While my wife and I were in the hospital with our new baby girl, the nurse told us the pediatrician wanted to talk with us. Nothing like the possibility of bad news to make your heart sink as you are enjoying your brand new baby! They wanted to put my baby on antibiotics!
We had all the pre-birth tests done.
We had all the pre-birth screening done that can identify issues and birth defects prior to birth. I stupidly formed the opinion that since all the testing came back negative we would have a healthy normal baby. Deep down I knew that wasn’t true. I knew it didn’t and couldn’t test for everything. I just wanted a health baby so badly, I forced myself to believe in it. That would give me one less thing to worry about. I had enough going on with work, school, a small business. Not to mention the pre-term labor scare we had.
Our baby was born healthy, or so we thought.
Everything after our baby’s delivery went smoothly. She passed her APGAR scores with flying colors. She was a healthy weight. She had a very healthy color. She was breathing well. She actually cried for two hours straight after birth. During our time in the recovery room, the nurses were swooning over her. She was the cutest baby they’d seen all week. At least that’s what they told us. They checked her temperature and vitals every hour.
She started to run a bit of a fever, around 99F. The nurses said it probably wasn’t anything to worry about, so we didn’t. We went on for a few more hours, oblivious and happy.
After a few hours, the nurse told us the pediatrician wanted to speak with us about the baby. We were a bit worried, but the nurse assured us it was probably just normal stuff about the baby. A few hours went by without the doctor stopping in. We asked the nurses several times if he was still planning to chat with us. They were all confused and unsure. They thought he had already made his rounds to the rooms. They promised to check in with him.
A few more hours, and he finally showed up in the room. He told us the baby had been running a small fever for several hours and her breathing was rather rapid. Both are signs of a possible infection, and he wanted to start her on a round of antibiotics, “right away.” Funny how he made us wait around for several hours if he wanted to start them right away.
Giving a newborn baby antibiotics is no simple task. They can’t swallow pills, and injections would be too frequent for the dosage required. An IV would need to be installed on our baby so they can doing the injections through it. We discussed the logistics and possible issues with giving antibiotics. I was concerned that it would kill any healthy bacteria in her system and cause her more illness in the weeks to follow. He assured us it wasn’t that uncommon and there wouldn’t be any complications. He urged us not to “risk it.”
The baby would need to stay an extra night in the hospital.
Our biggest concern at the time was the baby needed to stay an additional night in the hospital. We were being kicked out the next day, and would not be able to stay with the baby. That’s a whole other story.
So they started the IV, which was heartbreaking. My baby girl was poked and had a needle sticking out of her arm for 3 days. I could tell it made her uncomfortable, and it broke my heart to have it in her. It bruised her hand where it was installed. The tape that was used to hold it in place irritated her skin.
They checked her hearing.
After her three days of antibiotics were complete, they cleared us to check her out. They had to check her hearing first. Apparently when you give a baby antibiotics, they are ototoxic, meaning they can damage your hearing or make you deaf! Never once was this mentioned to us during the discussion with the pediatrician of any of the nurses. I was furious. I probably would not have gone ahead with the treatment had I known there was even a remote possibility it could impact her hearing.
She passed her initial screening at the hospital, but we need to follow up with an audiologist when she is six months old. Now we wait, and I’m still steaming about the doctor neglecting to mention this very serious possible side effect.
So, dad, learn from my mistake. Make sure you grill the doctors and nurses about the full impact and possible side effects of any drug or treatment they want to give you delicate newborn baby. Know the full pictures before you make a decision.