Saturday, October 18, 2014

Nathaniel's Hospital Stay - Part II

Where we left off...

Saturday night was a rough night.  After my elation at getting to hold him, when I went to see him later, I just cried and cried. We didn't stay long. I was too emotional. Then I went back to my room and cried some more. I missed getting to hold Nathaniel. I missed my sweet Jeremiah. I hadn't seen him since Thursday.  I was not feeling good. My blood pressure was still all over the place.  I was in pain.  My heart just hurt.

Sunday morning though.... Sunday morning when I got down there, the nurse and neonatologist had BIG smiles on their faces! I knew this was a good sign!  He was doing so much better! Overnight, he'd been able to be moved to a regular crib and they were able to turn down his oxygen to begin the process of weaning him from it. I was so happy. There was no longer a threat of a transfer to a different hospital! This was especially important since I was not going to be discharged for several more days.

Regular crib!
John went to church that morning, and in the afternoon my friend Kristin visited and then another friend Karen.  That night John would be staying at home since he had to watch Jeremiah. We got a horrific storm! I remember hearing the tornado sirens going off! The nurse came in and closed my blinds. She said that was protocol when there was a tornado warning. Okay, but.... is that all? Closing the blinds?  But there was no actual tornado, so I guess it was fine. Nathaniel was able to start eating today, so that was good since I'd been pumping so he'd have milk. We tried getting him to take 10 ml per feeding (1/3 an ounce) but that was a struggle for him.

Sunday was another rough night. My nurse accidentally pulled out my iv while trying to change some tubing. Ouch.  After consulting the doctor though, they decided to leave it out and only put it back in if something happened where I needed an IV (unlikely at 4 days post-partum, but I still wasn't in the greatest of shape from all my issues).  So now I was IV free! Yay! Unfortunately, the stress I was under caused me to break out in a cold sore - I've gotten these occasionally since I was 2 years old, but this was a bad one, but I didn't think much of it.

Monday was an okay day. It started off bad.  The neonatologist saw my cold sore and was horrified and didn't want me near my baby. Eventually, I was allowed near him with a gown, mask, and strict handwashing protocols. I hadn't thought much of it since I've gotten them practically my whole life, but I guess it's very dangerous for babies. On a happier note, my aunt and uncle came to visit, as well as my cousin and her husband. All of them live in Africa and were going to be going back to Africa at some point that week. So it was nice to see them again.  And best of all, Jeremiah came to visit. I got to see my big boy! He was a little confused about several things - what was Mommy doing? Why wasn't she able to hold him?  But overall, seeing him was so sweet.

Tuesday, we managed to get my blood pressure to be normal (using literally the highest dose of blood pressure medicine my doctor has ever used on a patient!) for two readings in a row, so I was discharged, but allowed to board. That meant I could stay there, but was no longer a patient.  I took advantage of the freedom to go home for dinner and see Jeremiah. Nathaniel was doing better and was on room air! I finally got to see that sweet face tube free!

On Wednesday, we were allowed to keep Nathaniel in the room with us for much of the day. We had to report EVERYTHING to the NICU nurse, but as long as he remained stable, it was a step toward going home. At that point, they were estimating Nathaniel would be going home Saturday or Sunday.  John and I ran to Target and out to lunch, and then came back to the hospital. My best friend's mom came to visit. My parents came, and brought my aunt and uncle. So I got to see them and say goodbye to my aunt and uncle as they were leaving Thursday for Malawi, Africa.  This also meant that Jeremiah would get to meet his little brother!

He was so sweet with him! He kept kissing him (probably because we all went "AAWWWWW!!!!!!" the first time and Jeremiah will do almost anything for a reaction!). It was so sweet to finally have both my boys at once.

Nathaniel was still really struggling to eat.  His IV had been taken out on Wednesday morning, so we would have to see how he did weight wise. They said they would probably let us leave once he had gained weight two days in a row.  So Friday at the very earliest.  Wednesday night, I kept him with me most of the night, but when they needed to take him to the NICU for vitals and tests, I let them keep him a little longer so I could sleep.  They also had to do some periods of longer monitoring so I couldn't keep him the whole time.

It's strange having a baby but having to get permission to do things like hold him, feed him, put clothes on him. It's a lot different than having a baby under normal circumstances. The NICU - it's the neonatologist's world and we're just living in it.  But at the same time, I  very much value that they were keeping my baby safe.

Thursday morning came and he hadn't gained weight, but he'd lost what they said was an acceptable amount. But this pushed the earliest possible discharge date to Saturday.  Or so I thought?  Suddenly in a dramatic change of course, they decided to let us go home that day! Why? I still don't know. The three new babies who had been admitted? The fact that this was my second preemie in 18 months and I had a pretty good handle on what to do? Who knows! I just know we got to go home!

Final thoughts?  The NICU is a roller coaster. The sooner you accept that, the better.  One of the nurses commented that we were handling things really well, all things considered. I said that it's something that's easier to handle the second time around. You know not to get your hopes up with every small victory. You know not to be too discouraged with every setback.  This stay was tougher because Nathaniel faced more challenges, but it was also easier having been there before.

I describe it like this. It's not a straight line path.  You take a step forward, a step back. Then you might take two steps forward, one step back. Then you might take several steps to the side. At times you might feel like you're doing the Hokey Pokey and turning yourself around, but just keep going. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. And eventually, you'll get there. And once you have, and once you have your child home, in time it will all seem like a dim memory.

Nathaniel is 12 weeks old.  It's still a pretty fresh memory and pain, but it's getting better.  I know that as he grows up like his big brother, I will watch him sit, walk, and run and be amazed at what God has given me.  A healthy son. Yes,  a rough start for both of us, but a healthy son who grows up to scare me with his climbing antics on a daily basis just like his older brother.

Ready to go! Even his newborn clothes were too big!

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