Twenty months ago, when he was eight days old, Ezra wound up in the emergency room, and ended up needing to be admitted overnight to the pediatrics ward. He hasn’t been back to the hospital since. No late night ER trips for ear infections, no broken bones, no stealthily lodged beans in his nose.
So, let us hope that a second-week-of-life trip to the hospital is like an amulet of health for Weisz babies, because this week it was Zella’s turn.
A day or two after we brought her home from the hospital, Ezra developed a rather nasty cough. A few days later, both Zella and I started to get congested and then began coughing. I called the doctor and told her Ezra had given us all a cold, and she told me to watch out for fever and do some basic infant cold care routines.
But it was a particularly nasty cold for all of us. It lingered and didn’t seem to be getting better. When we went for our second week checkup with the pediatrician on Tuesday, she listened to Zella’s symptoms, listened to her breathing, and became a bit grave. Faster than I could say “but it’s just a cold, right?” she had whipped out a crazy mucus-suctioning apparatus and sent a sample to the lab. Half an hour later, she had some bad news.
The nasty cold is actually RSV, a common respiratory virus. We’ve all got it. But it’s dangerous for newborns. It can cause bronchitis or pneumonia, major apnea episodes, and all sorts of other ugliness. For the rest of the family, it’s more or less useless to distinguish RSV from a cold, but for an itty-bitty, it is essential.
If Zella had been just a few months older, they would have sent us home with a nebulizer and instructions for monitoring her breathing. Newborns warrant full-scale hospitalization. Two and a half hours after I arrived for my routine checkup, I was being escorted to the Pediatrics Ward and watching my baby get hooked up to all sorts of monitors.
And there we stayed, for 40 hours. RSV tends to peak on about the 4th day, but my mom-of-a-newborn sleep deprivation haze was making it hard for me to remember when her symptoms started, and though I was pretty sure we were past day four, the doctor feared that we were not yet to the worst part of the illness. So, we waited, monitoring to see if her cough would get worse, her congestion deepen, her breathing become more labored.
It didn’t. It was fine. Mostly, the whole experience was just a little boring and uncomfortable. Zella and I got woken up a lot during the night. The food was pretty terrible. The wifi was too slow to stream Netflix.
On the other hand, friends and family came through for me with epic kindness, taking care of Ezra and bringing me clothes and food and a stack of trashy magazines. I watched Rushmore and wasted time on Facebook and read old @mayoremanuel tweets. Sandy visited with an adorable video of Ezra in the bath and a photo of him to keep by my bed, and kicked my ass at a game of Dominion. I lay in bed and recuperated from my own RSV. I cuddled Zella without shielding her eyes from somebody’s wet, germy fingers. It was about as restful as two unexpected nights in the hospital can be.
Still, I’m overjoyed to be home, reunited with my darling boy in all his disease-spreading eye-poking glory. And he is incredibly excited to have BEHBEEE!!, his new favorite new toy, back in the house to play with.