This is a long story so settle in. I'm writing it out as much to share with you all as to record and keep straight in my mind. Also, I'm really short on sleep and tired so it's pretty choppy and hard to understand I think! Good luck reading!
Well, this week has pretty much been the most grueling of my life. I had an amazing birth Monday morning at home, fast and furious. It was a lovely first day babymooning with my new family. Then after dinner, Everett Henry (his new name! ) spit up, choked, stopped breathing, and turned purple and blue. We called 911 and by the time the ambulance arrived we'd managed to get him to breathe again and he wasn't a horrible dark color. Paramedics suggested we go to the hospital via ambulance since his lungs sounded funny and he was retracting while he breathed. So we strapped him in the ambulance, DH managed our older scared and screaming son, and off went Everett and I. In the back of my mind I was worried things would get out of hand and they'd want to admit Everett for nothing.
Got to the hospital and E was quickly checked out and the worst case scenarios were presented by docs (). But his oxygon levels low and he was still not breathing right. Obviously something was wrong so we chose a NICU to transport him to, a team from that hospital came to get him, poked and struggled to insert an IV and draw blood for lab cultures. E's blood this week has clotted very quickly but that night it was awful. Apparently he was a bit dehydrated simply due to being new and getting just small amounts of colustrum through nursing. Hearing him scream as they repeatedly worked was the worst thing this entire week has brought.
Well, DH and I said our good byes to Everett since we weren't permitted to ride with him and it was so heartbreaking and devestating to let him leave in the ambulance. We rushed home to let out the animals and grab clothes since we knew we wouldn't be this close to home again for a while. My in laws took our older son home with them from the hospital so at least we didn't have to figure that out.
Finally we got to the NICU around 12:30 Tuesday morning after the longest drive ever (really only 45 minutes) and E had already been admitted, checked, and was sleeping exhaustedly. We couldn't hold him, had to wear gloves to touch him, I couldn't breastfeed him. It was trully the most helpless and awful night of my life. Well, morning since by this time it was close to 2 AM. We hadn't slept Sunday night due to labor and birth and now Monday night was disappearing without us sleeping again. The lack of sleep and the stress was very much catching up with us. Tests were being run but nothing was really known and though the docs and nurses were awesome, it was pretty scary to see our brand new baby hooked up to so many wires and tubes.
By now it was Tuesday morning and we couldn't do anything so we drove home around 3 AM to sleep for 3 hours before driving back to be with E. The staff switched to a new group of docs and nurses from 6:45-8 and all visitors and parents were kicked out during that time each morning and night. We've managed to get back to the NICU every morning at 6 to at least spend some time with E and then we eat breakfast when they make us leave at 6:45.
Found out on Tuesday that E had aspirated fluids, developed pnemonia, was found to have 2 tiny holes in his heart, and an irregular heartbeat. The holes should heal up fine as he grows, they'll just need to be checked in a few months. The irregular heartbeat was catagorized as normal for a newborn. The pnemonia would require 7 days of antibiotics and lots of monitoring and was causing E to have trouble breathing.
You'd think being stuck in a hospital all day would be boring but really there was so much to do and so many people to talk to about E that we were exhausted and busy all day. Later on Tuesday, after dinnertime, they finally let us hold Everett. Holding my boy just made my heart sing and of course I was crying my head off with happiness. It's kinda ridiculous how often I've teared up this week, at happy and sad things! We stayed at a next door hotel that night, slept only 4 or 5 hours and I got up to pump twice.
Wednesday things got a little better after E had been on antibiotics for 24 hours. His oxygen levels improved though he still wasn't allowed to nurse, getting sugar water through his IV was his food. Late that night they agreed to let us try to nurse since he was breathing so much better and it went terribly. Having a pacifier on and off all day really messed up his latch and my milk still hadn't started gushing. We had a very frustrating 45 mintutes of struggle and before giving him pumped milk in a bottle. We drove back to the hotel around midnight, depressed. E did though get the tube taken out that was going through his throat to his tummy to prevent him from spitting up. It was nice to see his sweet little lips again.
Didn't sleep much Wednesday night due to pumping and DH drove back to the hospital around 2 AM to stay and give E a bottle. I slept so deeply for my 1.5 hours breaks of sleep between pumping and then we were back to the hospital at 6:00 Thursday morning to nurse before the staff switched and kicked us out. Nursing went better!
And then everything started to get soooo much better!! Everett nursed somewhat with a syringe, next time with an SNS, and by the evening he was fine on his own. Also, he got got the nasel cannula taken off and did perfectly breathing room air! We got moved to a private room in the NICU since we needed space for me, his food supply, to stay the night. The couch and recliner here sure aren't as comfortable as a bed but dang, it's so nice to be together all night! We had great Thanksgiving Day with so much to be thankful for!
Thursday night we got 1 hour of sleep before E woke hungry at midnight, then he had to have 2 blood samples drawn, a round of antibiotics, 2 more blood samples. Everett's blood for some reason clots incredibly quickly (so does mine btw!) so each blood draw took about 30 minutes. By the time all that was done, DH and I were hungry and needed to scarf down some food in the parent lounge, then E was hungry. We didn't fall back asleep until 5 AM! The wonderful staff and Everett let us sleep until nearly 8 this morning and didn't kick us out for the staff swtichover!
Today (Friday) DH spent much of the day taking care of animals at home, doing laundry (I have no clothes out that fit my postpartum body except 2 pairs of maternity sweatpants!), packing clothes and stuff for us at the hospital, and dealing with the chaos we left behind at home. He also slept a few hours since he doesn't do nearly as well as me, a seasoned nursing mama!, on low sleep.
So here we are Friday night: Everett is recovering grandly, relearning nursing at a quick pace, his parents are exhausted but oh so grateful, and we are here in the NICU until Monday afternoon. I've seen my older son every other day and only for a short amount of time. I miss his sweet face and listening to the crazy things he says but it's wonderful we have family nearby who he loves that are taking care of him.
Whew, what a complicated week it's been! The support we've had from all our fmaily and friends had made me see how much we are loved. It's mind boggling how much people have offered and given to help us through this ordeal. The NICU staff has been amazing and perfectly supportive of breastfeeding and our wishes for Everett's care. Of course we'd much rather be at home but if we have to have a sick kid, this is the place to be.