4

Postpartum Recovery

I am on day 39 of my postpartum recovery, and I thought I’d share my experience. Mine will be different then most because my son is still in the NICU. Also, as a warning: Some of this might be TMI!

Immediately postpartum I felt fine. My chief complaints were back pain and exhaustion. The back pain was from the epidural, which is not something I was expecting– though it obviously makes sense. The exhaustion was from a myriad of things. The night before induction I could not sleep, and then my labor progressed quickly for a primigravida not allowing any rest even after the epidural. I also was dealing with processing all of the emotions of finding out my son had EA/TEF and having him shipped off to another hospital, along with trying to develop a breast milk supply by pumping every 2-3 hours around the clock. So when I was discharged from the hospital 18 hours after our baby boy was born the doctor warned me that this ‘fine’ feeling would pass as she believed I was running off of adrenaline. She made my husband promise to keep an eye on me.

Physically: 

Physically I needed to take 600-800mg ibuprofen every 6 hours around the clock for the first 3-4 days, and didn’t I felt it. My back stopped hurting by this point, and I hated how the ibuprofen gave me a stomachache!

My ‘nether’ region was not as sore as I expected it to be– Sure my stitches itched and burned a little, but using my peribottle and dermoplast every time I used the bathroom was perfect. Until my stitches completely healed (about 3 weeks pp) it felt like I was walking around with a tampon placed incorrectly… Best way to describe it. It was uncomfortable, but not painful.

My bleeding pp honestly surprised me– I was fully prepared for bleed like a stuffed hog for weeks, but I would say that by my 5th-6th day postpartum I didn’t need those giant overnight pads anymore and I switched to always infinity foam regular flow with wings. These things were heavenly! I could hardly feel they were there, and they ‘wicked’ away the moisture and kept me feeling dry. About 2.5-3 weeks pp I was mostly just having discharge and only needed liners.  I still need the liners, but otherwise I’m good.

I was warned about the hemorrhoids and the constipation, but I had no hemorrhoids and actually had mild diarrhea immediately pp. So I didn’t take my stool softener…. but on the 4th or 5th day I was in pain. I was so constipated and had stomach pain that felt like someone was stabbing me below the bellybutton. I took stool softeners and suffered through it. Godspeed my friends! Take the stool softener… even if you don’t think you need it!

Breastfeeding:

The lactation consultant informed me that it appeared I had IGT (insufficient glandular tissue), and probably wouldn’t be able to produce a lot of milk. Still, I was going to try! I was loaned a Medela Symphony from the NICU. It is a hospital grade pump made for exclusively pumping and costs close to two-thousand dollars! Luckily the NICU has a free loaner program for mothers to use while their babies are still in the hospital.

I pumped every 2-3 hours for 20 minutes. The NICU had pumping rooms so even when we were with him I could pump. I took 9 fenugreek pills a day, drank 4 cups of mother milk tea, held hot compresses to my chest while I pumped, looked at pictures of him while I pumped… and after 10 days the most I had ever produced was 0.2ml (combined from both breasts), and I was so exhausted– in 10 days I had not had more than an hour and half of uninterrupted sleep.

I was heartbroken and mourned the loss of my breastfeeding dream. I wish someone had told me that there were really women out there who physically couldn’t breastfeed. I was so unprepared for this, and this was one of the hardest things for me to come to terms with. Even now when someone asks me if I’m using formula or breast milk… I feel like I need to make excuses and explain to them why he’s only getting formula.

Emotionally:

My husband and myself were both very concerned that I was developing postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety. As an already anxious person, we really didn’t know how much of my pp emotional roller coaster was normal for me. For the first two weeks I was so upset and cried everyday– In the shower, while I was pumping, at his bedside, when I talked to his doctors, when we left to go back to the hotel… It was awful.

Now looking back I think I was just dealing with an extraordinary set of circumstances– We went from having a perfectly healthy baby to a baby with a life altering defect who needed surgery, and then he got sick, and I watched him turn blue in front of me… It was agony. What helped me realize that it wasn’t anything more was… When my son was having a ‘good’ day, I had a good day. When he was having a ‘bad’ day, I had a bad day… And it just turned out that he had a lot of ‘bad’ days in the beginning.

As for the anxiety– I still feel that from time to time. I have a hard time falling asleep because I’m thinking of him; I’m worried his nurse doesn’t know how he likes to be soothed by having someone talk to him, or thinking his resident forget to weight-adjust his medication for his 100gram weight gain, etc. That I think is just me being a mother… We’re supposed to be worried about our babies all the time, right?

Overall:

My postpartum recovery has been a lot easier on me than I thought it would be. The emotional aspect was probably the hardest. My 6 week appointment is tomorrow (technically I’ll just be 5 weeks and 3 days pp), and we’re going to discuss getting and IUD when I’m 8 weeks pp. My husband and I are thinking we’re done having children (thinking of going through this experience again literally makes me sick to my stomach), but we’re young and don’t want to do any permeant methods of birth control incase we change our minds. I’ve handled hormonal birth control well in the past and I think the Mirena IUD will be a good fit for us– I’m 23, don’t smoke, and have no plans to have children in the near future. We considered ParaGard which can last up to 10 years, (Mirena lasts up to 7), but I think we’re leaning to the Mirena. I’ll fill you in on how that goes later.

12.1.14

12.1.14

Advertisements
0

His unexpected birth story…

My husband's emotion in this situation says everything.

My husband’s emotion in this situation says everything.

My baby was born on October 25th, 2014 at 7:53 pm 6 weeks premature, and weighed 5 pounds 7 ounces and was 18.75 inches long.

Our birth story actually starts on October 15th, 2014. At nearly midnight exactly on that Wednesday morning I woke up with the very sudden urge to pee. I remember as I was scooting myself out of bed that I felt like I was going to pee the bed, but luckily I got out of bed before that happened. I rushed to the bathroom and was mortified to learn that I needed to change my pants. I changed my pants and was making my way back to bed when the sensation hit again! I knew this couldn’t just be pee.

I took a few seconds to let that realization sink in, and then I woke C to the news my water had broken at 32 weeks and 4 days. He jumped straight out of bed and started getting ready—I was not as composed. I wanted to talk to whoever was on call that night to let them know I was coming in, but after not being able to find that information I called labor and delivery and informed them we were on our way. Then I panicked about not having a hospital bag, the fact that I was losing so much fluid and getting it all over my pants, and the fact that my baby was just too small to come into this world. C was my rock, and he managed to talk me down. We were on our way!

The fog was so thick outside that we couldn’t see more than a few feet ahead of ourselves, so despite his desire to rush C couldn’t. While I wasn’t having contractions just yet, I called and started updating our parents, and both of our moms planned on meeting us at the hospital. Then  I started having very mild contractions every 2-5 minutes, which made the fact that C had to stop for gas that much more ‘exciting’. Luckily they remained very mild, and we made it to the hospital around 2am.

I was embarrassed that my pants were soaked, because it’s not like everyone else knew my water broke. C said, “You could be missing an arm, and be worried about a paper cut!”. I wrapped the towel that I had sat on during the ride (that was practically saturated with fluid) around my waist and we made our way into the hospital. The security guard asked us if we knew where we were going, and C started to tell him my water broke, and he responded, “Oh I know where you’re going, but do you know where your going?” He told us how to get to labor and delivery and up we went.

Upstairs I was immediately put into a room and suddenly it got very hectic. The hospital staff did a myriad of things to me: started an IV, double checked that my fluid was in fact amniotic and not urine, and hooked baby boy up to a heart rate monitor and a contraction monitor. Then Dr. H came into the room and checked my dilation, which was just 0-1cm, and he told us the plan: Short term goal was to give me steroid shots to mature baby’s lungs and make it 48 more hours before he came, and long term was he wanted to get us to 34 weeks. He ordered an ultrasound to see baby’s growth and we learned that baby was already measuring 4 pounds 10 ounces— 10 ounces over the 4 pounds the doctors wanted babies to be before they were were born.

Over the next 10 days I was given two steroid shots, started and weaned off of magnesium (to stop any contractions), given IV antibiotics to prevent infection, and baby boy was monitored with hour long NST 3 times a day. I was on bed rest, but I was allowed to get up to the bathroom and shower. C stayed by my side all 10 days and we had friends and family coming and going constantly. I had a very emotional time acknowledging that our son was going to the NICU after he was born. It was knowing that I wouldn’t get to hold him skin to skin, breast feed, or do any of the other things I hoped to do, but the staff at Baptist Health were wonderful at making us feel better and once I came to the realization that he was going to be okay my emotions got a lot easier to handle.

Then on Friday October 24th during our last NST baby C decided to give the nurses a scare by dropping his heart rate down into the 90’s for a minute or two, before coming back up. Up until this point his NST had always been beautiful and even compared to that of a full term baby. At that point the doctor on call said we should go ahead and move from antepartum to labor and delivery just so we could be monitored more closely and if anything was going to happen then that was were we needed to be. I was given a low dose of pitocin (a drug that starts contractions) because the next day we planned on inducing and he hoped that by giving me this low dose over night that it would make my body respond better to the pitocin in the morning.

That night I tried to rest as best I could, but knowing I was going to meet my baby the next day made sleep nearly impossible. Finally at 7am the next morning I was informed we were going on pitocin protocol which says that they will up my dose of pitocin every 30 minutes until my contractions were at a stable pattern.

By 9:30 am I was up to 12 on the pit, and was having regular (but not painful) contractions. Both of our mom’s were on their way. 11am I was up to a 16 and I was starting to feeling pain in my back and some mild discomfort with contractions. Around 11:30am we learned that the contractions are now at a stable pattern of every 2-3 minutes, but they needed to be stronger.

At 1 o’clock the contractions were more intense and I needed to breathe through them. My nurse advised me not to wait until my contractions were ‘white knuckling’ before I asked for the epidural. I was embarrassed asking for it so early because I thought I should be able to handle them better, but I did ask for the epidural. Unfortunately after learning I was only 1-2cm dilated the doctor said I could not have it until I dilated more because he didn’t want me to increase my risk for c-section. Within the hour the pitocin caught up with me and the contractions went from being painful to very, very intense.

Unfortunately I didn’t get to take a birthing class so I had no idea how to breathe through the contractions, and I wasn’t managing them very well. On top of that baby boy was moving around a lot and they kept having to find his heart rate, which meant that the nurse was pushing on my stomach during contractions to find it. I was put on my side, and was half leaning out of the bed, squeezing C’s hand and trying to breathe through them. He was such a champ and offered all the support he could to get me through them.

I kept saying they were coming too close together, but my TOCO wasn’t registering the contractions. So around 2pm the doctor decided to put in an IUP, which is a catheter that is inserted into the uterus along baby’s back, and it registers contractions and their intensity. He waited for my contraction to stop and tried to insert it, but I had another contraction right on top of it and I went from moaning to screaming from the pain. He stopped trying to insert it and waited for it to end, and as soon as it did he quickly inserted the catheter. C tells me that I didn’t even flinch when he inserted it when I wasn’t having a contraction. The doctor then informed me that I was 3-4 cm dilated and could have my epidural.

The nurse had give me two full bags of fluids before I could get the epidural so C and I went back to trying to breathe through contractions coming every 30 seconds to 2 minutes and registered very, very intense thanks to the IUP. I look back and honestly don’t know how we managed to get through them. In between them I was so exhausted I couldn’t even open my eyes. Once I did try ice in-between contractions because my mouth was so dry, but when I didn’t get the ice chewed before one started and I couldn’t find my ‘zone’ before the peak— I didn’t get ice anymore. If I didn’t focus and try to breathe I had this feeling like I was literally not going to survive the contraction.

Finally around 3pm the doctor who was giving me the epidural came in. My nurse helped me sit on the side of the bed, and squeeze her scrubs during contractions. I didn’t have a hard time staying still, but during contractions my whole body would shake slightly but he didn’t seem to mind. I didn’t feel any pain during the insertion of the epidural, and I called the doctor a magic man!  When they laid me back in bed we learned I had lost my bloody show, which meant progress was being made! C came back into the room at this time.

I only had one more extremely painful contraction after the epidural, and after that contraction all I felt was this super intense pressure: It felt like I had to both pee and have a bowel movement and I was terrified that I was going to pee the bed. When I told the nurse this she said that was normal, and that the epidural takes away the pain but not the pressure. I remember thinking that he must be crowning to be feeling so much pressure!

A nurse checked me around 3:15 pm and I was 5-6cm. So in roughly 2 hours I dilated from 1-2cm to 5-6cm. It was after this cervical check that things got scary! I went into tachysystole (which is where my contractions were coming on top of each other with no break in between— which is why I felt like he was crowning from the presssure), baby boy’s heart rate dropped, and my blood pressure plummeted— suddenly our room got very full. I put on my side, had an oxygen mask oxygen placed on my face, the pitocin was stopped, I was given an injection to stop my contractions, and I was given meds to raise my blood pressure. Despite how fast everything happened the nurses and the doctor were very calm in the room. In fact it didn’t register until a few minutes later that something very scary had happened.

They started us back on the pitocin at a half dose (I was on 18, so now I was 8, because they don’t do odd numbers with pit). At this point I was feeling no more pain whatsoever, and even the pressure was negligible, but I could still feel it. She did have to keep coming into the room every once in awhile to turn me side to side because she didn’t like his heart rate. At 6pm she told us that she couldn’t raise the pitocin every 30 minutes because baby boy wasn’t handling the contractions well, and my contractions were not ‘adequate’ on the monitor. They were regular, but not strong enough.

C and I started to prepare ourselves for a c-section. Then at 7:00pm my favorite nurse that we had in antepartum comes in to take over! She checks my cervix and we learn that I am fully dilated. The amazing thing is she was coming in to give us information on a c-section because until we learned I was fully dilated they were really beginning to think I was going to need it. My mom came back in at this point and we told her we were going to start pushing, and she went to grab C’s mom who was hanging out in the waiting room with C’s grandma, and his two aunts. She told us that when my mom came to get her they were joking that C’s grandma had the ‘mojo’ to send people into the labor and she had raised her hands and said, “Have that baby, A!”

My favorite nurse was ‘coaching’ my pushing, and I asked C to count for me. I was determined to push this baby out! Then Dr. H (the same doctor who I saw when I was first admitted, and who started me on low dose pit the night before) was the one who was taking over. He sat at the foot of the bed and examined me. He told me that this was going to be easy. He had my mom hold one leg, C hold the other, and he told me to push while he felt for the pressure. He used mineral oil to help my body stretch, and kept his finger under our son’s head so he could tell me when I was having a contraction— but he didn’t need to tell me. I could feel the pressure. I had the perfect epidural!

He told me my pushing was fantastic, and I needed to keep it up and push with ‘controlled rage’— I did just that. At some point he told C to look down and see his boy. C saw his head and his eyes watered with tears. I gave another push and my mom started crying and saying, “There he is!” He told me stop pushing, and he told me to reach down here and watch my son be born. One more push and he was out at 7:53pm. I only pushed for about 30 minutes.

He came out screaming (APGAR scores of 8/8), so the doctor placed him on my belly, and I held him there while C cut the cord. I was crying and thanking the doctor! The NICU team was waiting on the baby, but before they took him back to the unit and because he was doing so well they brought him over for me to hold. I cried and said thank you, because I didn’t think I would get a chance to hold him before they they took him to NICU. I only had a stage 2 laceration that needed two stitches, and everything seemed to be going perfectly. I was thinking we could actually take our baby home sooner than we thought.

Unfortunately we learned that night that he was going to need surgery to repair a tracheoesophageal fistula, and was being transferred to another hospital. No one could tell us how severe his was, or what the prognosis was. We were both so sick with worry, and it was a crazy crash from being so excited to have our son look so healthy to learn that he was a lot sicker than anyone had anticipated. The next few weeks would be the hardest weeks in our lives.

Read more about the first few days here.

1

I’m human, and I need to vent…

Our first family picture taken on 10/27/14. I love our family, and can't wait to be holding my son in our next family picture. <3

Our first family picture taken on 10/27/14. I love our family, and can’t wait to be holding my son in our next family picture. ❤

I know that in some people’s eyes I am too young (at age 23) to be married, and really too young to have a child, but I did not rush this. I dated my now husband for 5 years before we got married. I graduated college and I am a registered nurse, so I’ve got a career that I even plan to further by obtaining my doctorate degree and be a midwife. My husband and I own our home, own our cars, and made the conscious effort to try to conceive a child.

So why is it that when we did everything ‘right’ (except our age apparently) that we have a sick baby we can’t help, and have to step back and let the slew of surgeons, neonatologists, nurses, and PA’s care for him?

I see babies in the NICU and hear their mother talking about how much she smoked while she was pregnant– and she is curious why her placenta was insufficient? I hear the babies addicted to drugs crying in the next nursery, and I hate their mothers for what they did to them. I know others who ‘accidentally’ got pregnant and they are given a perfectly healthy baby, and they complain constantly about how tired they are, and how fussy their baby is– they don’t know how lucky they are. All of this makes me embarrassingly bitter. All my husband and I can do is sit by his bedside, lay our hands next to him, and hope he feels our presence.

We waited till I was nearly done with school, were married, owned our home, were financially stable and ready, and our baby is so sick and there was nothing we could have done to prevent it or help him. I abstained from all caffeine, didn’t even take tylenol for my aches and pains, read all of the books, and took any advice someone would give– and my baby is on a ventilator with two chest tubes, and I’ve only got to hold him 3 times in his 5 days of life. No skin to skin, no late night diaper changes, no waking up in the middle of the night to nurse. Just a piece of advice: don’t tell a mother who has a baby in the NICU that she’s lucky, because she doesn’t have to get up every couple of hours with a crying baby. Are you kidding me!?

On top of all of this– I come to find out that I have IGT (insufficient glandular tissue) and I may be one of the women in the 5% of all women who physically can not breastfeed. Breastfeeding is something I feel so passionately about, even before I knew I was going to have a sick baby. It’s something that is even more important because it is what is best for babies, and he’s in the NICU– he could use anything possible to give him a boost and my body might not be able to do that for him? I can’t express in words the guilt I feel for this. I know that biologically speaking I did not give my baby his TE-Fistula, but that doesn’t mean I don’t feel guilt over it, but I’m a woman and I should be able to give him this part of me and I’m failing.

I’ve met with several lactation consultants, I’m pumping around the clock; every 2 hours during the day and every 3 hours at night, I’m taking fenugreek & blessed thistle (herbal supplements to increase milk supply), I’m drinking mothers milk tea, I’m using hand expression, warm compresses on my chest, and I’m looking at his pictures and thinking of him while I pump. I’m eating high fiber foods, drinking tons of water– and after all of this, and 5 days postpartum I’m producing drops– Drops that are so small I can’t even suck them into a syringe. I was told to keep trying for 10 days, and after 10 days if nothing changes that I should stop– because my body, my stupid broken body, can’t produce the only thing I can possibly give to my son in his time of need.

I feel so much guilt, and I get bitter when I think about all of this too much– but then I remember that my son is going to be okay. He isn’t going to resent my inability to breastfeed, he is going to leave the NICU one day, and I’ll get my skin to skin, late night diaper changes, and waking up in the middle of the night to nourish him (bottle or breast). I remember that his prognosis could have been so much worse, and he is truly lucky to be where he is now. We are lucky to have a  brilliant medical team watching him closely, and keeping him healthy through his recovery process. We have a beautiful son, a strong baby boy– and one day all of this misery will be a distant memory. For now– I’m only human and despite knowing that the negative emotions I feel aren’t helping anyone, they peek out every once in awhile. I’m getting better at realizing faster how useless they are.

6

The first few days with a baby in the NICU, and discovering he has a tracheoesophageal fistula…

The first few days!

My son was born on October 25th, 2014 at 7:53 pm at 34 weeks gestation after a premature rupture of membranes at 32 weeks and 4 days. He came into this world screaming, and so healthy looking that we were shocked to learn he had a tracheoesophageal fistula. Before I share his birth story I need to share what happened after.

Shortly after he was born he was taken to the NICU. Knowing he was 6 week premature the two biggest things we were worried about were his breathing, and his ability to suck and breathe at the same time. Babies typically don’t start to develop that ability until they are 35-36 weeks in utero, and he was born at 34 weeks. To combat this they needed to put a tube into his nose and down to his stomach to administer his feedings until they could determine how he would do.

The neonatologist came to talk to us to have us sign his ‘permission slip’ for the NICU, and she said that upon evaluation the only thing she saw so far was that he had a limp thumb, and she didn’t know how much function he was going to have out of it. It was such a minor thing that she wasn’t even going to worry about it until right before he was ready to go home, or even after he went home. We were relieved.

Then she asked about my pregnancy and I mentioned that right before my water broke my stomach had really POPPED in the two weeks prior. I said that judging from the copious amount of fluid I lost, and how much fluid I still had on my ultrasounds, that I thought I had too much amniotic fluid. I had read online that there were several things to cause this, and I thought that what caused mine was my blood sugars. I just barely passed my blood glucose screening at 28 weeks with a 136 (140 is failing). I was surprised that she made note of it, because I had mentioned it every other doctor I had spoken with since being admitted to the hospital and every doctor shrugged their shoulders and didn’t seem to think anything of it.

As I was being transferred from labor and delivery to mother baby we stopped into the NICU so I could see my son. It was then that the pediatrician walked up to me and with sad eyes said, “Mama knew something wasn’t right.” My son was discovered to have a tracheoesophageal fistula, of which there are many different types and the severity of them vary greatly— what it basically means is his esophagus does not go from his mouth to his stomach, but rather forms a fistula to the trachea and there is a disconnect. To repair this requires surgery that only two hospitals in our state do— luckily for us one of them is right down the road. He was going to be transferred there tonight— but he wasn’t emergent and was otherwise stable.

As a nurse I remember learning about TE-Fistula’s in nursing school. However, all I remember learning was that these kids develop severe oral aversions and even at 5,6, or 7 years of age are still being fed by feeding tubes placed into the stomach (g-tubes). So my mind goes to the worst possible case and that dark place is where I stayed for much of the next 36 hours. I was terrified for my son.

The good news was that my son was otherwise doing very, very well. His lungs were perfect and his oxygen levels never dropped and he never needed assistance. His sucking reflex was developed, and did not result in any apnea episodes. He was able to maintain his temperature without much assistance. We honestly believed that had our son not developed a TE-Fistula he would not have needed an extended stay in the NICU and would have been home with us.

He was transferred to the other hospital 7 hours after his delivery, and I was discharged 18 hours after delivery with the promise to make a follow up appointment in 2-3 days. After being discharged my husband and I checked into an extended stay hotel that offered discounted rates for parents in our situation, and we went to the NICU. We were able to be with our son when he turned 24 hours old, and change his diaper and check his temperature. At this point no one could tell us at what kind of TE-Fistula he had and what the plan of care was was, so we made an appointment to be back to speak with his surgeon the next day.

We met with his surgeon he spent 45 minutes or more explaining everything and answering our questions. We learned then that baby boy has a esophageal atresia with a distal tracheoesophageal fistula— which means that he has a blind pouch at the end connected to his mouth, and the remaining of the esophagus is connected to the trachea. This is the most common and easiest to treat types. When we heard this it felt like an elephant had been lifted off our chests. He was also hopeful that he could repair this in one surgery, though he did warn us there were other things we may face in the future, but he was very optimistic about our potential outcome.

He went on to explain that with tracheoesophageal fistulas you are more prone to other abnormalities in certain other areas of the body, and there is the anagram VACTERL to help them look. V: vertebral A: anorectal C: cardiac T/E: tracheoesophageal fistula R: Renal L: limb. We learned all of the horrible things he was at risk for like not having developed an anus, or a whole slew of cardiac abnormalities, or malformed kidneys… Our son had only 3 letters from the VACTERL: T/E and L. Obviously he has a tracheoesophageal fistula, but for limb what he has is his left thumb has very small bones in it, and the doctors are not certain he will have much function out of it— which the neonatologist at the first hospital had already made note of.

A plastic surgeon met with us and he told us that he isn’t even going to look at it for another year. If he has some function out of it they will leave it be, and if not they may move his index finger down to his thumb spot so he will have an opposable appendage. It just is not something we are concerned about at this time. As it is they can’t really evaluate it until they see him use it. In a year when we might be facing another surgery it will be more pertinent, but for now we were thankful that was the only other issue he was facing.

After we learned all of this he informed us that our son’s surgery was booked for the next day (Tuesday October 28th) at 7:30am. We were so happy, scared, and excited at the same time. He told us that (assuming everything went text book) the plan was: After surgery he would have a chest tube in place, and he would still be intubated. They would keep him intubated for as long as he needed, because they have the ability to see how much he is breathing on his own over the machine. The chest tube would be closely monitored for 7-10 days for drainage and if there was no abnormal drainage they would preform a barium swallow study. This is a test where they use contrast to see what is swallowed and where it goes to make sure the connection is good. If that came back good they would then place a feeding tube and administer bolus tube feedings and make sure there still was no leakage at the sutures by monitoring the chest tube. If that looks good they would pull the chest tube, and then it would be a waiting game for recovery and getting him to feed and nurse. We are looking at a NICU stay of 2-4 weeks, but potentially longer.

After this amazing news, we updated our families and friends and then we did what we had been dying to do since he was born, which was spending time with him. We spent the evening with our son; changed his diaper, and just sat with him. We left around 11pm, and would be back at the hospital at 6 the next morning. Our journey is just beginning.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

6

Our induction date is set!

After hearing so many different things from so many different doctors we finally have a plan. We learned yesterday that they did in fact plan on inducing us at 34 weeks, but she didn’t give us an exact date– though we assumed it would be Saturday. Today I mentioned to my nurse that I was feeling a little uncomfortable with the lack of a definite plan, and I had some questions about inductions– so she had one of the doctors on my case come by to speak with us.

I really liked this doctor because she was very friendly and also agreed having a plan was good. So she went on to explain (just like many other doctors had) that 34 weeks was a good time to induce for a whole slew of reasons. She then went on to say that she had reserved us a spot on Saturday at 8am, assuming we were on board with this plan. Suddenly the birth of my son became very real to his super type A mama. haha.

I then asked about what method they were going to use to induce: prostaglandin, pitocin, foley cath, etc. She said that when they assessed me that morning they would see how my cervix looked and go from there, but she did say there were many different options. I expressed my concern that if he wasn’t ready to be born (too high and not engaged at all, etc) that I was at a greater risk for a cesarean section especially with something like pitocin. Unfortunately she confirmed my fear, but she also said that in most cases with a prolonged ruptured membrane the uterus is very ready to go into labor and deliver. She didn’t seemed concerned about it, which helped me feel more at ease.

The biggest disappointment is I expressed my hopes of having a natural labor and potentially laboring in the water, and unfortunately I can’t labor in the water because my risk for infection is already elevated– a fact I assumed, but wanted to ask anyway. She was open to my natural birth plan and said that there were birthing balls, and other tools at my disposal to help me achieve my natural birth. At this point every other aspect of my birth plan has already had to be ditched because of going into preterm labor, so I’m not too upset by this information. In fact it has really helped me come to terms with the fact that I really need to be flexible and do what is best for my baby– something that is very hard when you are so very (very, very) type A.

So now I’m excited, nervous, anxious, and so ready to meet my baby boy.

Just over 60 hour until we get this show on the road!

0

Week 32 & 33

How far along: Currently I’m 33 weeks and 3 days.

Total Weight Gain/Loss: I have no idea honestly. They didn’t take my weight when we were admitted to the hospital last week.

Maternity clothes: Currently I’m rocking the hospital gown with a nice comfortable robe. I think it’s fashionable!

Stretch marks: After my water originally broke I noticed how soft my belly felt and my stretch marks were no longer itchy or irritating. However! In the last two days my belly has started to feel a lot fuller (as my body continues to create amniotic fluid, and I’m not leaking all that much out). So now I’m back to having them itch.

Sleep: Sleeping in a hospital isn’t easy. it would be better if I could sleep on my side but every time I try that (which has been twice now) I always lose a lot of amniotic fluid. I guess laying on my side moves baby boy’s head from the hole he’s been plugging or something. At this point it’s hard to get comfortable because my poor bottom is so sore from sitting all day every day, but I’m still managing to get sleep!

Best moment last week: Despite our premature rupture of membranes– Our best moment has to be that we managed to keep baby boy inside until the steroids had a chance to do their thing so even if he didn’t make it to 34 weeks he has the most important scare taken care of. All things considered we could have been in a much harder place.

Movement: Oh yes. Always. Especially since I’ve been off of the magnesium drip.

Food cravings: Nothing specific. Both hubby and I have been snacking a lot because we get so bored. haha.

Gender: Bouncing bubbly baby BOY!

Labor signs: Other than my water being broke, not really. No consistent contractions or anything– Unless I’m up for a shower or something.

Pregnancy Symptoms: Gas pains have been really uncomfortable because I can’t get up to walk around and alleviate the trapped air. Thankfully my doctor prescribed some mylicon and it’s helped a bunch. Otherwise not much else: very minimal swelling, no heartburn, and no back pain.

Belly button: With a softer belly it has gotten deeper, but it’s still no where near as deep as it was.

What I miss: Walking around!

What I am looking forward to: Meeting our baby boy in less than a week!

Milestones: Made it through the steroid window, and made it out of 32 weeks.

3

Postable is an awesome website!

Today I was overwhelmed with gratitude for the loving support system we’ve had during our hospital stay. I’ve felt it since the night we got here, but today was an especially good day. A good friend of mine came for a visit and brought me a gift bag with a nice soft robe, slippers, and nice smelling lotion. Later we had another friend come by, and she brought by some premie clothes that her boss (a women who we’ve never even met) was nice enough to send for us!

I knew I wanted to send some thank you cards to everyone to show them how much their support means to us, but being confined to this room makes that hard! It’s not just a matter of getting to the store to pick out the cards, I would then have to write them out, address the envelopes, apply postage, and then mail them. So I thought to myself that there has to be a website that will do this for me!

A simple goggle search brought me to Postable.com. They have a huge selection of thank you cards (even some that were ‘baby themed’). They will both mail you packs of cards for you to write out and send, but they also will mail your cards for you with your custom typed messages inside!

Hubby and I had a great time picking out the cards, and writing our personalized thank you messages to everyone who has been so supportive to us during this difficult time. It felt good to cross that item off of our to-do list from the comfort of our hospital room.

They have more than just thank you cards. They have birth announcements, birthday cards, wedding invitations, Christmas cards etc. They have a seamless system for adding your address book– both for you if you already have people’s addresses, and if you need to get them they provide a link for them to add their own address in for you. Also, they are very reasonable in price. They also don’t charge an arm and a leg for shipping– in fact they just charge for a standard postage stamp: 0.49 a card! I was also able able to scour the internet for a promo code and managed to get 20% off my order.

IMG_4750.PNG

I’m going to use them to mail our birth announcement and holiday cards in the future. It can’t get much easier than a website that does it all for you! I just know a lot of you all are getting close to your due dates, or maybe you’re thinking of your holiday cards– and I wanted to share the wealth.

Here is some information about them.
Here are their FAQ

0

Hospital: Day 4

I might stop doing the daily posts now that we seem to be playing the waiting game without a lot going on– But Day 4 was kind of where we got the set up for the next week of waiting so I thought I would do a quick update on day 4.

Yesterday they decided that they were going to completely discontinue my IV in the morning after another round of antibiotics. So I’m feeling so much freedom without being constantly hooked up to a beeping machine. The only things they are doing now an oral antibiotic once a day, continuous TOCO (contraction) monitoring, NST for an hour three times a day, temperature checks every 2 hours, and blood pressure checks every 4 hours– I’m even doing my own BP and temperature just because I’m bored and I am a nurse so I figure, why not? They don’t seem to mind. **I’m probably a really desirable patient because I don’t have a lot ‘going on’ that they need to be concerned about.The only other thing that might happen in addition to the current treatment plan is the nurse did say they will probably do another ultrasound sometime this week to see how my fluid level is and to see how he’s growing– but I won’t know more about that until our doctor rounds tomorrow morning.

I’m not leaking that much fluid anymore. Really, I’m only leaking a little bit and it’s infrequent– usually after I go to the bathroom and whatnot. The fluid is still clear and has no smell– so they aren’t worried about infection or meconium (if the baby gets stressed he can pass his first bowel movement– and that is a concern). Occasionally I’ll lose a moderate amount, but so far no one seems concerned with it– especially because my fluid level was so good at my last ultrasound and your body continues to create amniotic fluid. I’ve not had any blood or mucous plug loss either. So the signs are pointing to a content baby who may very well gestate to 34 weeks (and maybe beyond!).

I’m not having contractions regularly– maybe 1-2 an hour and they are not painful. I do notice when I get in the shower or I’m up for a few minutes that I’ll have several more than normal, so they obviously want to keep me on bed rest, but that’s about it. I’m getting different opinions on if they think they will give me something to stop contractions if they were to start– I’ve heard it both ways: some say they will just let me go into labor, and some say they will try to stop it. I guess we’ll have to wait and see if that were to happen.

On a positive note everyone is super impressed with our NST and his heart rate fluctuations. The nurse tonight showed me his strip compared to another strip (the other strip was still fine, but you could see a lot more variability in his). She said he looks like a full term baby on the strip. He’s been such a happier baby since the magnesium was stopped– He’s moving constantly and I love it. Also, I haven’t had anymore emotional episodes like I did the first few days here. I’m finally able to get some sleep, and I’m feeling so much more confident now that we’ve made it to 33 weeks and the steroids have had a chance to do their thing.

Overall– all things considered we are doing great here. Obviously it’s not ideal to have a premature rupture of membranes, but we got very lucky with how things have been progressing and I couldn’t ask for more given our situation. I’m also very lucky that my husband is self employed and is able to stay with me around the clock. He hasn’t left me once except to run to a store, and even then he only left because his mom was here to keep me company. We’re also very lucky that our hospital is in the town we just moved out of– and we’ve got tons of friends who live nearby and have been so wonderful about checking in on us and picking things up for us if we needed anything. We’re also so (so, so, so) grateful that his mom is retired and is able to keep an eye on our dog back home– We miss our fur child!

So for now, I’m gonna stop with the daily updates. If anything changes or something exciting happens I’ll try to update.

 

2

Hospital: Day 3

Another uneventful day ‘labor’ wise, but a pretty eventful day in the sense that several things happened.

This morning my doctor rounded and she said the plan is still to just stay here– I’ve got 5 days of IV antibiotics ordered and I’ve only had 3 days worth– so I don’t know if her plan will change once that happens. From what I understood if I go into labor at this point they are just going to let me labor and give birth (assuming our boy is not in distress, obviously), and if I don’t go into labor by the time I reach 34 weeks then they will induce me– but none of that has been said in exactly those words. So we’ll see what happens. Decisions are being made as my case develops.

She also decided to discontinue to the magnesium drip completely, but unlike what the other nurses thought– she did not decide to give me anything orally to stop contractions. She may or may not add something for me to take if I go into labor– they will call her if I was to begin having regular contractions and get an order.

So right away this morning they lowered my drip from 2g/hour to 1g/hour around 0900, and then at 1400 they turned off the drip completely. Hallelujah– The hot flashes stopped, my legs actually feel like legs, and all is right with the world! I even got a shower because the only fluids I have running into my IV right now is my antibiotics every four hours and maintenance fluids, so they were able to saline lock my IV.

They also reduced my blood pressure checks from hourly to every four hours, and increased my temperature checks to every 2 hours So far all of my numbers have been good. I’ve had very few, irregular, non painful contractions since the magnesium has been stopped and that’s about it. I’m actually feeling more ‘crampy’ but I can’t decide if that feeling is gas or what– I’m on continuous contraction monitoring and it’s not picking up very much– so we’ll see.

My leaking amniotic fluid has also decreased significantly (minus a small episode where I was moving around a bit more than usual– which resulted in a fairly large amount to come out, but my nurse was able to document it.). I’m still having small little ‘bursts’ when I sit back down in the bed after I’ve been up to pee, but that’s about it.

Physically my bum is a little sore from being on bed rest, and I’ve got some uncomfortable gas pains I can’t alleviate because I can’t get up and walk around to ‘free’ the trapped air. — But I’m doing good, baby is doing good, and we’re just playing the waiting game right now.

Emotionally– I had about 2 hours today where I was very down in the dumps, crying frequently, and could not seem to get handle on my emotions.Then my nurse walked in and she said that sometimes you just need a healthy cry, and you’ll feel better. Sure enough after I managed to calm down I’ve been fine ever since.

It was the most bizarre feeling in the world because I knew I didn’t really have a reason to be crying, but I couldn’t stop. It was like I was witnessing a car accident unfold, but I was stranded on the side of the road unable to stop it. I could logically say that I needed to calm down, everything was fine– but logic had no place in my emotionally warped reality.

It helps that we had several people stop by to see us today, and they raised my spirits.  My nurse also made sure to ask me if I wanted a visit from the therapy dog who was on the unit– and that was another very bright part of my day. I miss our dog so badly, and while this dog is obviously not my dog– it felt good to say hi to a fur child. Overall– once I got past my little emotional episode, today was a very good day.

Also– our hospital room has been very hot and uncomfortable (for me especially while I was on the magnesium drip) and my nurse insisted we call someone to take a look at it. She was concerned because I was sweating profusely and she was already monitoring my temperature closely for my potential to develop a fever. I just figured everyone’s rooms were like this and I just needed to suck it up– but I just so miserable sitting in bed (basically in a puddle of my own sweat) that I finally conceded to having her call someone.

Sure enough our air was working, but it wasn’t blowing the way it should. 10 minutes later I made best friends with the maintenance man and our room is finally comfortable!! I feel like I’ll actually get some sleep tonight.

Day 3 comes to a close, and what tomorrow holds I have no idea.

 

 

0

Hospital: Day 2

Today has been pretty uneventful, which is what we were hoping for.

I officially have been given both doses of the steroid to mature baby’s lungs, and soon we will reach our short term goal– Then we will focus on keeping him in the oven until October 25th.

I also had the joy of a shower today. My day shift nurse said I could take a shower, but we couldn’t stop the magnesium drip so they put a long clear glove on my arm, and I took the most awkward shower of my life– but it felt amazing. I was trying hard not to get my arm wet even though it was in the glove– and even with my dominate arm free– washing my hair and body sitting in a chair was hard work. Next time I’ll hopefully have both hands (*They may discontinue my magnesium drip), but I will absolutely have my hubby help me more.

Before I talk more about the day I have to spend a moment singing the praises of my husband. He has been absolutely amazing throughout this entire thing. He has handed me things that were out of reach, helped me to the bathroom with my moon shining when the magnesium made my legs feel weak, and never complained. *They don’t want me to wear underwear for fear of an increase in risk of infection. He’s been such a strong person for me to lean on during this, and it really makes me appreciate how wonderful he is.

I should also say I have developed quite a bad bit of hospital blues. I find myself tearing up and crying frequently– when I see someone post a picture of their baby on Facebook, or see a link to an interesting article about breastfeeding on Pinterest, or when I think about the fact that I’ve got his diaper bag here full of clothes I know will swallow him whole. I can’t stop feeling sad at what my son is going to have to go through when he’s born. Then I feel bad because I know that there are women struggling with preterm labor of micro premies and their battle is so much more intense than mine– so why am I upset, when the odds are in my favor of a healthy baby? It’s been an emotional roller coaster. I think part of it is I haven’t slept more than 60 minutes at a time since I got here, and that is weighing heavily on me too, My husband has been very understanding, encouraging, and I love him so deeply for everything he’s done. He’s also scared, but he’s finding the patience and empathy to deal with my emotions.

Now, back to medical stuff– I was told that after my doctor comes in the morning one of three things will happen: They will discontinue my magnesium drip for an oral medication, they will drop my magnesium dosage from 2g/hour to 1g/hour, or they will leave it as it is. The reason for this is 48 hours after the steroid injection has been given we are in the golden window for his lung development and magnesium isn’t shown to be effective long term. So I’m kind of looking forward to maybe stopping this magnesium drip.– both because of the symptoms and because of the frequent BP and reflex checks the nurses need to do. Despite the fact I’m tolerating it better than most women, it is not my favorite thing– weak legs, light headedness, and hot flashes are no fun.

I did get my flu shot, and hubby is going to the store tomorrow and plans to get his while he is out. I also have really enjoyed the heart rate monitoring that happens 3 times a day. For an entire hour we get to listen to his glorious heartbeat and be reminded that despite all of this— he’s doing just fine and he is obviously worth all of this!

Here we go into day 3! We have some visitors stopping by today so I might put on a little makeup and take some pictures. In a weird way this is his birth story, and I want to remember all of it. I’m also hoping we continue to have uneventful days where all we are doing is buying our baby boy some time in the best place for him.