June 12, 2003 - October 3, 2003.
Gillian Elizabeth Izatt was born on June 12, 2003 of a regular scheduled caesarean section. She weighed 8 lbs, 11 oz and she was born healthy.
She was a happy, healthy baby who was a good eater and good sleeper. She was becoming more and more interesting and interested in the people and things around her. She had a quick smile and was beginning to giggle. She endeared herself to us more and more every day.
One week Gillian, my four year old son and I came down with the sniffles, nothing major, no coughing or congestion, just a pesky runny nose. My son and I seemed to get over it in about four days, but little Gillian´s runny nose persisted, and in fact she became more congested. She had a mild fever (100-101) on the Friday and Sunday nights, Tylenol kept it down. By Monday morning she seemed uncomfortable, cranky, a bit off her food, not quite right. I took her to our doctor´s office suspicious of an ear infection. He examined her, she was definitely irritable, but everything was clear, he suggested I continue with the Tylenol every 6 hours and instructed me to bring her back if she got worse.
She got worse. After spending a terrible Monday night crying out in her sleep a few times, she had a fever early Tuesday morning that the Tylenol didn´t seem to be bringing down, it was still low-grade at 101. She threw up some of her food and her diaper was dry from the night before. I started to get really scared. She wasn´t just sick and not herself, she didn´t seem "with it" - not focusing, I also found that her fontanel was bulging a bit, I told my husband I had a bad feeling about this, so I took her back to the doctor. At this point I suspected some kind of Meningitis. He didn´t have to examine her for long, he told me that he too suspected Meningitis and told me to take her to the hospital emergency room right away. He had the paediatrician on call there waiting for me.
Gillian had a lumbar puncture that immediately confirmed Meningitis, although we would have to wait for several hours to find out what kind. The paediatrician knew it was likely bacterial because the fluid from her spine was thick and puss-like, so they would give her the most aggressive anti-biotic just to cover all the bases. Since the lumbar puncture, Gillian seemed to come around a bit, she was relieved I guess to have some of the pressure released and she looked at me while I held her and fed her some re-hydration fluid. At that point I felt less scared, she seemed a bit more normal, no fever, she was looking right into my eyes and she was drinking. That´s when she had her first seizure. It lasted about 12 minutes. Children´s hospital was called for an immediate transport from Lions Gate. I became desperate and started to feel a bit of shock setting in. My husband finally was able to meet me having had to make arrangements for someone to take care of our son. The paediatrician on call kept reassuring us that Gillian would be fine, it would be a while but we would be bringing our baby home eventually. She said everything would be just fine.
By the time we got to Children´s, it was about 7:30pm, six and a half hours since we went to emergency at Lions Gate.
Now she had her eyes closed the whole time and was breathing heavily and grunting. They put her on a breathing tube, gave her some medication for the seizures, (she had at least one more) and some Tylenol for her obvious discomfort. By 9:00 she had a CT scan that the doctors there told me looked fine. We were still very worried, but hopeful.
Wednesday morning was another story, I had spent the night there with Gillian and she had more seizures during the night (which they didn´t tell me about when I got up to check on her) and her morning was worse with an extremely irregular heart rate and blood pressure. The doctors told me to call my husband and get him there asap, they didn´t think she would last very long, and even if she were to survive she would likely be severely brain damaged. By lunch she seemed to rally, and again we were hopeful. The doctors scheduled an EEG Wednesday and another CT early Thursday. Wednesday night was very difficult as we struggled to stay hopeful. On Thursday morning we were told that the EEG tests showed very low brain activity. They were now certain she was deaf and she was not responding to stimuli. The final CT confirmed that Gillian suffered significant brain damage and they weren´t sure if she would be able to breathe on her own. Now we had to decide when to remove her breathing apparatus. About 60 hours had passed since we brought her to Lions Gate Emergency. Pneumococcal Meningitis took her.
We had close family who wanted to see her one last time to say goodbye, she would have to hang on until Friday afternoon. At 5pm Friday October 3, 2003, we had her breathing tube removed and our sweet baby Gillian was gone by 5:15. She didn´t even try to take a breath on her own. My husband and I take some comfort that it was peaceful, dignified and private. The two of us held her in a room on our own until she died.
We went from just getting used to having her in our lives, and in a few dizzying days, we found ourselves wondering how we would live without her. I guess there are a few things that will always haunt us, things we will never have the answers to. All the doctors and nurses assured us that we did all we could, that we acted as any other parent would, you can´t ask for a lumbar puncture when your infant has a runny nose and fever.
But why Gillian? Nothing was found in her to explain the how or why other than the likelihood that her resistance was down with the sniffles and a bad bacteria infiltrated her little body somehow and she couldn´t fight it. Some said she didn´t have a chance. We miss her more and more every day.