Kelly and Rob Martin noticed their 13-day-old son, Jaxon, slept through two feedings in early July, little did they know he had Parechovirus. This behavior was odd given his first few weeks of life, he consistently ate every three hours. However, he was becoming “inconsolable.”
“He was getting really, really fussy, making weird noises when we touched his abdomen and crying a lot,” Kelly, 34, of Mineola, New York, told TODAY. “Even though we only had him for a couple of weeks, we felt like we knew him.”
Family Raises Awareness Around Parechovirus After Newborn Son Almost Loses Life
Their 2-year-old daughter had a low-grade fever, and initially, they believed Jaxon had the same bug. However, when his breathing became labored, they took him to the hospital and learned he had parechovirus.
“I’d never heard of parechovirus, so it was definitely not even on my radar,” Kelly Martin said. “I thought if anything maybe the heat was affecting him.”
Jaxon was born on June 19 after a peaceful pregnancy.
“We were commenting how good of a baby he had been,” Rob, 34, informed the outlet.
“The pregnancy was great. We were like, ‘Wow, this is incredible.’”
When the couple’s daughter was born, she needed to be in the neonatal intensive care unit. Naturally, they were excited that they’d left the hospital with Jaxon without any complications. However, in early July, he slept through some feedings, struggled to breathe, and cried uncontrollably. Over a sleepless night, Rob and Kelly Martin watched him, not sure what to do.
“We knew something was off. He was wheezing. He seemed like he was in pain, and it was troublesome. It wasn’t normal,” Rob said. “As soon as that fever hit, we were like, ‘Let’s go.’”
At the time, they thought he had the same cold as his sister and that the heat affected him. Still, they knew a doctor should examine Jaxon.
“Everything’s more amplified when they’re young because the immune system is not there,” Rob Martin said.
The hospital admitted him and tried to take blood to test it. They had trouble locating a vein because he was dehydrated. Instead, they did a spinal tap.
“I’m crying, very upset,” Kelly Martin recalled. “It came back as viral meningitis.”
Jaxon had parechovirus meningoencephalitis, swelling of the brain or its lining caused by the parechovirus. The staff kept assuring them that treatment would take 48 hours and then they could return home. They went home to pack a bag for the stay, and Jaxon’s health worsened dramatically.
“They had to intubate him,” Kelly shared. Jaxon needed a lot of support for several days in the hospital. For the Martins, Jaxon’s time in the PICU was “the worst week” of their lives.
“My perfectly healthy baby, who I just had, is in the hospital fighting for his life. It was a nightmare,” Kelly stated. “Thank God he’s such a fighter.”
His blood pressure would dip erratically, and he looked bloated. And for a total of five days, he was intubated and sedated.
“When we left to pack my bag, I didn’t say goodbye,” Kelly recalled. “Then I come back and he’s sedated. I don’t know if he’s going to wake up.” Rob had trouble grappling with what was to come.
“Every time we left the hospital, like a couple of hours later we would get a phone call, and they’re like, ‘Oh new results and it’s worsening,’” he said. “That was the hardest thing.”
They could touch Jaxon and talk to him even when they couldn’t hold him. When staff removed his tube, his parents could hold him again, which gave them some comfort.
“I was used to breastfeeding, and I couldn’t have any skin-to-skin contact with him,” Kelly said. “He had an IV in his femoral artery and still had all the heart rate monitors on him so that was still difficult.”
Jaxon then had the difficult task to learn how to eat again after receiving all his nutrients through a feeding tube. He aspirated on a bottle and staff thought he might have pneumonia. But thankfully, he didn’t. Over time, Jaxon began improving, and when his parents took him home, they were overwhelmed with gratitude at how he was bouncing back.
“He’s been great. He’s just our little boy. He’s so sweet. He’s happy,” Kelly shared. “He’s the baby we brought home.”
The couple warned fellow parents to call their doctor or visit a hospital if they notice their baby is sick. “It’s important to trust your gut, to care for your child because you’re their biggest advocate,” Kelly shared. “You have to look out for them because they can’t do it.”
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