the many different faces…

3 Weeks ago I was blissfully unaware of what this short time would hold for my family and I. I was a mother on the brink of meeting my sweet baby boy after what felt like a lifetime of carrying him around in my womb.  I was unaware of any kind of complication.  I was gullible enough to expect everything to go according to plan.

Cuddling after our first feed

During the second day in hospital, we were told that little Oliver had a bit of jaundice and would be placed under the lights for some phototherapy.  It was only the following morning when he was taken to Neo Natal ICU when the severity of the whole experience hit us.  And in many ways we were still completely unaware what the real issue was.  To the normal eye, he looked (even if a bit yellow) like a healthy 3.6kg baby.

Over the course of the weekend, Kobus and I learn a whole lot of new words, statistical counts and information we never knew we needed to know.  All this still meant very little, every bit of information was linked to a whole lot of other factors and no timeframe/ limit could be set to anything.  By the Monday we were finished, we needed answers and recommendations.  We needed to know that “A” is what we hope for, if “A” doesn’t happen we will proceed with “B” and if that doesn’t work we have “C, D and E” to look into.

Oliver was under the phototherapy lights, on the billi-blanket.  (which finally gave in due to overuse)

IV Drip to my arm, tanning away.

Diagnosis – ABO Incompatibility and Hyperbilirubinemia


22 Sept @ 11h31 – Oliver Mackenzie Born

23 Sept @ 08h50 – BilliT 219 / C 73 / HB 12.3 – Phototherapy in the Maternity ward baby room

24 Sept @ 07h50 – BillT 332 / C 151 – Oli admitted to NICU, Fluid given via IV drip.

@14h00 – BilliT 345 / C 172 / HB 11.1

@17h30 – BilliT 362 / C 174 – Oli given a second drip with antibiotics to assist liver to process Billirubin.  Urine sample sent for testing reveals no abnormalities with liver and no infections.  Billirubin count peaks

@22h00 – BilliT 350 / C 179 / HB 9.3 – Billirubin coming down, Kobus and I get very excited.

25 Sept @ 07h50 – BilliT 351 / C200 – Conjugated Billirubin count introduced to K and I, as the count after the blood has passed through the liver for processing.  This count shows great concern due to the fact that it keeps increasing unlike the Billirubin count which seems to slowly start coming down.

Paed requests a sonar of Oli’s liver, gallbladder, pancreas and kidneys.  Although the liver is bigger than it should be at Oli’s age, this is normal due to the fact that it is working so hard at processing the Billirubin, other that this all the organs are normal.

@15h41 – BilliT 336 / C 184 – Conjugated count comes down – great excitement.  Blood sent to the blood bank to be analysed.

26 Sept @ 05h15 – BilliT 342 / C 215 / HB 8.8 – Conjugated count shoots up.  Followed by introduction of HB (haemoglobin) as the oxygen carrying property in the blood.  Complete meltdown, followed by “demand to know answers” session in the Pediatrician’s offices.  Blood is order from the blood bank and was given to Oli the same evening.

Pediatrician also orders a torch screen to rule out a bunch of other things that could determine whether there are any other complication that may have an effect on Oli’s recovery.

The nurse assisting Oli for the day mentions Lactose free formula in hope that this will help with the digestive process, Pediatrician gives the go ahead.

Kobus and I hold our baby for the first time in 3 days.

27 Sept @ 08h00 – BilliT 253 / C 146 / HB 11.6 – Improvement thank goodness.  Blood given to Oli makes a huge difference.  Kobus and I start assisting with bottle feeding (under the lights), bathing and nappy changing like “normal parents”.

Burping a baby under the lights

28 Sept @ 10h00 – BilliT 242 / C 141 / HB 12.5 – Torch Screen results brings good news.  Kobus and I are being taught a hard lesson in being patient and allowing the little body to recover at his own pace.

29 Sept @ 09h00 – BilliT 180 / C 110 / HB 10.4 – Great excitement as we stop the phototherapy and antibiotics.  Inevitably this means more cuddles with our baby and holding him when we give him his bottle.

No More Lights

30 Sept – BilliT 172 / HB 11.4 – Good news – IV drip removed and Oliver is allowed to drink breast milk again (all my hard work expressing milk finally paying off).  Bad news, his saturation levels have dropped and he requires some oxygen to assist him in breathing.

01 Oct – BilliT 150 / C 82 / HB 10.8 – Little Master Swart is doing so well fighting the Billi all on his own – no meds, no lights, no fluids.  But we can see he is very tired and for the first time since he has been in NICU we can see that he is a sick baby.  Our baby is fed his milk through a nose pipe to the tummy.

Forehead in great need of some intensive moisturizing TLC

02 Oct – Sunday. Day of rest.  No blood tests.  Incubator heaters switched off, littlest is dressed in clothing (for the second time in his little life) and maintains his own body temperature.

03 Oct – Oli is still getting oxygen when he needs it, the nurses are trying to wean him from the oxygen.  We breast feed from the breast for the first time since he has been admitted to NICU.  So proud of my little monster.

04 Oct – BillliT 141 / HB 10.4 – Pediatrician prescribed some iron drops to help Oli’s body create haemoglobin.  He thinks Oli needs time to recover and that no more blood/ additional medication is needed.

05 Oct – As I arrive at the hospital the nurses tell me that the pediatrician has been in to see Oli and that if everything remains as is, he can go home the following day :)

06 Oct – After 13 long days in NICU and two weeks after he was born, Oliver is discharged from hospital.

First day at home and taking in my surroundings

Early morning cuddles with my big brother

Ready for my first outing


4 thoughts on “the many different faces…

  1. Sjoe, you guys had a very tough time. I am so glad he is home safe now. And congratulations! All 3 our kids had billi problems of which our first, a healthy 3,45kg Princess had to stay a week after birth in hospital – count too high to go home, but doctor awake enough to pic up early. So in the Childrens ward. My O and hubby’s B- was the issue. So with the twins we were immediately on the lookout and both needed the lights – L for a day and C went home for 2 weeks after on his billy bed.

  2. My babygirl was born on 18 August and she also spent time in NICU due to being 4 weeks prem and having no sucking reflex. It was the most difficult experience I ever had to go through. Leaving her in hospital and going home was heartbreaking.
    So glad both our babes are now at home and doing great!

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