Wow! What a whirlwind the last few days have been!
Internet connection has been horrible here in the hospital. This is the first time I've been able to get on since Friday night after Matthew was born. I'm excited to be able to give you an update as I can tell by my visitor counter that you've all been curious. :)
Off and on last week after I was admitted, I continued to have breakthrough contractions despite the Procardia I was taking every 4 hours. The couple of times it happened, subq Terb quieted my uterus. Mid-morning Friday I started having more contractions that just felt like braxton-hicks. It was almost time for my Procardia, so my nurse waited to see if it would work. Around 1pm, I had a contraction accompanied by some pressure. It concerned me, but I thought I would wait and see if it happened again. A few minutes later, as I had more contractions, I had a bit of pain in my lower middle abdomen. The pain was not as bad as it was the previous Saturday that had us all concerned, but it was pain nonetheless. I told my nurse, who promptly called Dr. Joe.
I'm so glad I had the foresight NOT to eat the lunch on my tray or the ice cream Lori brought me...
Dr. Joe showed up in his street clothes and lab coat. (This is an important detail for later) He didn't even look at my strip...instead he just looked at me and said "It's time to get you down to L&D and start you on some Mag". I was not excited but knew it was the right thing to do. My nurse and I packed up my things and headed down.
I had a special friend with me from my bereavement committee who stayed with me and loved on me through the whole thing, even through delivery. She requested some Zofran from Dr. Joe so I wouldn't throw up while getting the medicine (I'm a terrible puker!), and before we started the Mag she let me jump in the shower to VERY QUICKLY get clean. I will be forever grateful for that act of kindness! THANKS K!
They started my bolus of Mag at 3pm. My contractions remained untouched. They started my maintenance dose and by 3:30 called Dr. Joe. I was banging out contractions every 3 minutes or so. They were becoming very painful for me, but not in the traditional sense of labor. By the time they wheeled me out for my c-section, I was holding abdomen with each one because it seriously felt like I was going to rip apart.
Dr. Joe came after being paged, and the first thing I noticed was that he was now wearing his scrubs with his lab coat. I said, "Ohhhh Dr. Joe, you changed your clothes". I knew he was planning to deliver at that point. Why else would he change into scrubs at 3:45 on a Friday afternoon???
He looked at my strip of contractions and said, "It's time to deliver this baby". My heart sank, but if I'm honest, I felt a bit of relief, too. So started the phone calls, texts and chaos. Gib was at home, 45 minutes away, and had to get the girls next door and ended up getting stuck in traffic. But he DID make it on time! I called my friend, Suzanne, to come back to the hospital as she had just recently left her shift at the hospital. I have to include this, though. She had called me earlier in the afternoon and told me she was showered and ready for a birthday party. I told her to HUSH...we were NOT having a birthday party that day. Boy, was I wrong! Dr. Joe's nurse, Nanci, came back to assist him with the c-section, my friend Lori was already working in NICU that day and it seemed all was set. We had to wait on the anesthesiologist to finish a case, so I didn't get wheeled into the OR until around 5:45pm.
It was very emotional in that OR. There were tears of joy this time, though, instead of tears of sorrow. The same OR tech was there who worked Grady's delivery. She remembered me and couldn't believe I was back. I was thankful she was there because apparently she cried as hard as everyone else when Grady was stillborn. Before he started the surgery, I asked Dr. Joe if he could still operate through my sobs. I knew when I heard Matthew cry I was going to lose it. Well, friends, I was crying long before I heard him. But his cry was such a beautiful sound to my ears...and my heart.
When they told me he weighed 6 lbs, 2 oz, I couldn't believe it. Just that morning, I'd had a BPP where Matthew scored 8/8 and she estimated him to weigh 5 lbs, 2 oz. I thought this strange since two weeks ago he'd been estimated at 5 lbs, 3 oz. But I attributed it to a different tech, u/s, etc. I'm glad he started at such a good size, though, as it will definitely work in his favor.
Dr. Joe had held him up over the drape for me, but Suzanne brought him to see me. I soaked up his soft skin and chubby cheeks for the few seconds I had with him. He started to look dusky so Suzanne handed him over to the NICU team and off he went.
They wheeled me to recovery.
To the same spot where I was with Grady. (I didn't ask if I was in the same OR, but it looked strangely familiar...)
I started crying and they insisted they wanted to move me. I wouldn't let them. In a way it made me feel like Grady was a part of his brother's delivery. It was confirmation and reassurance that he is always present in everything we do...including welcoming his baby brother into this world. That was the spot where I first saw and held Grady. Matthew had already gone to the NICU, but I was able to reflect on both experiences.
Both are equally special in my heart.
They wheeled me to NICU on my way to my room Friday night. I got to put my hand on Matthew and get a good look at him. I've seen him for three days now, and it's hard for me to believe he's here. It's hard to believe that he's ours. And it's hard to believe that he's alive.
He is doing really well. He was on CPAP, but they have switched him to a high-flow nasal cannula. They started feeding him through a tube yesterday, but I've only been able to produce a little colostrum. My milk hasn't come in yet, though today it's starting. I've been very frustrated with this because it came in very fast after Emma Grace was born. Today, I signed a consent for donor milk for the next two days because his gut needs to be every so slightly stimulated each day. Breast milk significantly reduces the risk of NEC and the donor milk is completely safe and pasteurized. It's only until my milk comes which I hope will be tomorrow or Wednesday at the latest.
He will have a scan of his brain Friday to check for a brain bleed. We continue to pray he does not have one and his scan will be clear. His chest x-ray looked better this morning. He lost weight which actually is a good thing for his lungs. This morning he weighed 5 lbs, 11 oz. Suzanne said she heard a heart murmur, but we would watch it and see if it clears up. His bilirubin level is up but not high enough for phototherapy for jaundice. He is on IV nutrition called Hyperal and is receiving lipids (fats) through his IV also. His blood cultures have all come back negative so his antibiotics have been stopped. He has had some episodes where he has significantly dropped his heart rate; they are concerning but not alarming. It's pretty common for preemies to do that. He's probably refluxing, but that will be closely watched also.
Emma Grace and Jessica met him Saturday morning. Jessica is absolutely and completely in love with him. Emma Grace loves him, too, but is still warming up to him. I think she's realizing her baby status has been taken away. Jessica would have stood at his bedside all day with her hand on his head and the other on his bottom. Lori showed her how to do that to comfort him and she didn't want to stop. Jessica, Emma Grace and Gib went down for his first poopy diaper on Saturday. I was in the middle of dealing with trapped air in my chest and drinking some concoction of milk, ginger ale and sugar. I know it sounds gross, but believe it or not, it worked...and I HATE ginger ale!
I got to hold Matthew for the first time this morning.
It was wonderful!
And wonderfully emotional.
Of course my heart leaped with joy, but I cried when Suzanne first put him in my arms.
I have only held two newborns since Grady. It was very surreal that I was holding MY newborn. And he is alive. The hormones have kicked in and with it the emotions. I am SO happy. So happy to have an alive baby. So proud of Matthew. But in so many ways, Matthew's birth has brought about grief for Grady again. I would be lying if I said my tears were all happy tears. We've all called Matthew Grady the last few days, some of us more than once. As I was filling out the papers for NICU visitation, there were two columns. One for brothers and one for sister. I cried as I left the brothers column blank.
Suzanne worked last night and sat at Matthew's bedside with me until midnight. She let me cry and talk. She validated my feelings and didn't tell me to just "be happy". She said, "When you feel sad, remember the happy things". There are lots of happy things to reflect on amidst the sadness. Happy and sad CAN co-exist. I so appreciated that because I don't feel that any of what I'm experiencing emotionally is abnormal. Those of you who've been there can probably relate all too well.
I am coming home tomorrow. It's very bittersweet for me. I am looking forward to being home with Gib and the girls, but it's going to break my heart to leave Matthew here. This will be the third time I've left this hospital without a baby in my arms. But at least we have a baby to come visit and eventually take home this time. The next few weeks will be a challenge with driving to and from the hospital, especially when Matthew is ready and able to start nursing. I won't be able to be here for all of his feedings. The girls will be sad that they aren't going to be able to visit every day. Gib is going back to work and so the chaos begins. It's all okay though. I'm really not complaining. It will all work out. We just continue to pray for Matthew to grow and get strong so he can come home and be with us. The chaos and confusion are temporary and will be very well worth it!
Thanks for checking on us and mostly for praying for us. Please continue to pray for Matthew. We are so thankful and blessed that he's doing so well so far.
Look for an update of pictures to come soon. I don't know how to get them from the camera onto Gib's computer here. I can't remember what time I started this post, but it's now 8:05pm. I'm off to eat my dinner, pump, go to the NICU to visit baby boy and catch up with an old friend from nursing school who is my nurse tonight. Hopefully, you'll be hearing from me more frequently.
Love and blessings,