Elizabeth Gravois’ intuition as a mother may have just saved the life of her 7-week-old daughter Olivia.
“I knew something was wrong with her,” the Destrehan resident said. “I could just tell in her eyes something was wrong.”
Because Olivia seemed more tired than normal, was not cooing or smiling and was drinking her bottles extremely fast – due to what Gravois now knows was dehydration – Gravois decided she needed to closely monitor her baby’s temperature.
When she initially took Olivia’s temperature it was 99.2, a temperature their pediatrician said was fine. Gravois figured Olivia was having stomach issues due to formula, but out of an abundance of caution she spent that night checking her baby’s temperature every three hours.
By midnight, Olivia’s fever had reached 102.5.
“We packed up the bags and rushed to the hospital,” she said. “By the time we made it to the hospital, she wasn’t responding much and had a white foam around her mouth.”
The family spent five hours in the emergency room, where Olivia was given fluids and medication. A barrage of things happened next in what Gravois described as the worst night of her life: a blood draw, chest X-ray, spinal tap and tests to rule out the flu, RSV and coronavirus were all performed on Olivia.
As tests started to come back negative, Gravois was told Olivia’s chest X-ray was indicative of a viral infection. As Olivia’s temperature started to respond to medication and she was considered stable, she was admitted into the hospital where she stayed under observation for 48 hours.
“Every time I tried to put her down she would scream bloody murder,” Gravois said. “I have never seen this baby act like this.”
Gravois and her husband Brad were never able to be in Olivia’s hospital room at the same time, but instead had to take turns visiting their sick daughter.
During the hospitalization, Olivia remained extremely congested.
“There were several times her breathing became so shallow that I would shake her to make sure she was still responsive,” Gravois said. “It took about 24 hours for her fever to come down and within 48 hours I was able to put her down without her screaming.”
When Olivia’s coronavirus test came back positive, Gravois said her family immediately self-quarantined. She remains uncertain of where or when Olivia was exposed to the virus, as all immediate contacts to her baby remain healthy and asymptomatic.
Olivia continues to show improvement at home, and Gravois said she is thankful for the exceptional care her daughter received at the Ochsner Main Campus Hospital.
Gravois shared her frightening story on her Facebook page of how just how rapidly and intensely COVID-19 can affect babies. The post, which has been shared over 500 times, serves as a cautionary tale.
“I know it’s hard to stay home quarantined, but we have to protect our weakest parts of society … our infants, those immunocompromised, pregnant ladies, and especially the elderly,” she said. “Please take this seriously and stay home.”
Gravois said she would encourage parents to closely monitor their baby’s temperature and if something doesn’t seem right to listen to your parental instincts and seek help.
“I’m so glad I did and didn’t wait until the next day to go to the doctor,” she said. “All I can say is God is good and I am so thankful.”