Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Birth Story: Part Four

As soon as she was born they took her away.  I was devastated that I wasn't able to do immediate skin to skin, but she had had a bowel movement in the womb and was covered in meconium.  She didn't make a sound, even minutes after she'd been born, and it was terrifying.  She had swallowed meconium in the womb and being born at 36 weeks her lungs weren't completely developed.  After working on her for a few minutes they brought her over to me.  I was able to hold her for about 30 seconds while they explained to me that she was having problems breathing and they were taking her over to the nicu.  

Don't you love my "Hey...I was woken up by my water breaking and didn't even bring a comb" hair?  Haha  

She was so beautiful and reminded me so much of Trey, but she was so quiet.  It was such a mixture of emotions.  I felt FANTASTIC physically right after giving birth.  I had prepared for that natural birth and I've got to be honest, I felt like a rockstar.  The pain had completely gone away and I felt great, but I was so worried about her (and Dave...I knew he'd been stressed to the max through that delivery...and now having to worry about her).  All I wanted was to help her and be with her and Dave, but I couldn't. They took her away, and Dave went with her.  

I had tore just a little bit during delivery and needed to be stitched up (which honestly seemed more uncomfortable than the actual birth).  The on-call doctor had arrived at this point and helped stitch me up while the nurse talked me through some paperwork.  Then, it was like all of sudden, everything was cleaned up and I was left alone.  I'm sure I was only by myself in that room for a minute or so, but it felt like forever and was so strange.  Here I had just had a baby and there was all this chaos, and now I was sitting in this room all by myself.  No baby. No husband. No doctors or nurses. 

I had yet to see Wren for longer than a minute or so and just wanted to be with her.  After what seemed like forever they wheeled me over to the nicu and I finally got to see her.  They had her on a warming bed and she had a bunch of tubes down her throat and oxygen on her face and wires all over her.  It was truly the saddest thing I've ever seen and I just broke down.  I couldn't hold her, so I just sat there stroking her hands.  We were told that she was doing well, and that she just needed some help breathing due to being born 4 weeks early and swallowing meconium during delivery.  She was not staying in the nicu, but they were sending her to the TLC nursery which is just a special unit next to the postpartum nursery where babies can be closely watched and monitored.

I was taken to my room while they transferred her to the TLC unit.  Once all was settled, I walked to the TLC unit to try to feed her.  That was the best thing ever about going natural.  I was obviously sore, but I could walk and felt pretty great.  Thank goodness my recovery was so good, because that's really the only positive thing I can remember from her first week.  I had had such a horrible experience breastfeeding with Trey, but wanted to give it another try.  She was a champ and latched right on...thank goodness!  We were told we had to supplement with a high calorie formula because she was premature, but we were fine with that.  After her first feeding I went back to my recovery room and had to leave her there.  It was so weird to not have her with me.  

After the whirlwind of the morning, I finally got settled in my recovery room.  Our families had come to visit us and to see Wren but we weren't able to show her to them, except through the glass window to the TLC unit.  We had been told by the nicu nurses and doctors to be extremely cautious with visitors.  She was born 4 weeks early, having respiratory problems, swallowed meconium during delivery, AND I was gbs positive and wasn't able to get a full does of antibiotics before she was born, so they were worried that she may have gotten an infection during delivery.  ANY kind of infection, even the slightest cold would be a serious problem for her; so we limited those that could see her to Dave and I.  Dave was feeling sick, so he himself didn't even hold her until she was a week old!

It was really hard to not let anyone see or hold her in person.  I was devastated.  All you want to do when you have a baby is show them off because you love them so much, and they are so beautiful and everyone has been looking forward to meeting them...And although it's petty, I was so sad that we couldn't get any pictures of her with Trey at the hospital.  No "first time meeting the sibling" pictures, or "first time with grandma and grandpa" just sucked.  But we had to put our trust in the doctors and do what was in the best interest of Wren.

Later that evening when everything had settled, I sat in my recovery room and it was like everything just hit me at once.  I had this overwhelming feeling of guilt and I felt responsible for the mess that we were in.  (And isn't that sad???  That the birth of our daughter just felt like a gigantic mess?).  I began to go over my pregnancy in my mind looking for things I could have done differently to fix it.  "I should have eaten better and exercised more"..."I shouldn't have picked up Trey as much"..."Maybe I should have gone on maternity leave sooner...maybe my job stressed me out too much"..."I shouldn't have done this or this or I should have done this..."  I felt terrible and was mad at myself that I couldn't keep her in longer.  I like to have things planned, so I was completely out of my element.  This WAS NOT how her life was supposed to start.  

During those first few days, I had serious moments of denial where I thought "Ok, if I just would have done this then I wouldn't have gone into labor and I'd still be pregnant.  Ok..let's do that...I can still fix this."  It's hard to explain, but I just did not want to accept the fact that my baby wasn't doing well.  I wanted to fix it, but there really wasn't anything I could do.  Not to mention, I knew Dave was also feeling pretty much everything I was feeling AND he was driving to and from the hospital and home, making sure Trey was being taken care of, and taking care of me. It was quite honestly the worst week of our lives and I don't ever want to relive it again.  

We knew that we had to stay in the hospital for at least three days since I was gbs positive.  And so began her first week...every 2-3 hours I would walk to the TLC unit to feed Wren and then return to my room to pump.  She was a really good eater, but struggled with her breathing during feedings.  It was like she just could not get the "suck, swallow, breathe" pattern down.  She would eat and then just forget to breathe.  She was hooked up to a monitor that would show her oxygen levels and they would just plummet every time she started eating.  It was horrifying.  I kept having to kind of "jostle" her to get her to wake up and remember to breathe.  Feedings took at least an hour or more because we had to pause so much.  It was exhausting both physically and emotionally.  I tried so hard to stay positive those first few days, but it was hard.  It was definitely a roller coaster of emotions.  She would seem to do so well, and then the next day just get worse and worse.  She was wearing herself out trying to eat and her poor lungs were working overtime just to breathe.  

She hadn't been on any oxygen while in the TLC unit and after a few days she just wasn't getting any better.  When she was three days old they decided to admit her to the nicu.  I had been discharged from the hospital, but was thankfully able to stay in my room and pay a daily fee to rent the room.  I couldn't imagine going home and leaving her there, especially since I was nursing her every 3 hours. Once admitted to the nicu, she was put on oxygen and did so much better.  She was able to eat and her oxygen levels would stay constant.

At this point, my body was done.  I hadn't slept for more than an hour at a time for four days and I'd been living in a hospital room with nothing to do but walk to and from the nicu to feed Wren and pump.  I missed Trey terribly and honestly just wanted to GET OUT OF THERE!!  I decided to go home for the night to try to get some sleep and just de-stress a little bit.  It was really hard going home without our baby, but I HAD to get out of that hospital room. The next morning we drove up to the hospital and were told that she was doing great on the oxygen and that she was being discharged.  It was like a mixture of "Hooray!  We get to go home!"  and "What?  You're sending her home?  But she can't breathe!"  We received all the training for her oxygen and monitors and just like that, we were out of there!

We were so grateful to finally be home.  It took a good few days, but we seemed to finally find our groove and her oxygen tubing and monitors became just another part of our day.  We are so SO grateful for our families who helped us out those first few weeks.  Trey had been sick and was unable to be home with us, so he pretty much lived with both grandparents for three weeks after she was born.  We relied heavily on both mine and Dave's families and honestly could not have gotten through her first few weeks without them.  Little miss Wren came with some drama for sure, but she is the sweetest little thing, and we love her to pieces.