Joanna Francis Schimmel- born on June 29th. 3 weeks old, and so cherished by her family, especially big brother Samuel.
Joanna had a pretty normal 3 weeks. Our pediatrician liked to call her the "perfect baby" from her check-ups. She was a great eater, decent sleeper, and all-star snuggler. Though she had always been a noisy baby (vocal- though not at all a crier) on Tuesday, I (Em) noticed that she seemed to grunt and complain and moan more than usual. She was funny, noisy, and consistently trying to tell me something. Steve came home from work, and noticed she had a fever. We contacted our pediatrician's office- they asked us to keep a close eye on the usual accompanying symptoms (fluids/pee, etc.) and come in first thing in the morning.
It was a rough night. She seemed more and more uncomfortable. She responded to each touch, movement and adjustment. She stopped nursing, though I was able to get a few bottles in her throughout the night. She cried more in that scary night than she had in the previous three weeks. It hurt me to see that she was hurting, though I really had no idea she was so sick.
It took just seconds for the peditritian to see her early Wednesday morning and very calmly tell us we were going straight to the hospital. We went to Evanston as I delivered there, we were in Skokie already, and they have a Peds department. We then spent a number of hours in the ER getting testing started and meeting with a bunch of doctors. By late evening, after being admitted, we were told that she needed to be seen by Pediatric surgeon's at Lurie. She had a sever stomach distention, rash, high fever, soaring heart rate, and was in significant amounts of pain. Mom and Jo were picked up by a transport team, driven down on Wednesday night, and greeted by a dedicated ICU team.
Surgery was done to open her abdomen and examine all the bowel and organs within, as inital signs were pointing to bowel loops, trapped air, possible infection, and potentially even dead tissue as the source of outside symptoms. The surgeon told us, upon exploration, that "you must have a lot of people praying, because what I found was not what I expected to see." Tissue looked great! Some concern over the size of the bowel, but one of the most critical and troubling potential issues was eliminated by checking it out.
So that didn't really answer any questions. We were back to waiting on test results to see if the source of infection presented it self. It was a whirlwind next 24-48 hours. We've met with Cardiac, Infections Disease, Neonatal, Surgery, etc etc. She was put on many life-supporting type measures following surgery, and remains on ventilation and lots of heart medication to do the work for her. The most pressing issues have been managing her blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, blood oxygen, and swelling. But the doctors are not giving up, and her nursing care has been excellent.
We know we are with the best, and remain hopeful that answers will be found, and most importantly, healing will come!