Tuesday, February 19, 2013

My NICU Baby - Severe Chest Compression

Both of my babies had traumatic entries into this world after normal, healthy pregnancies without a blimp on the radar.  With my son, we really didn't expect any problems.  At 38 weeks on the dot, I was getting my daughter and myself ready for another day at work.  It was January here in Michigan and warming up the truck and scraping off the snow was a necessity.  There had been a lot of snow that winter and as big and uncomfortable as I was, I was getting really tired of how much energy it took to get us out the door in the morning and sitting through long, uncomfortable commutes in terrible driving conditions.
My husband had scraped my windows and left for work a few minutes earlier and my daughter was finishing getting herself ready while I went out to start the truck.  I remember vividly pausing to rub my gianormous tummy on my way back to the house and telling my son out loud "Come on, buddy!  I am ready any time you are!" as he stretched his toes up under my left ribs like usual.  His head felt really low that morning and I was finding it a struggle to waddle through the deep snow.

As I knelt in the bathroom to help my daughter get her socks on, my water suddenly burst.  My First Grade daughter grumpily yelled "Mom, you peed on me!"  As I started giggling, I explained that I didn't pee on her, my water broke and that means the baby is on the way.  Her expression immediately turned to joy and she turned into my big helper as I got cleaned up and she ran for clean towels.  I called my mom to catch her on her way out the door to work and then called my husband who was just arriving at his work.  My little Princess quickly gathered up her things and was ready for grandma and shouting her excitement about her long-awaited little brother.  This little girl had been waiting for a brother since she was about 18 months old and started asking for a sibling and had practiced up for big-sister-hood throughout my pregnancy.

When my husband and I got settled in at the hospital, I settled in to the routine of walking the hallways.  We would make the routes down the halls and when I felt like I couldn't walk through contractions and how low his head was anymore, we would return to the room and I would lay down and my Little Man would move his way back up...  After several repeats of this pattern, he stayed put and we were ready to start pushing.  We had a few issues with the epidural, but things seemed to basically be going OK.  At some point his head became wedged against my left pelvic bone and he had to be encouraged to move to the center again.  After hours in labor, they were threatening to take him via C-section, which I really didn't want and so I pushed and pushed.  I was so focused that I missed some of the communications between the doctors and nurses but realized that they were becoming worried about him.

When he crowned, I had expected him to come out the rest of the way quickly the way my daughter did.  I suddenly realized he was not coming out the rest of the way, even as they were trying to guide him out.  I bit down and pushed with everything I had and he did come out.  He looked very purple to me and not the color that my daughter had and I was worried.  He did cry out and had his eyes open and they checked him over and laid him on my chest.
As I held him, I realized that he was not taking full deep breaths and his color was not becoming more pink or lighter.  I rubbed his chest a bit and spoke to him expecting him to relax and breath more deeply as his lungs cleared but he deemed to be panting.  I insisted that they take him and check him again and that he was not breathing right.
When they took him from me, they too realized that he was not breathing deeply enough and put an oxygen mask on him right away.  I took this picture as he looked for me at the sound of my voice while they were working on him.  They called down the NICU nurses and at first though maybe his due date was off even though he was a good size because he was breathing more like a 35 week old.
They whisked him off to NICU to check him over more and hook him up to monitors to see how much oxygen he was getting as they finished getting me settled.  They insisted that we give them an hour or so to get him checked over and hooked up before my husband went to visit him.  As we waited, I began to feel like things were not right with me.  It felt like I was sitting in a pool and I felt more weak and faint than I had after my daughter (which is a whole other story).  When the nurse checked me, she realized I was severely hemorrhaging.  My family gathered back around and then were booted out of the room as the doctors checked me over.  It was discovered that I had an extra lobe of placenta that had developed at some point after the 20 week ultrasound.  I knew by the look they gave me and all the apologizing they were doing about what they were going to have to do to help me that it was bad.  My husband wanted to stay with me but I did not want him to have to see that so I sent him to check on the baby for me since I didn't know when I was going to be able to see him myself.  The doctors had to go in and "manually" remove this extra lobe.  Even with the extra epidural they gave me it was pretty bad but the bleeding did slow very quickly after that was removed. I was shaking uncontrollably for a couple of hours after this.  There wasn't a lot of information shared with me about the severity of what happened with me but from what I have been able to research from what I was told, I was very fortunate that I called for the nurse when I did because much longer and I would have been looking at transfusions.
A few hours later they took me in a hospital bed to the NICU to see my baby boy for a few precious minutes.  It was really rough because I wasn't able to hold him that night because we were both in such a fragile state so I stroked his head gently and he listened to me talk softly to him.  After my dramatic labor with my daughter and the time I had to be separated from her at birth, I was crushed that my baby boy and I were separated.  Both situations were freak occurrences and I understood there was nothing we could have done to prevent them but it was still very difficult emotionally to process, especially in the fragile state I was in.  But I knew my daughter and husband especially needed me to be strong.
The next morning I was able to be taken back and forth to the NICU in a wheelchair every few hours to try to encourage Little Man to nurse and feed him bottles and snuggle him.  He didn't really have to be on oxygen for long - by the time they got done checking him over he was breathing much better on his own.  But once they are in NICU, they have to meet very strict standards to be released.  They have to eat a certain amount so even though I was breast feeding, they also started feeding him bottles because his intake and output was not measuring up.
He also had some issues with circulation because his hemoglobin count was extremely high so his blood was very sluggish.  His feet and hands had to be massaged frequently to encourage the blood to flow better or his extremities would start to turn purplish.
After a couple of very long days, he was released and able to come home.  Unfortunately, by the time we got him home, his Bilirubin numbers reached peak (you can see how dark he looks here) and at his post-release follow-up they sent us back to the hospital for another long night under the "glow lights" where I could only stroke the top of his head and sing to try to soothe him.
This is just another in a long list of our experiences that make the research and equipment provided by the March of Dimes so important to us.  Please consider a donation directly to March of Dimes through their secure website at http://www.marchforbabies.org/AprilsCountryLife.  Your donation will help continue to improve the resources available to families who have to endure less than ideal birth experiences and give these babies the best start possible.

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