Sunday, August 19, 2012

Life in the NICU: Part 2

In response to my previous commenters, I am 100% grateful for very capable doctors and nurses who made sure my baby was ok.  I feel so blessed to have had them and even though it was so hard for me, would not have wanted Lincolnto have come home a second earlier than it was save for him to do.  This is just a record of how I felt throughout my experience.

So after being told he had to go back in the heat for 2 to 5 days we really didn't know what to do.  I really couldn't live at the hospital anymore and we certainly didn't want to drive back and forth to Idaho Falls every day or a couple times a day.  It was then that the doctor finally mentioned the possibility of transferring him to Rexburg and something about the hospital paying the transfer costs! Could that really be true?

The doctor didn't want to get our hopes up because they usually only did it if the patient would be staying for at least a week more and Lincoln might not need to stay that long.  But he said he'd contact them and do what he could.  This was day 5 in Idaho Falls and even that long was hard to manage when your home is a half hour away.

Meanwhile the social worker/insurance lady came by to talk to us about the financial side of things and what our insurance will and will not cover.  As hard as it was to add financial stress I'm so glad we knew where we stood.  In my opinion it's always better to know than wonder.  She told us there was no way our insurance would pay for a transfer because it was not medically needed.  So we really needed to make a decision without getting our hopes up.  I told her I would talk to Doug about it.

The next thing I knew she was calling me, with this sweet cheerful voice, saying the other hospital will pay!  I was so relieved I just broke down crying.  This was an amazingly huge blessing.  They had already dispatched the ambulance and he would be transferred within a few hours.  Doug was home teaching lessons, so my mom came to pick me up!  We were so happy in the midst of everything bad there had been so much good!  And I think this good news gave me what I needed to get through another few days in the incubator.

The next thing I knew we were at the new hospital settling into a new routine, space, doctor, and nurses.  I was able to come when I needed to do feedings and be home for meals and sleeping.  It felt like heaven to be in my own bed!  But it was still so heartbreaking leaving Lincoln in the hospital over and over.

Still on Day 5, when we arrived they asked about the feeding tube he had in.  I proceeded to tell them about one nurse who insisted on having the feeding tube.  That she had to know how much Lincoln was eating and that I couldn't just trust he was getting enough with nursing.  It was this same nurse who didn't notice his IV had blown in is little arm and tried IVs in both feet and blew one in his head befor finally getting one to take in his head.  It was so traumatizing for us! Luckily I was not there a this all took place, but Doug was.  then once she got the IV in place she put the feeding tube down and did a gavage feeding but was too impatient to wait and just shoved the food through the tube.  This resulted in Lincoln vomiting it all up just seconds after she did it.  Oh my poor baby!  It is a good thing I wasn't there!!  I think they would've had another patient on their hands!  Needless to say we did not see that nurse gain after talking with a supervising nusre.

Anyways, it was the one and only time he used the feeding tube, and we really didn't think he needed it.  All he did was pull on it.  The doctor didn't see a real need in it either so the first order of business was to pull that sucker out!  It has got to be so nice to have something 

Days 5-8 consisted of incubator time, feedings, kangaroo care, and sponge baths.  I think my favorite thing was going in feeding then closing the curtains, dimming the lights and cuddling my little guy skin to skin for a whole hour!   They had a great reclining camp chair thingy from cabelas and it aw some of the best nap time I got!  Lincoln was so tiny he hardly needed to be held.  He would just cuddle up in a ball with his little hand resting on mine or Dougs chest.  Such sweet time that I would probably have missed out on at home.  It was so special and peaceful. for both of us.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Life in the NICU: Part 1

You never expect your child to be in the NICU, and you certainly hope that if they are there, they won't have to stay long. Here are the ups and downs we experienced with Lincoln in the NICU for 13 days.

 For some reason it never crossed my mind that I should be worried for our little guy. When my water broke I didn't once think that anything would be wrong or what a 34 weeker could have problems with. I guess I was just a little naive, braindead,unrealistic....uneducated? I don't know what to call it haha. But I really didn't think to expect anything bad. (I suppose that was a wonderful blessing so I could focus on getting our baby here as relaxed and quickly as possible. If I had been freaking out about how he would be once he got here...well I'm not sure things would've went so well.)

 When the Nurse Practicioner asked me whether I'd like to speak with the pediatricians or the neonatologist I was kind of taken aback. She told us that he would definitely be taken to the NICU and that we had the option to choose who would see our baby. Even then I was kind of in denial that he would need to be there but of course we wanted the best for our baby so let's go with the neonatologist. The neonatologist came to talk to us and even as she was telling us all that we should expect and things that could go wrong I didn't feel any trepidation. I'm so thankful for the spirit and it's guidance in my feelings through this all. I'm not sure how Doug was feeling, but as I think back on it I should have been freaked out!

 When little Lincoln was born he was whisked away very quickly and the next time I saw him he was hooked up to all kinds of monitors and sitting in an incubator. Even so he looked so perfect. The nurses who took care of him were so impressed with the little guy.  He was doing so well they seemed very surprised and of course optimistic.  Here's a little warning for those who have NICU experience n the future.  Ask everyone to be as realistic as possible.  Even downright pessimistic! In my experience being pleasantly surprised its time for you to take your baby home is waaaaay better than the alternative, which is what we experienced.
From the beginning I feel they were too optimistic, too misleading, getting our hopes way too high.  The nurse practitioner was saying things like, "As long as his blood cultures come back fine, you're out of here.  In like 4 days and that's amazing for a 34 weeker!".   That is where I started expecting things.  Where I began putting so much weight on the 'So when do you think he'll go home ' answer.
Looking back, that was the most horrible thing the nurses and doctors could have done for me.  5 times I was told a date he would be out of there.  5 times I was told sorry, not yet. 5 times my heart felt like it was being ripped out because I was leaving the hospital once again without my precious baby.  It was truly the most terrible thing I have ever experienced.
But I must also look for all of the wonderful blessings along the way!  Lincoln  seriously was doing amazing and gave them every reason to be optimistic.  While we were at EIRMC we made the walk every 3 hours to feed him.  He was soo soo good about nursing right from the beginning.  Most 34 weekers or even NICU babies never establish nursing.  By day three the only thing we were waiting for was a good result on his blood cultures.  That means there wasnt a single thing wrong with him at that point.
Well the blood cultures came back looking great, but wouldn't you know it, the jaundice hit hard right before we got the results.  So into the uv lights he went.  Lincon sure rocked those sunshades :) He had a wonderful time hanging out in the lighs for two days.  At the end of day 4 his bilirubin levels were dramatically decreased and he came out of the lights.  I was living at the hospital at this point, while Doug and my mom were back and forth from Rxburg to Idaho Falls.  I just couldn't go home without Lincoln!
Wouldntyou know it!  After spending so much time under the eat of the lights our little guy got a little lazy and stopped regulating his own temperature.  I was devastated at this 2nd time of being told he wouldn't be going home but that he would need to go back in the incubator for anywhere from 2 to 5 days!  It was then that I felt I had reached my breaking point!  Could we really stand even one more day?