Knock to the Head + Seizures = Trip to Hospital

Written by admin on June 10th, 2011. Posted in In the Hospital

How did it happen?

I turned my back for a second and our 2 year old twin girls started hugging and tackling each other as usual. The full weight and momentum of Kaia falling forwards on Leila who  landed flat on her back smacking the back of her skull on the carpeted floor (carpet over concrete).

I can’t even begin to tell you how terrifying it was. It’s so very scary watching your little baby slip away from normality in front of you and instant fear grips you whether she’s going to come out of it or not. Your brain just flies a million miles a second! Leila had toast in her mouth at the time and her jaw clenched up when she seizured. I managed to get it out but my heart almost burst trying to manage what was going on in front of our eyes. Her hands and arms stiffened, her jaw clenched and eyes rolled back in her head. I shouted to Gerard to call 000 immediately which took 10 minutes to arrive. Her seizure went on for about 20 seconds and then she was totally out of it unresponsive for 2-3 minutes. By the time ambulance arrived she was lucid and crying again. I couldn’t stand being so powerless.

I sent Poppy out to the front of the house to meet the ambulance so there was no delay in them finding our apartment. I asked Grandma to organise my shoes and nappy bag and Gerard organised Kaia while I held and reassured Leila. I gave everyone tasks to do while help came. Most importantly, someone had to go to the street to meet the ambulance.

I learned one very important thing that day. A mother’s first instinct is to cuddle your child, reassure and check if she’s ok. As hard as this is, if it’s a really hard knock, don’t let them sit up. I think that’s why her brain shorted out and had to reset itself and had a little seizure. If we’d kept her laying on the floor she may not have. I didn’t really see the whole accident, but I’d seen it happen similarly before. This time I just saw her eyes fly wide open with shock laying on the floor, so I wasn’t fully aware how hard she’d hit. She was conscious when I cuddled her (still sitting on the floor) but then 5 seconds later her cry changed and then she was unconscious having the seizure. Mum and Dad saw the knock and said it was bad.

As crappy as I feel, I want to share this with you. It’s a natural mother response but I won’t be doing it next time. I’ll keep her horizontal and reassure her until I know she’s okay to get up on her own, especially if I haven’t witnessed the event and can assess it clearly. I’ve done the cuddle response many times in the past (only for worthy bumps) but this one had consequences. Would she still have seizured if I hadn’t sat her upright? Who knows. There is a technical term for post-impact seizures ie. not immediately unconscious upon impact. It doesn’t make me feel any better, however it is what it is.

The hospital conducted a low dose scan of her brain to ensure there was no bleeding or any underlying condition that caused her seizure. Full does brain scans give high dose radiation and are not recommended for children. We were given the analogy that a low dose scan was equivalent radiation to a long haul flight from Australia to Europe. We’re hit with radiation all the time from the sun and being higher in the atmosphere (in a plane) exposes us to more. We decided that was an acceptable exposure given the peace of mind we received from the scan results. Given I had only just last month read a story of a family having a lovely holiday when their 13 year old daughter while asleep fell from the top bunk in the middle of the night. Being in a small beachside town there was no CT facilities at the hospital and they refused after initial assessment to transport her to one that had (and refused admission to hospital for observation because it wasn’t the hospital’s policy to admit ‘children’ for observation). The girl had a splitting headache and felt sick. Back at their hotel her father sat up with her monitoring her condition when 3 hours later she vomited and seizured and her parents rushed her back to hospital. After being ‘under observation’ at this hospital who still had no intention of airlifting her out, she finally lost consciousness and slipped into a coma. Finally she was rushed to a bigger hospital and a scan revealed she had a fractured skull and a brain injury. She died 2 days later without ever waking up again. The lawsuit is ongoing, but parents have lost her forever.

If you ever encounter this awful situation of a serious head injury with your child (or a child in your company) I hope my sharing this with you helps in some way to weigh up all opinions and be at ease with whatever decisions you make.

Here’s some information to print for your fridge in case you ever cross paths with this kind of event (knock wood you never do) Kids Health Info for Parents – Head Injury.

Stay safe. From One very shaken mummy,

Two’s: Don’t be embarrassed to say it’s not happening

Written by admin on February 4th, 2011. Posted in In the Hospital

Okay. Nobody likes talking about bodily fluids let alone these ones. But I have to fill you in on something that didn’t really register with me until one, obviously learned nurse asked me “When did you last do a number 2?” While every nurse that walked through my room asked me when was the last time I fed the babies or when they last did a #2 (they even had a chart I had to fill out on those). I hadn’t really given myself a second thought. “Since I checked in…hmmmm. Six days.” As the words left my lips I realised that was bad. She dropped her chin and looked at me with wide eyes. “Six days?! Okay I’m going to give you this liquid to drink and we’ll see how you get on.” And do you think I drank it? Well she came back a few hours later and it was still sitting on the shelf. I was so preoccupied with changing and feeding the girls and talking to visitors that it had slipped my mind. And now I was going to pay for it. She said okay. It’s not going to work for you sitting on that shelf there! I’m going to pop a capsule into your bottom and you’ll need to keep it there for about six minutes to make sure it’ll do a proper job. Um. Okay. What’s my second option? I’ll drink the mix, see?! She looked at me with compassionate but very insistent eyes so I lay down on the bed. Eeewk. It took 1 1/2 minutes for me to start pacing all around the hospital room until I couldn’t bear it. I poked my head out the door (pardon the pun) to the reception desk and said “I don’t think I can wait 6 minutes! Will it work anyhow?” She said “Well, if it doesn’t then you’ll have to get another one“. Eeeek!! So I persisted for another minute until I couldn’t take it anymore. Basically it informs your rectum to forget about it’s job of holding shut and everything “takes a chill pill” and totally relaxes. Relief! It was the blackest poo I’ve ever seen. Obviously it’s not healthy (or helpful) for waste to stay in your system that long.

When you’ve had a cesarean it’s hard to distinguish operation pains from the ‘regular’ ones so if you’ve had a c-section, keep this little story in mind and chat with a nurse if you haven’t been 2’s within a couple of days of birth…..and drink the little cup of liquid when she tells you!

Clean hands in hospital

Written by admin on February 4th, 2011. Posted in Hygiene Safety, In the Hospital

The situation is simple. A brand newborn baby hasn’t been exposed to ANYTHING out in the big wide world yet. Not greasy hands, nor bacteria from elevator buttons, lazily washed hands after a toilet visit or a thoughtless wipe of the nose. As their mother you should feel entirely free to insist all visitors wash their hands thoroughly before picking up or touching your baby. This includes family, friends and especially medical staff. I asked staff on two occasions to wash their hands before touching our twins. One replied “Oh I used the gel outside earlier” and then thought better of it and washed his hands anyway without further comment.

There is one thing you are the ABSOLUTE guardian of and that is you and your baby’s welfare. If you feel at any time that you are not comfortable with any situation be it the way a staffer is handling your baby or a visitor who has a cough, speak up immediately. It’s not worth letting it fly around as an uneasy feeling. Act on it and feel better for it.

PASS on the Flowers: Bacteria Breeders

Written by admin on February 4th, 2011. Posted in Hygiene Safety, In the Hospital

For a woman flowers are such a lovely gift to receive at any time of the year. It’s one of those purchases you wouldn’t ordinarily make for yourself so it’s a beautiful treat to receive. But when you’ve just given birth to a beautiful little newborn the last thing you should have hovering over his/her cot are flowers with pollen and especially flowers more than one day old. Bacteria and mould begin to grow in the water soaked stems and is circulated around through the air. There’s a reason that ICU’s (Intensive Care Units) don’t allow flowers.

Put the word out that you’d love simple/thoughtful gifts that aren’t of the floral variety. We are blessed with a beautiful friend who sent us an amazing box of 0000 ‘hand me down’ clothing for our girls and it was far more useful than any bunch of flowers. To this day that gift remains the most valuable in memory. Pre washed, pre loved clothing is the BEST thing that can go on your newborn baby’s skin. Chemicals from it’s manufacture are all but gone and this fabric is second only to organic cotton garments. Pre loved’s are gold! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts Marianne xo

Sleep. There is no substitute. Shot down by Pre eclampsia.

Written by admin on February 4th, 2011. Posted in In the Hospital

Sleep. That elusive of most enjoyed human needs when you become “mummy”. Sleep. Oh treasured moments of peaceful rest.

When you have just experienced the joy of giving birth whether natural or by cesarean, at the end of it your little baby is safely in your arms helpless, hopeful, needing you. Who can sleep at a time like this?

I sat in bed watching them awestruck. I have two baby girls. I have TWO baby girls. As each of them woke for the breast I loved every moment of nourishing them and holding them close feeling them relax with a total sense of security. I would lay one daughter down and sit….and watch….and wait…in contented amazement. Time slipped by as I fed each of them separately throughout the night. Rarely did they wake together and rarely did I ask the nurses for help. Occasionally one had not finished burping before the other woke and I begrudgingly took her out to a nurse at the desk and asked them to burp her for me. Relinquishing my grasp and heading back to the room to feed the other. Luckily my door was directly in front of the desk because that was the only way I could bear handing them over! Though it seemed to work out nicely most times. I would feed and burp one and then feed and burp the other, then sit, and smile, watching them sleep. Then I’d blink and daylight would be breaking with the mutterings and movements of breakfast carts being wheeled around the ward. “Morning already? Oooh I wonder what’s for breakfast! I love those little bread rolls.” I’d eat the roll with jam and the cereal and right on cue my girls would wake up for their feed. I was in heaven! It felt as though everything was going right. I’d feed and change them and then my partner and mother would arrive around 8:00 or 9:00am. Smoooooth. “Did you have a good night?” they’d ask. “Wonderful! So lovely being with my girls” I said every day…until the fourth evening everything came to an abrupt halt.

It seems I’d neglected to schedule my own sleep somewhere in those first 3 nights and days of motherhood….and I was about to pay for it, big time. While my parents-in-law were visiting just before 6:00pm on the fourth night I started to slump down and my head started constricting and hurting. My shoulders seized up and I couldn’t talk. Seeing the bad state I was in they quickly left to let Gerard tend to me. I cried but crying hurt even more. I slumped down on the bed and Gerard called out to the nurses for help. They came along, “What seems to be the problem”. “I have a migraine, help me, help me“. Is all I could manage to say. I was sweating and crying and couldn’t sit up if my life depended on it. A little ole thing called sleep. You don’t know what it’s worth till your body is so far in the red it decides to shut you down to make it’s point crystal clear! They gave me some sort of pain pill that only just took the edge off it. Gerard told the nurses, “I’m not going home. I’m staying right here. She’s going to sleep and I’m going to look after the babies”. He wheeled their cribs out and ordered me to stay put. Not that I could have gotten out of bed to chase him. And even though the rules are all visitors OUT by 6:00pm the nurses had obviously let him stay because around 4 hours later Gerard brought the girls back into the room screaming their little hearts out. “I’m sorry baby I’ve tried to comfort them to let you sleep as long as I could”. I’d gathered just enough sleep to function again. I sat up groggy but insistent, “Bring them here!! I have to feed them!” and after feeding them slumped back down still in a very bad way. A few hours later after begging for a doctor to come and prescribe something more they finally arrived around 1:00am and gave me an injection which relieved the pain and helped me sleep again. But I endured the irritating, mind bending feeling of being submerged in a watery tunnel for the next 3 days. That’s the only way I could describe it to my family and doctors.

My first point is this, relish in the very special precious hours and days of your new role as mummy but even if you have to force yourself to sleep, figure out a way to do it and do it! I normally have a low blood pressure of around 100/80 sometimes as low as 90/70 but it had skyrocketed to 165 /120 and they said I most likely developed pre eclampsia after the birth. Which coupled with my own adrenaline and excitement may have accounted for my being able to last 3 nights without sleep!

Looking back at my baby diary though and the photos of me after 32 weeks I was retaining ridiculous amounts of fluid (the skin on my feet stung it was stretched so far) and I have no memory of my urine being tested at antenatal appointments for higher than normal protein. My blood pressure was also elevated to about 130/90 which was high for me but in the doctors eyes not an issue. It is quite possible that I developed pre eclampsia well before the birth (at 38 weeks 5 days) but no one did the ‘routine’ tests for it. Given that pre eclampsia can lead to reduced blood flow to the uterus affecting the growth of your baby, possible placental abruption, organ damage (liver, kidneys and brain) and clotting and seizures for the mother, this was a very dangerous and potentially fatal oversight.

So my second point is this, research everything that should be getting done at your antenatal appointments and if they don’t organise it as a matter of course, ask them to. We utilised the public health system which meant lengthy waits at the antenatal appointments and an obvious oversight of routine tests that should have been performed. Given I expressed my discomfort to the doctors of the massive amounts of fluid retention it was quite negligent not to run the pre eclampsia test.

It’s vitally important to be aware of the warning signs of pre eclampsia so that you can alert your caregiver and get treated as soon as possible. The alternative could be bleak. I was very lucky.