Man, what a month this was. I cannot believe that Ariel is already 4 months old. and past that as I am writing this. If I were to pick a single word to describe month 3 it would be; eventful.
This was the month I saw major developmental changes. Ariel rolls from belly to back every time she is placed on her tummy. She also has began cooing and talking to us. She had been a relatively quiet baby (unless she is mad/hungry/tired…) up to this point. Though she is still fairly quiet, she does talk to, and scream at, us. She also responds to our sounds, especially when we sing to her. Her voice, and giggle, are my favorite sounds!
Her hands are her favorite toy and she is getting so good with reaching for things and holding them. I am still blown away by the developmental changes this month included and I am so proud of my sweet Ariel.
This month, however, was not all drooling and giggles. About 3 weeks ago my husband and I took Ariel into the Doctor with concerns about her ability to have successful bowel movements
(is that professional enough?). She was pooping frequently, but each time she would push she would cry. She would work for close to an hour, pushing and crying. I had no idea what to do! We were doing baby stretches, using some gas drops, I was making dietary changes and spending hours of my day googling in hope giving her some relief. We finally went in. The Doctor said that we were right to bring her in because she was
showing some signs of Hirschsprung Disease. Hirschprung’s is a birth defect that takes place in the large intestine. The nerves that allow a baby to poop did not develop and need to be removed from the large intestine, which then needs to be reconnected to the colon. It is a pretty serious disease that needs to be taken care of quickly and can be an extremely long and invasive process. Our Doctor acted quickly, ordering Ariel an X-ray as well as an enema. The results of these were good, but the Doctor was not 100% convinced that it was not Hirschprung Disease.
Her uncertainty meant we were taking a trip to Honolulu to Trippler Army Medical Center. We currently reside in Northern Japan, on a small Air Force base in Misawa. Our hospital is fairly small, and does not have the ability to detect or care for larger or more serious medical conditions. Trippler is an enormous hospital with all types of amazing Doctors. They would be able to properly diagnose and help Ariel.
A week and a half after the initial appointment we were on the plane and headed to the big island. Though beautiful, this was not a vacation by any means. But we did get the chance to see the beach and spend some time in the sun. We had a few days before our appointment, and we were full of nerves when the day finally came. The Doctors took a biopsy of the tissue to test the nerve cells and their development. A call came later that day informing us that the nerve cells in each section taken from were perfect and functioning just as they should be. Thank you, Jesus! We were elated at the news. But. if not Hirschprung… then what? We were back to square one.
We were not yet sent back to Misawa. They scheduled an appointment with the Gastroenterologist. At that appointment we told our story and Ariel got another examination. This time there were no pokes or prods. The Doctor gave us our final diagnosis, which was that Ariel was perfectly fine. She was born with some special anatomy, but did not require any further medical attention! Without getting into the nitty-gritty details, Ariel has to work a bit harder to poop. This is not something that she will grow out of, but apart from some potential issues with constipation, it will be manageable as an older child and an adult. Ariel’s crying is not pain, but frustration. Babies do not know to how to poop, and are learning each day. As I said before, she has to work harder due to her special anatomy, and in her frustration she clenches everything in her body, making relieving herself even more difficult. This is why she wants to nurse forever when she has to poop- she is trying to relax her body. This was, again, wonderful news and we were so relieved and happy!
We were then sent back home. The trip was exhausting, emotional and full of sweat. But we are thankful to the medical staff both here at Misawa and at Trippler, they worked quickly, patiently and effectively to get us some answers. The gorgeous beach wasn’t too bad either.
“Hirschsprung’s Disease: Get Facts on Problems Passing Stool.” MedicineNet, http://www.medicinenet.com/hirschsprung_disease/article.htm.