Reading back on this blog, I realized that Parker's birth story and hospital stay isn't on here! It's a long story, but I'll try to sum it up.
Around October 14th, I started leaking out what I would later find out was amniotic fluid. I was embarrassed because I thought I was leaking urine from the pressure on my bladder. I went to work that week and by Friday, I knew this wasn't right. The amount was getting quite large. I called my Dr. office right when I got off work. Thank God the triage nurse called my back (it was after 5:00 and they were getting ready to leave). She told me I should go to the OB floor just to get checked out. I was very hesitate, still in denial that anything was wrong. She convinced me to go. My mom decided to come with me since Cory was still at work. I told him I would be home for dinner. ha!
When I got to the hospital, they did a couple of tests and sure enough, I was slowly leaking amniotic fluid. I was in preterm labor. They were going to keep me in the hospital and monitor my fluid and the baby almost daily and give me steriod injections to stregthen Parker's lungs. Also, I was going to be on IV antibiotics just in case there was some kind of infection that caused the labor. Dr.'s still aren't sure what exactly sends a woman into preterm labor. I was still in total denial that I would be having a preemie. The nurses told me there were a couple of other women on the floor that had been there for over a month, so I thought that's what would happen with me.
After days of ultrasounds and being totally bored on complete bedrest, I was sick of the hospital! The nurses told me they were going to give me and Cory a tour of the NICU and prepare us for what might happen.
On October 25th at 1:30 in the morning, I started having cramping. I called the nurse into my room just to let her know. They hooked me up to the monitor, but they could not pick up any contractions. Within the hour I was having strong contractions, but the monitors still were not picking them up. Earlier in the night I had recieved a lovenox injection because I was on bedrest (this is a blood thinner to prevent blood clots due to being stuck in bed). Because of this, the anesthesiologist refused to do an epidural. I didn't think I could do it! Finally around 6 or 7 in the morning, the Dr. came in to see me and said they would not try and stop my contractions and I would go ahead and deliver. Also, a new anesthesiologist came on duty and he said he would give me an epidural, but I had to wait 12 hours after the injection, which put me at 9:00 am. I later learned that preterm labor comes on stronger and more intense than a full term labor. Lucky me! I ended up having an internal monitor because sometimes with my issues, the uterus contracts unevenly and sporadically and the regular monitor wasn't picking them up. I had an episotomy because any stress to a preemie's head can cause a brain bleed.
Cory and I were the only ones in the room. The whole NICU team was there, waiting. After 45 minutes of pushing, Parker was born. The cord was wrapped around his neck twice, so Cory did not get to cut it. The NICU team worked on Parker for about 10 minutes. I did not get to hold him, but I did get to give him a kiss on his tiny cheeck.
I did not know how much he weighed or how long he was. A student nurse went to the NICU for me to find out. He was 3 pounds, 7 oz. and 16 1/4 inches long. The neonatolgist came into our suite and addressed my whole family to give us the gameplan. We basically had to wait to see what Parker would do. She told us to expect him to be on a ventilator, oxygen, lots of wires and tubes. I had to sign papers to let them treat Parker and allow certain procedures to be done on him "just in case". I was really trying to hold it together at this point. The Dr. said I could come see Parker in a while, but they were getting him stabalized at this point and we would have to wait. Finally, we got to see him.
He actually looked really great. That first day, he only had an IV. Not bad. Cory and I were both nervous to hold him. He was so small. so tiny and fragile. The nurses told us there may be days when we wouldn't be able to hold him, so we took advantage. I didn't know how hard those days would be when I couldn't hold my baby. One of the most emotional days came the following day, when I got discharged from the hospital, and Parker stayed there. Leaving him there and not getting to take him home was horrible. No mom should have to feel like that. Like her baby is not her own, yet a medical facility's. I felt like I was abandoning him, even though I knew he was in the best place for him.
Throughout his stay, he such a fighter. Later, the Dr's called him "the star of the NICU". They said he did not act like a normal preemie born this early. He did not ever need the vent. He was put on a CPAP machine, which does not breathe for him, but does keep his lungs open. Seeing him on the machine was very difficult. I felt helpless because I was his mom and I am supposed to take care of him, yet I couldn't do a thing. I could not even hold him when he was on the CPAP. I could just stoke his little head and whisper to him that he would get to come home soon. He had multiple IV's and was always bruised on his head, hands, and feet. The nurses said his IV's went bad all the time, so they were always having to restart them. He needed a feeding tube. Sometimes it was down his nose, sometimes down his throat, depending what type of oxygen he was on. HE starting his feeding at only 1 ml of milk. That's like a drop. He worked his way up to 35 ml's from a bottle by time we went home, which is about an ounce. When he finally got to feed him from a bottle, I was so happy, but nervous. His oxygen levels dropped so much, the nurses decided to wait a couple days and try again. He was jaundice and had to be under bili lights for almost 2 weeks. His little feet were always bruised because he had his blood taken at least twice a day and they get the blood from his heels.He was put on caffiene because that helps remind his brain to breathe. His heartrate was always fast, so they did a full cardiac workup. Nothing was wrong, just a fast heartrate! He had to learn to eat and breathe at the same time, put on weight, and maintain his body temperature without help. Almost every night, I did "kangaroo care". This is based on a study that was done on women and babies in third world countries and because their babies were always on their chest with skin-to-skin contact, they seemed to thrive more and their heartrates would slow to match their moms. It's really interesting actually and NICU's all over the country now do kangaroo care. It seemed to really help Parker too. His last few days in the NICU, he was put in an open crib because he was able to keep up his body temperature outside of the icubator. He got thrush from all the antibiotics he was on. He also couldn't seem to keep his oxygen level from dropping when he ate, so we kept oxygen handy at all times. Until the moment he went home, he was hooked to a heart monitor, oxygen monitor, and respitation monitor. He had to prove he could be in a carseat for an hour without having his oxygen level drop, which he did the second time around. He was in the NICU for 26 days and in Pediatrics for 3.
The day he came home was so scary. To unhook all his monitors was terrifying. The Dr.'s pounded into our brains all the scary germs out there. To not take him in crowds, smokers, or other kids. To constantly wash our hands. Not to take him anywhere during the flu and cold season. They said we were taking him home at the worse possible time of the year. I guess if you are going to have a preemie, have one in the summer! Parker was slightly over 4 pounds when we brought him home on Thanksgiving day. What an ironic day to bring him home on, because we were so totally thankful for our miracle.
In a way it was hard to leave the NICU. Parker had specially trained nurses and a neonatologist at his bedside everyday. THe nurses really never left the baby for more than a few minutes. Also, the other babies that were there, that we had gotten to know, were still there. Some had been there for months already and still had a long ways to go. I still wonder about them.
We are blessed and we know that. I look at Parker everyday and I am amazed. He is an inspiration to me and to those around him, and he doesn't even realize it.