad that the doctors are taking every precaution to make sure his illness is nothing serious!

  8. And to think I was laughing at your comments on Oprah yesterday. I am so sorry for what all of you are having to endure. I hope you’ll all be home, and healthy, soon.

  9. My son was in at 3 days for jaundice and dehydratiion (not getting enough milk). A nurse told me that if they suck the breast/pacifier during the stick (needle), they don’t react and it was true. It is a basic form of comfort so it helps them ignore the pain and focus. I highly recommended it everytime we had to get blood drawn the first year!!

  10. Daphne – I will definately keep Rex in my prayers. My daughter had some mystery illness when she was three that landed her two different stays, 8 days total, in the hospital. I was 8 months pregnant and stayed with her the whole time. It was terrible and painful to see her scared and in pain, and it was even worse not knowing what was wrong! Hopefully they can give you an answer soon and you can take Rex home where he belongs.

  11. oh, honey. this made me weep. i’ll be thinking of you and your baby Rex. thank goodness you have care for Viv. you poor thing. hang in there… xoxo

  12. Hello Daphne,

    Im really sorry that you have go true this. Is nothing more painful that see you love one in pain. I suggest asking for a copy of all the lab results before you leave.

    Keep strong,

    We will be praying for Rex , for Viv, Marck and you.


  13. Everyone thanks for your dear words and I my heart goes out to those of you who have been through this.
    Happy to report we have just come home. Fever is almost gone. al tests negative. What was it? mystery virus. He is so pooped from this journey. He has red puffy bags under his eyes. And now Vivien hates me because I was gone.

  14. How did I miss this??

    I had to take Dylan in at nine days because of the fever thing too. Apparently, anything over 100 degrees in the first couple weeks is mandatory spinal and observation. I’m so glad Max didn’t have any results anyone could decipher (read: he’s fine).

    Dylan was in heart failure (now I know what that looks like and will be alert for the next time one of my kids goes into it), and had to be taken in a critical care unit to Stanford. He was there on life support, in an induced coma, for ten days, and came home after seventeen. LONGEST DAYS OF MY LIFE.

    And my three year old hated me too. And I hated the five in-laws staying at my house the whole time.

    There are so many reasons I admire you, chica. The way you care about kids is one of them.

  15. Thanks Mindy. I am so sorry about what happen to Dylan, sounds like real nightmare.

    Rex is named Rex though. Maxwell is his middle name.. maybe why the confusion.

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