Sorry it’s been so long since I have written, but things have been a little crazy here and I didn’t want to write about it until everything was resolved. Our daughter Kat was 10 days late and getting loads of tests at both her birthing center and the hospital when they discovered she was low on amniotic fluid which forced the delivery from the birthing center into a hospital. This was disappointing as she had planned for a completely natural birth, but ultimately she made the best decision.
The next two days were a roller coaster as the hospital tried everything they could to get her labor started. After 30 hours, Kat decided to get a C-section because of the stress the baby was undergoing. When he came out he was a healthy 8lb, 5oz but his lungs didn’t completely inflate which prompted them to move him into the NICU. Kat only got a few seconds to see his face and then they whisked him away, which was really rough again. Under normal circumstances I would have been in the hospital on standby but because of COVID she was only allowed Adrian so we stayed at home waiting for information. Adrian did an excellent job of keeping us posted but it’s hard not to be there when your daughter is going through something like that.
This event started a seven day stint in the Children’s Hospital NICU which was incredibly stressful. First I should say the doctors and nurses did an excellent job, but it is a very busy unit with over 48 beds. They were near capacity and doctors and nurses changed frequently so it was tough getting solid information. Initially he was on a CPAP, catheter, and feeding tube, but one by one they removed those devices. Because of the C-Section Kat was still in the labor unit next door, but because it was two different hospitals she had to go back and forth frequently. She was trying to pump and eventually breastfeed but was required back in her room for tests every three hours. The logistics of it was a nightmare, even more so because we weren’t allowed to visit her in her room but could visit Elliot in Childrens. Two hospitals and two different sets of COVID rules, but we worked through it and on the second day were finally able to hold the baby.
Over the next several days we watched the doctors struggle to understand why his sodium levels were low. This can be a pretty serious condition and they ran test after test to rule things out. My daughter was finally checked out of her hospital room which made things a little easier. They were spending most of the day at the NICU though so she could try and breastfeed. Initially they carefully controlled what he ate, so he had to bottle feed, and Kat pumped at the same time. One thing I was grateful for was they had plenty of donated breastmilk so the bottle feeding still gave him the special nutrients. They have done studies that vaccinated mothers are passing anitbodies in the breastmilk which helps with COVID protection.
This is my first time dealing with a NICU baby and it was really hard on everyone. The stress is near constant and the limited time to visit made it worse. In order to not overwhelm them we only went every other day (Adrian’s mom took the other days) and usually stayed less than two hours. It was an hour each way to get there and get in the room so each visit was a 4 hour block, but the baby time was pretty limited. No matter when we went there were always other things going on (ie: feedings, tests, etc) so pure baby time was maybe 20 minutes a visit. That time was precious though and again worth the hassle, but obviously it was a way different experience than if they had been allowed to take the baby home right away. And I really hated all the tubes and was incredibly grateful when they finally removed the feeding tube on his cheek. He is a healthy size and weight thank God, but the wires made him feel incredibly fragile. Our best visit was one day when he was super alert and I was reassured that he was looking at us and even tracking Lee’s voice with his head.
Don’t get me wrong I kept all of those feelings to myself while we were there and tried to portray love, support, and confidence that everything would be ok. The last thing Kat and Adrian needed was dealing with my feelings so I waited to fall apart until it was just Lee and I. Finally though they gave him a diuretic and his sodium started to rebound. After 8 days they decided he could go home and follow-up on outpatient and all of us were overjoyed. Now the real transition starts and hopefully we can see him more, although we are almost out of time here. Despite all the challenges I am incredibly grateful to have a beautiful, healthy grandson who by the way has the exact same birthday as my other grandson Oliver. I can see some big joint birthday parties in our future!!!
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