Friday, July 29, 2016

NICU 2.0

After Grant's birth, it seemed like we were in the recovery room forever.  The nurses kept apologizing for the long stay, but there were just no available rooms upstairs.  Eventually, someone cleared me to start eating ice chips, which I inhaled.  Poor Nick would go fetch me cup after cup of ice to eat (and rub all over my face!).  I was still blazing hot and the room continued to spin for hours.  Nick got to go check on Grant a few times up in the NICU and my mom headed back home to pick up Georgia from our neighbors.  I never even got to see her since she wasn't allowed back in recovery (which was different from my birthing experience with Georgia since she came right back to see me while Nick went upstairs to see G in the NICU).

At some point in the late afternoon, we finally got moved upstairs.  Nick had finally gone to the cafeteria when they told me we were moving ASAP, so I was calling him to hurry back to recovery.  I was still burning up and my first request in our new room was for Nick to find the thermostat.  It was set at 75 and he cranked on the AC to cool it down.  Meanwhile, the nurse came in to let me know that the lactation consultants really wanted me to start pumping since I wouldn't be cleared to go up to the NICU until at least that evening.  Pumping?  No problem - pumping and I are OLD friends.  I got clarification that if everything was okay and I was feeling good, the earliest I would be allowed upstairs would be around 10pm (12 hours after my surgery).  I had a new goal!  She kept saying it was okay if I didn't feel up to it that evening.  Nope, I'll be good to go at 10pm.  

Nick went up to see Grant and text me that he was doing great.  He even pooped!  After all the Georgia poop drama, that was great news to hear.  Nick got to change his diaper and take his temperature.  We're old hands with the NICU routine!  The nurses told him that they would be reducing his oxygen later that evening and would even be moving him to an open air bassinet.

I warned the nurse that I was still woozy and that I was starving when they rolled in the pump.  It had been about 24 hours since I had eaten anything.  I had chugged a ton of water, but I knew for a fact that pumping makes me ravenous and I was concerned about getting even more shaky than I already was feeling.  The nurse reassured me that the odds of me actually pumping any milk was not very good.  She obviously is not familiar with my pumping expertise because I had to hit the call button to ask for help as I was lying down pumping and needed to sit up in order to catch the milk in the attached bottles.  I finished, handed over the milk so that they could bring it up to the NICU and immediately knew I was going to throw up.  It was like slow motion.  Nick and the nurse were talking/doing something with their backs turned to me as I tried to wave at them since I couldn't talk in the moment.  The nurse half turned, but didn't catch my wave.  I was searching for anything to puke into and the only thing in front of me was a stack of paper cups, so I grabbed one and quickly filled up several as I started projectile vomiting.  That got the attention of everyone in the room rather quickly.  I kept apologizing as the nurse cleaned me up while she apologized for not believing me about needing some food.  The good news... I was cleared for some liquid dinner.  Nothing like some chicken stock to make you feel less shaky!  I had inhaled my jello like someone was going to steal it from me.

My night nurse came on shift around 8pm and I let her know the 10pm plan.  She said that she would be back to assess me at that time, but really wanted me to hydrate before then, so I started chugging.  At 10pm, she came in and said if I was ready, she was ready.  She removed my catheter and I did the most excruciating thing you can do post c-section - sit up/stand up/walk to the bathroom.  Nothing makes you feel less competent than having someone help you go to the bathroom.

Nick and I joked that in any wedding vows, following the "in sickness and in health" line, there should be a promise about helping your wife pee and pulling up her undies after a surgery!  That really is the meaning of true love.  Since I "passed" that little test, I was cleared to head up (ironically, the NICU is actually downstairs, but I said "up" the entire stay and Nick got tired of correcting me) to the NICU.  They got me a wheelchair and Nick rolled me to the NICU to see my guy.

First thing we noticed is that he was already off the oxygen!  Woot woot.  Following in his sister's footsteps as a NICU rock star was a good plan, pal.  We worked on getting him to latch and he did a great job, but then promptly passed out cold.  Life is tough when you're 12 hours old and 4 weeks early.

My boys

We had a fairly uneventful overnight.  All of my night nurses were amazing during our stay.  They were great with coordinating with when I would pump with our overnight checks so that they didn't have to wake us all up, so Nick and I were able to catch up on a little bit of sleep on Friday night in between pumping sessions.  We both desperately needed some sleep after our Thursday night excitement.  The pain meds definitely kept knocking me out too.

On Saturday morning, I earned freedom from my IV and was able to order some regular food for the first time (hospital food, but at least real food).  We brought up the overnight pumped milk to the NICU for Grant's feeding sessions.  Nick then ran home to spend some time with Georgia, including taking her to her swim lessons in the afternoon.  We wanted to try to keep her schedule as "normal" as possible, especially while I was in the hospital.  Right after Nick left, my doctor came to check me out and actually cleared me to leave the hospital whenever I wanted since I was up, moving around and tolerating everything very well.  However, they also gave me the option to stay as long as my insurance allowed given that Grant was still in the NICU and not ready to come home.

Mimi switched places with Nick and came back to the hospital to hang out with Grant and myself.  First order of business was a shower for me.  There's nothing like scrubbing the scent of surgery off of you.  My mom scrubbed me down after Georgia was born and repeated the task again this time around (again, only something your mom can do for you!).  Once I was clean, it was back up to the NICU...

Holding Grant for the first time

Checking out his Mimi

What a difference a little mascara and some clean hair can make!

My little cuddle bug!

Nick came back in time for Saturday evening and was a rock star with bringing  pumped milk up to the NICU all night long as I pumped.  Again, our nurse left us alone for the most part to manage the times we needed her, so we caught up on some more sleep in between pumping sessions.  Nick came back after the 3am session to let me know that Grant was chugging whatever I pumped.

On Sunday, we were so excited to introduce Georgia to her new little baby brother.  Mimi brought her to the hospital and Nick met them down in the lobby.  

Ready to meet her brother in her BIG SISTER shirt

G was so excited to show me the card that she made for me...

We all walked to the NICU (which sounds like not a major task until you take into account that I was moving at sloth pace)  and then I got to introduce my kids to each other, which is kind of cool and kind of intimidating at the same time!

Holding hands for the first time

First look... Oh my heart!

Of course, a baby brother is sooooo not cool compared to a bed that moves up/down and all around with just the push of a button.  My hospital bed was much more exciting than a new brother!  Once she realized that she could control the bed as well as watch a Disney movie, she was ready to move in.  I gave her a snack and her life was complete.

Nick brought my mom back up to the NICU and then immediately returned to grab the infant car seat for Grant's car seat test.  Just like Georgia five years ago, Grant had to sit in his car seat for an hour without any alarms.


Mimi and Georgia headed home for the evening.  Nick and I got word from the NICU neonatologist that Grant just had a few blood tests to pass and then he'd be released to us in our room.  By that afternoon, we had a new roommate...

The whole experience was surreal.  I've never had a baby in a hospital room with me previously.   It was crazy to actually have this little person be with us... especially with no wires or lines or leads.  Just a baby.  

By 2am, he was wondering who the hell we were and why did we keep sticking our faces in front of him?!?!

We continued to work on latching throughout the night, but he was still falling asleep almost immediately so I continued to pump and then give him the expressed milk. 

We all survived the night together and decided that we couldn't wait to get home.  We wanted our stuff - our blankets, our bibs, our bottles, etc.  It seemed like every time we turned around, we were grabbing a towel for something.

On Monday morning, the paperwork started to get us all out of the hospital.  Grant got checked out by the hospital pediatrician, who was slightly concerned about his possible bili levels (keep in mind that Georgia lived under those lights for weeks on end!).  However, they decided that we could still take him home and just have a bili check at our pediatrician's office the following day.  His weight at discharge had dropped to 6lbs, 4oz, but that was expected.  

By 1pm, we were dressed and ready to go!

Lets go, peeps!

Again, talk about a surreal moment.  When Georgia got discharged from Children's, she was 7 weeks old.  I was almost 2 months postpartum at that time.  We walked out carrying her in the car seat overwhelmed by the fact that we could finally take her home.  This time, it just happened quickly.  Transport came with a wheelchair and I jumped in and carried Grant in my arms down to the lobby.  Nick pulled up the car and then off we went with our baby.  Most moms/dads never even have to think about leaving the hospital without their baby.  The first time was excruciating for me.  This time, I knew how close we came to having it happen a second time.  I will be forever grateful that I finally got the "normal" experience of being wheeled out of the hospital and to our car without any fanfare...


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