Dan was born on June 12, 2010. To tell this story correctly, we really need to backtrack to April 27, 2010. That was the the scariest day of my life, also known as the day I went into preterm labor at 31 weeks.
You see, I used to be an NICU nurse. That's neonatal intensive care, folks. There is a lot of superstition in nursing, especially in the NICU. We all kinda believe that there is a curse on NICU nurses that means that their babies would be in the unit at some point. When I miraculously became pregnant, I thought maybe the curse would pass me by. I was wrong.
In hindsight I'd been having contractions since my birthday that I thought were strong Braxton Hicks. That Tuesday, I just knew something was wrong. When I was havign 6+ contractions an hour I called the Angels hotline at UAMS and was instructed to go in and get checked. I was having regular contractions that were getting stronger. Within my first hour of being there I went from "high and closed" to "fingertip" dilated - which I know is not a big change, but all I could think of in my mind was "how many times did I hear 'she's only fingertip' when I was first admit in ICN".
After 3 liters of saline and several doses of sedation, my contractions stopped to the doc's satisfaction (also known as I couldn't feel them anymore and nothing was changing) and I was able to go home after midnight. However, I had to go on partial bedrest until I gave birth. I could only work 4 hours a day for a month, then I was strongly advised not to work until Daniel was born. By then I had +3-4 pitting edema in my feet and didn't feel like working anyways. 2 weeks with nothing to do passed pretty slowly.
At my last OB appointment on Friday before Dan's birth (which was the next day), I started spilling protein into my urine. With my moderately high blood pressure and the fact that I was having contractions again the OB (who was filling in for my regular OB as she was out of town) advised me to be induced, as I was showing signs of pre-eclapsia. We arrived at the hospital around 2:00, and by midnight I was epiduraled, pitocin was hung, and I was contracting regularly. However, during the night Daniel began having variable decels, which are normally nothing to worry about. The only problem is we could never get my pit turned high enough to produce good and strong contractions enough for me to progress, because it made the decels worse. On top of this, my epidural only worked on the right side of my body, so I was feeling every contraction.
By 11:00 the next day I was only dilated to 7 and had pretty much stalled out. My contractions were so severe that my mother in law and husband had to literally get in my face to make me breathe. I missed my birthing classes due to being on bedrest, and I was clueless, as teaching something to others doesn't mean that you can do things for yourself!
The docs decided that I needed to have a c-sections, which freaked me out completely. All I could think was "Great, I'm obese and I'll never heal right, and great, c-sections forever as I'm not a fan of v-bacs, and what if the baby has to go to the NICU?"
I cried for a good hour. After my epidural was finally fixed and working, I was wheeled to the surgical suite. Dan was born. The nurse had taken off my glasses at some point, so I couldn't see very well. I remember seeing a blue blob being taken to the table, and total silence in the room. I looked at my anethesiologist and asked him why Daniel wasn't crying. The neonatologist told me the Daniel's cord was wrapped around his neck 3 times. I heard the docs slapping his feet and the hiss of oxygen. The words "1 minute Apgar is 3". Finally, a baby's cry. Then he was gone while I was being sown up.
When I got to the recovery room my family was there. My Dad and husband were so proud. So was I, because he was so beautiful and perfect. My heart literally stopped in my chest the first time I touched him. But Daniel was grunting a little. When he did skin to skin time with me it went away. Then there was news that his first sugar was low, and the I:T ratio on his CBC had shifted, so off to the NICU he went, luckily with some old friends of mine.
I had to spend the next 12 hours in my room since I was post surgery. I didn't sleep, I watched the clock and when it was 4:00am the nurses took my IV out and I took a shower and went to the NICU to see him. He had a UVC for antibiotics. I got to hold him and nurse him, which was incredible. The docs said that they needed to do antibiotics for 3 days at least since his CBC was a little funky. All was okay for the time being.
Over the next 5 days I started to lose it a little. I wanted no visitors. I went to the NICU like clockwork to breastfeed, and therefore got almost no sleep. When it took the CNAs too long to get the wheelchair for my poor, sore body, I started walking there myself though the pain was terrible. I cried all the time, and almost came to blows with a doctor who was a friend of mine when Daniel became jaundiced and needed a bili light. I became the mother I dreaded as an RN. I became the guilty mom with what I used to call NICU psychosis. It's what happen when you don't sleep, you spend all your time feeling guilty, and you won't leave the hospital. It's what happens when you convince yourself that this is your fault, and that you are a failure as a mother. This is the way I felt.
All I can say is, thank God for my poor husband. He kept me form totally dropping my basket. Thank God for my sweet father, who (the last time I saw him before he died) came to the hospital and held Daniel and assured me that I would be okay.
We survived it, and we took our baby home, only a few days later than most parents do. And our first day or 2 at home as a family was amazing . . . until the word came that my father died on a business trip.
But that is a story I may never write down.
My practice, the way I think about my families, and the way that I think about my career changed during my experience with Daniel in the hospital. They say being a mom changes you. Being a mom in crisis changed me as a nurse, too. I listen more, judge less, and take it for what it is. It makes you think about the whole person and family, not just the patient in front of you. Maybe that's maturity, as I'm not 21 anymore. But maybe it's that growing pain, too.
|Daniel in the NICU. I took the picture while I was holding him.|