Tuesday, July 22, 2008

January - in the hospital

Brent went with Samantha to the NICU as soon as she was delivered and she started out with a few problems...being on a CPAP machine, oxygen and a feeding tube. I stayed in the OR with my doctors for a couple more hours. It seems that, once again, I had things going on with my body that the doctors don’t normally see. My colon rectal doctor was in the room “just in case” because of my having a problem a couple of years prior in which my small intestine was adhered to my uterus. There was nothing that he had to take care of this time, so he just stayed near my head and was my cheerleader during the procedure, asking me “How are you doing kiddo?” and telling the anesthesiologist when I needed more stuff in my IV. They did have to call an urologist to come and take care of a little problem. You see, this time, my bladder was completely adhered to my uterus from top to bottom (That would explain those emergency room and doctor visits earlier in my pregnancy.) and my OB had to cut through my bladder to get the baby out. Fun, fun! The urologist later commented that he had never seen anything like that before. That didn’t faze me at all, though. I am used to doctors saying things like that to me. What I don’t often hear is that something is completely normal. Poor Brent had no idea what was going on. He kept going back and forth from the NICU to my room, expecting to see me there. All my nurse could tell him was that she didn’t know of any complications. So he just had lots of time to worry before they were finally finished stitching me up and he was able to find out what happened.

Once I got back to my room, I kept bugging my nurse about being able to see Samantha, but I was still on the magnesium and could not even get out of bed while I was still on it. I continued to stay very high risk – I even had my own one on one nurse - until Tuesday evening when I finally got off the magnesium. Sometime on Tuesday, a lactation consultant came to see me and show me how to use a pump so that I could pump milk for Samantha, but I really don’t remember anything about her visit, other than the fact that I told her that I would not remember anything she said and that she replied that was OK and she would send someone to see me again the next day. I also very vaguely remember having Patsy and Lezley come to visit me. Apparently they were both there for quite some time, but honestly, I barely even remember that they were there at all.

I thought that I would get to see Samantha once I was off the magnesium, but I was moved from L&D to post partum and my new nurses would not let me go yet. By the time I got to go see her on Wednesday at lunch time, she only had the feeding tube. I cried on the way to see her when the lactation consultant asked me if this was the first time I would see her. Once I got to her pod, her nurse put her into my arms and suddenly it was like there was no one else anywhere around. The entire world was reduced to just the two of us. What an amazing experience holding your child for the first time is! She looked so tiny to us, but one of her nurses kept saying that she was four times the size of her other baby. I guess it is all about perspective.

In the NICU Samantha had “touch times” at 2:30, 5:30, 8:30, and 11:30 am and pm. This is a set of times when she would be held, have her temp taken, be diapered and fed. My favorite time to go see her was for her 5:30am touch time. The NICU was practically deserted at that time of day with basically just the nurses there and usually everything seemed to be quiet with the babies at that time as well. I would attempt to nurse her, then either feed her as much of her bottle as she could take herself then hold her as she received the rest by gavage, or just hold her while she was gavage fed. I would sing to her and not be worried that I was disturbing anyone else. It was such a peaceful time each day. The strange thing about the NICU is that time seems to move so differently there. I would feel like I had just arrived, but in reality would be there for a couple of hours. I quickly learned to save a piece of fruit and some yogurt from one of my meals to take with me down there to tide me over until I got back to my room and ordered breakfast. I didn’t know until after Samantha was released that I was not supposed to have any food or drink other than water in the NICU, and her nurses never said anything to me. I read the rules after she came home with us and I was sorting through papers. Oops!

Samantha’s nurses were fantastic! She had the same day nurse from Wednesday until Sunday, her name was Andrea. All of the nurses watched out for me and my health, but Andrea was especially vigilant. She paid attention to how I looked and sounded and reminded me to go take my blood pressure medicine. She also told me several times that I needed to be sure to take time to rest, that I would not help my baby if I wore myself out by trying to be in the NICU all of the time. She reminded me that if I didn’t make sure that I took care of myself, I would not be able to care for my baby. It was hard advice to take, but it was good advice, and I am grateful to her for it. Brittany was Samantha’s night nurse for most of the week, and she was great, too. As were Gracy, Kim, Becky and Dru. You could not ask for better people to take care of your child.

I don’t know how I managed this, but I didn’t think about taking pictures of the NICU staff or Samantha’s pod until the night before she was to go home. So we only have pictures of Kim and Brittany. I don’t really know why I didn’t think to take pictures sooner. I think that is the only time in my life that I have not been jumping in to take pictures. That was so unlike me. We had the camera there, and we took pictures of Samantha and of her visitors, why not her caregivers? I guess because it was too scary before that…we didn’t have answers, we didn’t know when she would come home…once we did, we wanted to be sure to remember what had taken place. Before that, we would like to forget that our baby didn’t enter the world the same as most babies. And taking pictures would just make it more real and unforgettable…if that is even possible.