Q: Where is Matt Chambers from “Great Day St. Louis” on KMOV? We miss him!
Kathy Coder, of Belleville
A: So do thousands of others, if his Twitter and Facebook pages are any indication. Unfortunately, Matt and wife Stephanie currently are dealing with a weighty problem: Their infant daughter, Eleanor Pearl, isn’t gaining any.
Or not nearly as much as she should be, at least. Since entering the world Oct. 22, the Chambers’ fifth child has put on less than 2 pounds in three months, which has doctors concerned over whether she may have a serious medical condition. So, last Friday, they admitted her into St. Louis Children’s Hospital to find out. Understandably, Chambers is taking some extra time off to support his family and stay on top of the situation.
“Listen, she’s just as happy and as cheery and as fun and interactive now as she was when she was admitted last Friday, so don’t be concerned that we’re dealing with a heavy family burden,” Chamber said in a 10-minute video that he posted Monday to update his Facebook followers. “There are a lot of people at Children’s who are and, God bless them, my heart goes out to them. We’re very blessed in that that’s not the situation we find ourselves in, and, believe me, we’re very thankful to God for that.
“We’re very thankful we’re in very capable hands here. They’re not going to let us go until they’re very comfortable that this is just normal for her, which it may be, but we’ll see.”
It’s certainly unfamiliar territory for the proud Fairview Heights papa. At birth, Eleanor weighed in at 6 pounds, 3 ounces, making her the lightest of Matt’s five newborns while, at the same time, she was at least an inch longer than the rest at 20 and a 1/2 inches.
“Just sort of the runt of the litter,” joked Chambers, whose other children are now 9, 7, 5 and nearly 3. “(But she) has a problem her father has never had: She doesn’t seem to want to gain weight. She is about 3 months and 1 week and just hit 8 pounds. For anybody who has had kids or grandkids, you know that that is off the bottom of the growth chart. Finally, our pediatrician a couple of weeks ago said, ‘You know what? It’s probably time for a GI (gastrointestinal) consult.”
So while Matt was serving jury duty in Belleville during a planned vacation last week, his wife took Eleanor to a GI specialist, who immediately recommended that the infant be hospitalized for testing and observation.
“And Stephanie said, ‘Say what? Huh? I didn’t know that this is where this was going to wind up.’ The doctor said, ‘Yeah, you know, don’t get worried. It’s nothing serious. We just need to monitor her ins and outs and watch her for a few days.”
So far what news there has been has been good, Chambers said. All tests have come back normal. The detection of a slight heart murmur was deemed normal for a child of her age. Even more encouraging is that Eleanor is showing no signs of developmental delays that doctors often expect with such underweight babies.
“So that’s the good news,” Chambers said. “The not-so-good news is that means they can’t figure out why she’s gaining weight so slowly. There is a possibility that that’s just how she’s built, that she’s going to be tiny. My mom is a tiny woman and my mother-in-law is a tiny woman. She may just be a petite woman.”
But to make sure, doctors have consulted lactation specialists and speech pathologists to see if she’s feeding properly. On Monday, Chambers was awaiting a meeting with genetics specialists.
“Obviously, it’s a little sad anytime one of your own is in the hospital, getting poked and prodded and worked on a little bit. Believe me, there’s been plenty of that. But I cannot say enough good things about the people here at Children’s Hospital. It’s like watching P.I.’s in action, watching these guys investigate.”
Chambers admits feeling “very weird” being so open about family issues on Facebook, but decided he owed it to the many viewers who were sending their thoughts and prayers.
“I really do appreciate that, especially in times like this. But, again, please don’t be too concerned. We’re very blessed that we have a very happy and seemingly healthy baby. If things turn for the worse I will almost certainly get the word out there because I love you guys and I feel the love right back from you, and I really appreciate it.”
What state would you visit to tour the largest cow-calf ranch in the United States?
Answer to Wednesday’s trivia: It’s the tallest building in the United States outside an urban area and one of the largest in the world, yet it’s just one story high. It’s the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It was built in 1966 to allow NASA to vertically assemble the three-stage, 363-foot Saturn V rocket used to launch the six American moon landings. Covering eight acres, the VAB is nearly 526 feet tall, 716 feet long and 518 feet wide, giving NASA nearly 130 million cubic feet of space to work in (about 50 percent more than the Pentagon). The building is so tall that rain clouds can form below the ceiling on very humid days. In 1976, NASA painted the world’s largest American flag on the outside of the building. It’s 209 feet high and 110 feet wide with 6-foot-wide stars on a blue field as big as a pro basketball court. Each of the stripes is 9 feet across — wide enough for a KSC tour bus to drive down with room to spare. The building is now being prepared to handle future launches of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, which is being designed to take astronauts to Mars.