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?


Chanell said...

Oh jess... when I look back on my birthing experience I keep telling Gary that I wish I had known less.. instead of being able to enjoy the blessing of having a child I was completely caught up in all the medical details (all of which I know all to well from working in the nursery).. I'm sure it was heartbreaking to have to leave him there.. and definitely not nice to hear he's going home only to find out he'd need a longer stay....and I know it may sound horrible or crazy, but in a lot of ways you are lucky that he was there... Jaundice can be such a serious thing... and so you're lucky that it showed up and was treated before you left.. the whole temp regulation is sad but what a disaster it could have been if you were already home... come on. what mom takes their kids temp regularly???
And for a 34 weeker... you are so blessed that he could nurse and that the nicu staff cooperated with letting you... it took over a month before b could nurse and he was 38 weeks... I don't want to discredit any of your frustrations cause they certainly are legit but I just want you to know that you're lucky things were resolved in the nicu and that you didn't go time only to find yourself back in the hospital in a peds unit

Sarah said...

We were also told a few more days. I was so thankful for the OT feeding specialist that told me 2 or 3 wks. It made it easier because the nurses kept giving me different answers. It is so hard leaving your baby every night. That is the worst.

Can't wait to hear more.