This week has been pretty much one big blur. It seems like once we start to catch a break, something else pops up and reminds us that we are not out of the woods yet. Blake's blood culture came back Thursday verifying that he was positive for Group B Strep (GBS). GBS is a bacteria that is naturally found in the digestive system and the birth canal. Pregnant women are tested in their third trimester for the bacteria but obviously I didn't make it that far into my pregnancy so I was never tested. The only thing they do if it shows up positive, is give you antibiotics during labor to protect your baby. Men and women have the immune system to protect themselves from this bacteria, however babies do not. And even though Blake didn't pass through the birth canal during birth, my water was ruptured for a week before labor which broke the protection seal that kept out any bacteria.
When the doctor explained this all to me I couldn't help but feel like this infection Blake had was my fault. And seeing the guilt on my face as he told me, he explained that there wasn't anything that I did wrong. GBS is found in everyone and one month you can be positive and the next month it can be dormant and show that you are negative. It doesn't mean you are sick or unclean. It just means that you should take the proper precautions during labor. He also said that GBS is one of the easiest infections to take care of which was good to hear. But GBS is also a bacteria that can cause meningitis so the doctor informed me that he would have to do a lumbar puncture to collect some spinal fluid to check for it.
Everyone that I spoke to in the NICU was so optimistic that the infection hadn't spread into his spinal fluid because he seemed to be getting better so quickly. The antibiotics they put him on appeared to taking care of the infection. Blake was so much more alert and appeared to be so much more comfortable than he had been the few days before. Even with the ventilator down his throat, he looked at ease. When the doctor came in after the lumbar puncture had been done, he too seemed optimistic since the spinal fluid still was clear and wasn't foggy from infection. But not even two hours later, the nurse came in to inform me that he did have bacteria in his spinal fluid which confirms that he does have meningitis.
Like Blake hasn't been through enough already, he now has to fight off this infection as well. As disappointing as it was to receive this news, we were glad to find out that all he needs to get over the meningitis is a cycle of either 14 or 21 days of penicillin. The ampicillion and gentamicin that he was already receiving also can take care of the meningitis but those antibiotics take care of such a broad spectrum of infections, that they wanted to put him on the penicillin since it would be more directed as to what he needs. They did another blood culture to make sure that the bacteria found in his blood and spinal fluid are an exact match and once they can confirm that, then they will start up the cycle of penicillin.
As of now, Blake is off the ventilator and back on the
vapotherm. The settings are still on the high side (6.5 liters of
pressure and only 23-25% oxygen which is good) but at least he is
breathing on his own. He is getting fluids through an IV and they
decided to start his feeds again but he is only getting about 15cc's every 3 hours to
start and they will gradually increase it until he is back to where he
was. I am hoping that I will be able to hold him soon. Its definitely
hard not being able to hold him after I have been able to pick him up
whenever I want just a few days ago.
As unfortunate as all this is, it is kind of a blessing in disguise. He has a late onset of the GBS which is rare. The doctor said that they see maybe one case like this a year (and little Blake just happens to be that 'one'). But the blessing in this is that he could have developed this either right after he was born or shortly after he would have been discharged. Blake went through a lot as it is when he was first born. He was so weak and fragile that I am thankful that he didn't have to endure this as well. And even worse, the meningitis could have appeared once we finally got him home and we may not have seen the signs of illness as quickly as the NICU staff did. If the meningitis was inevitably going to happen, then I am thankful that it did so when he is stronger and that he has the wonderful NICU nurses and doctors to look after him. Meningitis can be very serious if not taken care of right away. We caught it early. And that is a blessing.
The hardest thing for me as a parent is seeing your child go through all this. It doesn't get any easier. Your first instinct as a parent is to want to comfort your child when they are sick or in pain. Having him back in his plastic box, close enough to hold his hand but not be able to hold him in my arms and comfort him is hard. We were so close to having him home. I feel like how I did in the very beginning of all this. When he was first born, I tried so hard to stick with reality. I didn't want to feel optimistic or get too overjoyed with progress because I was so afraid of something horrible happening and getting heartbroken or disappointed. I took it as it came and that was easier for me. As soon as I started to feel like the worst was over, another road block popped up. I mean my poor child has gone through more than most adults in his 3 months of life. He's had the perforation in his bowel, several procedures and surgeries, getting pneumonia, and now the meningitis. At least I can cling to the fact that he is strong enough to keep fighting on.