Tuesday, February 4, 2014

the NICU

If you read Patrick's Birth Story, you've gotten a good handle on how our little man came into the world.  However, I did leave out some post-birth details about our little man.  From about 2 hours after he was born till about an hour before I was scheduled to be discharged from the hospital, he was in the NICU.


After all of the joy and excitement of his birth came the tough reality that he wouldn't be spending his first night--or any night we were in the hospital with us in our room.  This was TOUGH.  Like way tougher than I thought it would be, and even looking back it is still kind of tough to think about.  I actually hope and pray that our next kid doesn't end up in the NICU after he/she is born like Patrick did, because boy, it would be super hard to go through that again.  What really sucked was that we had ZERO visitors (after our families left at 2am the morning after my c-section/Patrick's birth) for our 5 day hospital stay.  This was awful.  I always envisioned having friends and family come up and see our baby, getting to hold him, taking pictures with everyone he met, and getting to be woken up by the sound of a teeny baby cry that needs to eat.  Welp, that didn't happen.

Now, before I go any further, I do want to add that I am incredibly thankful that Patrick only spent the length of my hospital stay in the NICU--that he got to go home with us and didn't have to stay at the hospital by himself.  I know there are so many parents out there that have to leave their little one in the hospital after they leave...or some that never get to bring their child home.  We got a little taste of what that's like, but nothing I'm sure compared to what some people go through.  I have the highest respect for those people and their strength.  I am also thankful for all of the incredible nurses who did everything they could to get our little guy healthy so he could go home with us.

Okay, so you're wondering why he was in the NICU.  Well, when he came out, they run all of those "freshly born" tests on the babies.  All of his were perfect except for his blood sugar.  It was super low.  However, he was ten pounds, and supposedly bigger babies have blood sugar issues when they come out because for 9 months they've been having continuous feeds, and then BAM!  They're born and their little food drip is cut off (literally).  Most big babies are born to moms' with gestational diabetes.  Well, I passed my diabetes test I took at 28 weeks, and unless I developed it later and just didn't show any other symptoms/signs of gestational diabetes, I just had a big baby.  They didn't tell us his blood sugar was low until they rechecked it again after he ate and our family had left to go home.  It was a little higher than it was right after birth, but still in their "low" category.  About 2:30am, after his first bath, the nurse said that he needed to go to the NICU and be put on an IV sugar drip to bring up his blood sugar.

At this point, I was so tired and kind of out of it that I was like, "Sure, that's fine, I'll get a few hours of sleep."  I guess I assumed they'd put him on the IV, it'd go back up, and he'd be back in our room in the morning.  Nope.  He spent the rest of our time in the hospital in the NICU.  His blood sugar did go up after about 12 hours on the IV; however, once it's "up" where it needs to be, they had several more tests he had to pass to prove that it could stay up, including a feeding fast, tolerating formula and breastmilk, and some others.


One of the hardest parts (like I said before) was that we couldn't have visitors.  This was tough.  We had to watch other families filter in and out with gifts, new baby balloons, food, and much more while Mike and I camped out in my room babyless.  I was a sad momma.  Which was kinda rough being a first time mom and dealing with this--something I hadn't prepared myself for.  No fun at all.

Since Patrick was in the NICU, and that I was breastfeeding, every three hours ('round the clock) I'd go down to the NICU to feed him.  This was awful.  I was recovering from essentially both a natural birth (pushing so hard for over an hour) and a c-section.  It was not easy or painless even sitting up in the bed, let alone getting out of it and getting into a wheelchair or attempting to stand up straight and walk.  It took me at least a good 20-30 minutes to get out of bed and go down to the NICU to feed him.  Then, the feedings lasted about an hour, so by the time I got back to my room after feeding him I had maybe an hour to an hour and a half before I had to head back down there again to feed him.  I got little sleep in the hospital (which I anticipated, but I thought I'd be able to grab my baby from next to my bed, feed him, and then both go back to sleep.  I never expected to actually have to get up and go somewhere to feed him).  This was one of the toughest things I've ever done.  It did get better and easier every time I'd get up (and thank you pain meds), but it was still so tough.  C-sections are no joke.  Thankfully Mike was an amazing support system--he helped me with absolutely everything--and more--than I could have asked for while we were in the hospital.


Thankfully Patrick responded marvelously to the sugar IV and to the tests to see if he could keep his blood sugar up.  Four days of back and forth from the NICU and oodles of tests for blood sugar issues later, we were BOTH being discharged and sent home.  I was so excited on so many levels: I could hold my baby any time I wanted, I could have him sleep next to me instead of in another room, and I could finally introduce him to friends and family that didn't get the chance to visit him in the hospital.  I was so thankful that he was leaving the NICU the same day as us and we didn't have to go home without him.  Like I said before, those parents that have to leave their little one in the hospital and go home with out them: I have so much respect for you.  That has to be hands-down one of the hardest things to do.



I do get a little nervous thinking about our next kid and if we will have a similar experience: I pray that we do not.  But if we do, I'll be prepared for it and know what to expect.  Maybe I should just anticipate the same situation we had with Patrick so that if it doesn't happen it'll be a pleasant surprise.  Either way, I wanted to share the NICU follow-up to Patrick's birth story.  Hopefully he'll read this one day too and see what his first days of life entailed (and again what mom (and dad!) went through!).

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