It has been a hectic, scary, exhausting couple of days. I feel about 100 years older...but the good news is, all tests so far say that Connor is ok. To me, that is the most important thing.
So here's what happened...
Connor slept longer than usual Monday night...about 7 hours uninterrupted. When he woke up I noticed that his fontanel (soft spot) was bulging and firm. This had happened once before a couple of weeks ago when he had slept through the night and I googled it and read that the fontanel will sometimes bulge on babies who are or have been laying down, but it should go back down when they are sitting up. It did go back to normal within an hour of him being awake and active so I wasn't terribly concerned. I called his doc anyway and they just told me to keep an eye on it and gave me a list of symptoms to look out for, none of which he presented.
So Tuesday morning I wasn't terribly concerned, at first, when his fontanel was bulging, but I began to worry when it wasn't down by the time I was ready to drop him off at daycare. I had planned to leave him with them and then call his doctor's office when they opened...got so far as putting him in his room and getting to my car, but I couldn't do it. I turned around and went back for him. Called his doc right at 8 and they told me they wanted me to come in for the first appointment of the morning. We got there and they did their exam and determined yes, there was bulging. He was behaving happy and playful, though, so they weren't terribly concerned. They had to rule out excess fluid of brain bleeding so they scheduled us for a CT that afternoon. Poor Connor had to go without eating until after the scan, so he didn't get anything to eat from 7am-1pm. He usually eats every 3 hours so you might imagine he was rather hungry and tired at the end of it. We got the CT scan results at about 3:30pm and everything checked out ok. They doctor said they couldn't explain why his fontanel was bulging but they didn't think anything was wrong with him. They gave me a list of symptoms to keep an eye out for and called it a day.
That evening, around Connor's bedtime I kissed his forehead and he seemed a little hot so I took his temp. 101.6. I called the on call doc and told her about the bulging fontanel and fever and she just told me to keep an eye on the temp and his behaviour (if he seemed lethargic, excessively sleepy, irritable) I should go to the E.R. She also told me to call back in the morning because they would probably want to examine him again. When Connor woke for his night feeding I noticed that the bulging was a lot worse and it looked and felt like a goose egg...like he had bumped his head or something. He seemed normal though so I waited to call the doctor at 8 like I had been instructed.
Much to my anger and frustration, they told me that I needed to go straight to the E.R. That since he had a fever it meant he had an infection that was causing the bulging and the hospital would need to run tests. I was upset because they had told me that the CT had ruled out any problems, and because the on-call doc hadn't told me to go to the E.R. when I called her that night. As I drove to the hospital I couldn't help but worry about any damage that might have been done because we didn't get there sooner.
When we arrived at the hospital they told me that the primary concern was meningitis, which I knew from my Googling...but they weren't terribly concerned that he had it because he still seemed reasonably happy and playful. They also needed to do blood work to check for other possibly serious infections. Again, poor Connor had to go about 6 hours without eating...but this time was much worse because he had to under go a lot of painful poking and prodding.
They couldn't find a vein in his hand or arm so there was about 15-20 minutes of him screaming as they squeezed and stuck him over and over again. They never could get an IV in, and barely got enough blood for the tests. They told me it was because he's so chunky!
Then came time for the LP. For that there was no sedation and no sugar-water paci for soothing. They didn't want me in the room but I wasn't about to leave him alone so I watched the procedure. He was stripped naked, folded in half, and held there forcefully while they did took his spinal fluid. The poor guy was trying to scream but his lungs were compressed so he could only force out strangled whimpers. The worst part was the nurse holding him wasn't experienced and it took him a good 10 minutes of struggling with the doctor who was guiding him getting ever more impatient before he got Connor in the right position.
Afterwards he was finally allowed to eat and barely got through half a feeding before collapsing into a deep, exhausted sleep.
An hour or so later we got the results. Connor has a virus, but nothing serious. The virus is causing increased cranial pressure, but isn't damaging him or life-threatening. The doctor told me that some babies get the bulging fontanel when they are sick and so it may happen again. I asked her how I would know if there was something really wrong. She told me that he would look bad....vomiting, refusing to eat, listlessness....etc.
This made me cry a little inside because so many relatively MINOR illnesses cause these symptoms, and if he gets a bulging fontanel EVERY time he has a little bit of the flu or whatever then we're going to have to go back to the E.R. a lot....cause I can't EVER ignore the combination of those symptoms due to the possibility that it IS something life-threatening like meningitis.
So we finally got home from the hospital around 3 and Connor has slept for most of that time. He is still running a bit of a fever so I am giving him Tylenol. He probably needs it anyway cause it wouldn't surprise me if he is sore after all that happened today.
I am exhausted myself, these past 2 days I haven't had sleep so much as fitful bouts of unconsciousness. I broke down and went out and bought one of those Angel Care baby monitors that will sound an alarm if the baby stops breathing and moving. I think it is the only way I will be able to ever have a hope of sleeping again.
Thank you all for the thoughts, prayers, etc. They were and are appreciated.
Connor in his baby sized hospital gown:
Connor wearing heat packs on his hands to bring out a vein:
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