Thursday, February 4, 2010

Ben in the Box

December 22, 2009 could possibly have been the scariest day of my life. Ben had his first pediatrician appointment scheduled for the day and it went just as expected. At the conclusion of this visit, I mentioned to the doc that Ben appeared to look a bit yellow. She said that he "didn't look so bad", but would still do a bilirubin blood test just to be sure. Now, when a doctor tells you that it doesn't "look so bad", you believe them.

Later that night, at around 11pm, we received a phone call from the doctor's office. It had taken them time to get the results of the blood test. We were told to get ready to rush over to the hospital because Ben's bili level had been a whooping 23!

The thought of having to take a two week old infant to the hospital can be overwhelming. Upon receiving the phone call, I began crying hysterically and couldn't breathe. Joon had to remind me to take deep breaths and that everything would be okay. I couldn't believe what was happening.

When we arrived at the hospital, they put Ben in an incubator with phototherapy blue lights. They put a biliband around his head to protect his eyes from the lights. If you know infants, you know that they don't stay still. The biliband kept on shifting every time he moved so his eyes were constantly being exposed to the potentially eye-damaging lights. We had to readjust every few minutes. Needless to say, we did not sleep those two nights.

Ben's blood was drawn every six hours from his heel. Each time, I had to step out of the room and walk down the hallway because I couldn't take the sound of him crying at the top of his lungs. Joon held him close to his body while the nurse pricked his skin and squeezed blood from his heel. This process took at least 15 minutes each time.

When his bili level was finally below 17, we were discharged and hallelujah, we were on our way home.

It's very common for newborns to be jaundice, especially Asian babies. I understand that. Everyone keeps telling me, "My baby was jaundiced too. Just get some sunlight and he'll be fine". If I have to hear one more person telling me this, I will scream. There is no sun in the dead middle of winter and little do they know that Ben already went to the hospital for phototherapy. He still has jaundice now as I type this. The doc said that he has a kind of jaundice that'll take about 3 months to go away.

I'm trying to keep things in perspective though. The jaundice doesn't hurt him and his bili level is low so there's no risk of brain damage (which is what I feared most when we found out that it was at 23 at one point in time.) His skin is just a little more "yellow" than your typical Asian baby.

Advice to first-time mommies from a first-time mommy:
As hard as it is, try not to let what other people say get to you, even if they have the best intentions. Easier said than done, right? Just try to remember that you are doing everything in your power to care for your child and do what's best.
Otherwise, you'll end up feeling worse about yourself and you'll think that you're a terrible mom. That's how I felt and it's not a good feeling.

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