Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The first week...

Time loses all meaning in the hospital, I don’t usually know what is day or night now… just if it is one of the hours in which we will feed C. Newborns sleep a LOT and we are required to wake him up any time he sleeps 3 hours and give him food. We are exhausted as this means we generally get 30-45 minutes of sleep every 3 hours or so. If we don’t have to eat or shower, we may get an hour.

The hospital here does a graduated epidural spinal for c-section patients, so you get to keep the epidural for the first 24 hours for pain control. This enabled me to stay awake more and feed and seemed to be a great way to get through that initial patch after surgery. For me, a C-section wasn’t that bad. I took 1 Percocet and one Ibuprofen every 4 hours for the second day (after they removed the epidural) now I just take the Ibuprofen.

Over the course of the first day, we mostly slept and fed. The 8pm feeding had Vic and Lolah present so they had a chance to see and hold C and everyone was quite thrilled. The first day is a bit of a blur for me as I mostly slept and woke to feed C. Somewhere between the first and second day they decided his vitals were stable enough that he didn’t need constant monitoring. At that point they moved him into our room and we were rooming in. I wasn’t at ALL ready for this. I was frightened and disconcerted and the nurse who brought him in just dropped him off and left us. We were attempting to breast feed and had previously had help with positioning and latching on, plus neither of us had ever changed a diaper before. We finally got him fed and down and I was actually able to go to sleep with him sitting there beside me. The next time the nurse came in to check on him we got up and fed him again. They decided he wasn’t getting enough from me (since he had only been here about 28 hours all I had was a bit of colostrum). They started trying to supplement formula. He kind of took the first bottle… he was very reluctant on the second and we had to have the nurse help us get him to finish it. The third bottle took a lot of effort to get down, and we called the nurse to help. She thought he looked a little pale and his lips might be a bit dusky so she took him back to the NICU for monitoring. She brought him back for his next scheduled feeding and it wasn’t 3 minutes after I put him on my breast that I noticed his breathing was labored. I called her back and she came and took him back to the NICU. I now assume this was the PDA closing.

They decided that having to actually take food by mouth every three hours was too much for C. So they dropped an NG tube and we went to every other feeding by mouth. I pumped every 3 hours and was there as often as they’d let me. After a couple of days with the NG tube we tried going back to taking everything orally. We made it 24 hours with all feeds by mouth and they removed the NG Tube!! A day after the NG tube was removed we made it 4 days from the initial desat. Once we made it past that 4 days we were allowed to have C room in with us in preparation for him coming home! On Monday, when he was 7 days old C got to move out of the NICU and into the room!

I can’t begin to describe the level of exhaustion and exhilaration I feel right now. Getting up every 3 hours and staying up for 2 or more hours each time has been exhausting. I hope that when we get home we can get a routine that better enables sleep in those brief times that it becomes an option. My schedule for the first nine days of his life was as follows:

Each feeding: Wake up and walk to the NICU (5 minutes), change the baby (15 minutes), feed the baby (30 minutes), cuddle the baby and swaddle him for sleep (15 minutes). Walk back to the room (5 minutes) setup pump, pump milk, breakdown pump and clean parts (30-35 minutes). Sleep an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes or eat or shower.

I am recovering well from the C-section; in fact I tend to forget I had one. I really only feel it at the height of exhaustion at around the 3am feeding. TheMan and I are planning to do a supplemental bottle for every other feeding (bottle feed when we have to give meds) which means I’d pump only at the 9ish feeding, go to sleep, wake up at midnight to bf and pump only at 3 while TheMan feeds the baby then go back to sleep until the 6am feeding giving almost 4 hours of sleep with only one interruption! I think the meds are the scariest part.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Hello! (Its a birth story)

I woke up to go to the bathroom at 3am this morning and discovered that I was in labor. Clearly the first time moms have a longer labor that is usually late does not apply.  My due date is August 21st.  The contractions didn’t feel that bad to me and I hadn’t noticed anything prior to going to the bathroom. However I soon realized my water had broken and I was sure this was the real deal. I have always been told labor takes forever, so even though I knew there was a good chance he was still breech, I took my time in figuring out what was going on and calling the doctor. The doctor wanted me to head on in, I asked if I could wait until 7 so we could drop the dogs off at the kennel, but she said we needed to get there sooner than that. I called my parents and TheMan called his, then we called the doula. My Doula was going out of town this week and so we were really hoping this would not be his birthdate. We caught her at the airport and she was able to contact her backup to come be with us. Both my Doula, Tracey Arwood and her backup Cami Nettekoven were absolutely awesome. My father is also out of town this week. I suspect so many people requested I wait one more week, that the baby had to come just to be obstinate, he’s our son :).
We hadn’t really packed yet since he wasn’t due for two more weeks and “they” say that first time moms are usually late and usually take a long time to labor. We thought either way we’d have plenty of time. We both e-mailed work and started packing up everything we thought we’d need. During that time I had one or two contractions, but they didn’t seem very long and I could breathe and talk through them if I had to, so I still wasn’t that concerned. However, my doctor called me back and asked why I wasn’t already at the hospital. She gave us 5 minutes to get out the door.

The city of Overland Park chose 8-9-10 as the date to repave the roads in our neighborhood. As of 7:30 am any cars left would be stuck in their driveways until at least 6 pm that evening. So both of our cars were a couple of blocks away. TheMan had to run to get his car and put it back in the driveway, then run back again to get my car. The first time he ran for my car, he forgot my keys and had to run back home then run back to the car again. While he did that I kenneled the dogs and texted Jason to see if I could get him to call me when he woke up. I had another contraction as we were pulling onto 69 highway. Changing lanes made the contraction much more annoying, so I had TheMan stay in one lane and flash his lights and honk until other people moved out of our way. We got to the hospital about 30 minutes after we last talked to my doctor (and about 20 minutes before shift change. The nurses were awesome even though the arrival time was less than convenient.

I double checked that they were aware of the baby’s heart defect and possible position. I also updated the pediatrician based on the interview I did last week. Shortly after they got me on the monitors they came in to check baby’s position, in that time I had 2 more contractions. Originally they were about 10-15 minutes apart. Now they were more like 8-10 minutes. They wouldn’t let me up so I had to lie there, which was somewhat harder to take than standing up. I mentioned that I was 3 cm dilated and 75% effaced 2 weeks prior and they said at that it should be fairly easy to tell the position. The L&D nurse was fairly confident she felt a butt and I asked for an ultrasound to confirm. I also asked if we could wait an hour on the section so that the NICU doctors would be in for the day. At this point I’d only had about 15 contractions, so I figured we had quite a haul before things became urgent. The nurse got a funny look on her face and said we couldn’t wait. Then she explained that she’d checked 3 times to be sure, and I was 8 cm dilated. Things started moving very quickly at this point. My doctor was on another delivery so I met Dr. Perryman (also awesome) and he did a quick ultrasound check confirming the breech position. Then we quickly began surgery preps and worked to get enough IV fluids into me. We talked to the anesthesiologist and he allowed both my doula and my husband to be with me during the section. I was upbeat and positive through all the surgery prep and it was actually kind of a trip. By the time we got to the OR I had started in transition and my legs were shaking. They didn’t let me walk there because they were concerned it would further progress my labor. They gave me a combination epidural and spinal block and set me out on the operating table. A few minutes and some pulling and tugging later we had a son. He was born at 7:38am weighing in at 6 lbs 12.2 oz and 18.5 inches in length. TheMan was a bit teary eyed and I definitely was. I was also shaking from the medicines and the weird sensation of not being able to send movement signals to half your body. It was the closest I’ve ever been to a drug trip and it was pretty cool. The NICU nurses were present to assess our new son and after a few minutes they let me nuzzle him and we took some pictures, then he was off to the NICU with TheMan following close behind. My doula stayed with me to keep me company and about 20 minutes later I was in recovery. The NICU team brought him back to nurse within the first hour and he did great! My mom got to hold him for a few minutes and after about 45 minutes back he went for more monitoring. After a couple of hours in recovery, I went to my room and my mother and both of my in-laws were there. They all got to see him a bit in the NICU and then they all headed out with a plan for who would visit when that evening. By then it was only around 11am or so, but it felt like it had been years and the whole world had changed for us. So far, he has good coloring and scores as a well-baby would score. We know that will change, so it kind of feels like waiting for the other shoe to drop. He’s so beautiful and we are so in love, it is hard to picture what he will be going through.

The cardiologist came out from Children’s to do an initial assessment and it looks pretty much like we expected. C has a “pretty big” complete AVSD with an overriding aorta. But we don’t see any signs of pulmonary stenosis. If we had pulmonary stenosis, we would have had a second diagnosis of Tetrology of Fallot. That would actually have been a good thing because the two balance each other out and would have made for an easier wait for surgery. We were too overwhelmed at the time to have questions, so they told us we could talk with the cardiologist who would do rounds on Thursday. We’ll be brainstorming questions for him in the days in between.

Shortly after the cardiologists left it was time for C to feed again. Since he is really doing quite well so far, they bring him to our room and let him feed here. Breast feeding is going well in that he latches on and sucks and I am not in pain. It was strange to only see him for one hour out of every three, but at least we could rest easy knowing they were keeping their eyes on him.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Pregnancy causes vivid dreams

I have been meaning to post some of those vivid pregnancy dreams I’ve been having. There are three that to this day are so vivid I can still see them clearly. I have no idea what they mean, or how they helped me cope or process what was happening.

The first dream occurred before we knew any details of the defect. This was back when I was just anxious about the pregnancy, without any idea why. I was just waiting for the “other shoe” to drop. I had been given a toy for the baby. It was a red fisher price barn set. When I opened it, cedar shavings fell out and I found that a mouse had setup a nest in the barn. The mouse had mated with the pigs in the set and 1/2 the babies in the nest were regular baby mice, the other half were much larger, pink 1/2 mouse 1/2 pig babies. They had cute little pig snouts and curly pig tails and big mouse ears. I woke up laughing...

The second dream occurred the night after we found out about the baby’s defect. I dreamed we went to see the specialist and they said I couldn’t carry the baby anymore. That instead we had to setup a huge aquarium and they were going to transfer the baby into a fish. They put the fish inside me to get the baby and I looked down at my stomach and saw the dorsal fin of the fish poking out of my body just under the skin. The doctor used the fin to remove the fish and put the fish into the aquarium. The fish started pooping air bubbles with what looked like edemame and the doctor said when the fish poops air bubbles with a kidney bean in each bubble, then everything would be good to go and the fish could take over the pregnancy. I woke up crying...

The third dream occurred several weeks ago, I dreamt we decided to adopt a second child from Korea and when we got there to pick her up, we found out she was a twin. They were letting the other twin die because she had Down syndrome and a heart defect. A caretaker at the orphanage tipped me off and introduced me to the other little girl. I was crying when I handed the baby to TheMan and in the end he agreed to take both girls. The sick girl was already in heart failure and they weren’t giving her any medicine because they were just going to let her die. We shared the heart medicine we had from our son with her. In the end we volunteered for what we fear most. I woke up feeling both hopeful and sad...
All of these dreams were incredibly vivid and full of color and a strange realism. I do wonder why I had them… maybe they’ll make sense someday... but pig-mice... really?