With such excitement we are home! Our house had been decorated with welcome home signs and flowers. It was 9 weeks since I have been home and it feels so good, though strange. I brought Faith straight upstairs and showed her the house and her room, took her onto the deck pointing at this and that. So good to be home. Our Faith was with us at last. Over the next few days and nights we felt Faith wasn't feeding well and she is such an unsettled baby. She sweats a lot and pulls her legs up. We just assume this is the way it is. My husband had to go back to work the next day so it was just Faith and I. It was nice though I was exhausted. Being out of the hospital environment was fantastic. Friends and family visited and brought presents for us and we also got yummy meals and we felt loved and cared for. We managed to get a baby health nurse to come and visit and weigh Faith and talk to the nurse about feeding issues. She said that there is a feeding and sleep clinic we could come too and managed to get in the following week. The first few days at home were busy, we had the wound nurse coming most days. I would change the dressing but she would just check it and provide the supplies we needed. It was looking so much better. The spina bifida site was healed completely now, it was just where the flap of skin had been moved that needed to heal.
A few days later we went back to Brisbane to see the plastic surgeons and Faith was upset most of the way and cried a lot. The plastic surgeons were happy that the wound on her back was healing slowly but well. We were told just to keep on going with what we were doing. It was a long day but we successfully made it through and were very happy to get home. Faith is our first baby so lack of sleep is something we both expected but she was always restless and cried so much. We got go to the sleep and feed clinic and discovered that Faith had a uncoordinated suck and swallow so even though she looked like she was feeding well, she wasn't getting much milk. We tried bottles and holding her cheeks together to give her some support and she sucked like crazy. Our baby was hungry! I felt terrible, I was trying so hard. Breast feeding was over and expressing again begun and bottle feeding was the way to go. Whatever is best for Faith. Expressing, bottle feeding and caring for a baby. Crazy times.
One day when we were on a play date and I was holding Faith, the little
boy we were visiting said, Faith has a lemon shaped head doesn't she and I said, we all have different
shaped heads, yours is like an apple. We are all unique. We celebrated
Faith's dedication with our church family in December and had a lovely
BBQ lunch afterwards. It was really special for our friends and family
to see Faith and how she was doing. Faith wore the same little white dress with the intricate details as I wore at my dedication, that was special. It was nice to have these
little bright spots in our calender with something good. As most days were
not good at this point. Faith clings to me and doesn't like to be held by many others but she loves to watch what is going on. She was also getting quite picky on who was to
give her her bottle, it was only my husband and I.
Faith seemed like she was in pain as she pulled her legs up a lot, it was hard to figure out what was going on. We were also a bit concerned as Faith took so long to feed, we would sit there for sometimes an hour feeding her. The uncoordinated suck and swallow seem to cause her problems. At other times she would drink the milk really fast and sometimes she would vomit it up. I wish that the hospital had picked this up so we could have figured it out before we left. Time passed and we had horrid nights and the occasional good nights. We didn't go out much as Faith never seemed settled. By December, life still hadn't improved and we started noticing a twitching in her hand and particularly her thumb and the sweating was still profuse, all over her body. Infant's friend syrup seemed to help a little with any wind pain but not much. We saw our other friends with the same age babies not having so much trouble and wandered what was going on with Faith.
On this particular day that we noticed the twitching, we contacted our local pediatrician and he suggested that we should do some tests to see what was going on. A EEG was conducted and it came back clear. An ultrasound of Faith's head was done to check if the shunt was working and it was fine. But still no success. Faith was admitted to the local hospital for observation. The doctor decided to put her on Tegretol and see if that helped. Amazingly it did and we saw a marked improvement in Faith's health. But what was causing these focal seizures and what other investigations were going to be done. We ended up back in hospital a short time later with seizure activity. It generally happened in the morning, Faith would get so distressed and scream and pull her legs up in such intense pain and then her foot would start twitching and she was covered in sweat. All we could do was hold her close and do our best to comfort her. The local hospital had no idea what was going on and was not much help. I remember one nurse saying, just give her a bottle and it will better, but a bottle wouldn't help with a focal seizure. The paediatrician called the neurologist in Brisbane and they put her on more medication, Keppra this time. It didn't seem to help and we thought we need to get to the source of this problem not keep giving her more medication.
We had a trip to the spina bifida clinic in Brisbane and saw a urologist who said that Faith was retaining some wee in her bladder but didn't think we should catheterize just yet. We were keen to see the neurologist as Faith still had these terrible focal seizures in the early morning. It was decided a MRI would be booked for January to look and see if the Arnold Chiari ii malformation was causing this problem. In the mean time we just have to make do. We were not sure what was going on but Faith was not enjoying life she was either vomiting or in such distress nothing would help. The orthopaedic surgeon saw movement in her legs so that was encouraging.
Christmas week was the best Faith had ever been and maybe we were turning a corner. We just wanted a quiet time as we wanted to enjoy the peace but it wasn't to last. New Year's Eve she got worse, this foot twitching and pain or whatever it was got worse in a different way with a new intensity and we knew it had to be something serious.