Part II NICU and Recovery
Recovery from the preeclampsia and delivery was no joke. After delivering I developed PIH, Pregnancy Induced Hypertension. Awesome. In my mind I thought that if I could just get him here alive and survive myself my body would feel so much better. Which is true, but I didn't know that at a month out I would still be on several medications and trying not to cry when I have to tackle the stairs in my house one more time.
The first time I held Evan I thought my heart was going to burst. We made it! We survived! I was so anxious to learn everything about what he needed and what I could do. I wanted his nurse to tell me as much as she could. I felt I had already missed so much not being able to be there physically. My first time to see Evan was magical. His next feeding his nurse however kept coming in and out and we couldn't really get good info from her. She told me I should/could try and nurse Evan for 8mins and then we needed to give him formula to stay on the schedule. So we pull the curtains and I try and nurse him. I mean I sat through that three hour breast feeding class, but let's be real my mind was shot and so was my body. And it's not like I've ever done this before.At 5 weeks early and a c-section and the magnesium were some huge things stacked against me. I tried anyway feeling frustrated she just left and didn't stay to help. We weren't very successful. Then we tried to feed him the formula and we couldn't get him to take it. Finally I grabbed another nurse and asked for help. She told us what to do and we were finally successful getting him fed. It took over an hour to feed him 15ml. We had to leave because I needed more pain pills and blood pressure meds. I was determined to be back for the next feeding in what was now 1.5hrs away. She told us we could give him his first bath and try to keep nursing. We really enjoyed giving him his bath but she kept it super short and was in and out again, and this time I tried to ask more questions about feeding him and got a similar response. She was in and out and when she was there she wanted to talk about other babies and how busy she was. NOT okay. It was time for us to go back and rest and regroup. I sobbed all the way back to my room after both visits. This wasn't how it was supposed to go. I just wanted someone to help me. I was trying so hard and absolutely nothing was going right. Going right really isn't the best description, I kept my expectations at as long as we're all alive we'll figure it out, but dang it I needed some help!
So I said a little prayer and when we got back to our room I gave myself a little pep talk reminding myself I'm his Mom and Mom's fight for their kids. So I called up to the NICU and "explained" to her that I was very upset and I understood she was busy but she was our nurse and if she was too busy to help or explain things to us or take care of my baby I wanted a different nurse. (Really tested those limits of the blood pressure medicine.) That's the nicest way I can explain that phone call ...
She was nice and apologized and when we went back for the next feeding she stayed with us for 45mins answering questions and helping me nurse Evan. We even made an apt with a specific lactation Consultant to come help me the next day. This was the 2am feeding. Feeling like Evan was going to be taken care of, we decided to sleep (cough my nurses insisted I sleep or they wouldn't let me keep going to the NICU. Cough)
The next day Scott would push me in a wheelchair from my room through 4 security access points, an Elevator ride, to the other end of the hospital to see Evan. We went to every feeding. Practiced nursing, changed him, fed him a bottle ( All breastmilk after day 1 thank you very much.) snuggled him and then we would go back to our room and eat and nap. Turns out keeping up that schedule was too much for my body. My Mama heart was in it, but my body still needed a lot of help recovering and apparently recovery requires resting. I couldn't walk or stand more than a few minutes, and I held onto Scott for support when I tried. My blood pressure was out of control and My Dr. decided I could only go to the NICU every other feeding. So instead of a three hour schedule I now had a six hour schedule. Which was a really good call. They got the blood pressure and pain meds in me and I slept for five hours.
We went back up to the NICU for the 8am feeding and had the nurse we had when Evan was brought into the NICU. We loved her. She heard about how upset I was the night before and apologized to me for what happened. She worked hard and really understood the big picture of where everyone was at and where we were coming from. We kept up with feedings and met with lactation that afternoon. Incredibly helpful! I'm so glad that's someone's job. Initially I knew I wanted to try and breastfeed, but if it wasn't working or too hard, or my mental stability was struggling we would do formula. I've been off my ADD Meds for over a year because you can't have them when you're pregnant or breastfeeding. We're still not nursing yet, because it burns too many calories for him. But pumping and bottle feeding him, knowing that he's getting everything he needs from me is so healing after such a miserable delivery. It is so bonding for us and ADD drugs can wait. We've decided that I'll be the primary one to feed him and Scott will too to help with middle of the night feedings, but that's just for me. (So please don't be offended when we say no to help giving him a bottle.) We still practice nursing everyday and one day when we're a little bigger we'll nurse, but this is working great for now. I'm a big believer in fed is best. I love giving Ev my milk for reasons I had no idea mattered before he was born. That's what works for us.
After meeting with lactation Evan got his last dose of glucose and was able to maintain his levels all through the night. They had to leave his IV in just in case they had to use it again and that really killed me. His poor little arm was bruised and the IV port looked huge in his arm. Grateful, but not a fan.
That night we did the CPR class in the NICU and Evan passed his car seat test! Because he was doing so good about 10pm they brought him down to my room and let him sleep with us. As long as he's swaddled on A bilirubin blanket. I was so grateful to not have to keep making the NICU trip through the night. Evan did really well with us through the night. The next morning they came to check his bili levels and we were close but not quite ready. The bilirubin test is pretty hard to handle. They warm his heel up with a heating pad before pricking it and squeezing his blood into a vial. Kudos to you medical mamas for being so tough. I sat there and cried feeling helpless.
Scott would hold his hand during blood pokes.
That morning they decided Evan needed to be on the lights all day again. Our favorite lactation nurse came by again and we had a very successful visit. I was able to latch Evan for the longest time so far. Really built my confidence.
That night Evan was able to come off the lights and was doing so well it started to sound like we were going to get to go home together. They kept me a little longer than usual because I'm a real overachiever. Scott and Evan watched Star Trek and I had a nap and for a few hours it felt like we weren't in a hospital and just our little family. We ordered our fancy Stork dinner and I had my first Diet Coke in over a year. I'm telling you, miracles happen. We spent that night watching the Election coverage.
Evan got to stay with us again that night and just have a NICU nurse come check on us. Around 2am we knew he wasn't doing well, and nursing was too stressful for him so we called the NICU nurse for help. She noticed he wasn't keeping his body temp up. This was Wednesday and I was officially discharged. But thankfully Evan's neonatologist and my Dr. are saints and said there's no way I was leaving the hospital without him. So they just moved me from postpartum to a family room. Oh I was so grateful for this. I think it would have broke me to leave the hospital without him. Babies should not be separated from their Mama's. That's the rule.
After getting me settled Scott ran home for more clothes for us and our house was clean and our fridge was stocked with groceries. I gave our Angel friend Julie my house key back when we were trying to stay pregnant and she had been a busy girl. She and Rick and our whole ward family were some serious tender mercies. People from church heart attacked our door, and people brought dinner to the hospital so Scott didn't have to leave. So many tender mercies.
Food from our Church friends
Beautiful flowers from my in-laws
We got Evan warmed up and stable so we were able to start the 12hr temperature test. We had to keep his temperature above 97.5. After every feeding we double swaddled him and I snuggled him for at least an hour. His first four readings were 98.5, 97.7, 98.1, 97.5.
Once it dipped to 97.5 he had to go back on the warmer. This was hour 10 and that was the feeding we skipped to sleep. Meaning the nurse fed him my milk. I was so mad at myself. I should have been there to get him to the finish line. So we have to give him some time before we can start the temperature test again and it turned out to be a big blessing. We got him warmed up and had a nice slow day. By 3pm we were ready to start the temperature test again. That night they were able to move us to the family NICU room which was steps from the NICU. Which made it even easier on me. I didn't have to use a wheelchair to get to my baby! This time we weren't taking any chances. We even read him stories for the first time. Brown Bear, Brown Bear. We were getting to that finish line and we did it! At 2am Evan officially passed his test! Temperature readings: 98.7, 98.7, 98.3, 97.9, 98.1
Nice and toasty!
By 2:40 they brought him into our room to stay with us. Oh we were so excited. We got him fed and asleep and fell asleep ourselves before there was a knock on our door at 4am. Evan's bilirubin levels were high again and he needed to go under the phototherapy lights again. Back in the NICU and not in our room. This was really hard for me. I couldn't answer calls from my family to FaceTime or even take pictures. I hated that he had to have a mask strapped to his face. And they took our cuddle time after feeding away to get him back under the lights as soon as possible. I understand why it was necessary, but oh it was hard. And they had to check his levels with that stupid heel stick multiple times. Ev's poor feet were purple with bruises. Sad Momma.
He didn't really mind because he's perfect, but that stupid mask strapped to his face made me so angry.
By 2pm we met with doctor She said to do bilirubin test at 9pm and if all went well he could room in that night with us. We would retest the following afternoon and possibly be discharged. SHE SAID THE DISCHARGED WORD!!
8:40pm - sticked for bilirubin
10:40pm - nurse walks in with Evan to drop him off to room in; bilirubin down to 11!!
Headed to the car!
We were going to make it! We were going to get discharged. That's when things went south for me. Around midnight Saturday morning I got super nauseous and started throwing up. Can. Not. Catch. A. Break. Throwing up violently a week after having a c-section is not recommended. Oh I was so miserable. Evan's nurses would come to check on us through the night and I hid in the bathroom. I didn't want them to know I was a mess again. I knew if I could just get home I would be okay to take care of him. I had a very bad reaction to one of my pain medications. A prescription that was different than what they were giving me inpatient. I prayed a lot that we could figure out what was going on. I called my Dr, but he was out for the weekend and the Dr covering his calls was sending all his patients to instacare or the ER. I refused. Here I am in the hospital 5hrs away from getting to leave with my baby and they want me to go to the ER? Not happening.
I had to carry this fun little pack with me the first week, it vacuumed my incision. Pretty cool and also obnoxious to have a tube coming out of my belly for a week. Scott took a picture of me trying not to puke on discharge day, but I'm going to have to keep that one in the private collection. Pretty real.
Well literally a week before I delivered I went to a church crafting day and made a new friend who is actually a pharmacist. She called me the day before I started throwing up because she's the compassionate service leader at church. So now I had her number. I texted her my situation and she asked me if I had another prescription for nausea from earlier in my pregnancy. I remembered that the last time I was in the ER at 30 weeks I got that prescription but never used it. It was sitting on my bathroom counter at home!! By 10:30am Scott had run to the store for crackers and ginger ale but I was dying. I think I prayed the whole time he was gone that I would be able to move to take care of Evan if need be. Bless that sweet baby's heart he slept the whole time and no nurses came by. When Scott got back I immediately threw up again. I asked him for a blessing and I kid you not as soon as we said amen there was a knock on the door. It was my friend Julie. She was worried about me. I hadn't told her where they moved us to in the hospital, but she was worried and found me. I gave her a huge hug and told her what was going on. She left for my house immediately to get the other prescription. While she was getting it, she called a Dr in our ward who happens to be an ER Dr to make sure I didn't need to go in. I'm telling you. We were surrounded by angels. She got back and I took the prescription and immediately started to feel better.
By 12:30 we met with the Neonatologist and I was able to stand and talk to her the whole time. (HUGE!) she said that she was writing up our DISCHARGE papers and Evan just needed one more bilirubin test. By 1pm they took him for the test and by 2:30 we were all in the car headed home.
We did it.
We all got to come home together.
(Don't worry. I got checked out by my Dr. after we got home to make sure I didn't have an abcess on the inside making me so sick. My Dr. did such a good job on my incision even puking couldn't rip in open. And my Mom came from AZ less than 24hrs after leaving the hospital. We were going to make it.)