When our family arrived at Beaumont Hospital, the physicians were puzzled. They weren’t sure what happened to our baby, they could only remark how beautiful she is (which you know she is totally gorgeous).
As the evening wore on, she began to exhibit some symptoms from earlier in the day. Our little sweetheart began to cry and her belly was tight. She was could not lay down flat in the crib and appeared to be in absolute pain. One by one, the doctors came in and re-told the story of how she got here over and over again until finally someone came up with an idea. Let’s do some blood work and get a scan of her belly. After this moment, everything moved very quickly.
Diagnosis: Pediatric hypocalcemia
Hypocalcemia manifests as central nervous system (CNS) irritability and poor muscular contractility. Low calcium levels decrease the threshold of excitation of neurons, causing them to have repetitive responses to a single stimulus. Because neuronal excitability occurs in sensory and motor nerves, hypocalcemia produces a wide range of peripheral and CNS effects, including paresthesias, tetany (i.e., contraction of hands, arms, feet, larynx, bronchioles), seizures, and even psychiatric changes in children.
Immediately our baby was moved to the pediatric ICU. She needed a very high dose of calcium. Calcium can burn the skin and because the high dose must be administered through the IV, they wanted to make sure she was in a safe place with her own nurse. No one really got much sleep. My husband, myself and my awesome friend La’Comba took turns watching her. It didn’t bother me much to stay awake, because I couldn’t sleep anyway. The high infusion worked and her calcium numbers increased right away. Her endocrinologist had her moved back to the regular floor where she began to receive oral calcium. Instead of crying out in pain, she has now started to focus on removing every cord and tube attached to her…the nurses are so happy with us (NOT!)
Now they that they figured out the what…on to figuring out the how. How did our perfect angel get low calcium? In looking at her, she doesn’t appear starved or deprived. The doctors concentrated on me breastfeeding. Breast milk is liquid gold, but doesn’t have the necessary Vitamin D in it. I wondered…why did this just happen to her and not my other little ones who received breast milk as well? I was told that that this does not happen to every baby and is a rare condition. A rare condition…that can be fixed. Unfortunately she has had this for a while, as Rickets disease has developed….again another condition that is reversible.
Rickets is defective mineralization or calcification of bones before epiphyseal closure in immature mammals due to deficiency or impaired metabolism of vitamin D, phosphorus or calcium, potentially leading to fractures and deformity.
And so, she is receiving calcium 4x a day and will continue to do so for 8 weeks after she leaves the hospital. In 8 weeks, she will be bigger, better and stronger. In addition, she will have a testimony that will she share with others.
Speaking of sharing, the doctors have encouraged us to share with everyone the importance of Vitamin D. As Midwesterners, we are lacking in sunlight. Sunlight in Michigan is only good from May 1-October 1. Outside of that time, the sun is too far away to do any good. I followed the rules with our infant and kept her indoors during the first three months. Since she was born in May, she could have really used that sunlight. That, plus keeping her indoors during the winter was a double whammy. In addition, African Americans are also more susceptible to this deficiency. So everyone, on behalf of our little one…get your Vitamin D!