3 Months, 3 Years and 3 More Weeks to Go! (our battle with Pertussis)

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I am so grateful to be blogging right now…a few months ago, I couldn’t even see myself even breaking free for a few minutes for some “me” time. The last three months were filled with a whirlwind of challenges, joys and testing of my faith including giving birth to our new baby boy, celebrating K’s third birthday and helping our littlest battle Pertussis (a.k.a. whooping cough).

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Photo by Nadine Bosurgi

A little over three months ago our family of three welcomed our newest little one, Baby I, into the world. By God’s grace, I was able to go into natural labor and have a quick delivery (almost as quick as K’s) at one of the finest hospitals here in Santa Monica. From the very start, our healthy, beautiful baby boy nursed well, took long naps and was an “angel baby” as they call it. The day he was born, big sister K welcomed her baby brother with hugs, kisses and lots of love. Nine months of anticipation and excitement for a baby brother was well worth it! After a full day of visitors and then an almost sleepless night, we decided it was best to go back home. To our surprise, Baby I adjusted really well, K embraced him and I was getting 6-8 total hours of sleep each night (more than I was getting when pregnant!).

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Photo by Nadine Bosurgi

The first month and a half was like a baby-moon with baby and all! Everything was going so smoothly (I’d even say perfectly) until one night in August, I woke up to hearing Baby I having a series of dry coughs and then gasping for air. It definitely wasn’t sounding good so that morning, I did some research on the internet and came across Pertussis. Of course Google highlighted the extreme cases of infants with pertussis like longterm hospitalization and stories of deaths that occur because of this horrible disease. Well it was enough to get me to call our pediatrician and bring him in for testing.

After sharing about his coughing episode that last night and having his lungs and breathing observed, the pediatrician tried to convince me that we didn’t need to have him tested and that he just had a common cold. I was not convinced and needed to be 100% sure so I pressed on to get him tested. Reluctantly, she ordered for him to get a culture done.

During that long week of waiting for the results (hoping the pediatrician was right!), I did further research on Pertussis and came to learn that the onset of this “100-day cough” came with little to no symptoms (especially in infants) for the first few weeks. Those affected may have cold-like symptoms which then subside and then develop a cough that progresses into coughing episodes that produce a “whoop” at the end when gasping for air. Infants and toddlers may turn blue during these episodes and many have to be hospitalized to ensure they are getting enough oxygen and to have their lungs and organs monitored. Infants may not ever have this cough but symptoms may silently appear in the form of sleep apnea (stopped breathing) especially during nighttime sleep. This really scared me!

One week later, I received the dreaded phone call that Baby I was tested positive for Pertussis. My heart dropped as I tried to digest the news…how could this be?! After getting over that question (which took about 5 seconds)…the bigger question was, what was I supposed to do??? Desperately asking for help and advice on how to care for Baby I, the pediatrician said that our family needed to get on antibiotics immediately to make sure it wouldn’t spread to others and that all I could do was observe him and let it run its course. She assured me that everything would be fine (that sounded familiar) but in the case he began struggling to breathe, to call their office or go into the ER. And then she reminded me for the third time that we all needed to get on antibiotics. WHAT?!?! That was the advice coming from a professional within the pediatric medical field? Uh…going to the ER if he struggled to breathe sounded like common sense to me. So I pressed on with more questions regarding specific things to look for and do and I was left with a very annoyed pediatrician (who once again reminded me that we needed to get on meds ASAP so that we don’t spread it, which obviously was the most important thing to her).

Devastated and after doing a few more hours of research while trying to carefully observe every single breath Baby I took, I decided to call our pediatric office again, hoping to speak to someone who could really help me and at least act like they cared. I was transferred to one of the other doctors and she left me with a few words of compassion and specifics on various scenarios that might come up: If Baby I has a shortness or is catching his breath, it is fine as long as he does not turn blue. If Baby I were to turn blue, call the office and/or 9-1-1. If he stops breathing for 10 seconds or more (making sure to count “one-one thousand, two-one thousand, etc.), call 9-1-1. I got off the phone feeling a little better for a minute and then started thinking…Wait, I am supposed to just sit and watch my one and a half month old infant for the next 100 days who is in the highest percentile of having to be hospitalized and has a chance of not making it and HOPE he continues to breathe and HOPE he doesn’t cough and then spit up globs of mucus and HOPE he doesn’t choke on it and stop breathing?!?! 

So back on the internet I went…for about two full weeks (which felt like a few months) all the while carefully observing Baby I, praying with all of my strength that God would bring me peace about what to do and also realizing K’s third birthday was only a few days away!!!

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K had been planning her birthday for months…Disneyland on her big day and a party the next. Mama, can we have a special cupcake party where the kids can decorate them with frosting and toppings? We can have a toppings bar! And then when it’s time to sing and eat, I can say, “Ready, set, go!” She had it planned out perfectly and she reminded me about it every morning and night. The invitations were already out, the cupcakes were set to go (thanks to my incredible friend, Mama Darlene) and there was no way K wasn’t going to have her party go on. Pertussis couldn’t get in the way!

So later that week in the midst of my almost sleepless nights (I slept very lightly and nursed frequently, making sure Baby I was breathing and ready to pick him up if he had a coughing spell) we celebrated K’s big day at Disneyland and the next morning at her favorite park with friends, cupcakes and the works. Thankfully K had the time of her life and couldn’t stop exclaiming, “Yipee! I’m three!” After all of the fun, it was back to caring for Baby I and figuring out what to do…

Several moms on a few blogs wrote about their heart wrenching experiences either losing their babies or watching them in the hospital with tubes and machines hooked up to their helpless newborns and ended their stories with wishing they were to have known about the Vitamin C treatment.

I then started to researching this and all sites and experiences led me to Dr. Suzanne Humphries and her article about the Vitamin C treatment. After reading the entire article several times and multiple testimonials about Dr. Humphries, I decided to send her an e-mail, asking her if I could schedule a consultation for Baby I. Within a few hours, I had heard back from her, filled out some paperwork and scheduled a Skype consultation for the following day.

Speaking with Dr. Suzanne was an answer to prayer. Dr. Suzanne walked me through the process of Pertussis and shared specific things that I could to do help build up Baby I’s immune system (it was especially down because of the antibiotics) and help my family and me get through what felt like an eternity. Based on Baby I’s weight and the severity of his cough, she recommended a specific dosage Vitamin C in sodium ascorbate (given with a syringe and a few ml of breastmilk) and lyposomal (swabbed inside his cheek) form. She suggested I continue giving the family probiotics through the powdered form I was already feeding the little ones (I gave it to Baby I by having him suck on some on my finger), having everyone drink plenty of kefir, eating lots of yogurt and enjoying traditionally prepared sauerkraut and other fermented veggies through the day. All of us were also taking high doses of Vitamin C as our immune systems were rundown and there was a possibility we might have contracted Pertussis as well. Most importantly, Dr. Suzanne reminded me that since I am a woman of faith, to continue to trust God that He is in full control.

After shutting down my computer, I felt God’s peace overwhelm me and I just knew all would be fine. My faith was put to the test and I wanted to put things in my hands, having control of our baby’s health. At that moment, I realized that He was carrying all of us this entire time, even when I felt like I was carrying the world on my shoulders.

Within a day of administering the Vitamin C, I noticed all the difference in Baby I. He wasn’t really coughing anymore and when he did, it would be a cough here or there but nothing more than that. He continued to nurse well, grow A LOT (he was 16 pounds at 3 1/2 months) and sleep really long stretches at night (7 1/2 hours as his longest stretch). Smiling, laughing, cooing, sucking on his thumb, rolling over onto his back and now army crawling around the house, I’d say Baby I is not only battling this disease but thriving through it and we only officially have three more weeks to go!!!

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I’m just hoping and praying our story would encourage others with little ones who are fighting Pertussis.

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