Our Five Ring Circus: Liam's First Hospital Stay

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Liam's First Hospital Stay

The past few days have been an absolute whirlwind!

Prior to last week, none of my children have ever had to stay in the hospital. Liam was the one to break the record!

Wednesday started off great!  I woke up to a flood of emails in my inbox.  I couldn't figure out what was going on until someone mentioned that they saw my story on AOL's main page!


I was so honored, and I was brought to tears by every email and comment I received.  I read them all and will be responding to each one!

Shortly after sending the kids to school, I had to meet Dylan at his book fair.  I had to take Lily and Liam with me.  As we were getting out of our car, in the pouring rain, my purse broke, then Lily's umbrella broke. I'm fairly certain we were the entertainment of the day for the office staff.   It was so nice to see Dylan, though!


After running a few errands, we came home for lunch.  Grant came home from work early, and we went to Liam's first appointment at the Down Syndrome Clinic.  The Down Syndrome Clinic is through Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, and has two doctors on staff.

All the positive things that we heard about the Down Syndrome Clinic were true.  The doctor and the coordinator are simply amazing.  They both have family members with Down Syndrome.   They were so personable, and I don't even think there could possibly be a better doctor out there to oversee Liam's care.

The entire appointment was so positive.  The doctor had a great outlook on Liam's future and had personal experience to back it up.  The doctor said Liam looked great, but he was concerned that he hadn't reached his birth weight yet.  He weighed in at 7 lbs 10 oz, which was 1 oz below his birth weight.  He asked the coordinator to schedule a swallow test and an appointment at the ENT for Liam.

I was surprised at how much time the doctor spent with us.  He eventually left to look at Liam's growth chart that was faxed over from our pediatrician, while the coordinator came in to talk to us.  She was just as wonderful as he was!

When the doctor knocked on the door and came back in, I had a feeling things were going to change.  He explained that Liam was still at the exact weight he was 6 days ago, and there should have been a slight gain.  He thought it was better for Liam to be admitted to the hospital, because he would get a bunch of tests done quicker than he would if we had to schedule them individually.

He apologized repeatedly, but said he thought this was the way to go so we would be able to get answers quickly.

All of our plans for the rest of the week instantly changed.  We rushed home to prepare for our hospital stay.  I packed bags for Dylan, Lexie, and Lily, kissed them goodbye, and sent them to my parents house.  Grant and I packed our bags, loaded up the car, went through the drive-thru for some dinner, and drove to Pittsburgh. 

As soon as we got to the hospital, we went to admissions, and just waited for our room to be ready. A sweet older man came down to get us, and as he stood up from talking to Liam, he walked right into the glass panel. We felt so bad for him, because he hit his head HARD!  After that excitement, we finally made our way up to our room.

Liam was stripped down to a diaper and wrapped in a blanket.  The doctor came in immediately and examined him. He gave us a general idea of the game plan.  The first thing they wanted to check were his oxygen levels throughout the night.  The nurses hooked him up to an oxygen monitor and left us alone to get settled in.


Grant immediately turned on the Tigers/Red Sox game.  He eventually ran down to the cafeteria to get us snacks.  The night dragged on, and nurses stopped in the room every half hour. Just after midnight, we attempted to go to bed. I thought Liam was going to refuse, because I had to hold him the past few hours, but he fell asleep quickly.


Sleep didn't happen for me.  I woke up every time a nurse came into the room.  At 3:00, when Liam woke up to eat, I just decided to wake up for the day.

Early that morning, before we could even eat breakfast, a doctor from the ENT Clinic stopped in to see us.  He had an appointment scheduled for Liam for a scope in the clinic.

Shortly after he left, transport came to get us to take us down to the clinic.  It was pretty awful.  I had to hold Liam tightly in my arms while a nurse stabilized his head.  The doctor went through his nose and down his throat to check to see if there was any blockage.  I stared at the ceiling or monitor, fighting back tears, as Liam cried and gurgled.

Based on what they saw, they decided that they needed to take him into the OR and put him under general anesthesia for a deeper scope.  That was the last thing I wanted to happen, but we signed the consent forms, and went back to our room to wait.


The wait was awful.  He wasn't allowed to eat for 6 hours.  He slept for a few hours, then woke up to eat.  Unfortunately, we couldn't feed him, so it escalated to a scream fest.  During the scream fest, we had to take him down to get x-rays, so it made him even angrier.


Thankfully, our dear friend, Amber, arrived with lunch and she was able to get him back to sleep. 

Another doctor came in around the time they told us he would go into the OR.  She examined him, and realized that they hadn't put the IV in yet.  He needed fluids before going to the OR, so the nurse came to get him, and took him for an IV.  That procedure obviously woke him up, and he was even angrier than before!

The only thing that made me smile during all this was a surprise text from one of my closest friends, Steph, telling me that her baby girl had arrived on her due date!  I had just talked to her 3 hours before, and she had a few contractions far apart, but nothing else was going on!  The excitement helped keep my mind off what was going to happen.

Finally, transport came to get us and take us down to the OR.  As we walked into OR, I began to cry.  I have never had to hand any of my children over to be put under anesthesia.  Horror stories kept running through my head, and I just wanted to take him and run out of the hospital.

My anxiety only got worse as the anesthesiologist went through the list of the could-happens.  He could end up paralyzed.  Kids with DS are more likely to go into cardiac arrest under anesthesia.  He could end up coming out with a breathing tube. He could end up in the PICU.  I could only imagine the worst.

Handing my baby over and walking away was one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do.

Grant and Amber did their best to keep my mind off of things in the waiting room, even though they were nervous, too.  Steph sent a picture of baby Violet, so that was a nice distraction. Mostly, I prayed that everything would turn out okay.

And it did!

The doctor came in and told us that everything looked good.  He had Laryngomalacia, which is basically floppy airways, and reflux.  The Laryngomalacia should resolve itself by the time he is 18-20 months, and Zantac 3 times a day will help his reflux.

We have been so blessed that Liam is in good health and is strong.  Other than a few physical traits, you would never think he had Down Syndrome right now.  We were so relieved to hear that he just had conditions that would go away over time.

The nurse led us to the recovery room.  Another nurse was feeding our sweet boy some Pedialyte.  She smiled at us across the room and told us to take our time, because she didn't want to give him up. I, however, was very anxious to have him in my arms!

After a few minutes in recovery, we were able to return to our room.  I was so happy to have Liam safely in my arms!


Amber eventually left, we made phone calls to our family, and we ordered dinner from the cafe. We settled in for another night in the hospital.


Grant watched the Tigers game again, then we headed to bed around midnight.  After less than 3 hours of interrupted sleep and a very emotional day, I was exhausted.  Apparently we both were, because the doctor came in and completely examined Liam without waking us up!

The next morning was off to a slow start. We met with another doctor, I cuddled Liam, ordered my meal, and ate my breakfast.


After I ate, the feeding team showed up to observe a nursing session.  Grant, of course, felt uncomfortable, so he left the room for a while.  They also observed a bottle feeding.  They decided that they needed to do the cookie swallow test to make sure he wasn't aspirating.  Once again, I had to starve my poor baby for a few hours.

He was content for a few hours, but then the hunger pains kicked in and he was miserable.  Grant and I took turns trying to soothe him.


Transport finally arrived to take us down for the cookie swallow test.  The doctors fitted us with vests, propped Liam in a seat,  and took x-rays as I fed him different bottles.

Thankfully, he was NOT aspirating!  I almost cried when they explained that I would have to stop breastfeeding if he was.  Surprisingly, it was more difficult for him to bottle feed.  They even tried different flow nipples and thickening his formula. 

He returned to his room much happier than before.  It also happened to be his 2 month birthday!  His stats were 7 lbs 10 oz and 21 3/4 inches!


He took a little nap while we waited to see if we were going to be released.


Finally, a doctor came in to talk to us.  He was officially diagnosed with failure to thrive due to Laryngomalacia, reflux, and feeding difficulties.  Thankfully, they were all issues that would get better with some time and some work! 

She quickly got the discharge paperwork ready, and the nurse came in to take out the IV and unhook him from the oxygen monitor.  We were so relieved that our hospital stay was over! 


We gathered our stuff, and happily loaded up our car.  We stopped at the pharmacy and stopped to have dinner out with Grant's family on our way home.

We had quite the homecoming!  Dylan and Lexie ran out to the driveway screaming.  Lily screamed my name from the top of the stairs.  She was so excited that when I picked her up, she peed all over me!  Dylan and Lexie made us a pizza and had the table set for when we got home, and they both rushed to scoop up their brother. 

We eventually convinced them to go to bed, and we finally enjoyed some peace and quiet with our sweet baby boy!


Our hospital stay was unexpected.  It was stressful, emotional, exhausting, and disruptive to our normal routine.

BUT...I can't say enough great things about Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. They make sure that the entire family is well taken care of during your stay. The entire staff is amazing, from the doctors to the nurses to the janitors to food service to the transporters.  Prior to Liam's stay, we had only been there on an outpatient basis.  I can honestly see why it's consistently voted one of the best children's hospitals!

As for Liam, he's doing great other than his (lack of) weight gain.  He will be taking his medication for reflux, and the floppy airways should improve.  An occupational therapist and a nutritionist will be coming to our house once a week.  They will help him learn how to feed more effectively.  He will get weighed then, so I won't have to make the weekly trek to our pediatrician's office anymore!  And hopefully, HOPEFULLY, he will reach his birth weight and start to gain!


  1. I wish we lived close & Kenlee, Logan & I could come get your other three for a play date!
    This post made me cry because I can imagine how hard that was taking him to the OR.
    I'm going to pray he gains weight throughout this week for you!!
    Sending love & light your way!!

  2. Stefanie, I just had to go back and catch up. I had no idea about Liam's diagnosis. I felt tears reading your birth story just now. A first reaction is to say I'm sorry. Not about Liam have down syndrome but sorry for things not going perfectly as planned and any challenges you may have concerning his health. I pray he stays healthy and strong. My love to you and your family.

  3. So glad everything turned out ok! My nephew also had that floppy airway thing...they caught his b/c he would have kind of wheezy breathing episodes. Anyways, he grew out of his just fine! :-)

    He is adorable, as usual

  4. So glad everything is ok! Liam is the sweetest little babe :)

    PS- Reflux meds work GREAT, Sofia was on them until she was 10 months!

    Hello Newlywed Life Blog

  5. So happy for you that all turned out ok! I am sure Liam will start to gain weight soon!

  6. So happy for you that all turned out well. I am sure Liam will start to gain weight soon. You are doing an amazing job.

    As a new first time mom to a son with DS I know everything can be quite scary. Especially the unexpected.

  7. What an ordeal! So glad things are looking positive. I LOVE all the pictures of him. He couldn't be any cuter!

  8. I cannot imagine how difficult all of the hospital stuff must have been! I'm so happy that Liam's diagnosis is something he can overcome with age! What a blessing!!!

  9. SO glad to hear that everything is ok. He is just the cutest!

  10. Even though I knew all of this my heart still breaks reading this!

    Love you all. Once you get settled back into a routine, lets get together! I miss you guys

  11. Sending so much love and prayer your way. My mom was a nurse at Children's in Pittsburgh in the NICU for many years and she swears she would never go anywhere else. Hoping and praying your "normal" returns soon :-)

  12. Oh my goodness. What an ordeal!!

    I'm glad everything is okay with him. Nick had reflux and eventually grew out of it. Luke is currently on meds for it, and man, they are a lifesaver! He had to go without a couple days last week due to an insurance/pharmacy snafu and I was ready to hurt someone.

    I can't imagine withholding food from a baby that little!! It goes against everything a mother knows. I am so glad you are past that now!! Prayers that he gains some weight!

  13. Wow Liam is a trooper and he's gorgeous!!! I'm glad it wasn't anything major and that he's ok!

  14. I'm SO sorry about the hospital stay. The picture of Liam crying? Literally made ME cry. I hate seeing babies or kids in any type of pain:( I'm so so SO glad to hear they figured out what was wrong. It sounds like the doctors are pretty fantastic. I hope that Liam continues to progress! Such a handsome little man he is!

  15. Hugs sissy! For sure Liam will get over this in no time ;) He sure looks like Dyl!

  16. Very thankful that it was nothing too serious!
    Liam will kick that failure to thrive diagnosis to the curb. He has a great supportive family that will allow him to defy all odds for everything.

  17. Liam is such a doll!! I'm so glad he's doing better and things are ok!

  18. What a long couple of days for y'all, but I'm so glad to hear its nothing time won't fix! My Liam was on reflux meds when he was an infant too, they are great!

  19. So so sorry you had to go through all of that. I'm glad you got some positive answers though and that he will able to heal himself over time.
    Hang in there, you guys are doing great!

  20. Liam is such a sweet 'lil man. <3 What a ride those days were for you - sending up thoughts of continued strength and health for him (and you all!).

  21. You are amazing and so is sweet Liam! I'm thankful that you were able to get positive news out of such a difficult time.

  22. Oh goodness... that picture of your beautiful boy crying just breaks my heart! The hardest thing I ever had to do was hand my baby off to the nursing staff at Children's Hospital. And they couldn't bring him back to my arms fast enough. I think I cried harder than he did.

    So thankful that they worked so hard to make sure he is healthy. Thankful that you can continue nursing him. And thankful that this experience is behind you now. How wonderful to be home again!

  23. Poor little guy.. I am so glad he is home now and doing better. He is adorable and so tiny!!


I love hearing from you! Let's chat!!!