Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Saga of Mathias Francis

First of all, thank you to anyone reading this. I think it's safe to assume that anyone taking the time to read a blog post about someone else's baby has committed some level of love, support and prayer in the general direction of said baby and family, and for that I cannot  thank you enough.
Second of all, it would be very easy for me to interject lots of emotion and my own perception of events into this post, I think I'm going to avoid that (or at least try too) frankly, I'm feeling very drained and would prefer to stick to the facts relating to the events of the last 3 days.
Lastly, given the above I'm going to do my best to define the scientific explanations of things, and try to paint a clear picture of everything that occurred and the consequences of those events. I will relate things to you as best as I understand them, and I think everyone will be much happier if you forgive me some inadequacies in my retelling-these short comings should in no one underplay the importance of Mathias' saga...
Kim and I checking into Saint Elizabeth's Hospital on Monday May 28th at 9pm. It turned out that upon check in, she was already contracting enough that she wouldn't need to be induced. By 10:30 our family physician had been called, stopped by, and broke her water. Throughout the night and early morning the wonderful (ok, a little biased emotion)nursing staff had given her pitocin to speed up the delivery. Around 3 am an anesthesiologist had come and provided her with an epidural to alleviate some of the pain caused by the contractions. After this, Kim was able to get a little sleep. I got slightly more, as I woke up around 4:30 to discover the nursing staff setting up for the delivery. The doctor had been called and was enroute. By 5 am things were in full motion. Five minutes later Mathias was out and looking great, minus the fact that the cord was wrapped around his neck on his way out, but that was truly of no concern to anyone. The little guy was looking great and made the extra effort to urinate on not one, but two nurses as they did what they needed to do. Mathias was born at 5:05 AM on Tuesday May 29th. He weighed 7 lbs 5 oz (1 oz more than Noah, and quite a few less than Belle Marie who was closer to 9 lbs) and was 20. 5 in long. Kim and I were absolutely in love with this gift from God and couldn't have been happier.
Fast forwarding two uneventful hours, we found ourselves in the postpartum nursery for the traditional checkup.  Everything was looking great, except the nurse noticed Mathias was looking jaundice. Traditionally, this is very common for every baby to go through, but usually after the first 24-48 hours. Surprised by this, the nurse ordered blood tests to be performed. It was through these tests that we learned Kim and Mathias had different blood types - not uncommon - however, their blood types were incompatible, and essentially trying to destroy each other within the little guy. The jaundice was a side effect of this incompatibility, and though we made efforts to treat the jaundice, the yellow skin coloration was not/is not the reason for concern with our forth child. Rather the fact that if left untreated, this incompatibility could have long term consequences such as brain damage.  Additionally, by the time blood tests were performed, Mathias had dangerously high levels of, well for simplicity sake let's say- toxins, being produced internally and he had no way of battling them himself.
All of this came to light between 8 and 10 AM on Tuesday, Mathias was taken to the nursery and put under two blue lights to provide phototherapy in dealing with the billirubin (the toxins) while laying on top of a third light which was strapped to him via a blanket and pad. Our little trooper was given a tanning mask and left to relax while being let out for feedings with Kim.
The day progressed, I returned home, collected our other children from Daycare anxiously fed them an extremely early dinner, and returned to the hospital as quickly as I could, wanting desperately to be with my whole family.
At around 6 PM, we received a very disturbing phone call, Mathias' toxin levels were jumping into even more dangerous levels, the lights weren't working and there was a very real chance that after 13 hours of life he could require a blood transfusion to wipe away all of the battling blood and start anew. For better monitoring he was prompltly moved from postpartum to the NICU (intensive care for newborns) hooked up to machines to monitor his heart rate, pulse, etc and had an IV placed into his arm. Apparently the best way to fight this is to get him to pee and poop. Additionally, some extra medications was being pumped into him to help supplement anti-bodies in his blood.
It took all of 2 seconds for our families to rally to our support, my parents claimed ownership of Noah, Harrison, and Belle Marie ensuring us that they would be taken care of so that both Kim and I could remain at the hospital. My oldest brother was on his way to Lincoln from Omaha within moments of receiving word, and my other brother turned around and came back to the hospital having left literally minutes earlier. My father-in law delayed his departure, as he was in the process of saying good byes so he could return home, instead he set up camp wherever he could find space in the hospital and my sister firmly declared that she would be sleeping in the NICU with Mathias. Lastly a very good priest friend dropped everything and was at the hospital faster than most people would think possible.
Skipping ahead to 6 AM, Kim and I are both in the NICU room trying to bond with our baby, which is made difficult by the fact that he has to be constantly strapped to a light and we aren't really allowed to remove him from his crib. At this time, the doctor comes in explains that the toxin levels are not dropping, but they are not climbing as fast as they were. This is good news and is cause for the toxins to be less of a concern. However (this was a very long however for us) the new concern, which apparently was always a concern, is the liver. Mathias' liver is now working overtime to deal with the toxins. Kim had to step in and explain to me that the liver is secreting enzymes as a result of cleaning out these toxins, a normal level for a newborn is around .1 or .2-Mathias, was at 3. Once again, dangerously high levels.
In the interest of time, allow me to say that labs are being performed on Mathias at 6 AM and 6 PM-each result shows increase in both the toxins and the liver enzymes, the increase is not the concern, but rather the rate of the increase, has this rate stops being so steep the concern lessens.
Now, Mr. Mathias Francis is still in the NICU, however, all lights are off of him, and we are monitoring to see how his body  does on its own. The tests performed at the 6 AM on Friday June 1st will be pivotal as they give us the truest picture of his performance while off machines.
Once more I'd like to stress that Mathias was not placed in the NICU for jaundice, he was sent there because he was truly in danger due to his blood incompatability, we were literally told by two doctors that they had never seen levels of this nature this high, this soon on a newborn-The doctors themselves expressed how concerned they were for the well being of our child.
Now-let's look at a less grim picture. Mathias is doing great. He eats well (minus a possible intolerance to the formula) he sleeps well, for being in the NICU he looks amazing. He is adorable (no this is not emotional bias, this is proven fact) he has four sets of hands (gigantic toes, those things are long and look opposable)  and we are visiting every chance we get.
Kim has been discharged, and is technically at home, but as I type this she is at the Hospital spending time with her fourth child.
A lot of attention is being given to Mathias right now, but I promise I haven't forgotten about the first three. Noah has spent a lot of time at the hospital with us, given that he is out of school. For being 6, the kiddo has done great and seems to have a pretty good understanding of the situation at hand-in fact he was explaining to a nurse on the elevator wednesday, that his baby brother was sick and that his blood and mommy's blood was incompatible, I'd say Big Brother Noah has an amazing grasp on the last four days, he's even led Grandma, Grandpa and Harrison in a prayer on Mathias' behalf.
Harrison is concerned for Mathias and wants desperately to hold him. During our hospital visits as a family, I can see Harry sneaking up to the crib trying to touch Mathias and give him kisses unseen. During the day it's business as usual as he goes to daycare to play with his friends.
Belle Marie-well, being fourteen months old there isn't a lot to say, but she sure has taken advantage of all the attention family members have been showering her with.
In summary, we're doing great. We've been very blessed to have all of you in our lives and the staff has been excellent. We've had our lives flipped upside down, inside out and topsy turvey, but we've come through it, and will continue to come through it. For anyone who hasn't been called by Kim or myself these last few days, I do sincerly apologize, as the situation got bigger and bigger we just couldn't muster the strength to call everyone, and so just kept it to immediate family. If you have any questions though, please feel free to reach out to me (Greg) I'll do my best to answer.
Again, thank you all-your support has been our rock and without your love, things would be much worse than they are for us.
Mathias has been blessed with holy water from Lourdes and we continue to be optimistic of his recovery and his ability to come home soon to see us.
To close I'd like to send out a special thank you to the family that has been so great to us....
Skip and Judy Philson, Mike Olberding, Elizabeth Philson, Chris and Rebecca Philson, John Philson, Adrian Carlson, Fr. Troy Schweiger, Fr. Leo Kosch, The NICU Nurses, the Postpartem Nurses, the Delivery Staff, and our knowledgeable doctors. I mean no offense if you feel you should be on this list, please forgive me, I've been typing much longer than I meant to or should be, and truly the list is waaaaaay to long to include everyone.
God Bless you all.

Greg and Kim Philson
Enjoy the pics, more are available on facebook, and if you happen to have any pictures of Mathias or us at the hospital, please send them to me at