Monday, May 18, 2009

Another Case of the Bili-Blues

Lanie's life is off to an exciting start, so it seems! Just like Elijah, Ethan & Kaden, Delanie has developed a high bilirubin count within the first few hours of her life and so we sit and wait at the hospital once again.
Eli and Kaden's levels were high, but never high enough to be hospitalized. Both Ethan and Lanie's counts, however, have gone up quickly enough for the doctors to not let us go home after the delivery and we have been transferred to the Special Care Nursery portion of the hospital. Ironically, Kevin and I just found out the reason for the repeated jaundice issues - it seems that after nearly 10 years of marriage, we are incompatible!

ABO Incompatible, that is.

Kevin has type A+ blood and I am O+. Come to find out that if our children are born with type A+ blood (which they all have been), the antibodies in my blood cross the placental barrier, attach to the baby's red blood cells, and then mediate destruction of the baby's red blood cells by the their own immune system. This, in turn, releases large quantities of hemoglobin from the baby's blood cells. One of the breakdown products of hemoglobin is bilirubin. Bilirubin is metabolized by the liver, but the baby's liver is not efficient at that until after the baby is born and the liver is mature enough to tackle all of the bilirubin on it's own. If too much bilirubin accumulates in the baby's brain, brain damage can occur. Now, none of our babies have gotten even close to that point, but the doctor's won't let it get close before they start assisting the baby with phototherapy.
Thus, Delanie has become another bili-blue baby (Ethan was our first). She spends most of her day and night wrapped up in a blanket that emits a beautiful blue glow and the phototherapy helps her body break down the bilirubin. Last night her bili-count was at 11.2 and today it is at 13. It is continuing to rise, but they hope that it will plateau today (babies usually peak on their 3rd or 4th day of life). We know this process is necessary and we aren't overly concerned since it is being actively treated. Plus, Ethan's bili-count was over 20 and he was able to recover just fine - we know Lanie still has quite a cushion of safety with her numbers.
However, it is no fun sitting at the hospital watching your baby get poked and prodded, and being unable to go home and settle in to your new life. The Special Care Nursery is nicely equipped to accommodate visiting families, but it is not suited for mom and dad to stay with the baby. There are no beds, no TVs, no amenities for the families that want to be with their newborns the entire time. This was very hard for me to deal with initially since the maternity suite we were in just previously had been so exceptionally nice. The adjustment was somewhat upsetting, but now we are settled in as best as possible and have a great nurse taking care of Lanie and helping us.
We are really hoping that the blood test they take this afternoon will determine that Lanie's liver is mature enough now to handle the onslaught of bilirubin and that we will be home this evening. We won't know, however, until after 5 or 6pm. Please pray for Lanie's body to continue to develop and strengthen and that we can get our life as a family of six started for real. Thanks for all of your love, prayers and concern. We love and appreciate you all!

1 comment:

Sonyia said...

My prayers are with you all! Kaeterina had the same problem (she's A+ like Dad and I'm O+) but we were still able to go home on the second day. I know how anxious you are to get home.