Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Alex's NICU Story

On July 7, 2012 our beautiful baby boy, Alex was born.

When the doctor broke my water we saw that there was meconium in my amniotic fluid.  Meconium is the baby's first bowel movement.  With my nursing background I knew that this posed a great risk for Alex upon birth.  I knew the risk ranged from minimal to severe, and it added another element of fear in my birthing process.  So we all began to pray.

My doctor, Chris and I all agreed to continue to let labor progress because a natural labor would be the best at this point to give the gunk a bit of a push out.  But as I detailed in the last post I wound up needing a c-section.

When Alex was born we felt as though our prayers were answered, Alex had a very strong cry and his APGAR scores were 9 & 9, which is almost perfect.  He cried and cried in the operating room.  When we got to recovery he immediately began to breastfeed.  He had a great latch, and he had a great color to him.  The nurses and my doctor thought he looked great.

After our time in the recovery room we were transferred to our room where we would be in for the rest of our hospital stay.  We all got settled, Alex was given a bath by the nurse, they checked my incision and bleeding and everything checked out great.  

At that point, it was about midnight, I nursed Alex again, he did fantastic!  After he was safely swaddled back into his crib, Chris headed home, so he could sleep (he had to work on Sunday), and then the nurse took Alex to the nursery so I could sleep.  At about 2 I woke up again and called for the nurse to bring Alex into my room since a. I could move my legs again and b. it was about time for him to nurse again.

It seemed to be taking awhile for them to come in, my mind was wandering, getting the best of me, but I convinced myself that the nurse was just busy taking care of another patient.  

And then my heart stopped.  My nurse walked in I could see Alex's crib was behind her, I could see ventilator tubing inside of it, and another nurse was pushing the crib.  

They both came in and began to tell me about what they noticed during an assessment of Alex.  They told me  that it appeared Alex was breathing very fast, his color was very dusky, and his oxygen saturation levels were not high enough, in fact they were in the low 80's.  

They then told me they were gonna take him to the NICU for further evaluation.  I asked if I could go with them, they suggested against it, saying he would be having x-rays and bloodwork taken and they would call as soon as I could come up.  

Their calm demeanor is what got me through that night alone.  I called Chris to let him know what was going on, he to this day thought he was dreaming when I called.  I told him to stay at home and I would call him if anything changed.  I then waited and waited for a phone call.

After about an hour I still had not received a call so I called myself.  I spoke with his nurse who told me that he had what the doctors said to be meconium aspiration pneumonia, which is where the meconium that was in my amniotic fluid had gotten down into his lungs and caused pneumonia.  She said thy would be giving him antibiotics and keeping him to monitor him.  

I was not allowed to leave the floor without someone with me because I was still under the effect of a lot of pain killers and I did not have complete feeling in my legs, just enough to move them.

When Chris got to the hospital at about 7 we went to the NICU to see our son.  He was on IV fluids, and was hooked up to a cardiac monitor and oxygen saturation monitor.  There were so many wires.  He looked helpless laying there under the warmer and it made my heart sink.  

I then began to check his monitor readings.  His heart rate was in the 140's, his respiratory rate was in the 80's and his oxygen saturation was 89% on room air.  I asked the nurse if I could try to breastfeed him and she said we could as long as we monitor his saturation levels.  

He was hard to latch at this feeding.  It was a new feeling, watching him become so frustruated, I was producing milk, but it was like he forgot how to latch.  We eventually stopped because his sats dipped, and it was decided that we would supplement with formula.  

The day continued like this, we would try to breastfeed at each feeding, with a few successes, and Chris and I stayed in the NICU for the majority of the day.  We decided together we wanted to keep visitors to just our parents that day and then close family and friends for the remainder of our stay.

We also decided to keep the fact that Alex was in the NICU off of Facebook in order for us to better focus on him and to prevent an overabundance of visitors.  Instead we had family pass around the information and ask everyone for prayers.  

The days ticked on and things were very touch and go up until the last day.

On Monday it was decided that Alex's oxygen saturation levels were not satisfactory and the doctor ordered him to be placed under an oxygen hood.  This provided him with oxygen and also a better way to determine how much oxygen he was requiring to keep his sats up.  

It was Monday night that I had an emotional breakdown.  I had been incredibly strong up until that point.  I felt like I had to be strong for everyone.  My family looked to me to know, "is that beeping sound ok?" or "Is it ok to pick him up?"  Chris tried to hide it as best he could, but he was scared out of his mind.

Then I would see the mother's of the other babies in the NICU who were much smaller and sicker than Alex and I felt like I had no right to be scared or upset.  

So up until I met one doctor, which I had met dozens at this point, I had remained strong and positive.  It just proves that it takes good bedside manner and a little heart and you will keep everyone happy.  And still to this day I do not know this doctor's name.

It also did not help that I was pushing myself way too hard to be by Alex's side at all times, I was exhausted.

But with the help of an excellent nurse, my family, and fantastic husband I pulled myself together.  

I took that night to recoop, sleep, and mainly sleep.  Chris went up at each and every feeding and fed Alex, all while I slept.  When I woke up I felt like a new person.

By Tuesday afternoon the nurses were able to wean Alex off of the oxygen and his sats were staying right around were they should only occasionally dropping.  He was breastfeeding well, not as good as he did originally, but good enough, and also putting some of his weight back on.  

Tuesday was also the day Alex was cleared to have all of his procedures done, he could finally have his hearing screen and be circumcised.  

It was Tuesday that I hit my health road block but, that is for another post.  (Which should not be as long)

Tuesday progressed, Alex continued to do well.  And I finally had hope that we could be taking our baby boy home the next day, as long as everything checked out with his blood work and chest x-ray the next morning and the tests they ran on me.

On Wednesday morning I was still under a pump and dump order so Chris was going up to feed Alex formula when we got his discharge orders and while I was waiting on mine.

The second I got the ok I grabbed everything and ran, I did not want anyone or anything to keep me in that hospital any longer.  

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