Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Salmonella Slide (aka: You Won't See This on an Episode of a "Baby Story")

So I ended up taking a maternity leave not only from my job but from the blog too.  I wasn't planning on it but a "funny" thing happened in the delivery room that made me decide to be as in the moment with my kids as I possibly could over my 12 weeks off.  I tried to blog about it right when we got out of the hospital, but it was just too new and too fresh and I found myself typing, and typing, and typing and providing medical details that would have bored you all.  Instead, I'll try to make this long story a little shorter. I hope that sharing our story helps prevent this scenario from happening to another pregnant mama. I'll preface this story by saying I expected that there would be a lot of poop talk in my house with a newborn coming home and toddler who refuses to be potty trained.  I had no idea that I was about to launch into weeks of discussion about my own poop.  And if poop grosses you out, stop reading right now and skip to the lighthearted family friendly events section.  
Here we go....almost two weeks before I went into labor my husband and I headed out for one last date night.  I picked a relatively new restaurant on the scene, a destination garnering all kinds of buzz from the foodies.  A restaurant that just received national attention in a major magazine and is constantly featured in local mags.  A restaurant I plugged on my blog.  And, I must say, we enjoyed a wonderful meal in a cool atmosphere sans children.  It seemed perfect.  Until 2am when I woke up sick to my stomach.  It lasted for 3 full days.  Not so fun when you're 9.9 months pregnant.  We shared a meal that fateful night but my husband never got sick. I was the only one on the pot every 10 minutes so I did not jump to the food poisoning conclusion.  I called my OBGYN's office and they weren't too concerned.  Frankly, I wasn't either as I had had every illness under the sun during this pregnancy, so three days solid of diarrhea was just par for the course.  My husband finally banished me to the bed for a full day where I did nothing but drink water, eat crackers, and watch bad reality television.  Finally on Sunday I felt better and all symptoms were gone.  A week later I had forgotten all about this incident as I was delivering what appeared to be a healthy baby boy.  
A day after he was born he started pooping blood.  He wanted to sleep all day and didn't have any interest in eating.  After much urging, as the nurses really wanted the blood in the diaper to be from his circumcision, the little love bug was admitted to the NICU.  He was immediately given antibiotics and a spinal tap and the docs started running tests.  My little 8lb newborn wasn't allowed to eat so I watched him rooting for a boob he couldn't have for days while we waited for his cultures to grow.  Finally the cultures grew.  Grew salmonella.  Salmonella?!?  The only thing I could think of was that someone fed my newborn a raw chicken pacifier in the nursery and I would kill that person with my bare hands.  But that wasn't the case.  The CDC wanted to find out what formula he had drank in the hospital in case there was a salmonella outbreak in formula.  The contagious disease team questioned the hospital staff on cleanliness practices.  I was shocked when the infectious disease team wanted to question me.  I was on a witch hunt to find who had made my baby sick and had never even considered that it could have been ME.  Tests were run on the whole family and my husband and I tested positive for salmonella.  Subsequently, we found out all kinds of fun facts about the nasty little bacteria.  Who knew that you could share a meal with someone, both of you could get food poisoning, and one person could have horrendous symptoms while the other had no symptoms?  Who knew that when you have salmonella that you "shed" or are contagious five weeks?  Who knew that a baby could contract salmonella at birth from a mom that no longer had signs of being sick from food poisoning?  
I wanted to keep this story short and it's turning into a novel.  Let me cut to the chase.  The love bug is fine after two weeks of antibiotics in the NICU.  And by the way, if you have to do hard time in NICU, the Prentice NICU is top notch.  The bug also broke his clavicle during delivery, and thankfully the salmonella did not infect the broken bone or we would have been there 8 weeks.  My 3 year old was angry enough at me for being MIA for 2 weeks.  Eight weeks would have been a disaster.  
While what happened to me is extremely rare, here's my advice to pregnant women.  If you come down with severe and ongoing diarrhea within 5 weeks of delivery, insist that your doc takes a stool sample.  A stool sample is one of the more disgusting things I've ever done in my life but all of this drama could have been avoided had I been diagnosed prior to delivery.  Salmonella is only passed one of two ways: feces to mouth or through food poisoning.  Disgusting, I know, but you can now guess how my baby contracted it on his way into this world.  Had I known this was a possibility, I would have elected for a c-section.  I wasn't the pregnant girl who avoided blue cheese and lunch meat.  But if I were to become pregnant again, and I assure you I've taken measures to avoid ever getting knocked up again, I would be very cautious about what I ate in the last month of my pregnancy.  My meat would be well done, my eggs would never be poached, I would not eat homemade ice cream or raw cookie dough, or anything else containing raw eggs. 
Every day I feel SO very lucky as this story could have had a devastating ending.  I could rant on my soap box for hours about this topic.  Instead I'll just point you in the direction of an eye-opening documentary, "Food, Inc.".  You will cry your eyes out when you see the pain of a mother talking about her 2 1/2 year old that died from E.coli food poisoning after eating a hamburger.  I'll just say this, the premium you'll pay for grass fed beef and free range chickens seems like a small price to pay for safer meals for your family.  
To all the parents that have spent an extended amount of time with a baby in NICU, I have a whole new appreciation of what you have gone through - the worrying, the pumping, the endless days spent in a room with no window watching a helpless little creature hooked up to countless tubes, the attempt at trying to give siblings at home a normal life.  I'm so fortunate that our story came to an end after two weeks and that everyone is just fine. 
Sorry, when you received this email you probably thought you were getting a cute little post about family friendly happenings in Chicago next week.  After all the heavy stuff above, that's the least you deserve.  Windy City Tot is back in business.  I can't promise a posting every week, as life with two kids is more chaotic than I ever imagined, but I will update you on happenings as frequently as possible.  Here we go....

I'm really excited about the opening of All New to Me in Lincoln Square.  Chicago desperately needs more stores that sell previously owned clothes, toys, and gear for babies and kids!  See below for more deets... 

Yoga for Kids: Agassiz school in Lincoln Park offers some great quarterly classes for kids.  You can sign up for an entire session or just drop in when you are looking for something to do on a cold winter day!  Kids and parents learn yoga poses and breathing through art, songs and games.  This class is taught by Self Centered Yoga.   
Where: Agassiz School • 2851 North Seminary
When: Most Tuesdays 9:30a-10:15a

Discovery Dig Wednesdays: Every Wednesday afternoon at the Garfield Park Conservatory, the Children's Garden turns into a dig pit.  Kids can dig for dinosaur bones, plant pretend gardens, and learn about plants.  FREE!
Where: Garfield Park Conservatory • 300 North Central Park
When: Wednesdays 3p-6p

Bambino Music with Little Miss Ann: Another awesome class brought to you by Friends of Agassiz. On Fridays, Little Miss Ann, leads two music classes for kids who are 6 months - 3 years old.  $10 for a drop in class.
Where: Agassiz School 2851 North Seminary
When: Most Fridays • 9:15a-9:55a and 10a-10:40

All New to Me - Grand Opening Party: If you had ever been in the Thrifty Baby store on Western in Lincoln Square, you would probably agree with me that it was a great concept gone wrong.  As of this week, Thrifty Baby is under new ownership and has gotten a much needed face lift.  The new owner, Kim, has cleaned, painted, sorted through the junk, and updated all the clothes and gear offered by the store.  When I popped by  she had a stack of Radio Flyer ride on toys still in their boxes and a ton of adorable clothes.  If you want first dibs on the goods, stop by for the Grand Opening Party this Friday night!
Where: 4546 N. Western, Chicago
When: Grand opening party is Friday 5p-8p store officially opens on Monday 3/15

NPN's 30th Anniversary Party at Lil Kickers:  Yes, this event is sold out.  But click on the link to enter to win tickets through Time Out.  The event will feature indoor soccer activities, inflatables, arts and crafts, story telling, face painting, games, snacks, prizes and more.  Your kids are guaranteed to take a good nap after this event.
Where:  Lil' Kickers, ChiTown Futbol • 2343 S. Throop St., Chicago
When:  Saturday 9:30a - 12:30p

Free Ralph's World Shows: Ralph Covert of Ralph's World, will be playing some solo gigs live at Border's this weekend.  The Little Man is a Ralph's groupee, so we may trek to the burbs for this.
Where: Wilmette and Oak Brook Borders
When:  Sat 11am in Wilmette and Sat 2p in Oak Brook

St. Patrick's Day Family Party: it's a little tough to justify an all day, green beer guzzling pub craw at this stage of the game, but at least you can hang in a family friendly bar enjoying music with your little ones this weekend.  And yes, you may even  enjoy Super Stolie and the Rock Stars who sing tunes like the blues song "Peanut Butter Blues" and a cover of "Don't Worry be Happy".  There will be arts and crafts and organic treats.  $5 per person.  Infants are free.  
Where: Beat Kitchen • 2100 West Belmont
When: Sunday 12 noon


  1. OMG. yikes, you poor thing. SOOOO glad everything turned out ok in the end. Congrats on everybody being healthy & at home safe!

  2. Welcome back. Don't forget to take some time for yourself...even if that just means taking an extra long shower. As a mom of two girls 13 months apart, I can assure you it gets easier, especially when they get on the same afternoon nap schedule.

  3. Oh my gosh, we are going through the same thing. Our newborn daughter has salmonella and is currently in the NICU. Today has been one week. They tested me (mom) and i have salmonella, with no symptoms that i can remember or remember of before i delivered her. I have lots of questions and if you would please email me back I would appreciate it. My email is
    Thanks So Much!!