NICU Day #10

Baby G has graduated to the Glass Room. There are 3 rooms total and the next step after the Glass Room is Intermediate. The Intermediate room is the stepping stone to home. It’s generally where babies hang out and get over that last hurdle, whether it’s weaning off oxygen or getting all their feedings from breast or bottle.

We’re not super thrilled about the Glass Room as it’s very exposed and not nearly as nice as his last “room.” We’ll also lose a few really great nurses as they will stay in the first room with their primary baby. Hopefully the new nurses are as good as most of the ones we’ve had before.

{Evening Update} Baby G’s cannula and PICC line have been removed! He apparently has inherited my sensitivity to adhesives as his little face almost looks like it has burns on it from where the cannula was taped to his face. No wonder he continually yanked at it – it probably itched like crazy. Makes me hurt for my little guy. He also became very agitated about having the tape around his PICC line removed and cried pitifully which also broke my heart. But now the only thing he has on him are his heart/respiration leads, his feeding tube, and his pulse-ox.

The room he is in has 4 other babies – all boys and all are in cribs except for Baby G. So we’re hoping the peer pressure gets to him and he makes the transition up to a big boy crib sometime soon.

We tried the “Lick and Learn” again today. They have me pump first as his reflex to suck, swallow and breathe all at once isn’t developed yet so they don’t really want him getting any more than just a drop of milk. He did well again today, latching well and sucking pretty strongly a few times. Apparently it was hard work because when I laid him on my chest to kangaroo he passed out for at least an hour and a half. It’s my favorite time of the day, just holding his little body against mine. Seeing his sweet face makes the exhaustion and the running around and the sore nipples (sorry guys) all worth it.

He had one breathing episode today where his blood oxygen level dropped pretty low but he brought it back up on his own. Scared me a little as I was holding him but the nurse didn’t seem too concerned so I didn’t panic. At some point they’ll move the feeding tube to his nose but they will wait until they are more confident that he won’t need the cannula back before they do.

NICU Day #9 Recap

Baby G is still “drinking” all his milk so they continue to increase it every 12 hours. With the increase in milk, his IV fluids go down. Once he gets to his goal of 30-32ml of milk each feeding, the PICC line won’t be long for this world. Once the PICC line is removed, he can graduate from just onesies up to pants! Whoo!

As of last night he weighed 3lbs 9oz. He seems to be gaining an ounce a day so he’ll be a big boy in no time. He is so sweet and incredibly expressive. The nurses just love him and love to watch his sweet face. He smiles a lot and is very alert during assessment times and often when he first gets laid on my chest for kangaroo time.

Yesterday afternoon we got to try introducing him to the breast, and he did very well. They call this “Lick and Learn.” Basically they want to see how he does when put near the nipple and he was so cute and “latched” right on. I say that loosely as he did put his mouth over my nipple but it wasn’t quite the right positioning. But this will get better and he is showing interest and showed that he could suck and knew a little what to do. The goal wasn’t to get anything out, just to figure out what he was doing. They were very pleased with his attempt.

All in all I had him out of his bed in my arms for about 2 1/2 hours yesterday afternoon. Between the lick and learn, kangarooing, and then pumping while holding him, that was by far the longest I have gotten to hold him and it was nice because I was able to shift him around without interference or help. The nurse yesterday pretty much handed him to me and went about her business. I love the nurses that don’t hover and hang about.

As of last night they were still weaning him off the cannula which at that point was just introducing moist air into his nostrils as a gentle reminder to breathe. He is doing so well with his breathing they had been starting to wean him throughout the day. I believe the goal was to make it off by this morning but if that doesn’t happen I won’t complain because he is doing so well. My little man is a miracle and he’s strong. Everyone marvels at his progress and his determination. He is a perfect gift from God and I believe he is doing so well due to the massive outpouring of prayers he is getting from our family, friends, and their family and friends. We are truly blessed and at some point someday hope to help out the NICU and the other families with whatever we can do.

NICU Day #9

Today they are starting to wean Gavin off his nasal cannula. They are hoping he’ll be free of it tonight. This is amazing progress. At this point he is doing everything right and our next big hurdle will be learning to breastfeed. I’ve been told that we could start trying that any day now. It will be slow (“lick and learn”) but it will get him on the right track and help him learn the cues. I can’t wait to bring my sweet boy home!!

NICU Day #8

Baby G is up to 14ml of milk per feeding and is sucking on his fingers, the feeding tube, and his paci. He has gained two ounces and his diapers have started to be more full and less “tarry.” He is completely off his “bubbles” and doing very well breathing well on his own. He has a few drops in his blood oxygen level every so often but quickly redeems himself, which is what they are looking for.

A nurse said again tonight that Baby G acts like an “older baby” with his mannerisms and actions. He loves to smile and makes the best faces. The nurses love to watch him. He loves being on his tummy and they will have to break him of that before he comes home as they are not supposed to tummy sleep. But as of right now it helps him digest his food a little better and keep it down as the esophageal muscle near his stomach is lazy and won’t always work to keep the milk in his tummy. Gravity helps.

Tonight the Husband and I got to sponge bathe our little guy and I got to put his first outfit on him. If I’d have known, I would have brought some of the cute things my cousin sent him but I figured while I had the chance I would jump on it, even though the outfit we put him in wasn’t nearly as cute as the ones I will be washing and taking in tomorrow. He was sooo cute during his “bath” and only fussed a few times. I got to pick up him and hold him for a few minutes while the nurse changed the bedding underneath him. He is such a sweet sweet baby and I can’t get over how much I love him. Being able to do all that tonight was so awesome and I can’t wait for the next bath day. I just hope we have a good nurse that night who includes us as much as the one tonight did.

Twice today when he was getting a diaper change he decided to poop on the clean shiny diaper. He did this for Grandmom and for Mommy. When Daddy was bathing him (Daddy got the bottom half, I got the top half) he peed all over the washcloth. He’s a little stinker but at least he’s going potty regularly. He’ll get his bilirubin levels checked again tomorrow to check for jaundice and tomorrow at 9:00am he will get 16ml of milk if he has taken all his feedings through the night. They will continue to up his milk 2ml every 12 hours until he is taking 31ml at a feeding. It seems so much to me right now that he could eat that much when a few days ago he was barely processing 2ml at a time. Soon we should be able to start trying to introduce the breast and transition him from feeding tube to nursing. I’m excited about this. Mostly because I can’t wait to feed him myself and have that experience, but also because I loathe pumping continually.

We continue to be blessed in his progress and care. Even though he’s doing so well it’s still so hard to leave him there and come home without him. I think it’s even harder knowing he’s doing so well but that he’s just not quite there yet. There is always the risk of him backsliding but we’ll just have to deal with that if or when it happens. Keep us in your prayers and I’ll keep you updated on his progress.

NICU Day #7

Baby G is back to his birth weight after a day of some good wet and poopy diapers. He’s been doing so well on the breastmilk they have increased his feedings to 8ml every three hours. Just to think we were so excited he had 8ml total just a few days ago. He is showing rooting reflexes and has been sucking well on his feeding tube and sometimes a pacifier. Today one of the nurses told me he acts like an “older” baby.

His temperature probe was removed today as he is doing well maintaining his temperature on his own. His breathing is still doing well and there is talk of turning his “bubbles” down another notch but they aren’t in a hurry to do it quite yet.

He’s still pretty feisty and likes to get his hands and feet out of his swaddles and loves to get in the nurses’ way when they are trying to do something with him.

We are a little frustrated with the mixed messages and different philosophies of the many nurses. Some are ok with “hand hugs” at any time and always allow us to help during his assessments while others practically shut us out and won’t let us touch while he’s sleeping. It’s confusing and stressful and I never quite know what I’m supposed to do and when. I feel awkward standing there doing nothing and simply looking at him is hard for me. I have a desperate desire to touch my baby and let him know I’m there.

Please pray for our strength; physically, emotionally, and mentally. It’s only been a week and I just don’t know how we could ever make it through without God’s help and the support of our family and friends.

Baby G’s Early Arrival – Husband’s Story

This is what I remember from the night of Gavin’s birth.

We had stopped at Golden Corral to grab some dinner. As we pulled up we saw that the line was out the door, so we decided to go to Babies ‘R’ Us first. Once in Babies ‘R’ Us we did a little shopping and wandering. I decided to let the girls continue to look around and I would go ahead and order the crib. As the sales person and I were finishing the order Aubrey and Leslie came to the furniture desk. I told Aubrey to go ahead and sit in some of the gliders and rockers to see if she could find anything that she liked and found comfortable, without breaking the bank. As she stood up from the glider she had a worried look on her face. Aubrey looked at Leslie and I and said I’m bleeding and showed us some blood on her fingers. I assumed that she had cut or pinched a finger on the glider and Leslie did as well. We told her it would be ok and we would get her cleaned up and get her a band-aid. She looked at us with concern and said “NO, I’m BLEEDING.” I kind of froze for a second. Leslie said lets get you to the bath room to check it out.

I stood outside the bathroom door for a few seconds when I heard a loud cry. I went in the bathroom to see what was going on and Aubrey told me to call the Dr. to see what to do. Leslie told me that she thought I should go ahead and get the car and go to the hospital. Since it was Sunday, I left a message with the answering service for the Dr. to call back. Immediately after calling the Dr. I called my sister. She said to go ahead and get her to the ER.

I pulled the car up to the front of the store and Leslie opened the door to get Aubrey in. They were trying to put a plastic bag on the seat to protect it. I told them that there was a seat cover and I didn’t care if it got ruined to just get her in the car. With little regard to the fact that it was raining or the speed limit we started our journey to the Wake Med ER. On the way Aubrey started to get a little pale and leaned the seat back. She seemed to be very lethargic and in shock over the situation. Leslie and I were both worried but tried not to show it and kept telling her it was going be OK .

When we pulled up to the ER I jumped out of the car and ran in to get a wheelchair. The guard at the door told me I needed to empty my pockets and go through the metal detector. I told him NO I need a wheelchair. Realizing the urgency in my voice he jumped up and followed me to the car with the wheelchair. When we started back into the hospital he asked if I had any sharp or other objects I needed to get rid of. I thought to myself “CRAP, my gun.” I still had my ankle holster on but had momentarily forgotten that it was under the seat because Babies ‘R’ Us does not allow firearms in the store. So I started forward again and realized I had a knife in my pocket. I told the guard I have a knife as I pulled it from my pocket. I told him he could throw it away for all I cared. In a calm voice he said just take it back to the car its going to be a moment anyway. So I threw it in the car and asked Leslie to move the car to the parking area.

As we entered the ER the person at the desk asked what the problem was very calmly. With panic Aubrey and I blurted the issue. She called L&D and told them what was going on and said the would be down in a moment and asked us to step to the side. Standing there for what seemed like a long time was really rather short. I again called the answering service and told the lady that the doctor had not called back yet. She said she would page him again. The nurse came to take us to L&D and Leslie had not even made it into the hospital yet. So I stepped out to tell Leslie to come quick that we were going up stairs to get her checked out.

We rushed through the halls to an elevator to take us up. Once we got to the 4th floor they told us that only one person was allowed in the room with her, so Leslie told me to go with her. Once we got in the room someone came in and was asking general info like name, DOB, insurance, etc. We gave the info but expressed our worry and urgency. After a few moments a nurse came in and asked Aubrey to strip down and put a gown on then left the room. Aubrey started to undress but didn’t want to remove her underwear for fear of how much blood there was. The doctor finally called back and asked what the problem was. I told him and that we were already in L&D. He said OK see you in a minute. So the nurse came back in and told her she needed to remove her underwear as well. Aubrey expressed her concern of how much blood there was. So the nurse took a look and you could tell she was concerned. She hooked up a heart monitor to hear the baby’s heart beat. It sounded fine.

The doctor used an ultrasound to try and check the placenta because of how much blood there was. He said it seemed fine from what he could see and started to explain what the issue could possibly be. Then all of a sudden Gavin’s heart beat slowed way down. The doctor looked at us and said it’s time we need to take the baby. Aubrey asked “Now? It can’t wait?” The doctor said no. He asked me to remove her earrings. Before I could even finish pulling the first one out a team came into the room and started rolling her out. The told me I could not go with that I had to go to the waiting room.

I walked out and Leslie was on the phone. She looked at me and asked “What’s going on?” I fell apart and started crying and told her that they had rushed her into surgery to get the baby out. She fell apart as well. She grabbed me and gave me a hug and said its going to be OK. I then started calling people starting with my sister and mom. They said that they were on the way already and would be there just shortly. I then starting calling close family friends. Heather didn’t answer, so I called her husband and told him. Then I called Tamara who said she said was on her way. I told her she didn’t need to come but she disagreed and said she was already in Raleigh and was coming! I then called a friend from work so he could call and inform my bosses that I would not be in the next day. I didn’t want to call myself because I did not want them to hear me crying. I then call Aubrey’s work to inform them what was going on and let them know that Aubrey would not be in on Monday.

The nurse came out and told me that I needed to come meet my son. They took me back to a room that had a small table in the center and on that table was this tiny beautiful baby boy. He looked great, but he was so small. I just stared at him. I then asked the nurse “Is he OK?” She said “He is great.” They needed to give him a shot and clean him up and we would be able to see him in the NICU around 8pm. I told the nurse I did not want to see him get a shot; I just couldn’t handle that right then, so she walked me out. I asked when I could see Aubrey. She told me that she was still in surgery getting closed up and that they would bring me back to recovery as soon as she woke up.

I went back to the waiting room and told Leslie what I had seen and been told about seeing Aubrey and the baby. I looked at my phone, it was just after 6:30. We sat there for what seemed like hours waiting to be able to see Aubrey. The doctor came out from L&D and explained what had happened. That the surgery went great and that momma and baby should be fine. He explained that we were very lucky that we had been as close to the hospital as we were because we only had minutes in that situation before there was a different outcome.

A nurse came out and got me and said that Aubrey was awake and that I could come see her. I followed her back to what didn’t even appear to be a room. It looked like a little corner with some counters of clutter and then her in a bed. I knelt down next to the bed and asked if she was alright. Aubrey told me she was thirsty and itched all over. I told her that I had been able to see our son and told her how perfect he was.

Baby G’s Early Arrival – My Story

I’m going to preface this post by stating that it is very long. And there are some slightly graphic areas that may not be all that pleasant to read. I’m writing this exactly how I remember it, with as many thoughts and events as possible. It’s important to me to have this all written down and for all the details to be documented, because everything that happened made a huge impact on the day. So anything I felt, thought, or saw will be here as long as I can remember it all clearly.

On Sunday, February 19 I hit 31 weeks. Which, like I’ve mentioned before, means I had completed my 31st week. My shower had been the previous weekend and my mom was still staying with us for a few more days. I’d been having trouble sleeping so we slept in a little that Sunday instead of heading to church. My sister-in-law and my 2-year old nephew left that morning for home and we were concerned about her on the road as it was a cold, rainy, and windy day. My mom was scheduled to leave that Tuesday and I had been contemplating not going to work on Monday so I could get an extra day with her.

The plan for that Sunday was for mom and I to go and get pedicures and then my husband would meet us in town so we could all head to Babies ‘R’ Us so that we could buy G’s crib. We had gotten out of the house a little late that day and spent some leisurely time at the nail salon. My husband was attending a meeting for a side job he was interested in and ran a little late, waiting for our cue that we were finished. There was no specific reason we sat so long or he stayed so long but it had a profound impact on how our day ended up. We decided to head to Target before heading to BRU so it was later in the day by the time we made our way across town.

By this point we were getting really hungry so we stopped at Golden Corral (which is basically across the street from BRU) to eat an early dinner. We were shocked at how busy it was, with the line almost heading out the door. We decided that it wasn’t worth waiting for and that we would just come back after heading to the other store even though we were all hungry.

Mom and I spent a little time in Babies R Us going through the clearance clothes before we met my husband back in the furniture area. Once he had gotten all the paperwork set up for the crib we decided to test out the gliders to see if we could find one we liked. I was getting up out of one of the gliders when I felt only what I can describe as a leaking sensation. The first thing I thought of was, “Great. I wet my pants in public. Fantastic.” But honestly, after that first initial thought I knew something wasn’t right. It didn’t feel like I had peed. The sensation was wrong and it was too warm. I reached down to make sure my pants weren’t wet and when I pulled back my hand my fingers were covered in blood. I can’t tell you what went through my head at that split second. I think that instinct kicked in and survival mode kept me from freaking out or passing out. I turned to my mom and husband with my hand out and just simply said, “I’m bleeding.”

They both looked at me, relatively unconcerned, because both had the thought that I had cut my hand on the chair. It had only been just a second that I had stood there thinking I had wet my pants but my entire world had slammed to a stop at that moment so I couldn’t process how they didn’t understand what was happening. I looked at them both and slightly panicked said that they didn’t understand. I was BLEEDING. My mom immediately grabbed my arm and we headed towards the bathroom. I think shock set in pretty fast and I was able to tell my husband to call our OB from my phone. I could hear him on the phone when we got to the bathroom. I pulled down my pants and sat down and there was blood everywhere. It was all over my jeans and my underwear and there was a large clot that I was immediately worried was tissue. I seemed to grasp that if I was having a miscarriage there wouldn’t be tissue at this stage of the game but it didn’t comfort me as I knew that it was bad. I don’t remember what I said or did at that point. I don’t know if I was crying or just panicking. I know my mom told my husband we needed to go to the ER.

We managed to get me clothed and walked to the door. It seems strange to me that no one noticed our procession with my husband rushing out the door to get the car and my mom steadying me as she guided me out. I know that if anyone had really looked at me they’d have noticed something was wrong. I even had the forethought to grab some of the plastic bags to put on my seat. I remember a woman standing in front of the store loading some things into a van. She kept looking over at us and I think she knew something was wrong. By that point I was very calmly freaking out and kept praying “Please God, save my baby. Keep my baby safe.” It only occurred to me once on the ride over that I could be lost as well. I got in the car and we started the 8 minute drive to the hospital. Of course we hit most of the stoplights before the highway on-ramp but we made it to the ER in much less time than I expected us to. The whole time I was praying that God would save my baby. I didn’t know what was happening; I just knew it was bad. I don’t think it occurred to me I might give birth that day, though.

We got to the ER and I told my husband I would probably need a wheelchair. It’s funny the things you say when you’re in a situation like that. Of course I was going to need a wheelchair. He ran in and grabbed one and helped me out of the car into it. My mom took the keys and took the car to park as we went in. I swear the next few minutes felt so long as they took my name, my OB office’s info, and had us set to the side as we waited for someone from Labor & Delivery to come get us. I didn’t understand why no one was doing anything faster. I felt like time was running out as the whole time I could feel the blood pulsing out. It hadn’t stopped and was just getting worse. Just as my mom came in someone came to get me and headed inside.

When we got to L&D they made my mom wait outside in the waiting room as my husband came in with me. We got into our room and waited for what seemed like several minutes before a woman came in to get my info again for registration. I remember feeling annoyed because I had sent my registration paperwork in weeks before but apparently wasn’t in the system. I felt like we were wasting more time with stupid tasks but was finally given a gown and told to change into it. I took off my sweater and tank top but stood there wide-eyed as I told my husband I didn’t think I could take off my jeans because there was just too much blood. When the nurse came in I told her this and she gave me a towel so that I could cover myself while getting into bed. I asked for water because I was so thirsty but they told me I couldn’t have any. I also had to pee really bad but I was afraid to for fear of increasing the amount of blood. Every movement I made resulted in more blood. I kept thinking to myself that I had felt Gavin kicking not that long before all this started and that he had to be ok. I couldn’t lose my little boy. The nurse found his heartbeat which sounded pretty good and was listening when the doctor finally came in. The doctor started an ultrasound and was explaining the possible scenarios as he went along. Placenta previa or placental abruption were his two main concerns and since I had had no previous issues concerning previa, he was thinking abruption. He couldn’t find any evidence of an abruption on the ultrasound and was talking about how we’d proceed (monitoring, possible bed rest, possible early delivery) when Gavin’s heart slowed to a horrible crawl. To me it sounded like his heart was beating through molasses. The sound was sluggish and terrible. At that point the doctor decided it was time he came out.

They started prepping me right then and there. I’m honestly not sure all they did in that room. I had started to feel very nauseous and lightheaded. My husband said they started trimming the area that the incision would be made and I have memories of lots of people milling around. They asked my husband to remove my earrings but he only managed to get one out before they were literally wheeling me out the door and on the way to the OR. At some point my husband was sent to the waiting room and I was taken in.

I remember asking once in the OR where my husband was. I was scared. I was shaking badly. They had me move from the bed I was on to the operating table and I remember being scared to move due to the blood loss. At that point it was a whirlwind of people. There were people working on every part of me. Strapping down my arms, my legs, washing my belly, putting  the sticky monitoring pads on me, and putting an oxygen mask on my face, among other things. I was told to take deep breaths and then the next thing I knew, I was waking up in recovery.

The first question I asked when I came to was “Where’s my baby. How’s my baby?” I was told he was doing well and was in the NICU. He came out breathing on his own and I found out later that he cried when he was delivered and everyone in the OR was thrilled to hear it. I also half joked about how I really hadn’t had wanted to go to work the next day (I had been contemplating not going in to spend time with mom before she left). I was in pain from the incision because I had had general anesthesia instead of an epidural so there was no pain management until the morphine drip kicked in. My throat was coated and I couldn’t clear my throat enough to be comfortable but the effort of coughing and attempting to clear it was felt like lightning through my belly. When my husband was finally let in he flew through the door do my side. I was in recovery for awhile and was visited by the lactation nurse from the NICU and honestly I’m not sure if there was anyone else. I was allowed to hit my morphine drip every 8 minutes so I was watching the clock in order to not miss any time. They kept asking what my pain level was on a scale of 1-10, a question I’ve always hated and never know how to answer. I believe I told them “6.” Within the next few days I believe I’d answer anywhere from 3 1/2 to 5. My mom also came to see me in recovery and I remember I kept asking for something to drink. I’d been thirsty all day but they wouldn’t let me have anything to drink – just ice cubes. I went through at least a cup of ice before I made it to my room.

I’ve never been through something like that before. I don’t just mean the abruption; I mean the trauma and the terror of the situation. I’ve never been so scared. And I’ve never wanted anything as badly as I wanted Gavin to be ok that day. I thank God for the events that led us to be where we were and that we were able to make it to the hospital on time. I thank God that my mom was still in town and was there with me to reassure me and to help keep me calm. But above all I thank God for the precious little miracle he gifted me that day.