We arrived home on February 20, 2017. There was a strange feeling of stepping into someone else's house. I was a different person already. I remember the first few days with the fuzziness of a hangover. We are programmed to be motivated by our infant's cries. I could feel them grip the primitive parts of my brain. There was an uncomfortable feeling similar to an unsatisfied addiction.
On day 2, we went to the pediatrician for the first time. The nurse practitioner at the office told us that Laurel was looking good, but that Juniper had lost 11% of her body weight, which is slightly outside of normal ranges. I recall watching her lie on the scale, tiny and naked, flailing her arms sporadically. She was down to 4.4 pounds. The nurse assured us that there was no need to worry and sent us home.
About 6 hours after we arrived home, I began to worry. Coley was sleeping and her mother was helping me take care of the girls. Juniper had gone all day without eating more than a few milliliters. I tried to force feed her. She refluxed everywhere and violently resisted my efforts. I tapped on her foot desperately, but she continued to lie there motionless.
I cannot describe how, but I knew something wasn't "normal." This was the first time I really knew.
I called the pediatrician and they agreed that I should come back in. I decided to tell Coley about what had been happening, but to insist she stay home and rest. I loaded Juniper into the mini van. She used some of her small amount of strength to fight me as I restrained her in the car seat.
On the way to the pediatricians office, the situation escalated in my mind. I was so rattled that I got into a small car accident in the new van. I gave the man who had been victimized by my fear my information. I told him about Juniper and said I would not wait for police. He showed me kindness (until it was time to collect money for repairs) and let me go.
When I arrived, the nurse took a look at Juniper and told me that this might be one of those "first time parent therapy visits." She actually said that to me.
Normally I would have felt stupid and self conscious, but somehow I just knew I was right to be concerned. I already knew my child better than she did. I protested her diagnosis. I would have brought out signs and staged a sit in if I had to. She agreed to bring in the lead pediatrician to try a feeding.
As the pediatrician attempted to feed her, Juniper trashed her arms like she was drowning in the air. The pediatrician held her upright and forced the rubber nipple into her mouth. As soon as the pediatrician stopped for a moment, Juniper would close her eyes and sleep.
The pediatrician tried, aggressively, to make her comply. The murals on the wall contained nursery rhyme characters. Old McDonald and Humpty Dumpty watched Juniper vomit and gasp for air. After about a half hour of water boarding with Formula, the pediatrician left the room and informed me she would return momentarily.
I sat in the room alone with Juniper, frustrated and concerned. When the pediatrician returned she informed me that a nearby children's hospital would be waiting for me. She told me not to worry, that we should just take precaution. The hospital would help assess her and run a few tests. That's all. I put Juniper back in the van and set out for Scottish Rite.
The half hour drive proved to be the most difficult of my life.