Pixie Robinson had a cold.
By normal standards it wasn’t even that bad. She had no fever or cough and was only “mildly” congested.
But Pixie was only two weeks old – and an illness usually shrugged off by others led the little girl to heart failure.
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The newborn’s mother, Jenna Doecke, was good at understanding teething problems, and Pixie was her sixth baby.
However, she was caught off guard by the seriousness of what was supposed to have been just a minor cold.
And she now calls on other parents to act quickly if their gut feeling tells them that something is wrong with their child.
“We took her to the hospital at 6:30 p.m. and by midnight she was in intensive care,” Jenna tells 7Life, recalling how she watched devastated as her young daughter’s body began to fail.
Jenna and her partner Sandon Robinson welcomed Pixie into the world on August 28th.
The Victorian parents were in love with their little girl and the next day Pixie joined the family of five at home.
“Pixie was born healthy,” says Jenna, adding that she weighed 2.7kg.
“She was breastfeeding well, but when I was about a week old I noticed she was breathing a bit heavily.
“I had an appointment and thought I would check with the nurse.”
But when Pixie turned two weeks old, her mother began to worry.
“One night she was restless,” says Jenna.
“In the morning she didn’t have her bottle and was a bit grumpy – I thought she might just have flatulence.
“But that evening I told my partner that I knew something was wrong and we needed to go to hospital.”
The family lived in rural Victoria, six hours from Melbourne, and made their way to the nearest medical help, Mildura Base Hospital.
Upon her arrival, Pixie was immediately examined by emergency doctors – and by midnight she was in intensive care.
“We were told that her blood was acidic,” says the mother.
“They wanted to fly her to the Royal Children’s Hospital (in Melbourne).”
Because it was a mystery why Pixie was so ill, the Mildura team recommended special transfer treatment for the newborn.
And both mother and cub were taken to RCH by helicopter.
The doctors there officially made a diagnosis Rhinovirus – a virus that causes colds.
The illness had caused the little newborn’s immune system to be weakened.
Because her body was weakened, it was vulnerable to infection – and she had both a respiratory virus Myocarditisan inflamed heart.
Pixie suffered from heart failure.
The newborn’s body was in overdrive, trying to fight off too many illnesses at once.
“Her heart was just working too hard,” Jenna explains.
When the lower part of her lung collapsed, doctors put Pixie on a breathing tube to give her heart and lungs a break.
Jenna, frantic with worry and having not slept in days, now had to watch as her daughter was kept alive by machines.
But as the days went by, the little fighter defied all odds and began to show signs of improvement.
One step forward
When her heart returned to normal functioning, nurses encouraged the parents to go out to lunch while they removed Pixie’s breathing tube.
So Jenna and Sandon set out to celebrate the great progress the then three-week-old child had made.
But during lunch, Jenna received a call – in just an hour of her and Sandon being away, Pixie’s condition was deteriorating.
As she rounded the corner to Pixie’s room, the mother of six saw doctors surrounding her baby and trying to stabilize her.
“There were doctors everywhere,” Jenna remembers her shock.
“They talked about doing CPR and surgery on her.
“I honestly expected them to say she didn’t make it.”
The staff worked around the clock on Pixie, who baffled every doctor because she continually defied his predictions.
“Someone is definitely looking after her,” smiles Jenna.
Pixie is now five weeks old and has been moved from the NICU to a ward.
She breathes on her own and has even drunk her first bottle since being admitted.
Jenna and Sandon are counting the days until their little one is reunited with her siblings, which parents and doctors hope will be soon.
They are very grateful to all the nurses and doctors who supported Pixie Ronald McDonald House which gave them a second home.
The parents have no idea where Pixie contracted the virus that threatened her life.
But Jenna wants other moms to trust their gut instincts — which she believes saved her little girl’s life.
“A mother knows her baby best, trust your gut,” says Jenna, adding that going to the hospital with a sick baby is never an overreaction.
Pixie’s family started one GoFundMe to raise money for her ongoing medical costs.