As a third year medical student I assisted in a lumbar puncture on a baby who was seven days old. My job was the hold the infant curled in the fetal position to expose her lower spine to the physician who was doing the procedure. The baby's mom stood by and cried, silently at first, then loudly and almost as if she was grieving when the procedure was finished.
I thought about that exhausted-looking mother when I had to repeat the experience of holding down a newborn for the same procedure, this time my own son. I was told that I didn't have to participate, that it was "ok to be a mom" and stand aside, but I figured the least I could do to comfort my terrified son was to minimize the number of foreign hands on him. And I cried as she did, first silently and then loudly when it was over.
Despite our best efforts in keeping Munch and his daddy away while they were ill, little Wow developed a low grade fever Wednesday morning. I took him to urgent care and was redirected to the Emergency Room ten miles down the road. Given his age (22 days), a sepsis work up was initiated, which included four failed attempts at placing an IV, a bladder catheterization (a small plastic tube up his baby wee-wee), chest x rays, and the worst part, two different and both failed attempts, each about twenty minutes in duration, by first the ER attending then the anesthesiologist (who had been called to place the IV) to obtain cerebral spinal fluid from the subarachnoid space- or a lumbar puncture. When I later removed the tegaderm and gauze that covered his lower spine I counted at least four puncture sites.
In a day of many horrible moments it is difficult to identify the worst, although it might have been went I put him down on the hospital bed for yet another attempt to gain IV access - this IV to be placed in his scalp - and he just lay there, limp and silent, as if he knew something really bad was about to happen to him and there was nothing he could do to stop it.
He was admitted for IV antibiotics and observation. The next two days were relatively, and thankfully, uneventful. All I did was sit in the hospital bed and hold him - while I was reading, watching TV, eating, and for long periods of time, doing nothing at all. I literally put him down only to change his diaper and to use the bathroom myself. He slept on my chest. I'd like to think that, after the day in the ER, just being together, quiet and close, was as therapeutic as the antibiotics he received every eight hours.
After two days of no fevers and negative blood cultures, the IV antibiotics and fluids were stopped, the IV was removed, and we were discharged.
First order of business upon arriving home was a bath for little Wow, as no baby should smell of tape residue and betadine.