On September 12th 2014 our dream of having a daughter came true. Claire Victoria came into the world like a little ballerina, weighing a whopping 10lbs 3oz. We were instantly in love. She was perfect.
I had a really rough pregnancy with sweet Claire, early contractions, moderate bedrest, gestational diabetes, constant pain and pressure, which lead to getting NSTs and ultrasounds twice a week to make sure she was okay in there. This was not easy with three little boys (Braeden, 8 , Jack, 6 and Logan , 4) and a husband who runs his own business. My husband would often have to take those days off since the appointments took so long.
So, naturally, I was very excited to finally have my little girl in my arms and get my body back to normal and to get our family life back on schedule.
Six days after Claire was born, on September 18th, I went about our normal schedule, getting the older boys off to school and getting my youngest, Logan, ready for a day at preschool. I brought him out to the bus stop and began talking with a new neighbor, who I had never met, that also had a preschooler. As I began talking and laughing with her I started to notice that the right side of my face was not responding to my laughs or smiles. I didn't want to freak this poor woman out so I kept it to myself till Logan got on the bus. Once he was gone I rushed into the house, and asked my husband if the right side of my face was moving.
We rushed to the ER thinking that perhaps I was having a stroke or blood clot after giving birth to such a large baby. We were told that I had developed Bells Palsy, and that it was "common" after child birth. I was shocked and scared, I had never heard of this, but I knew that I could get through it. After all, a little face paralysis couldn't be that bad, right? Little did I know the full emotional and physical pain of Bells Palsy.
Everyday was awful for the first two weeks. I had constant pain in my ear, as if I had a deep inner ear infection, blinding headaches, my eye stung and watered from not being able to blink, I had lost over half my taste buds and eating and drinking were a great challenge. All this, along with the exhaustion of a newborn, recovering from birth and painfully trying to exclusively breastfeed while still taking care of my three boys and a house. It was a nightmare.
There were days that I had to beg my husband to stay home from his job because I simply couldn't function. We couldn't afford for him to miss work, but there were days that I just couldn't fully take care of the children. It was devastating.
2 1/2 weeks into Bells Palsy, it slowly started to get easier, the pain wasn't as bad, my taste buds came back, I started to have some movement. We thought we were on our way out of the woods and getting back to a normal life.
We were wrong, on the morning of October 1st Claire had fever of 100.4. We called the pediatrician and they advised us to head straight to CHKD (the childrens hospital) and get her checked out. A fever over 100.4 in an infant so young can be very dangerous, so we got the boys off to school and took her to the hospital.
Once we got there we were put into a room in the ER and they told us how sweet Claire would need blood work and spinal tap done immediately to rule out any serious illnesses. It was heartbreaking to see my sweet, quiet baby in such pain, I had never seen her cry and scream so much. I held her hand and stroked her hair, quietly telling it was okay. It was awful. Soon after, we were told it would time for her spinal tap and we weren't allowed to be in the room for it.
After a long wait, the doctor came in and told us that her spinal cultures were showing she had meningitis, but they weren't sure if it was viral or bacterial, (bacterial, being the really bad, scary meningitis) and we would be admitted to the hospital for 3 days till the cultures fully came back.
How could so much happen in so little time? How could sweet Claire become so sick, so fast? How were we going to juggle the boys going to school, my husband working, and me being stuck at the hospital with Claire, as her only food supply and no family in Virginia to help us? All of this, while still dealing with my battle of Bells Palsy and not being able to drive. It was all too much.
But we did what all parents do, we power on and do what we have to do. Brendan missed days of work, to take care of the boys, which was tough since we were still struggling financially, we were late on our rent and we knew our utility bills were due soon. But, our focus was on Claire and getting her better and out of the hospital.
After 3 long, stressful, sleepless days, we were cleared, she was diagnosed with viral meningitis and was clear of fevers and was back to being her bright, smiley self. We were so relieved and we were sure that this was the end of our bad luck.
The 3rd and 4th week, My bells palsy started to clear up and I had more movement and started to feel like myself. Claire was doing amazing, smiling and growing, like she had never even been sick.
The only thing that wasn't great was our financial situation, we were struggling from Brendan missing days while Claire was born and days when I needed him by my side for the Bells Palsy and now the days when she was in the hospital for meningitis. The checks were just not coming in and what did come in hardly covered our food costs. We were still late on our rent and on all our bills.
We pawned all our electronics, our iMac, our laptop, all of our TVs, our tablets, my camera, everything we could think of, in hopes of getting enough money to cover everything. But no matter how hard we tried, we just couldn't get enough money together to cover everything and now were are getting towards the end of the month when our November rent would be due.
In the midst of us trying to find out what we were going to do about our financial situation, 3 days ago, on October 21st Claire woke up with 100.9 fever. We took her to the pediatrician first, hoping just maybe that we wouldn't have to go back to CHKD, but it didn't pan out that way.
We were back at CHKD and poor little Claire was back to being subjected to a battery of blood work and the dreadful spinal tap, once again. It took 4 attempts and almost an hour of sticking her everywhere for her IV to take, It was awful to be back in this situation again.
So here we are, our 3rd day back in the hospital with Claire. This time is more frustrating because there is no clear answer. She is not showing signs of any meningitis, but her soft spot keeps getting "full" and shes spiking fevers of almost 102.
The 1st day she was very sick and very sick looking. She seemed to be in a daze and unable to recognize us, she also hardly ate. She also showed strange eye movements but we weren't sure if it was just from being exhausted from all the tests.
Yesterday was better, she ate a whole lot and seemed to be more alert, but still spiked high fevers.
Today, she seems to not be doing so good. She's very fussy, not eating as well and seems to be a little bit in a daze again.
We are not sure when we'll be leaving the hospital.
I know this has been long but again, I wanted everyone to understand that we're not just reaching out for help for lack of trying. We have gone through so much in the past month that we can hardly see straight. We have exhausted every resource in trying to get together enough money and just when we think we have it, something awful happens. We are so behind on our finances and my husband has been working so hard but the money he has made is just not coming in yet. We are struggling to pay rent and we're in fear of eviction if we get to the point of being late TWO months on our rent. . Our power is also due to be terminated on the 3rd of November if we dont pay $400. We are asking if anyone can help us in anyway we would be so grateful.
We appreciate all the prayers and positive thoughts for our sweet Claire. Hopefully this is the end of our bad luck journey.
- Liz Samuels
- Brittany Valdina
- Christine Aiello
- Eibhlin Crosse
- Amber Twiford
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