Monday, May 08, 2006

Life in the Neonatal Intensive Care

Piper was carted off to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. While my doctor was tending to me, one of the NICU staff calls my husband over. Frankly, I would have preferred the man to come over where it would be easy for me to hear, but I have amazing eavesdropping powers. I quietly listened as he explained that they needed to take my daughter down to the NICU.

I had to wait before I could go down there, but after a few minutes, all the grandparents and my husband went down there. They took pictures of her for me, as did the NICU. They sent me a card with her picture and a nice little note about who her doctor was and stuff. I was waiting in my room for her doctor to come talk to me, which felt like eternity because he had a baby that was more critical than my little one.

While I waited, I got to eat, finally, and after I ate, the nurses gave me some pain meds. Then my nurses bring a wheelchair to cart me down to the NICU. When I got down there to her, they had already taken her off the CPAP, which pushed air into her lungs for her and got her on a cannula with almost room air. The respiratory therapist I spoke with indicated that he got a lot of fluid from her lungs. She seemed to be improving rapidly, but they had to keep her until all her tests came back.

When I spoke to her doctor, he described several potential issues. She has fluid in her lungs, a low blood volume, and acidic blood. They were taking care of all the issues, but she was hooked up to everything under the sun. It was sad to see my little pumpkin attached to all kinds of doohickies.

When I went for my last visit of that first evening, I had the opportunity to hold my baby. I watched as the nurse gave her the first bath, and watched as my little one desperately looked for some food. She was hungry, but lung-issue babies are not allowed to eat the first 24 hours. It made me feel like crap, and by the time the bath was done, she passed out. As much as I wanted to hold my baby, I felt rest was better for her and opted not to hold her then.

Knowing that my baby was already vastly improving, I went to finally take a shower. It felt sooo good. I hadn't realized how tired I was. The nurses said I was moving around very well for someone who just had a baby. I guess it was the adrenaline. I couldn't just stay put while my little one was in trouble. However, being up for two days did me in and when because I managed to convince everyone (husband included) to go home and get some decent rest, I was all alone to sleep. Some people might think poorly of my husband for leaving me by myself, but I insisted on him going home.

The next couple of days were a blur of pumping milk, breastfeeding the baby, and just waiting for news. On her second day of life, Piper was allowed to eat, but they would only give her 6 cc's of food at a time because of the lung thing. The only way to side-step that was to breast feed her. So I meandered down the hall every three hours to let my daughter eat as much as should. After that first day of eating, they let her eat as much as she wanted.

She went into the NICU on Tuesday morning, and she finally got to come home Sunday morning. Original problem-wise, it took three days for her blood cultures to come back, and about that same time, her doctor found the issue of a low resting heart rate, so low in fact, it was a concern. So from the time it was discovered until Sunday, this was monitored in case it was an issue. As it turned out, it was a non-issue and it seems her heart rate is just low when she's asleep.

The thing that really got me going was her doctor. One minute it would be, "This looks like a non-issue," and the next it was, "We need to keep an eye are her." He was back and forth that by Saturday, I was in tears. The first time I cried through this whole ordeal. I was just frustrated beyond belief and all I wanted was my baby at home where she belonged.

The bottom line is that Piper suffered a hard labor and delivery. That's all it was. Things are groovy now and she's as healthy as a horse.

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