Hunter’s Story

HunterSon of Steven and Holly Venick; Sister of Jordyn Lilly

I had a great pregnancy and really felt good until the last two weeks when I begged my doctor for an induction due to discomfort. I was induced at 39 weeks. My labor and delivery was easy and Hunter was born a healthy 7 pounds 7 ounces on September 30, 2006. He came home two days later and was eating and sleeping great. Hunter had his Bris six days later and all went well for even the next few days.

But on the night of Hunter’s thirteenth day of life, he woke up for his 2 a.m. feeding very unsettled. He barely ate which was very uncharacteristic of Hunter. He was unable to be settled by nursing, changing positions, rocking or walking the halls. He felt a bit warm, so I took his temperature, which registered 100.2 degrees.

I called the pediatrician on-call to find out how much Tylenol to give Hunter according to his weight, and she in turn told me 100.4 degrees is officially a fever for an infant. Since we were just a bit shy of that, she said to be on the safe side that we should go to the emergency room to be evaluated. For future knowledge, any infant under 2 months of age with a fever should go to the ER for an evaluation and is not to have Tylenol at home. I learned that during this whole experience.

We immediately went to Sinai Hospital in Baltimore, MD and Hunter was whisked away for blood work, a spinal tap and vitals. It was the hardest thing as a parent listening to him cry so terribly in discomfort and pain from all the needles. After all the tests came back in the ER, the doctors assured us there was no infection in the blood or spinal fluid, but they couldn't explain his temperature going up and up. In turn they admitted us to the pediatric floor.

Throughout the five days we were in the hospital, Hunter was subjected to cardiac testing, upper GI testing, lower GI testing, was carted back and forth from the pediatric floor to the PICU, had to be put on oxygen for labored breathing, and was continually on IV antibiotics and oral Tylenol for his unexplained fever. The professionals in the hospital called Hunter the million-dollar baby because he had so many tests and all his anatomy was deemed perfect internally. At several points during our stay, the doctors fully admitted they didn't know what was ailing Hunter and that they were only keeping him on the wide spectrum antibiotics in hopes that the possible virus he had was bacterial.

After five days and nights of straight sleeplessness and inconclusive test results, Hunter's fever finally broke for more than 12 hours and the staff sent us home. They explained that they did viral testing to see what virus afflicted him, but it would take days for the tests to come back. In any event, the test was only able to test for a certain amount of viruses and there are thousands of viruses in the world. Hunter's tests came back negative for all the viruses they could test for.

We will never know what virus Hunter had, but what we do know is how lucky we are that he made it and is a happy, healthy 17-month-old child. The ordeal we went through was devastating and life changing, but we were fortunate enough to be able to look back at it as a learning experience of knowing how to treat an infant with questionable symptoms. We attribute our baby's favorable outcome to the staff at Sinai Hospital, our pediatrician Dr. Kirsten Brinkmann, and our doctor on call Dr. Amy Winkelstein's quick instincts to tell us to immediately go to the hospital.

A parent knows their child and knows when the child is just being a baby versus there being something more to the situation. We hope our story will help others to follow their instincts and doctors’ recommendation that when a young infant is uncharacteristically inconsolable, you must seek immediate medical attention. We are so thankful that our baby will grow up and are so sad for those that didn't make it. R Baby is an amazing foundation that we think will do wonderful things for lots of future sick infants. Thanks for all your hard work.