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Friday April 4th I went to the hospital at 5:30am for my scheduled C-section. We got there just a bit late due to the monsoon outside but got there and up to my room at about 5:45am. When I got up there they started prepping me right away. I was hooked up to the monitors and started getting my IV and everything put where it needed to be. While we waited all of a sudden the monitors starting dinging b/c we couldn't pick up Elijah's heartbeat. Turns out he decided to flip breech right then. No big deal really since he was coming out by C-section anyways, but funny how that foreshadowed events to come.
We sat there waiting and waiting past 7:30 which was my surgery time. At 8am finally the doctor busted through the doors dripping with water and apologizing profusely b/c he FORGOT he had me scheduled for a C-section that morning until he was in the shower...lol. He was still dripping wet from where he had dressed and rushed in so quickly fresh from the shower. Anyways finally since he was there it was time to get the show on the road. I got up and walked to the OR and on my way saw all the nurses, techs and doctors lined up waiting for me. They got me in there into this tiny little O.R. and we started getting my spinal ready. It was freezing in there so I was having a hard time sitting still for him so they got me some heated blankets and warmed me up a bit and all was fine. They got the spinal in and immediately flipped me up onto the table. It was a little frightening to see the speed at which they started working but I was excited to finally be getting started. They got me strapped down and all of a sudden my eyes started to roll back in my head and I was sweating horribly. My blood pressure had dropped REALLY low, but my anesthesiologist was right on top of things and had immediately given me drugs to counteract it. After they stabilized me a bit in came John. He was asking if I was OK b/c I was still acting a little funny from the low BP and the doctor assured him I would be ok in a minute.
Before I knew it I hear the doctor telling us he was entering the world butt first and to watch out b/c usually that's an omen for whats to come...lol. Oh if only I would have known. It seemed like an eternity but finally he was out and screaming his head off. The pediatrician took him and started doing his thing and in a few minutes he was bundled up and brought over to us with a clean bill of health (at the time) and I got my arm unstrapped and got to touch him and kiss him. After that John went out with him and they stayed working on getting me sewed up. I remember them saying something about there being blood and fluid everywhere but didn't really care at the time b/c I started having a sharp pain and hard time breathing b/c they got fluid up under my diaphram. I got some more drugs for that and all was well. I didn't know it at the time but they had a hard time getting my bleeding stopped but thankfully they gave me a shot (I think) and started massaging me really hard and got it to quit. Next thing I knew I was getting hauled over to my recovery bed and shipped out to the recovery area. It was another hour before I was in my postpartum room but I did get to see John, Hunter and my mom in there.
Finally I'm wheeled into my post partum room and after about an hour of waiting they finally bring Elijah in. It was love at first sight all over again. At that point I realized how it was really possible to love the second child as much as the first. He looked so much like Hunter, but tends to favor his daddy a bit more than Hunter did. As soon as we got him I tried to get him to latch for breastfeeding. We were not successful at all. He was just too sleepy at that point to be interested even after much aggrivating from the lactation consultant. As the afternoon wore on we had a lot of visitors. Finally in the midst of that the lactation consultant came in and we got a successful latch. After that he was nursing like a champ! Later that evening after the visitors left and Hunter and mom went home John and I noticed that his hands and feet were really purple. I knew that it was normal to a certain extent but it struck me as unusually purple. I mentioned it to the nursery nurse when she came to pick him up and she said it was normal so I trusted her. She brought him in every 2-3 hours to nurse and as the evening wore on it became more and more difficult for him to latch on for too long. We both just figured it was part of being a newborn and left it at that.
Saturday morning the new shift nurse came in to get him. The OB came around and checked me and the nursery nurse later popped in. It was then that we were surprised with the news that our baby boy was being put on oxygen. It never once crossed my mind that my full term baby would have a breathing problem. The pediatrician came in and ordered a chest xray. There we saw some fluid in his lungs that must have been aspirated during delivery. He was only getting to about an 88% blood oxygen level before his was given the nasal cannula and was grunting when he took a breath. At that point they suctioned him out and just said to give it a couple of hours to resolve itself. We didn't get to see him until later that afternoon. Finally they let me in so I could nurse him. It was so hard to see my baby boy hooked up to all these monitors and tubes and definitely made breastfeeding a challenge. At that point I resolved myself to come in there every 2 1/2- 3 hours to get some bonding time in and nurse him.
Sunday morning came and I got my blood work back and was very thankful that I was not going to receive a blood transfusion which was a very real possiblity after the amount of blood I lost on top of the previous problem I had with my blood counts. Had it gone down rather than stayed the same I would have been getting a couple pints of it right then. With the baby the pediatrician was stumped as to why he was not coming off the oxygen by then. The crackle previously heard in his chest was gone, his color was good, but he was still sitting at about 2L of oxygen and having chest retractions. Again we were told to just wait it out. At this point I realized that I was being discharged Monday morning and the likelihood of him being given a clean bill of health and discharged with me was quickly dwindling. So we began to get information about what they call Hostel stay at the hospital. Basically for $20/night I got to "rent" out my postpartum room. John and I agreed that if he wasn't discharged with me this is what I was going to do. Thank the good Lord that my mom was here. Had she not been here I wouldn't have had the option b/c I would have had to stay with Hunter. That would have simply killed me to not be able to be there in case something happened.
Monday came and I was given the all-clear by the OB to be discharged. The outlook was still not good on Elijah so we got all our ducks in a row for me to stay at the hospital that night. We found that he had at that point lost a whole pound off his birthweight and decided it was time to start supplementing with formula until my milk came in and we could see how much I was producing. It was also at this point when he was put under the billi lights due to his rising billirubing levels. He hadn't had a BM in a day and a half either. Tuesday was a VERY bad and emotional day for me. It just seemed like it was one setback after another that day. I was a hysterical mess to wake up to see him laying in an incubator with the lights on him. No one came down to tell me what was going on. I just walked up to the nursery doors to see him like that. Finally the pediatrician was still stumped so he decided to start doing test to rule out other things. He ordered an echo, which came back beautifully. A complete blood count, and it as well came back perfectly except his billirubin levels were rising. They also ordered another chest xray. It was there that we were finally able to see something. Now that the fluid striations had cleared out his right lung seemed to have a broken glass appearance to it. The pediatrician sent it out to a doctor in each nearby NICU (Louisville and Nashville) and they all concluded that he had what is called Hyaline Membrane Disease. He had a a surfactant deficiency which is the sticky stuff in the lungs that keep the aveoli from sticking together and retain their oxygen. This is also known as Infant Respiratory Distress Syndrome. This disease primarily affects premature infants, however since my C-section was scheduled my body never sent the signals to him to get "ready" for delivery, although he really should have been ready to go at that point. Since his case was fairly mild we were fortunate enough to not have to be sent to Nashville, TN to take care of it. Many babies have to receive a surfactant replacement, but our hospital didn't have access to that and in a matter of time it would resolve itself so it wasn't worth it to go down there.
Wednesday morning was a little better, but not much progress other than finding the billi levels were going down. Then suddenly that afternoon things just started to click. We were able to start dropping his oxygen level he was being given. He was taken off the billi lights and he had gained a whole 5 ounces in one day and he finally had a BM. I was feeling so relieved and hopeful! I decided that I would go out and get some fresh air that day. This was the first time I left the hospital since I was admitted. It was much needed and I was so happy to go home for a couple hours to spend with Hunter and just be in my own element for a little while. I came back in time to feed him and spent the night yet again.
Thursday was a great day as well. We dropped his Oxygen from .7L down to .2L. He was doing amazingly well. The ped's were very optimistic that he would be home the next day b/c they were going to start trying to wean him off that night. Unfortunately he wasn't quite ready yet to be off totally but did make it down to .1L. We tried 4 times that day and night to get him off but he couldn't make it past 2 hours without starting to change colors and having to go back to the O2. It was very dissappointing after seeing the progress he had made earlier that last 24 hours.
Friday morning was another hard morning. I was seeing all these other babies born well after he was being discharged to go home. They tried again twice to wean him that morning with no success and actually seemed to get worse b/c he couldn't make it more than 20 minutes without having to go back on it. I spent most of that morning in tears and in prayer just asking for help from God to keep up my strength for Elijah. I was exhausted emotionally. I didn't have time to think about my own recovery b/c I was so dedicated to doing all I could for him no matter what position it put me into. I just needed a lift or something to get me through and praying was the only thing that made me feel like I had some sort of effect on all of this. I decided to go home for a few hours and let the nurses feed him one feeding. I was told they were going to try again to wean him off at about 4 that afternoon. I was feeling very pessimistic but decided to go ahead and call at about 5 just to see how well he ate and if they did indeed try again. I was very pleasantly surprised to learn that he had been off for about an hour at 3 but was put back on simply b/c they were doing an assessment on him and didn't want to stress him. The nurse took him off again at 4:15 and he was doing really well off of it. He was dipping into the high 80%'s but would bounce right back up to the low 90's which was acceptable. We cautiously took it as good news but didnt go getting our hopes up. Mom and i came back to the hospital at about 7 so I could feed him and found that he was still off they oxygen and was doing increasingly well. It was the good news we needed but were still cautious not to call anyone and tell them. We decided after he ate we would head out to dinner for a bit that night. We were then told he was going to be allowed to come out into my room. We called John and told him what was going on and to get there to see him. They brought him down at 8. I was elated to see him not in an incubator and hooked up to anything. My mom was excited b/c she hadn't got to see him since the day he was born really. So I nursed him and they came back at 9 to get him to monitor him really quickly. We sent him down to the nursery and left to eat. We came back at 11 and found that he was still of oxygen! He got to come in and spend some time with all of us again. I sent him back to the nursery at midnight and went to bed, praying with all my might that he woudln't have a relapse through the night since he had come so far that day. I was up at 2 to feed him and saw he was still of oxygen and his saturation levels were holding steady into the mid to high 90%'s. I felt confident that he was home free but was still worried about his lungs deciding they had just had enough.
Saturday morning at 8 I woke up after having a horrible dream that I could have sworn was real. It was vivid as day and was about receiving a phone call saying he had to be put back on. It was so real to me that I had to call down to the nursery just to ask them if they called. Thankfully they did not and they told me the pediatrician on call was on her way in to assess him and most likely give the order to discharge him. I spent the next hour in prayer that all would be well and finally my prayers were answered when the nurse brought my baby boy to me and told me he would be released as soon as his circumcisian was done. I called everyone and they hurried in to see him really quick before Hunter's soccer practice. I got up right away and fed him. They came to get him and I packed in lightening speed. We were finally able to leave the hospital about 1:30pm.
This experience has made me cherish my children more than ever. I spent all 8 days he was in the hospital by his side. All the nurses kept telling me I was an amazingly wonderful mother for staying with him and that people rarely do that. I couldn't believe anyone could leave their baby if they didn't have to. The $80 we spent extra for me to stay there was worth every penny. I was involved in every part of his care there that I could possibly be. I'm so thankful to have my family all together finally. He is just as good as new now and doing wonderfully. I'm thankful that the nurses and ped's didn't blow things off b/c he truly could have died had it not been caught as quickly as it was. The postpartum nurses were wonderful and asked me nightly if I needed anything even though they were no longer responsible for me once I was discharged. I'm thankful for all the support from our friends and family. I couldn't have left the hospital with my sanity had it not been for my mom and John. There were days that I needed them for myself as well just to help me gather my strength to be pulled together for Elijah. While I feel robbed of a joyful birth experience with him I walked away with a much better lesson which was to cherish every moment and blessing you have in life b/c you never know when things aren't going to turn up rosey. My children are that much more precious to me having gone through this experience. Of course I'm pretty traumatized by all of this and am really scared to have another child if we decided to...lol.
So that is the story of Elijah's arrival into this world, showing his butt from the very first moment. I hope this is not an omen of what is to come throughout his life. At least I have a story to tell him one of these days..hehe.
Mom to Hunter (10) and Elijah (5). Wife of 12 years to John. Christian, homesteader, photographer, and blogger.