Tuesday, May 5, 2015

what the NICU did for our family

After our baby boy left the hospital and was transported to the NICU at another hospital (about 20 minutes away), my single driving focus became getting discharged so I could go see him. Within an hour of his departure, I stood up out of my hospital bed despite the excruciating pain from my C-section incision. I had my catheter removed and peed on my own. 

The next day, my husband, his mom and my mom all took shifts in the NICU with Mav. I wanted someone to be with him at all times since I couldn’t be. I didn’t want him to ever feel alone. My best friend came to visit so I wouldn’t be alone. She lifted my spirits and walked with me around the hospital grounds. I was trying to get more stable on my feet to make sure I was capable of being released from the hospital as soon as possible. I also had my IV removed. 

The following morning, I was discharged. Probably earlier than I should have been as I was in a lot of pain. But the emotional pain of worrying about my baby’s health and not being with him was worse. My mom picked me up and took me straight to the children’s hospital to visit Mav. He seemed to be in good hands as his daddy hardly left his side the entire time. 

But I felt lost and disconnected. I didn’t know how to take care of my baby. My husband had to show me how to change his diaper. He showed me how to feed him (the nurses fed him similac in the NICU) and swaddle him. I felt like a failure as a mother. How is it that the person who is supposed to be there in his first days of life doesn’t know anything about how to take care of him? Not to mention, I wasn’t there when any of the specialists came to evaluate our son so it wasn’t clear what his condition was and when he’d be discharged. My heart was filled with worry and sadness. 

The NICU nurse could see that I was struggling – physically (from the surgery I’d just undergone) and emotionally. She did the kindest thing possible…she helped me stay close to my son. Since we live more than 30 miles from the hospital, she called the Ronald McDonald House located a block from the hospital and got us a room. I can’t tell you what a relief this was. Especially since I could barely ride in the car – every bump was so painful. It was a challenge for me to walk or sit up. Not to mention the stairs at our house that I’d have to climb up and down every time I wanted to come see our son at the hospital. It would’ve been impossible. 

The Ronald McDonald House (RMH) was amazing! There is nothing more stressful than having your child in the NICU. This organization is such a blessing to families that live farther away and want to visit their baby often. I’m so grateful that I got to experience this non-profit (which is completely volunteer run). I’ll be finding a way to give back to the RMH in the future. 

Thankfully Mav wasn’t in the NICU for too much longer. When he was discharged, it was such a relief to be heading home with our family intact. I’m so grateful that his breathing and eating issues improved enough to come home. He is still struggling with eating and breathing even a month later but we just have to take things day by day. 

Although the NICU experience is something that no parent wants to go through, there is always a silver lining. For us, it was that my husband became front and center in our son’s first days. He was the primary caregiver. Although it hurt at first, it really was a good thing. I’m super type-A and afraid that if circumstances were different…. I would have micromanaged my husband’s interactions with our son and they wouldn’t have formed such a strong early bond. I also think the circumstances made A more hands-on with Maverick because he had to be. He became comfortable caring for our baby in way that might not have happened otherwise. For that I am grateful.

Donning my lovely modmum hospital gown on discharge day
since I didn't get to wear it to give birth.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Maverick's Birth Story

My birth plan was simple. 
So simple, in fact, that I didn’t even give a copy to my nurse because we didn’t want to jinx anything. All of my wishes were the standard of care for the baby-friendly birthing center that we chose for our delivery. The plan was to deliver our son naturally and vaginally at the birthing center with dual care from an OB and midwife. We enlisted the help of a doula and hoped to utilize the birthing tub for hydrotherapy during my labor for pain management. After our son was born, I hoped to have delayed cord clamping, skin-to-skin time and have him room-in with us so that I could start breastfeeding. 

But nothing about our son’s birth went according to plan. When I wrote my birth plan, I knew full well that it was nothing more than a list of wishes for my labor. But it was still disappointing when none of them happened. 

It’s normal to have a plan. Even if you know that you ultimately have no control of how things turn out. It’s natural to have hopes that things will go a certain way. Just like when you do a fertility treatment cycle. No one plans to get a cyst, have a cancelled cycle, not respond to stim meds, have a low number of follicles, etc. But sometimes, things don’t go as planned. 

In week 38 of my pregnancy, I developed (PIH) pregnancy-induced hypertension and severe edema. As a result, I was placed on full bed rest and had to monitor my blood pressure levels daily. Every few days, my blood pressure would spike higher requiring a trip to the doctor’s office or birthing center for monitoring. The monitoring usually consisted of blood work, urine analysis and a non-stress test for the baby. The doctors were watching me very closely to make sure that I didn’t develop full-blown preeclampsia. 

After almost 3 weeks of the continued rise in BPs, we arrived at the birthing center at 1pm on 3/25 (at 40 weeks and 6 days) and the medical team decided it was time to admit me for an induction while we still had the time. Preeclampsia was close at hand and I don’t think the OB wanted to take any chances. The doc did a cervical check at 2:30pm and found that I was only 1 cm dilated, -2 station and 40% effaced. They administered a dose of Misoprostol at 4pm to get things going. Contractions began. My water broke with meconium staining at approx. 11pm that evening. 

At 5am, A called our doula to come to the hospital to help as my contractions were beginning to get more difficult. At 7:25am, the midwife ordered labs to check for preeclampsia and an hour later sterile water papules were administered to help me manage the pain. 

Around 10:15am, my contractions began to space out (5-6 minutes apart) and the doctor and midwife decided to administer Pitocin to better control my contractions and get them closer together. At 1pm, the midwife checked my cervix and stated that I was 4cm dilated, 80% effaced and -1 station. She also mentioned that she could see black hair on the baby’s head. As the Pitocin was increased, I had more difficulty handling the contractions. By 2pm, I needed an epidural. I was so bummed because I felt like a failure. My doula reminded me that Pitocin contractions are much more harsh than natural contractions. There aren't many people that could handle the intensity without drugs.

Over the next few hours, the doctor continued to increase the Pitocin until our baby’s heart rate started to decel. They increased the dosage and then the baby’s heart rate would dip again. This cycle continued until 8pm when blood work was drawn again and a cervical check showed that I was 6cm dilated, 80% effaced and -1 station. An IUPC (intrauterine pressure catheter) was placed to more accurately monitor the strength of my contractions if baby’s heart rate continued to dip. 

My lab work came back fine but my blood pressure was very sporadic – ranging from 153/106 to 95/56. The doctor continued to increase the Pitocin throughout the night and ordered blood tests and urine tests to monitor for preeclampsia.

At 6am, the OB found me to be 8cm dilated, 90% effaced and 0 station. She suggested we turn off the Pitocin to let my body rest and then start it back up again at 8:30am. The Pitocin was steadily increased throughout the day to the max dose. 

I was checked again at 1:30pm. The doctor felt that if I was complete, I could start pushing. If I had not progressed since my last exam and my contraction pattern was not effective, it was time to move onto a C-section. I had not progressed - still 8cm after another 8 hours of Pitocin-induced labor. 

To my dismay, I was prepped for surgery. Accepting that I needed a C-section was difficult but I was exhausted and knew that my body had had enough and wasn’t going to cooperate. I’d already been in hard labor for two days trying for a vaginal birth. 

Unfortunately, I don’t remember much about the C-section except that I felt like I wasn’t really there. The doctors were retrieving my son on the other side of the curtain and I was on the outside. Separate from this event. Then when my baby was born, he was immediately whisked across the room for examination. I couldn’t really see over there and didn’t know what was going on. However, my husband later told me that he had to stand by and watch our son turn blue and stop breathing 5 minutes after birth. 

Once baby Mav was stabilized, he was taken immediately to the nursery. No skin to skin. I didn’t even get to see his face. Hubby went with our baby and I was left alone. I didn’t know what was going on and whether my baby was okay. 

The next few hours were extremely hard emotionally because I had to lie there and get stitched up, then wait in recovery until the meds started to wear off and then wait until my postpartum room was ready. Hubby eventually came in to tell me the concerns the doctors had with Maverick. 

My bed was finally wheeled into the nursery so that I could see my son for the first time. It was such an emotional moment. Seeing his face and holding him was like no other feeling in the world. My heart swelled with love for this tiny little being. I just wish I could say that I remembered it more clearly but I was in a fog of exhaustion and worry. 

Instead of rooming-in as planned, Mav had to stay in the nursery overnight for observation. 

Apparently, Mav wasn’t able to ingest the colostrum that I had pumped the night before and was given the food via feeding tube that morning. At that point, we were told that he would be transported to UC Davis Children’s Hospital NICU to get the help he needed to breath and eat. 

A and I stayed in the nursery holding him all day. Thankfully the hospital staff allowed me to stay in my hospital bed in the nursery with my son until the paramedics came to transport him to the NICU. It broke my heart to see him get carried away in that incubator with all of the monitors and IV. My precious baby, less than 24 hours old, was being carted away from me to another hospital. Hubby followed behind the ambulance in his truck to be with our son. I was left behind to recover from my C-section. 

Post on baby's stay in the NICU…coming soon. 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

he's arrived

Maverick Dean was born on Friday, 3/27 at 3:19pm. 
7 lbs 1 ounce and 21 inches. 

A and I are both so in love with our little man.

 It was a long, hard labor and baby boy has had some difficulty breathing. He's been transferred to the NICU at another hospital to get the help he needs. 

Thank you for all of your prayers and well wishes. I will share more when I can.

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