Thursday, February 20, 2014

Perspective and expectation.

As some of you may have seen on Facebook, Baby C and I are still in the hospital.  I'm officially discharged and staying in a patient room by the grace of the powers that be.  Baby C is still in the special care nursery undergoing photo-therapy and monitoring.  The short version is that having a baby in the NICU is easy, removing said baby from the NICU is amazingly hard.  He's been monitored since birth, so every little potential problem becomes something else to "watch for a couple more days."  Once one thing has been resolved, something else crops up.  His breathing (the original reason for entering the NICU) was resolved withing the first few hours, but because he was in "distress," he had to stay there for 48 hours of antibiotics.  During those 48 hours, it was discovered he had low calcium, then just before the 48 hours were up, his bilirubin levels started to climb (high bilirubin is jaundice).  So we got to take him off the IV for the antibiotics, but we had to start supplementing a little formula for the extra calcium and doing photo-therapy for the jaundice.  We resolved the calcium a couple of days ago, but around the same time, they decided they wanted him to gain a little weight before they would release him.  As a side note here: he hasn't dropped an unruly amount of weight.  It's the same weight loss you'd see in a full-term baby at home.  So that meant we had to keep doing the supplement after each feeding, but they changed the formula to a high calorie one.  They also limited how much time I was allowed to breastfeed so that he wouldn't waste any of those calories.  We're dealing with it.  After two days of the bili-blanket, his levels are going down, but in that time, they noticed that he was doing a funny thing where his heart rate would drop for a second then his oxygen level would drop a little for a second.  It immediately goes back up every time, but it happens a couple of times a day, so now he has to stay on the monitors for observation of that.  They want a couple of days without him doing that funny thing before they will consider releasing him. 

I'm tired.

I want to go home with my baby and do the normal exhausted, new baby stuff at home. I understand that Baby C was 4 weeks and 3 days early, but the situation wears thin after a while.  I've been told that he's doing great and that I should be glad if he goes home before his due date a few weeks from now.  The thought of expecting him to be here until March 17th makes me extremely depressed, so I fool myself every day by hoping something will happen that will let him come home.  This, too, is tiring.  Hope can be draining. 

Enter into the mix the subsequent appearance of not one but two new babies into the NICU.  I'm in that nursery every 3 hours to feed Baby C, so I'm privy to more knowledge than I should probably have about those two babies.  The funniest part about the situation is that the first baby had the same name as Baby C.  We thought we were so original.  At least they spelled it differently.  That baby was a twin, the bigger twin, and he only lasted a few hours with us until he had to be transferred to a bigger hospital with a better NICU.  Eli and I were heading out to lunch when they were transferring him.  It was like something you see in the movies.  The big plastic case surrounding the baby with the arm holes along the sides.  He was being air lifted to the other hospital and there were people with stethoscopes all around him.  He was born at 38 weeks, and Eli thought it looked like he wasn't breathing on his own.  We'd just finished a conversation lamenting the time Baby C had already spent in the NICU and whining about how we wanted to take him home.  It was sobering to share an elevator with that sick baby and realize that it could easily have been Baby C.  This is the perspective.  Our baby seems to healthy that we forget he was so early.  Also, we have no experience with preemies and what is normal for a baby born at 35 1/2 weeks.  This is the expectation. 

We move forward a few days to today, and there is another addition to the NICU.  Another little boy born at 36 weeks.  The nurses were marveling at how busy they've been the last week with early births.  I was heading to the nursery to feed Baby C earlier, but I saw through the window that the other baby was surrounded by people wearing masks and scrubs.  Never a good sight.  I decided to just let the nurse on duty know I was ready to do the feeding thing whenever was a good time and go wait in my room.  I got a call about 15 minutes later that I could come on down to the nursery.  There were still a a few extra people in the room, including one person in a mask and scrubs.  We got Baby C all situated, and they went back to work on the other baby.  He was having trouble breathing, but his trouble seemed a lot worse than what we'd had.  He had a lot more wires attached to him for one.  For two, I could hear him wheezing for breath.  There goes that perspective again.  C was all warm and wiggly against me, and gulping down milk, and this other baby was trying so hard.  My hormones required that I get all teary-eyed, but luckily everyone was too busy to notice me get all leaky.  C ate like a champ and went back to sleep wrapped up with his warm little glow light.  This is the point where I tell you that I'm officially changing his name on here to Glowworm.  It's what I've been calling him in my head when I see him all bundled up and glowing blue.  My little glowworm.  And I have no idea if he's way healthier than he should be after being born so early.  This is where I need to set my expectations better.  I'm going to do some research today to see what's "normal" for 35-36 week preemies and set my expectations there.  I would much rather be happy that he's breathing on his own and feeding well than upset because I have to wait "just a few more days" for him to prove that he's healthy enough to go home. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

My children are so impatient.

It's snowing outside.  A lot.  So much so, that unlike the last few days, Eli has chosen to stay at the hospital and nap instead of going home.  For those of you familiar with Eli's sleeping habits, you realize how big of a deal that is.  He needs special circumstances to actually sleep involving complete dark, silence (or the sound of rainfall), and some kind of sleep voodoo that lets him feel refreshed after a one-hour nap.  There's a picture below that shows how bad the visibility got.  We couldn't even see the trees on the other side of the parking lot from our window (please be jealous of our awesome view of a brick wall and a parking lot).

This is our second room.  We've been at the hospital now since 8am Friday morning, that's three and a half days for those of you counting along at home.  I've been officially discharged since 8pm last night, so they moved us to a generic room (as opposed to a birthing suite, no detachable bed and bright lights, but everything else the same) on the same floor.  I'm happy with both rooms since it allows me easy access to Caden in the special care nursery (that's the name of the NICU here).  I'm going to use Cade's real name for this post, but in subsequent posts, he'll be known as Baby C.  Yes, he's still in the NICU, but allow me to start from the beginning.

My water broke much like the last time at around 4:30am.  There was a bit of squirting, and I just thought I'd wet myself.  The bed appeared unharmed, but my undies needed changing, so I got up, switched them out, and hit the bathroom since I was standing around anyway.  To my surprise, there was a steady stream of liquid coming out of me despite the fact that I was done peeing.  It was not a gush.  It did not feel like the last time.  It felt like I was involuntarily peeing myself...again.  After it eased up, I did the usual flush and wash, but I noticed a bit of blood in the toilet.  Again unusual, but not unexpected at just under 36 weeks pregnant.  I didn't make it back to the bedroom before I soaked the new pair of undies.  That woke me up a bit more and made me wonder if I'd woken up to my water breaking after all.  It seemed so far-fetched that I shrugged it off, changed my undies again, and went back to bed.  Apparently, that's my go-to reaction to my water breaking.  Denial followed by sleep.

I woke up again about an hour later with the urge to pee again.  Let me stress once more that this was not out of the ordinary.  It was common for me to get up every hour or so to pee if I'd had a lot to drink the night before.  No soaking of the undies this time, but there was a lot of fluid again even after the urge to pee had subsided.  I was also getting mild crampy feelings in my intestinal region.  They weren't regular, and it truly just felt like I had gas.  I'd eaten beans for lunch the day before, and I was still unwilling to believe that my water had broken a full month early.  I finished up and went back to bed again.  I couldn't fall back asleep though, and my tossing and turning woke Eli up enough to ask me if everything was okay.  I explained to him what was happening, and finished with "but I'm sure it's just gas and the inability to control my bladder.  It couldn't have been my water breaking.  It's too early."  Eli suggested calling the doctor just in case.  I said I wanted to wait and see if the crampy feelings were actual contractions.  Eli suggested timing them in that case, so I finally gave in and downloaded an app (a continuing theme here is how woefully unprepared we were to go into labor a month early).  Eli got up to shower and call in to his first meeting just in case.  I played around on my phone and timed my gas.  It was happening anywhere from 6 to 10 minutes apart and lasted 30 to 45 seconds.  I was still in denial.  Around 6:30 the gas got a little more painful, so I got up to shower and pack a bag just in case.  I had planned on packing the hospital bag on Monday when I officially hit 36 weeks, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to have it ready just in case.  I still hadn't called the doctor.

Shortly after my shower started, I had to admit that the gas was not gas.  The cramps ramped up in pain level and started coming a lot closer together.  I had forgotten that hot showers were supposed to help encourage labor to progress.  I finished up while panting every little bit, and immediately called the doctor afterward.  They said it sounded like my water had broken and I should come in right away.  This time, I listened.  I packed a bag while Eli talked to the Man-Boy and got D ready to go.  We hadn't intended to take him to the hospital with us, but there wasn't really another option.

Let me back up here a minute and explain what we thought we'd be doing that day.  It was Friday, February 14th, and Eli had to work late on Valentine's Day.  We had plans that night for a double date, and the Man-Boy had plans for a date at home (I know, exciting!  More on that later).  The hybrid battery on Eli's car had stopped working the day before, so we'd dropped it off at the dealer's to get it fixed.  He was supposed to take my car to work that day.  The movers had plans to drop off our last shipment that morning, and the Man-Boy had to go to class for a couple of hours.  I was going to spend the day cleaning, unpacking, and making baby sheets if I had time.  So you can see that the unexpected rush to the hospital caused some problems.  We had to find someone to come be at our house so the movers could unload everything, and luckily, we have amazing friends who rallied around to help.  With everything covered at home and Eli okay with watching D at the hospital for a while, we left.

The contractions were bad enough that I clenched up and cried through them at this point.  They were fairly close together, but I'm not sure how long exactly since I had stopped timing them at that point.  The drive was fine, but every bump made things worse.  On the way to the hospital, the car dealer called.  I answered because Eli was driving, but I could only talk for about 10 seconds before I had to hand the phone over in favor of clenching in pain.  The guy on the other end was surprised to hear that we were on the way to the hospital and that the nice woman who answered the phone was in labor.  He assured us that he would take care of the car and give us a call later.  It was all very reassuring, and I just wanted Eli to get off the damn phone and get us to the hospital faster. He dropped me off at the entrance then went to park the car.  I headed up to the Labor and Delivery floor, but the elevators were being slow, so he caught up to me there.  Several of the nurses recognized us as we got off the elevator and everyone was super nice.  I was obviously having contractions, so they rushed us into the room.  They confirmed I was in labor and got me in a gown and in bed with monitors.  Despite the ever increasing pain and frequency of my contractions, I was extremely relieved when the nurse didn't start running down the hallway calling for help.  Apparently, this baby was dealing with labor just fine.  I was not.

She checked me and said I was 1 cm dilated and 80% effaced.  I asked for an epidural right away.  They were more than willing, but there were a few problems.  Since I was so early, we hadn't done the Group B Strep test yet during my prenatal visits.  That made it officially unknown, so they had to put me on antibiotics just in case.  That meant an IV.  I didn't really care since I knew getting an epidural meant getting an IV anyway, but it delayed things a bit.  I believe the nurses got things done as fast as they could, but it was a good hour and a half before the epidural guy got there.  My contractions were extremely strong, lasting a minute to a minute and a half, and only about 30 seconds apart.  I was in constant pain, and I was unprepared for how to deal with it.  There was a lot of weird noises and squeezing of various nurse's hands and tensing every muscle in my body.  Planking had nothing on this.  I should recommend contractions as a muscle-toning technique.  Despite my fear of the needles involved in the epidural, I was willing to do anything to make the pain stop.  Epidural guy was a pro (as one would hope).  He got it in and working within two contractions.  Three contractions after that, I could relax.  That's the point where the drama ended and my blissful day of comfort began.

I'd been increasingly uncomfortable since the beginning of the pregnancy, so being able to lay in bed without pain, contraction or otherwise, was amazing.  I don't know why anyone would choose pain over that comfort.  Eli, D, and I hung out for the rest of the day.  Everything went the way labor is supposed to go, and by 7pm, the nurses had me start pushing.  I'll spare you the gory details of the next hour and a half, but Caden was born at 8:23.  Two things stick out in my mind about the actual delivery: childbirth is very, very painful even with an epidural, and everyone is right that the memory of the pain fades.  When I think back on the moment of birth, the sensation I remember is the push and the baby, not the pain.  Thank goodness. 

Cade was working a little to hard to breathe, so they took him to the NICU to put him on oxygen and make sure all his parts were working.  Unfortunately, since he had to go to the NICU and I was Group B Strep unknown, they had to put him on 48 hours of antibiotics through an IV.  That meant he had to stay in the NICU for at least 48 hours.  Turned out that he had a little fluid in his lungs, but they were fully formed and everything.  He worked that fluid out in the first couple of hours.  Since then, he's passed all his tests with good results until late this afternoon.  They took his IV out, but true to form, he got a little too yellow (very mild jaundice) and we have to do photo-therapy tonight.  We're hoping he'll be released from the NICU tomorrow morning, and we can all go home tomorrow evening. 

Oh, and Eli's car is ready to be picked up any time.  Apparently, having your battery die at less than 1000 miles pass the warranty while your wife is in labor encourages the car dealership to give you a free hybrid battery.  Who knew?  We still have to pay for installation, but it saves us several thousand dollars.  Good deal, all in all.  I told Eli we should buy a lottery ticket since we're getting so lucky the last few days.  All in all, much less drama than last time.  I was discharged Sunday night, but the hospital is letting me stay in a patient room until Cade is discharged since we're breastfeeding every three hours.  We're getting pictures taken tomorrow, so hopefully, I'll have some nice baby pics for the next blog installment.  Until then, live with the ones I could get.



The view from our window during the storm today.
Eli feeding Cade for a little extra calcium.

Don't be fooled by the wires, he's doing great.

Monday, February 3, 2014

And now we're all learning new things.

Eli's home now, and so far, life is better than when he was gone.  Before he got back, I was a bit concerned we'd settle back into the routine we had when he was visiting where I barely got to see him.  I'm happy to report that we've reached a great compromise where he gets the time he needs for his interests and I get my husband back.  In the week that he's been home, I've learned (or re-learned) a few things. 
  • He sucks at Tetris.  Everyone knows that filling the dishwasher is the adult version of Tetris, and Eli is just bad at it.  Of course, there's always the possibility that he's faking being bad at it so I'll load the dishwasher.  Either way, it's faster if I do it and all the dishes get washed.
  • He randomly starts bleeding from mysterious wounds.  He left India with his face intact.  He arrived in Chicago with a busted lip.  He says he fell asleep on the tray table and something must have happened because he woke up with a sore lip and blood all over the table.  I suspect that the pilot was like "let's have some fun" and waited for the right moment to manufacture some turbulence to bounce Eli's face off the table.  The other option is that the table attacked him completely on its own, which seeing as how it was Eli, is entirely possible.
  • He still gets water like the little girl from Signs.  Half-filled glasses of water all over the house.  I have to perform a sweep every morning to collect glasses that he's deposited and return them to the kitchen.  Even the Man-Boy was grumbling about it because Eli left a glass in his room that he had to bring downstairs. 
  • He's surprised by mundane things I do and nonchalant about some of my more amazing abilities.  I crocheted a mitten for a friend, and he was super impressed that it was "solid and marketable."  I washed all his dirty clothes from India on the day he got home so he had clean underpants, and he chose not to wear any the next day because he assumed all his undies were dirty.  When I told him all his clothes were clean, he didn't believe me at first.  On the other side of things, he's not at all impressed that I can literally quote Aladdin in its entirety or explain to him in detail how viruses reproduce.  Apparently, virology is easy but laundry is hard. 
Now that Eli is back and we've had a chance to discuss it at length, we've decided on a baby name for NotSherlock.  Or at least most of a name.  We agreed that we liked Cade as a nickname, so we're now deciding between Kincaid or Caden.  I like Caden; Eli likes Kincaid.  Honestly, we both like both names, so it's more like we're leaning in two different directions.  I'm pretty sure I'm going to win this one though since Eli got to pick D's name.  We have no idea what we're doing for a middle name yet.  I'm 34 weeks today, so we do have a little time before it becomes a more pressing issue.  Despite mostly choosing a name, Eli still called him Sherlock last night.  I hit him with a pillow.  I figure negative reinforcement (or throwing something squishy at him) might break him of the habit.  We'll see how it goes.

Speaking of babies, my amazing sister and brother-in-law have started up their own website/blog to catalog the adventures of my new baby niece, children's book reviews, and anything else my sister-in-law wants to put on the internets.  You can find them here:   The Nutshell Librarian.  I highly recommend it.