Leapster’s Birth: an introduction to the NICU

Around 1 AM on Thursday morning I was moved to post-partum to finish my magnesium drip.  The nurses ran my bed into the wall a few times while I moaned in agony, but I was so much happier once we got to post-partum since they were way better equipped to deal with recovery (usually patients stay in labor and delivery until they are off magnesium, but L&D had run out of beds and there were more patients in labor).  Anyways, my blood pressure had already started to drop and within 24 hours of delivery stabilized well within normal ranges, so it was clear that delivery was the right choice for me.  I try really hard not have doubts that it was the right choice for her, but it’s hard not to wonder if we should have tried to wait it out another week.

Finally, after 24 hours of drunken hell the OB came in and turned off my IV around 8:30 AM on Thursday.  I was told I still could only have clear liquids until I passed gas (this is a c-section thing, I think), which wouldn’t be for another day.  And don’t try to strain to force yourself to fart after abdominal surgery.  Anyways, she told me to rest a little and then I could go see my baby in a wheelchair.

I forget how long I slept, but I know I didn’t make it to NICU right away because I was still rather drunk on mag.  I managed to choke down some chicken broth (sidenote: I did not know I was capable of not being hungry for over 24 hours. That was scary) and then demanded someone fetch me a wheelchair, which I kept hidden in my room the entire hospital stay.  I do not like waiting for things, so it seemed best to make it my own personal wheelchair.

Seeing my baby for the first time since the OR. I did not realize how much worse she would look in the NICU. Still, she loves to grab and squeeze fingers, so it was easy to feel like she knew I was there.

The nurse asked me if I wanted to hold her, which I didn't even know was an option. I immediately said yes and we got to bond a little before I had to be returned to my room. I still can't believe she used to be inside of me.

The hardest part about going to see Leapster was that I was in agony.  I couldn’t even stand up straight, but I somehow made it into the wheelchair.  I only got to spend a small amount of time with her because I was so wrecked from what I assumed was the surgery.  My husband returned me to my room and he, my mom, and his mom took turns sitting with me while the others visited Leapster.  I started pumping and tried desperately to get some milk.

Later that night (Thursday), our mother left and my husband helped me get to the bathroom.  I started shivering and my teeth were chattering, but I convinced him that I was just that cold and he covered me up with an extra sheet and turned the thermostat up.  I woke up around 1 to the nurse’s aide taking my temperature and freaking out.  Turns out that I had a fever around 103 and a doctor was paged immediately.  I had managed to develop a uterine infection and needed IV antibiotics immediately.

Within 2 hours of starting antibiotics, I felt like a new woman.  I could pull myself up to a sitting position and stand up pretty straight.  Turns out a c-section really isn’t supposed to hurt that badly.  I was so relieved to find out my pain wasn’t normal that I wasn’t even upset about the whole thing.

I think the hardest part of all this is being away from her.  My next-door neighbor was rooming on with her infant and when it cried in the middle of the night I felt like I was going to lose it.  I think NICU moms might need their own corner of the maternity ward because hearing everyone else’s babies and having to go by the healthy baby nursery every time we went to NICU felt like being slapped in the face.  It just kept driving home how unfair this all felt.  And I almost killed my neighbor because she let her herd of feral children run up and down the hall when I was trying to sleep.

I just love this picture. Leapster loves to grab fingers and it's given her dad a real chance to connect with her since he doesn't get to hold her as often as I do.

Oh, and that next morning (Friday), my husband had to go close on our house. Less than 72 hours old and he was buying the baby a house.  Spoiled.  Anyways, the closing was successful and we moved yesterday.  My sister is going to set up the nursery for us when she comes for my baby shower on March 17 (it’s kinda weird with the baby already out, but everyone still wanted to do it).

Anyways, those first couple days in the NICU were brutal as Leapster had a few “spells”, which are basically episodes of dropping her oxygen saturation below 85%.  Even on CPAP and supplemental oxygen she struggled.  Luckily, she seemed to turn it around once I was discharged (Sunday).

Discharge was the hardest part and there was a lot of sobbing (not just me, but you keep denying it dear).  Suddenly we were going to be away from her (before she was just right downstairs).  No one every thinks about leaving the hospital without their baby and it just about killed me.  We’ve gotten used to it now, I think and I even have a routine, but it’s still a lot harder than being on the floor above her.

The good news is, slowly the wires are getting pulled.  In the last week they’ve removed her umbilical vein catheter, her peripheral IV, and the temperature probe (that had nothing to do with her, they were a trial thing and failed horribly).  That means we can dress her.  Next she’ll hopefully get the CPAP off for good sometime this week and then we just wait for them to pull the oral gavage tube.  They’ll replace it with a nasal gavage tube until she proves she can eat every meal out of a bottle, but it’s still a step.  When she starts eating and weighs enough, she gets moved to a crib, which means I can pick her up whenever I want (I cannot wait to get to this point).  Finally, they’ll remove the heart rate and oxygen saturation monitors when she’s discharged.  Small steps.  I keep hearing about babies the same age as her being discharged around 35 weeks, so I’m trying not get my hopes up, but I’m definitely hoping.  I definitely plan to keep this up to date with her progress.

Clothes make me feel better. And she doesn't seem to care.

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About Sarah S @RunningOnWords

Married 20-something in flux and trying to cope by running and occasionally crafting.
This entry was posted in Birth Story, Leapster, NICU, Parenting, Preemie. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Leapster’s Birth: an introduction to the NICU

  1. Army Amy says:

    Sarah, it sounds like you’re doing a fantastic job of staying strong for your baby! I agree that the NICU moms shouldn’t be staying near the other moms/babies. Not cool, hospital. Congrats on getting the house! I can’t believe how many crazy/stressful/life changing things you are experiencing all at once.*

  2. Sounds like you are doing as well as possible in the situation. I can only imagine how difficult this is. Congrats on the house! How exciting you are going to have a shower!

  3. Mandy says:

    She’s beautiful! I can only imagine how difficult leaving without her was. Some day, she’ll enjoy reading her birth story that you have captured so perfectly.

    I’m not sure where you go from “buying her a house” immediately. The moon? 🙂

  4. Megan says:

    She is so beautiful! And you have such strength going through this! She sure has a strong mommy! It had to be hard to leave her in the NICU and go home, but it’s for the best – she’s in the best hands she can be. I’ll be continuing to pray!

  5. Terzah says:

    I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you for 35 weeks! Mine were both 36 weeks when we got to take them home–I know every situation is different, but I want to keep pumping you with positive stories.

  6. I can totally relate with you on the pain you feel when you hear your neighbors full-term baby cry when you have to drag yourself to the NICU to see yours. My baby was born at 33 weeks and has had some issues so he will be here for awhile (we have been here 5+ weeks now). I can tell you that in my NICU most babies are going home at 35-36 weeks (some even earlier) so I think that is definitely a likely outcome for you. I seem to be spending my time making myself feel more normal by reading that others are going through similar feelings as I am having 🙂 Take care fellow NICU mom!

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