On the Tuesday after we came home from the hospital, Lucas started acting out much worse than we're used to. Lots of tantrums and general irritability, but since it coincided with Lincoln's arrival into our house, we all chalked it up to sibling adjustment and tried to ignore it. I felt like such a jerk of a mother when after two days of cranky Lucas, I finally made the connection with HFM that he was sick on Wednesday night when he spit out a bite of banana (his favorite food) while crying and saying "ow."
Anyone who tries to tell me that HFM is just a mild childhood illness is liable to get kicked in the teeth, because this was the worst sickness we've ever had to deal with from Lucas in his lifetime, and that includes RSV and croup. The problem was that his mouth sores caused him a lot of pain when eating or drinking, so he simply refused to eat or drink much of anything for the next four days. If you know Lucas, you know that he is King of the Hanger Tantrum, which is why I take such care to keep him fed with plenty of protein and nutrient-dense foods throughout the day. Since he wasn't eating anything, we basically had to deal with a hangry, irritable Lucas for 12 hours a day until he finally started feeling well enough to eat again. Combine this with me still in recovery from giving birth, and the constant needs of newborn care, and it was basically the worst week of all time.
We tried our best to keep the boys separated, and wash our hands whenever we switched between them, but I began to notice a marked increase in lethargy in Lincoln around Monday, just as Lucas started getting better. On Tuesday afternoon, I took his temperature - 100.4. Very low-grade fever, but with infants as young as Lincoln, you really can't take any chances so his doctor advised that we take him into the emergency room to get checked out. I was 95% certain that he had simply caught HFM from his brother (he had one visible sore inside his lip), but dutifully brought him in anyway.
Upon arrival at the Rady Children's Hospital ER, I was promptly informed that for a baby under one month, any fever meant that he needed to have a full septic work up to rule out any serious infections. This meant 48 hours of testing and hospital admission for my tiny sweet boy, including a urine catheter, blood draw, spinal tap, and two days of precautionary IV antibiotics. He was so sweet and brave during the tests, the nurses and doctors were very impressed by how calmly he took everything. I had to handle the majority of the ER and hospital stay on my own, since Brandon was stuck at home caring for Lucas. I think I held it together pretty well for someone only 10 days postpartum!
We spent the first evening in the ER, which was the worst of it because this was the only time he actually seemed sick and I had to watch him get stuck all over with needles while surrounded by screaming children in pain. Once we transferred to the pediatrics unit at a hospital nearer to home (Lincoln via ambulance, with me following close behind in the car) and were admitted to a private room for the remainder of our stay, things were a lot calmer and easier to handle. Lincoln's fever was gone by the next morning, but we were asked to stay for the full 48 hours until the tests could confirm that there was no bacterial infection and we were just dealing with a run of the mill virus.
|Not feeling too good in the ER.|
|I started calling him Little Lionheart for being so brave during all his tests, mostly inspired by this hat.|
The doctor also noted that his illness had exacerbated his mild jaundice, and prescribed him some time under the bilirubin lights to "de-yellow-fy" him a bit since we were stuck in the hospital anyway. The lights convert the bilirubin in his system into something that can come out in his poop, which I found pretty fascinating although also gross. It was amazing to see how quickly he turned pink after spending a day or so under the lights.
|Spa treatment under the bilirubin lights.|
His spinal tap confirmed the presence of enterovirus toward the end of our first full day in the hospital, which was actually very comforting because it meant it was almost certainly not a more serious bacterial infection. By that time he was much more alert and feeding better and for longer periods of time, so the hospital stay was more boring than anything else. I think Brandon had a much harder time caring for Lucas for two straight days alone than I had lounging in our private room on my bed, having meals brought to me and reading my book in peace for hours on end.
|Chilling in our room, getting better every minute.|
|Ready to go home!|
|Little smirk - happy to be home again.|