Light at the end of the tunnel

Posted on Fri 02 December 2011 in general

Ursula is quite possibly the healthiest baby that has ever graced the Special Care Baby Unit at our local hospital. The sequence of events that led us there were more than a little concerning. As we were about to be discharged the midwife observed a leg twitch that didn't look like the standard myoclonic twitch you expect with sleeping babies. This led to a summoning of the paediatric registrar followed by the consultant and her crash bag. At the time we wondered if it was just the hospital stalling our discharge as we were getting impatient to go home having been told the final blood test result was one hour away for several hours in a row.

There are a number of possible causes for these twitches, mostly neurological in nature with various infections including meningitis potentially acquired during the birth. After an examination the registrar assured us the most likely cause would be "just one of those things your baby does". However they obviously wanted to rule out any of the other potential causes. Ursula was whisked up to the neo-natal intensive care unit and plugged up to various monitors and a cannula for monitoring and a series of tests. The experience was a little unsettling but the staff were very re-assuring and professional and obviously used to the shock that affects parents as their newborns get whisked into a room full of hospital beeps and alarms.

So far all the tests Ursula has been subjected to have come back negative. The only remaining possibility is meningitis for which the test involves a delicate lumbar puncture procedure. After 3 failed attempts (wriggly babies are very rarely compliant) they abandoned the notion. As a result the working assumption is it was caused by meningitis and Ursula needs to complete the anti-biotic course she has been on since she moved to the ICU. She has since been moved into the rather more sedate Special Care Baby Unit (less beeping, more space) where she continues to be a hungry, alert and otherwise very healthy baby.

Fliss was discharged on Wednesday and has been going through a bit of a hormonal roller-coaster as she comes home after spending the day feeding and reading to Ursula. However the end is in site and we hope to be bringing Ursula home on Monday evening (or possibly Tuesday morning) once she has finished her course of antibiotics.

The experience has been a little unsettling. It seems I've collected the "Parental Worry" trophy a bit earlier than I was planning. However I remain grateful to the professional NHS staff who have been taking care of our precious daughter where her health and not the cost of her care has been their top priority. Meanwhile I've been back to work for a few days so as not to burn all my paternity before the family is fully assembled at home.