In February 2009, Steve and I were over the moon with excitement. We were pregnant with baby number two. We had been trying for quite sometime and actually had miscarried six months earlier. Atia was 17 months old and the timing could not have been better. I had always wanted my children to be no more than two years apart. The baby was due November 1st. In this case, they were going to be just over 25 months apart. Close enough, right?
Atia was lively, strong and healthy. She showed a lot of talent with her language skills. We worked on ABC flashcards often and she amazed me.
Take a look at her at 16 months old:
And then, a week and a half later:
We happily enjoyed a month and a half of bliss. Everything seemed right in our lives. I had finally settled into my routine as a stay-at-home mom. Steve was doing well at work. And, I found myself daydreaming about the new baby and wondering how I was going to modify Atia's room to make accommodations.
One evening at the end of March, Atia clumsily fell and bumped her head on our leather ottoman. She let out a terrifying scream that put us on high alert. We watched for vomiting and dizziness. She had neither but she was clearly in pain. As I was completing my examination, before closing the book on this mishap, I noticed a bump where she had hit her head. It was big and purple. Holy cow! She had one heck of a goose egg forming. The look of it explained all of the dramatics earlier.
We called the pediatrician and he confirmed that if she was not throwing up and could walk steadily then there was nothing to be done. He advised us to watch her throughout the night and make sure she didn't have a concussion. This required me to wake her up every couple of hours. It's funny because I clearly remember her saying to me, after the second or third awakening, "Mommy, I tired. Let me sleep."
The bump slowly went away and we no longer thought anything of it. Then on April 6th, less than a week later, Atia fell again. This time she was in our bedroom. Steve and I were otherwise occupied and didn't see it happen, but heard the crying aftermath. Later that night, she was playing and displayed some serious difficulty walking. We observed her for quite sometime before deciding that she had possibly pulled a muscle or sprained an ankle. She was acting tired, so we decided to put her to bed early. We would pick up where we left off in the morning and if she still seemed pained, we would call the pediatrician.
As I was pulling up her legs to change her diaper, she began screaming bloody murder. I couldn't understand what was going on. I began gently squeezing different parts of her leg to see if any one section elicited a worse response than the others. Every time I touched her upper thighs she winced and then started crying. This was confusing because I didn't think she'd broken her femur (thigh bone). I mean, could one even walk if that broke?
At this point, we had no other option than to call the pediatrician. He asked me to do a few simple tests, which I had already been doing, as described above. He then told me that without seeing her he could not identify the issue. He prescribed infant Tylenol and suggested we go to the emergency room, if it'd make us feel better, otherwise he'd see us in his office the next day. We decided to go to Children's Memorial Hospital at that moment. The crummy part was that it was already after 10:00pm.
When we got there, Atia still wasn't 100% better, but miraculously she seemed to be improving by the moment. Was it the Tylenol? Was it just a misdiagnosis on our part? Was it the hospital waiting room? Atia loved all the colors and the fish tanks. It was like a playland. When we were finally called into an examination room, Atia no longer displayed any of the characteristics that prompted the visit. The doctor did agree that she wasn't steady on her legs, but attributed that to the fall a week earlier (the one that produced the goose egg). He sent us home with no diagnosis other than it could be a delayed concussion. There was nothing to do but wait it out.
Two nights later, while taking a bath, Atia began shaking uncontrollably with the worst shivers I'd ever seen. It was almost convulsive. She was burning up and belted out one of those "I'm really really sick" cries. She still hadn't regained her strength or balance while walking in the two days since the initial ER visit. I took her temperature and it was over 103 degrees. We panicked and headed off to the ER again. This time, they catheterized her and tested for a urinary tract infection. Negative. Then they decided to do a CTscan because of the walking issue. Negative. They couldn't figure it out so they sent us home, prescribed infant Tylenol and told us to contact our pediatrician in the morning.
The next day I made the call and was informed that the doctor was out-of-town for Easter and the earliest we could get in was the following Wednesday (he's a one man show and doesn't have any partners to back him up). Atia was somewhat stable, though still highly lethargic at that point. I accepted the appointment without much hesitation.
Friday, the next day, we traveled down to Springfield to celebrate Easter with my mom and again Atia had the shivers and a fever. Sunday, it happened again. Then on Tuesday, just over a week after we'd been in the ER the first time, Atia got the shivers with fever but this time she started vomiting too. It was around 5:00 pm. I bundled Atia up, packed a few things, called Steve and headed over to the ER. This time we went to Rush University Medical Center instead of Children's because that's my pediatrician's affiliation.
We were ushered into an examination room. Shortly thereafter, Steve arrived. Atia didn't look good at all. She was like a wet sock in my arms. She just hung there. She barely had enough energy to lift her head. The doctors decided to draw blood. If you'd even been present while an IV is being placed in a child's arm, then you know the pain this causes. Her veins were so small they had to poke her several time. Excruciating! I cried just watching it happen. Thankfully, they were able to get their sample. We must have waited in that room for over 6 hours. We were all restless. Finally, the doctor walked in. She had a very serious look on her face and took a seat.
The results were in and they didn't look good...
Atia in Springfield for Easter
All Dressed Up For Easter