Clarissa McCully

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I gave birth to my second baby in the middle of a global pandemic. I had gone 2 weeks overdue with baby number 1 who is now almost 4, and with the pandemic I made it clear I wanted to be induced if I didn’t go by my due date. Normally, in our province they do not induce this early unless medically necessary but they were scheduled to close the maternity ward in 2 days, so they allowed me to come in the next morning to be induced.

I arrived at the hospital and they moved me to a room. I was left there for 2 hours before the doctor came, and when she did, she stood in the doorway with a mask and I knew it was not good news. She said that there was a 50% chance that the nurses & doctors on the ward had been exposed to COVID-19, so they couldn’t induce me. I would have to go to a hospital another hour away (this hospital was already 45 min from my home) or go home and wait to go into labor on my own. There was no way I was going back home, I’m a single mom and my mom had travelled 2 hours to be able to stay with me, so I demanded they call the other hospital and ask if I could go there.

We arrived at the other hospital, and things moved quite quickly from there. During contractions, Archie’s heartbeat slowed drastically, and they inserted a monitor to put directly on his head while he was in the birth canal, when he came out (I only pushed for 5 minutes) he had the cord wrapped around his neck & they had to get him to breathe.

All of this was so new and crazy, the entire pandemic experience, being induced & the difference in delivery, compared to #1.

I wanted to get out of the hospital as soon as possible to make sure we wouldn’t risk being exposed. So, they let us leave as soon as they did the heel prick for newborn screening at 24 hours after birth.

We went home, everything was going fine, Archie was sleeping 6-7 hours straight at night! My first baby didn’t sleep that long until 8 weeks old. I was feeling lucky. My mom went back to work, I worked into a routine of being alone with 2 kids & still recovering.

I’ll never forget the moment I got the call from IWK Children’s Hospital.  I was watching Married to Medicine with my roommate, baby was napping on me, was checking Facebook. As soon as the caller ID showed who was calling, my gut told me it was bad news.

The genetic counsellor told me that Archie has tested positive for a rare, treatable condition. That’s all she got out and I was bawling, handing the baby off to my roommate so I could focus. She hadn’t even told me what the disease was at this point. Once I was able to sit down and stop crying, she educated me on what it was, Medium-Chain Acyl-CoA Dehydrogenase Deficiency (MCADD). I had never heard of this prior to that day, had no idea what she was talking about.

I was told that Archie did not have the ability to break down fats to use as energy source, and that to prevent any metabolic crises, he would have to eat every 3-4 hours.  So, add that to everything else, I was distraught.  They wanted us to go to the hospital to have bloodwork and urinalysis to confirm and that it could take a week to verify.

When Archie was 13 days old, he was projectile vomiting for 12 hours, I couldn’t get him to keep down a feeding, he was still peeing but not as much as before, and his poop was funnier than usual. I was instructed to call the geneticist on call at the IWK if I had any concerns, so I called them and told them what was going on. The doctor said to take him to emergency with the emergency letter they had emailed me – immediately. And due to the pandemic and quarantine, I also had to bring my 3-year-old daughter as no one could watch her.

When we arrived, they took us right in and immediately started doing vitals and asking me questions, there was 4-5 nurses and pediatricians tending to him, I was a emotional wreck. They put in an IV and admitted us to the women’s and children’s ward. He was mildly dehydrated and his sugars were 3.8 which was a bit low. Thankfully, they said it was virus and we caught it before anything severe happened and that they were probably overdoing it but better to be safe than sorry. We stayed overnight and he was still power puking until midnight. Once his sugars, poops and vomiting were under control for 12 hours they discharged us.

This was the scariest thing, I had to do it all on my own with no support from family because of the pandemic, but he was OK now and that is all that mattered.

Today, Archie is 6 weeks old, he’s gaining weight like you wouldn’t believe! He is thriving! I am so glad that he is doing well, and I have been introduced so such an amazing community & support group with other moms who have kids with MCAD and other FAOD’s, so if I have any questions I know just where to go.