Way back in the day, when my 28 year old disabled sister was just a newborn, my parents gave her the prescribed daily dose of liquid multivitamins using a dropper. She ended up choking on the vitamins– so severely that she turned purple and my dad started CPR while my mom called an ambulance. She remained purple until the paramedics arrived and they were able to successfully resuscitate her (they actually defibrillated her– something rarely done on newborns nowadays) . Even though she had graduated from the NICU recently, she earned herself a readmission to the NICU that day. Talk about a traumatizing event. I don’t remember it happening (I was only 3) but just hearing my mom talk about it has always made me very sober.
So if you can imagine, I heeded my mom’s advice when she saw me give Joshua his vitamin D supplement through a dropper the other day. She gently reminded me of what had happened with my sister. I remained very cautious with the dropper, but Joshua seemed to do really great with it. I’d put one drop in the side of his mouth, and he’d immediately start sucking it down. It was a breeze. After a couple of weeks, I decided that perhaps the difference was that Joshua was a healthy newborn, whereas my sister had been in the NICU and had always had issues with choking.
It turned out that I was wrong. Sunday afternoon, my husband was holding Joshua upright and I decided that it was the perfect time to administer his vitamin D because my hands were free. Joshua was crying, but in the past he always stopped and immediately assessed the presence of something new in his mouth by starting to suck. I slipped the dropper in his mouth and put in (what I thought) was a drop. Instead of sucking, Joshua immediately started making attempts to gasp but couldn’t. He was unable to make any noise at all. He started to turn pale and his eyes widened as hubby and I both patted his back (with more and more intensity) hoping he would cough up the inhaled vitamins. I didn’t panic at first, because babies choke all the time. When it became clear to me that he still wasn’t able to breathe (and when I realized that almost the entire dosage of vitamins had gone into his mouth), infant CPR class kicked in and I instinctively snatched him up, put him head-down and started back blows. Not what I wanted to be doing to my not-even-four-weeks-old newborn. Not at all. After a couple of back blows I finally heard him cough weakly and saw some color return to his face. I put him upright and continued to pat his back. Bubbles started to come out of his mouth as he slowly coughed up the liquid he had inhaled. He sounded wheezy and “wet” — like there was still a lot of liquid in his trachea that needed to come up.
After Joshua recovered from the back blows, I sat there in the rocking chair, holding him upright on my chest while patting his back and rocking him back and forth. He looked exhausted from choking and coughing so much. As I sat there, thinking about my mom’s warning about the droppers and how pathetic Joshua now looked and sounded, I started to weep. I felt like the worst mom in the world. I prayed over Joshua that he wouldn’t get sick from aspirating the vitamins and emailed my older sister and asked her to pray too. But I still felt horrible. I sat there miserable and worried, rocking my exhausted little 8 pound baby. The tears kept coming.
Over the next few hours we kept a closer eye on Joshua. He sounded raspy when he cried and coughed up more liquid as the evening wore on, but by night time he sounded and looked fine. I was so relieved! I’ll never use one of those droppers ever again.
That was Sunday.
On Monday, I was hanging out with my mom in our living room when I noticed that I had some pretty sharp localized pain in my left lower abdomen. I wasn’t sure what to make of it, but I had just been telling my mom how great it was to be pain-free these days. I got up to take Joshua back to the nursery so that I could nurse him, and found that it was sort of hard to walk on that side. While I nursed Joshua, the pain got worse and so I tried to stretch out my body and lean back as much as I could to see if it would help the pain. It didn’t help. When Joshua was done nursing, I got up and asked my mom if she’d be willing to burp Joshua so that I could use the restroom, thinking it might help with the pain. I hobbled into the restroom. The pain got worse from there, so much so that I was practically in tears. I exited our bedroom and announced lamely to my mom, “Uh… I’m in a lot of pain… ” I hobbled out to the living room, and before I knew it the pain was out of control. “I don’t know what’s wrong!” I said to my mom, doubled over, barely able to move. The tears started to come. “Maybe it’s an ovarian cyst rupturing?” I tried to think of what could possibly going on. I knew it probably wasn’t appendicitis since it was on my left side and not my right side.
After about five minutes of sheer agony, mom said she wanted to call an ambulance. I suggested she drive me to the ER instead. “What if I get there and they tell me it’s just gas pain or something silly like that?” I said to my mom. I really didn’t want to look like an idiot. But the pain soon made even forget about looking like a fool… all I knew was that something was very wrong. At that point, my mom kicked it into high gear and swiftly got Joshua into his car seat and loaded in our car. She packed the diaper bag, helped me get in the car, and off we went. I managed to quickly call hubby and told him to meet us at the ER.
At the ER, I was called right back. I had my mom take Joshua home and away from all the germs in the ER waiting room. From there we waited in a room for what seemed like an eternity while I lay there in agony. I felt like I was in labor all over again. A doctor came in and I told him I suspected a rupturing cyst. He agreed and ordered an IV, pain meds, labs, and an ultrasound. I turned down the pain meds because they told me I would have to pump and dump if I took them (at that point I thought I might be home in time to nurse Joshua again). Plus, even though I was still in a lot of pain, it was a little better laying down than it had been standing (sitting was impossible though). From there, we waited four hours for the ultrasound. And as I lay there on the ER bed, I cried over the silliest stuff– I cried because of pain, I cried because Joshua was going to get his first bottle (since his first week of life) at home without me. I probably cried because I just wanted to be home taking care of my baby. It sounds ridiculous to me now. I guess I was a mess! I also really needed to pump but I couldn’t lean forward at all and I was stressed out trying to figure out what to do with my milk situation when I couldn’t nurse and I couldn’t pump.
Finally, after five hours in the ER, I started to feel better. I then finally got my ultrasound. It was negative. However, my urine sample came back looking positive for a UTI. So they decided that I must have a UTI (somehow just localized in one spot–on the left side). I started on antibitoics that evening but was already feeling 50% better before I even started it.
So I am being told I have a UTI, but my theory is that I had an ovarian cyst that burst before my ultrasound was done. That would explain why the pain subsided before I had the ultrasound and also before I started on antibiotics. And it would also explain why I’ve had some improving residual pain (only with sitting) the past few days in the same location. Also, the intensity and duration of pain felt pretty similar to a previous time when I had an ovarian cyst burst (this was back in 2010).
ER visit and horrible pain aside, God’s mercy on me through this whole event was that my mom was visiting when it happened. My mom’s not one of those people that needs a lot of instruction. She just jumps in there and gets the job done. I really needed that because I was totally unable to care for Joshua when the pain struck. In fact, I was barely able to call my husband and let him know what was going on. I don’t think I could have waited until my he had made the 40 minute drive home from work to get to the ER. I probably would have called an ambulance and then what would have happened with Joshua? I’m sure it would have worked out, but I’m just so relieved that I could leave Joshua in my mom’s capable hands. And it was nice for my hubby to be able to stay with me while I was in the ER.
So that was Sunday and Monday. We all survived, and there were blessings to be found.
But if I never have to do back blows or go to the ER again, I really wouldn’t mind.