I didn’t plan on making this a four-day-long post. Oops. Guess that’s what happens when you have a preemie, you can’t fit their birth story into one blog.
He was born April 25th. His birthday should have been around June 20th. When the counseling nurse came in to my room to scare the living daylights talk to us about his situation, she told us he could be there that long. “A full two months, or a couple days, they wouldn’t be able to tell” is what she said. That it was a day-to-day decision.
Can you imagine? Parents of preemies can. Parents of a child with a genetic abnormality or a birth defect that requires medical care. Man, it sucks. There isn’t a better way to describe it. You just don’t know when your baby will be ok. It’s horrible! The entire pregnancy revolves around dates and timeliness and due dates. And then, total chaos.
Looking back, we can see how lucky we were. Parker spent 15 days in the NICU. The first three days I’ve told you about. They slowly lowered the pressure on the CPAP machine and oxygen to try to wean him off until he was completely breathing on his own. I think it took three attempts. The first two times we were there to wait and see what happened. His oxygenation levels dropped within 15 minutes. The third time, the nurse decided to try it in the middle of the night, after his bath. We went in the next morning to see our little boys FACE, free of those plastic tubes and the hat. His face was red from the tape, all rashy and raw. And his poor little nose was smushed up for weeks!
But he never did have to go back on the CPAP or oxygen after that day. He was on it for 6 days. For the next 9 days, we had to battle with feeding issues, jaundice, blood sugar levels, and apnea. He wouldn’t eat much, and what he did eat took him forEVer. We’re talking a couple cc’s, and it would take him 45 minutes. It was a chain that wouldn’t end. He wasn’t eating enough to keep his blood sugars up. So he wouldn’t wake for the next meal. He wasn’t taking in a large enough quantity of milk to help clear the bilirubin out of his blood, so he was sleepy and didn’t want to eat. He would sleep so soundly that he would forget to breathe.
It was a chore to feed him. We had to watch them stick a tube down his throat more than once to feed him. As soon as the CPAP came off, I started to nurse before he would get the bottle. He couldn’t stay awake long enough or work hard enough to get anywhere with that. So we’d give him a bottle with his vitamins, and he would take two sips and fall asleep or need to burp. Seriously, it was impossible to burp him. Shoulder pat, back rub, back pat, whatever. Nothing worked. We would hold him sitting up with his head resting on our hand and rock him slooowly side to side for 10 minutes to get a small noise. And then the process would start all over. (Who would ever have guessed that he’ll now suck down five 6-8oz bottles a day?!)
He went on & off of the billilights, and after 5 days it was finally gone. It was pretty funny to see him all decked out with his little “sun glasses” and all the other junk adorning his body. We still have his little foam eye shields in his memory box, along with all the sensors and his blood pressure cuffs. We also have a ID sticker for every day we were there.
They moved him to the lower-level NICU across the hospital wing on day 10. It was more private, and for babies with less care intensive care needed. Slowly, all the equipment came off. The last step on his last day was taking off everything that morning. I was PETRIFIED. Those monitors beeping were my security. They told me that he was breathing properly, his heart was beating, his oxygen was ok. I was so reliant on them at that point that I was afraid to turn my eyes from Parker for fear I would miss him turning blue. Funny story/side note; the fry timers at fast food restaurants sound almost identical to the alarms, and to this day when we go to Wendy’s it makes me feel ill…
They finally gave us the discharge approval, loaded up all of our stuff on a cart, and we were leaving the hospital. He was almost too small for his car seat, and the one that we bought had the lowest weight rating. If he would have been 3oz lighter, we would have had to buy the special preemie infant car bed. As it was, he didn’t have a single thing that fit him, and we didn’t have any preemie diapers. He looked a bit sloppy those first couple days. Heehee.
We carried him down the same elevator ride, through the lobby, and to the car. I was terrified. I didn’t want him in the REAL world with the REAL germs and REAL life problems. I wanted him to be all safe & secure in his sterile environment.
But man. Did I want him HOME. And I wanted the never-ending round trips to the NICU to end. The girls had only met their baby brother through the window of the NICU door. And GRANDMA was coming from Iowa the next day!
So we went home, as petrified as a parent could ever be. Ryan volunteered to go get the girls & bring them back. Soon it was just Parker and I, at home, all alone. No nurses to get in my way. And a fully charged camera to keep us company. We took a nap, changed our clothes, and I stared at my little miracle boy. The rest of the pictures are in no particular order, but I thought I would share. If you’re on my Facebook list, you’ve probably all ready seen most of them. I wish we would have taken more now. Live & learn, right?
Hope you enjoyed his birth & NICU story! I think I’ll do one more post with pictures from the last year. He’s come a long ways from the 5lb, 11oz”, 18.5″ baby he was!