Why This Mom Did Not Ignore Jaundice In Her Newborn Infant?
Discovering pregnancy & awaiting the birth of your child is an emotion that each one of us looks forward to. The sheer excitement of creating a life, its arrival, the joy of her tiny fingers holding onto your’s, we awaited the birth of a daughter! Yes, we prayed each day for a princess.
And yes, God did answer our prayers, at the end of my term, I gave birth to a beautiful little angel princess through vaginal birth. The surrealness of that experience is forever etched into my heart, mind & soul. It wasn’t just the birth of my daughter but also our birth, as parents!
My husband works in Ethiopia and was present in India for the birth of our daughter. Like every woman, I beamed with absolute pride & happiness when I saw our daughter in his strong arms, holding her, swinging her, caring for her & yes smiling with contentment. I felt a sense of achievement when I saw him happy as we had manifested our dream for a dear daughter!
Eventually, he left back for Ethiopia & I went about taking care of my child along with the unstinted support of my family. My princess was one active infant, kicking up a storm, taking regular milk feeds, passing sufficient urine & motions, just like a healthy one would! We went through all our monthly checks ups & vaccinations sans any hiccups! It was simply so beautiful & calming.
Yes, it was. We were not prepared for what was coming our way. There was no way we could even assume that life was about to turn around completely…
I started to notice my angel’s stool color to be white & with each day it was getting whiter. Her skin gradually took a yellow tone & so did her beautiful eyes. As any mom would immediately take her to our pediatrician for a full check up! Post the clinical examination, the doctor informed us that she seems perfectly fine & does not have jaundice.
Off we went back home however, something did not seem right. I felt uneasy as each day I saw her skin gradually turning even more yellow while her stools were white. Our pediatrician recommended a bilirubin test & an abdominal ultrasound.
And the reports were when life crashed around us! Her bilirubin values were high, the liver was enlarged & even in an ultrasound, her gall bladder was not visible! Was this for real? Times like these one thing that we cannot lose is our faith in the powers that created this world. I placed my faith in my child, said a prayer & we opted for phototherapy for her & also went on to consult a senior pediatrician at one of the finest hospitals in Hyderabad, India.
We were then advised to have biliary scintigraphy and there it was identified that my little princess, this tiny infant of mine, was suffering from biliary atresia which is a rare liver disease in infants. Yes. My Child. The evident next step in her treatment was surgery.
Surgery! It was hard to accept reality. My bundle of love, an infant to go through a surgery. I still recall her first vaccination when I broke down because I couldn't see her being injected and now a surgery... But a parent has to be always strong & keep their faith in the almighty. My daughter was in the safest of hands in Hyderabad.
Let me tell you a bit about Biliary atresia. It is a rare infant liver condition wherein the bile flow from the liver to the gallbladder is blocked. As a result, they have high bilirubin values and affects the liver. Surgeons suggest that surgery is the only option for babies with this condition.
So there we were outside the operation theatre, praying with the earnest hope that our little princess would emerge clear of the ailment. But it was not to be so… The surgeon informed us that she did not have any duct formation during her fetal development! He has done his best to get the bile flow from the liver for now!
A part of us crashed. Broke us down...while she was being shifted to the PICU...to see multiple pipes, injections running through her body & to cry all alone for a feed for 48 hours! We have never felt so helpless in our lives. All we could do is pray that she recovers & emerges stronger…
Soon she was discharged & we were back home & she was taking her normal feeds. Such a relief! Now what? Well, this was only the beginning. We have a long way to go...We ought to observe her bilirubin counts each month & she continues to have jaundice even now. After she turns two, we shall be able to go in for a liver transplant… but are not sure if we will opt for that.
Why did I share this on Baby Chakra?
No, not for empathy but to create an awareness amongst millions of new parents to not ignore jaundice in your newborn baby. You are not paranoid if you observe changing skin & stool colors. It is better to be safe than sorry! Trust your mommy instincts! Consult your pediatrician. If you are not convinced, seek another opinion!
And yes, pls do say a little prayer for our girl, our warrior princess Tanvika Rao.