My last post left us at hour 47 of her hospital admission and the discovery that her urine culture contained Group B Strep. The lab had confirmed it. Immediately upon being given these results, my mind flashed to the pamphlet that my OB gave me about it. Since I am Type A and have to research everything a million times, I knew exactly what that pamphlet said about this virus. It said that it causes severe illness and the best outcome usually involves brain damage of some sorts. Mommy panic overdrive! I collapsed onto the couch in her NICU room and the doctors sat beside me and explained what it meant.
The Neonatologist said this "You have a very special little girl. The culture count is only 3,000 and in order to exhibit any symptoms from it, the count is usually 50,000 or greater, which is why most babies with Late Onset Group B Strep aren't identified until between 2-3 months old when they come to the hospital with a life-threatening illness that the virus has caused. So, we don't believe this is what is causing the fever." She would need 10 straight days of antibiotics to be sure the infection was gone, but her fever was still climbing after being given antibiotics and it peaked around the 72 hour mark at 104 degrees. The doctors and nurses looked worried. My pediatrician warned that she may already have meningitis, even though initial test was negative. They drew blood again to check, it was negative, thank goodness. She experienced a middle of the night bloat of her belly which brought in portable x-ray machines and the Chief Neonatologist at 3:30am to check for an obstruction in her bowels. I was a mess and alone. Thankfully that came back normal and they put a NG tube into her belly to release the pressure which they say was likely the result of a combination of high doses of Tylenol and antibiotics.
In the meanwhile, the lab was determining if the antibiotic being administered was effective on the strain she was carrying. It was. This charade of "what's causing it" went on for four days. The flu? Negative. RSV? Negative. Finally, after four days her fever broke. I'll never forget that moment when I woke up from a 2 to 3 hour stretch of sleep and the nurse came in and looked at my husband whom I had asked to spend the night with us at the hospital and said "You want to tell her the good news?" It turns out her fever had broke just hours before and her temperature was normal. I got up and walked across the room and looked at this beautiful baby who looked like she felt 100 times better. For the first time in four days there was a light at the end of this tunnel. A huge weight was lifted! Over the course of the next six days, she was given a voiding cystourethrogram (VCUG) to determine if her bladder/kidneys were working properly, as well as a final urine culture to confirm the Group B Strep was gone. Her fever never came back.
So, why call this a miracle?
Here is the final conclusion by the Chief Neonatologist at the hospital: Little A. had contracted her brother's cold virus, causing the fever. Upon admission, the standard urinalysis test for all newborn's caught the Late Onset Group B Strep before it had presented any symptoms. The voiding cystourethrogram (VCUG) showed her kidney's were allowing back-flow from the bladder, which is how the Group B Strep got in there even though I had three doses of penicillin prior to her birth. Her system couldn't flush it out properly.
Basically, had this little baby girl not been infected by her brother's cold, she wouldn't have shown symptoms from the Late Onset Group B Strep for several months. They would have likely presented in the form of Meningitis or Sepsis. Compounded with her kidneys not properly functioning, the best outcome every doctor has predicted would have been brain damage. The worst, death. Either way, my pediatrician confirmed that nearly every case of Late Onset Group B Strep involves a respirator and a long stay in the PICU at Children's Hospital.
Every doctor and nurse in the place was astounded by what they had witnessed. The Chief Neonatologist said he had never seen a case like this and everyone knew that we had just witnessed a miracle. There were lots of tears, smiles, hugs all around. This little girl was going to be alright.
Today, this miracle is a happy, healthy two year old. Her kidneys have completely repaired on their own and she has no long term effects from it. One day we will tell her the story of how her two-year old brother saved her life.