Monday, January 23, 2012

7 days (aka, our adventures in the NICU)

Our first picture as a family of 5.

I thought it would be good to document our hospital experience. Rosebud was technically a NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) baby, even though she never spent more than a few minutes at a time in the actual NICU room (and only with one of us along to "supervise"). We joked that she was the most ridiculously healthy NICU baby ever, and everyone agreed -- the only reason she was admitted there was because she had an indwelling IV catheter for her antibiotic treatments. But it did mean that she couldn't leave the birthing center at all until she was done with all of her medications. Which, given that I was discharged on day 3, presented a few challenges.

Day 1: Rosebud's birthday was a very long day that started with her birth at 4:51 am. She was only with me for about 10 minutes after birth until she was whisked away (with The Map Man in tow) to the NICU for testing and treatment. When she returned after all the poking and prodding and trauma, she slept until I woke her up at mid-morning to make sure she had a good feeding (she'd only had a couple sips from me right after birth). Fortunately, she was a very good feeder right from the start, and never gave us any reason for concern there. Later that morning, the boys came for their first visit, along with Laurel and her girls. They all had a turn or two holding her and gave her birth gifts. Then in the afternoon, I got to take a shower (HEAVEN!!!) and The Map Man's parents came to visit and fuss over her. At this point, we still thought the antibiotics were just a preventative, and would be discontinued when all the lab results came back, and we expected to go home on Sunday morning.

Day 2: Mimi, Aunty H and cousin K came to visit in the morning, and while they were there we received the news that Rosebud's lab work was showing unexpected results and there was a possibility that she might need to stay, although the details were still unclear. The boys came back for another visit, too, and got to sleep at home that night with The Map Man. Uncle Jeff came to stay the night with us at the hospital, and we all cheered on the Patriots to their victory over the Broncos. This was my last "official" night in the hospital.

Day 3: This morning the weekend Neonatalogist came in and sat down for a chat with us. He explained what the lab results did and didn't mean, and explained that since the infection was in the umbilical cord as well as in the placenta, chances were really good that Rosebud was also affected. I pointed out that the blood culture was negative, but he said that it could have been a false negative result due to the bag of antibiotics I was given during labor and delivery. While The Map Man and I strongly agreed that we wanted Rosebud to get the full dose of antibiotics to protect her, I was very upset at not knowing what this would mean in terms of my being able to be with her, care for her, and breastfeed her. I had a consultation with the lactation consultant to discuss options. Then I had my friend Laurel come over for a visit -- she spent several hours with me and basically talked me off the ledge and helped me adjust my viewpoint back to taking everything one moment at a time. We created a little wardrobe for Rosebud by cutting the arms off of a few tops on the side her catheter was in and decorating them with sharpie markers. My OB discharged me, but arranged for me to stay one more night in that room, something I was told I could take day by day as a "boarder" so long as there was room on the ward. The boys came for another visit before going to Laurel's for the night so that The Map Man could stay with me and Rosebud.

Day 4: We were awakened at 5 in the morning to the news that we had 2 hours to get out of our room. So much for day to day. Rosebud was due for an infusion at 6, so I grabbed a fast shower (the last I'd have until Thurs night) and went with her for her treatment while The Map Man cleared all of our belongings out of our room. Unfortunately, Rosebud's catheter was not functioning properly and needed to be replaced. So more torture for the poor little girl. Luckily this was the last day they needed to draw blood, so at least that part was done.

They parked us in a corner of the NICU for a bit, but then moved us out to the regular nursery when things got busy in the NICU. It was a relief -- it was warm and stuffy and crowded in the NICU itself, and there was really no reason we needed to be in there. It was much more comfortable in the nursery, and we took up residence in a couple of rocking chairs and waited to see what the day might bring. When the Neonatalogists did their rounds, we discussed her treatment and my intention of staying with her. They mentioned that there were several families in the same position, and Rosebud's nurse promised to fight for us to get a bed for the night, although there was only one available for all who wanted it. Later in the day, the Drs informed us that we would have the available room that night (which was Monday) and Wednesday night, but that another family would have a turn on Tuesday night. The room was pretty lousy, sort of a closet with a bed and sink, no toilet or shower or window, but it had a real bed, and when the boys came to visit that evening, they got to have some fun interaction with Rosebud. The Map Man brought the boys home for the night, and Rosebud and I got as much sleep as we could in the stinky little room, getting up every couple of hours to traipse across the hall to the NICU for her treatments.

Day 5: This was our "hospital hobo" day. Since we had no room for the night, we settled into our rocking chairs in the nursery and prepared to wait it out. I was quite resolute that I wasn't leaving the hospital. The Map Man was running out for meals for us, and I was making the best of the public restroom just outside of the Family Birthing Center. The boys spent the day with The Map Man's parents and the night with Laurel -- since we didn't have a place to be, they couldn't come to visit. When the night shift came on, Rosebud's nurse asked me what my plan was, and I told her this WAS the plan. So I spent the night sitting in the rocking chair, holding and feeding Rosebud, only leaving her to use the bathroom as needed. I sent The Map Man home to get some sleep around midnight since everyone seemed OK with me stubbornly sitting in my rocker. It made for a very long night, but we all survived it. An entire night in the nursery was certainly an eye-opening experience, and very confirming that I'd made the right decision to stay, and to always have one of us with Rosebud during treatments.

Day 6: The Map Man came back early with breakfast for me, but wound up having the throw it out because I was in the middle of the ordeal of trying to get another new catheter into Rosebud. First we had to pin her down and try to save the old catheter, which was very traumatizing for the poor little girl (and her poor old mother), then 5 different people tried to place a catheter but kept blowing her veins. Finally the Neonatalogist came in and place a catheter in a large vein in her leg. Which meant that it was less likely to blow and need replacing, but also meant that she could more acutely feel her IV treatments, which became very unpleasant for her. Poor little thing. Half way through the day we were told that we would not get to have the room we were promised for that night, which was a real bummer, but we figured we'd survived this far, we'd make it a bit farther. We rearranged childcare plans for the boys, then rearranged it again when suddenly we WERE able to get the room. The boys came for a short visit that evening, then went back to Laurel's for one more night so The Map Man could stay with us. We actually got quite a bit of sleep that night, as Rosebud shifted her schedule to sleep for two back-to-back 3 hour stretches.

Day 7: We woke up on the home stretch! After Rosebud's morning treatments we napped a bit more in our room until we had to check out at 11. Then we settled into the nursery to await her last treatment at 4pm and her discharge. As it got closer to 4, I became very antsy and found it impossible to sit still. I couldn't believe how physically ramped up I felt. Finally 4 came, and she got her last treatment, got her catheter removed, and we signed all the papers we needed to sign. The Map Man warmed up the van, and I carried her out of the Family Birthing Center at long last!

Home at last!!!! The boys fuss over their sister, they were as happy to get her home as The Map Man and I were.

We need to keep Rosebud away from others for a couple of weeks, since any fever that might start is going to be treated aggressively, so better to keep her away from other germs for a bit, just in case. We're watching her temperature to make sure it doesn't start going up, but otherwise we're just living our lives and loving our new little flower! We're looking forward to being able to take her out visiting and show her off a bit once we're done with our little "quarantine" period. But for now it's a whole lot of snuggling!


Mrs. Bacon said...

What a sweetie pie!
Congrats on being home. I understand the frustration of the hospital. Lets just say been there done that.
Blessed Be!

The Map Man said...

For those of you who know my wife personally, you already know that she’s a “Trooper”. And I use that term in the most complementary, positive sense imaginable. For those who don’t know her personally, you’ll just have to take my word for it and accept that there isn’t the slightest bit of exaggeration in that statement. She has always done whatever is best for our children, regardless of the circumstances, even if it required tremendous self-sacrifice. The birth of our daughter and subsequent care the following week (and the pregnancy prior, for that matter) is another perfect example of that commitment and may arguably be the most profound example to date. (Though there have been other significant challenges which she has met with boundless energy and love, as well).

So, I just wanted to say “Thank you!” and “I love you!” publically, so that your followers could maybe understand what a wonderful mother you are and how special a person you are (though I’m not sure that my words could ever be descriptive enough). These qualities are just a couple of the many reasons that I love you so much.

- The Map Man ***

Harvest Moon Farm said...

well, that made me cry....

I love you, babe!