When I came to, either Adam or a nurse (I forget which) came by to let me know that Baby D's blood sugar was dangerously low, so they had put him on an IV and placed him in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). I'm a little fuzzy on what happened next, but eventually, I was settling in my hospital room. The NICU was closed at the moment, so I couldn't visit Baby D, but Adam turned on the TV and flipped the channels until we came to a live video feed of our little guy. What a cutie! Since we couldn't really do much else, we both fell asleep. I woke up a few hours later and asked the nurse what I needed to do in order to see Baby D. She promised a wheelchair shortly and left.
The nurse for that day was simply not on the ball. She had to be asked repeatedly for everything-- pain meds, breast pump materials, and... the wheelchair. Around 11 a.m., I was starting to lose it-- it had been twelve hours since Baby D was born, and I hadn't even gotten to get a good look at his little face yet, much less hold him. Adam woke up, saw me crying, and walked out into the hall, where there were a bunch of wheelchairs parked about twenty feet away. Nursing FAIL!!
Adam wheeled me into the NICU, where we were instructed to scrub our hands/forearms intensely and don disposable hospital gowns before actually entering the room. Adam led me past several beds of tiny, tiny preemies before stopping at the bed of a massive bundle.
My baby's birth weight? 9 pounds, 9 ounces. He was truly a giant among NICU babies!
My poor little guy was hooked up to all sorts of monitors, as well as an IV drip. With all the cables and cords everywhere, it looked like I'd given birth to a cyborg baby! I gently picked him up...
... and it was LOVE.
Adam and I talked with the nurses about Baby D's situation. In order to get discharged, Baby D needed to stabilize his blood sugar enough to get completely off the glucose drip. It would probably take a few days, so all we could do was wait it out.
Now here's where the frustrating part came in. The hospital has a strict feeding schedule. Every three hours, a baby is given a very specific amount based on some scientific formula. I firmly believe that this made my baby stay in the hospital unnecessarily long. It was a crap shoot as to whether Baby D would actually eat at the appointed time, because sometimes he'd just be dead asleep. Other times, I would have to sit there and watch him fuss and root around for an hour because he happened to get hungry an hour early. His feedings could ONLY last a half hour or less, because the hospital staff was quite paranoid about him burning calories.
So, oftentimes, his feedings looked like this: either me or a nurse waking him from a dead sleep, trying to force feed the drowsy baby, and giving up after a fruitless half hour. Baby D would then wake up hungry later and would be denied food because it wasn't exactly on the next three hour feeding slot! I can't tell you how maddening this was!
With Baby D's inability to conform to the hospital's feeding schedule, he was labeled as a "lazy feeder," and now not only did he have to get off the glucose drip, but he also had to perform up to the hospital feeding schedule in order to go home. One morning, when I walked in to see my little boy, he had a feeding tube running out his little nose. Apparently, he had slept through too many feedings.
On Tuesday, I was discharged. Baby D was not.
The days after that were a never-ending cycle of driving back and forth to the hospital, holding the baby, dealing with nurses, eating fast food, and getting up at all hours to pump milk. Since I wasn't supposed to drive for two weeks after birth, Adam had to chauffeur me everywhere. Oftentimes, he'd simply drop me off early, and I'd basically live there for the whole day while Adam went to work.
Poor little Baby D was such a trooper! In spite of being surrounded by beeping monitors and screaming preemies 24/7, being taken care of by an ever-changing assortment of nurses, as well as a mommy and daddy that always had to leave, and enduring so many painful medical procedures, he was very mellow and hardly fussed at all. He had an IV needle that was always changing locations. One day, it would be in his little hand. This never lasted long, because he was always pulling it out there. Other days, it would be in his foot or even in his scalp, which always made him look very Borg-like. On more than one occasion, a nurse would stop me at the door and say, "You probably want to wait a minute," and I would hear Baby D scream as they put the IV in somewhere else.
Poor Baby D's heels were full of scabs from being pricked so many times for the glucose blood test. One nurse told me that it would be a good idea to give Baby D foot massages because NICU babies often start associating pain with people touching their feet. Isn't that sad??
My mama bear rage moment came one day when one of the older nurses took the IV out of his scalp. She must have been feeling lazy that day, because to my horror, she skipped using any type of adhesive remover and just ripped the tape right off. Baby D cried, of course, and to this day he still has a bald patch on his head. I was livid, and so was Adam when he found out. Fortunately, that nurse never was assigned to Baby D again, so he got to keep the rest of his hair. >:-(
The one bright spot in all this was our breastfeeding relationship. Baby D latched on like a champ right from the beginning, and I never had any problem getting him to take the breast-- except, of course, the feedings when he was dead asleep. We tried using a nipple shield a few times, but we did so much better without, that I finally ditched it. My milk supply was great when I pumped-- so great, in fact, that the lactation consultant recommended I pump less, lest I get engorged once I had baby home and wasn't pumping anymore. As I've said before, the only irritating part was the hospital feeding schedule. They'd weigh Baby D before and after a breastfeeding session, to see exactly how much he got (however "short" we were, they'd give the difference through that feeding tube). I could only try feeding him during the feeding time slots, and they'd basically say, "Okay, it's 12:04, you have thirty minutes, see what you can do." Somehow, in spite of the pressure, and dealing with a sleepy baby so much of the time, we still managed to do well anyways.
Long story made a little shorter, one morning we walked into the NICU to see a nurse unhooking Baby D from all his monitors and breaking down his little station. The nurse practitioner came up and said, "Well, are you ready to take him home?" We were dumbfounded and quite unprepared! So we called my parents, who were in town at the time, and had them run the car seat and some baby clothes over.
Baby D finally came home! I was starting to wonder if we'd EVER get him out of the hospital! He was in the NICU for 12 days altogether.
We're doing great at home. We're breastfeeding on demand, and he's gaining weight just fine! In spite of all the obstacles, Baby D and I have bonded wonderfully from Day 1, and it totally makes my day to just hold him and enjoy his little personality!
I realize that women who go through what I've been through are prime candidates for post-partum depression, so I've been monitoring myself like a hawk. Of course, there is grieving that naturally goes with this. I'm very sad that my birth plans blew up in my face, and that with the C-section, I'll be facing severe obstacles to getting a natural birth for subsequent babies. I'm really sad to have missed out on Baby D's first hours, and you have no idea how bad I feel that Baby D had to spend his first two weeks in such a sterile environment and endure all that pain. I seriously feel sometimes like we're victims of some horrible crime.
But, I am soooo happy to finally have Baby D here with us, and what's past is past. It's been smooth sailing since we've been home, and I'm very eager to keep on moving forward. Writing about all this, however boring it may be for everyone else, has been a step in the right direction. I've been wanting to post all this for weeks, and now that I have, I can get on with the posts showing off my incredibly cute little boy. :-D You're all dying to see him, right? Right?? :-D Okay, since you asked so nicely, I'll close with a picture from a couple days ago:
The cats are very happy that I've found something else to stick in the Moby Wrap. :-D