Two days after we bought our beautiful little girl home, we had a visit from our Health Visitor. She checked Harper over, asked questions about her and me etc, then she gave us her thoughts… “she does look a bit yellow doesn’t she”. I was quite glad she mentioned it to be honest as we had said it a couple of times that morning. She sent us to the birth centre the same afternoon and told us to be prepared as they may send us back to the hospital. We were gutted, but did as we were told.
At the birth centre, tests were done and they confirmed that she had a ‘higher than normal’ level of bilirubin. They weren’t worried. She was literally on the line, but they still recommended that we went to hospital for treatment.
I was a bit of a mess in the car, what had we done wrong? Our little girl was days old and we were already heading back to the hospital, had we failed already as parents?
In fact, we hadn’t done anything wrong. During her birth, Harper had swallowed quite a lot of fluid. She brought a lot of this up in the days following, along with most of her feeds. So because of that, she wasn’t getting the nutrients & fluids she needed for her liver to progress as it should.
Our poor little baby was soon stripped down to her nappy, laid in a small cot with a lamp underneath her and strapped into a little suit that kept her back firmly on the lamp. That was stage one…
After a few hours they tested her again to find that her levels had gone even higher. They wheeled in another lamp that would shine above her and she was stripped to her nappy again so she would receive double the amount of exposure to the light. She was given the cutest little plastic shade to cover her eyes and she was SO good. She slept, a lot & her little hands would often lay resting on the plastic cover. This was stage two…
We were given a piece of paper to log everything down during our stay. When she was fed, how much she was fed, when her nappy was changed, whether her nappy was wet/soiled etc. They also had to test her every 6 hours, day and night, meaning they had to prick her teeny heels and take blood samples. She was taken to a small room away from the ward most of the time, David had to go as I couldn’t bare to see her cry – I could still hear her screams – from down the hall, that was bad enough! Two nights and three days later, the last prick was made and the nurses announced that she had finally hit BELOW the line and we could go home.
We were over the moon! We were told that once the bilirubin goes below the ‘beware’ levels, it very rarely goes back up unless there are further problems. This made us fairly confident that we wouldn’t be back there in a hurry!!
Harper improved rapidly and her skin quickly turned back to the ‘normal’ shade, although I do think the lights helped her to get a bit of a lasting tan as she does have a bit of colour to her!
It was a hugely worrying time and I have never felt so much guilt in my life. I genuinely thought that we had done something wrong, not fed her enough, fed her too much, not alerted someone sooner when we saw a slight yellow tinge… was there something we could have done? No was the answer, we had a slight incline that she was yellow and that was very quickly seen by the Health Visitor & we were told on numerous occasions how common jaundice is in babies. Its ridiculous how many babies have it, so the guilt faded quickly and we were just so happy to be able to take our baby home for the second time in full health! The one thing I would say, even if you do have the smallest incline, is ask someone. Just ask a professional for their opinion. The quicker its seen the easier it is to treat and it really is SO common, so please don’t feel guilty or like you’ve failed in some way – Harper is a beautiful, happy and confident little girly… it hasn’t effected her in any way whatsoever.