On November 16, I awoke with a horrible headache. And by horrible, I mean the worst headache of my life. It was so bad, I couldn’t keep any food down. I was already in the hospital on bed rest for preeclampsia. The medicine we had been using to combat my constant headache had stopped working, so my OB ordered a shot of morphine for me to help with the pain. That’s how bad it was.
Then, she made the decision: It was time to deliver Andrew. I got word that I’d be having a c-section about an hour before it was scheduled. I frantically called The Nerd, who was at work 45 minutes away.
I don’t remember much of the preparation. I remember being terrified. I remember being in the OR and a nurse asked me if my husband was going to make it. I remember bursting into tears, sputtering, “I don’t know!” I remember the horrible pain as they gave me the spinal tap/epidural — I vomited during the procedure. I remember the surprise on the anesthesiologist’s face and her exclamation that she’d never seen someone do that during the procedure before. I remember losing the feeling in my legs and being completely and utterly afraid.
I don’t remember much of the procedure. I pretended to be somewhere else. Anywhere else. I was so afraid — afraid for my baby who would be born six weeks early. Afraid for myself — I didn’t want to know what they were doing to me. I remember The Nerd sitting by my head (he made it in time!) and asking me constantly if I was ok. I don’t remember what my answer was.
And then, they handed me this beautiful baby boy. I remember being so shaky and out of it and sleepy that I said, “I’m going to drop him!” and handed him back. I remember The Nerd asking me if I was sure I didn’t want him to stay with me. “Go with the baby!” was my response, as they wheeled him away to the NICU.
Soon, I was returned to my room in Labor and Delivery, where I would have to stay for the next 24 hours. They had me on magnesium, which does CRAZY things to you. And because I was on magnesium, I was told I wouldn’t get to see my baby until it was out of my system the following day. They don’t like to move you when you’re on magnesium.
My parents and my grandmothers came to meet the baby. Because he was in the NICU, only four people (besides me and The Nerd) were allowed in to see him. He was doing great. He was breathing on his own and regulating his temperature. They did have to give him a bit of oxygen in the beginning to help him expand his diaphragm, but there were no major problems. That was a blessing in itself.
Andrew James was born at 11:40 am Nov. 16. He weighed 4 lbs, 2 oz and was 17.5 inches long.
On Thursday, as they were moving me from Labor and Delivery to Postpartum, they took me to the NICU to see Andrew. In the NICU, the babies are given five “touch times” where you are allowed to hold them. Because I was being moved, we didn’t visit during a touch time and the NICU nurse told me I wouldn’t be able to hold him. I burst into tears. But my L&D nurse came to the rescue and told her that I was going to hold my baby — I hadn’t seen him since he was born. The NICU nurse relented, and I got to hold that precious little man in my arms.
I was in the hospital for the next three days, recovering from the surgery. I cannot tell you how hard it was to watch The Nerd and my mother go visit the baby every touch time and be left in the room alone. Because I was still recovering, I couldn’t go down to see him but twice a day. That’s been the hardest thing for me: having others dictate when and how I can see and hold my baby.
Because he was so small, Andrew was in an incubator for a while. He lost a little weight since birth (that’s normal in most newborns) and had to get back up to 4 lbs. But once he was there, he got to move to a big boy bed!
Our biggest struggle has been bottle feeding. According to the NICU nurses, babies develop the ability to suck, swallow, breathe around 36 weeks gestational age. Andrew was born at 34 weeks, so he has to learn how to eat from a bottle. He has been doing great, though. Yesterday morning, he completed his first bottle and then finished two more that same day. They are giving him four bottles a day right now. He has to complete six bottles a day before they’ll consider sending him home.
While yesterday was a great accomplishment, the nurses cautioned us to not get our hopes up too soon. Often, babies will do really well with bottle feeding for a few days, then tire out and regress. They just need to develop the strength to do it, and that takes time.
We go visit the little dude in the NICU every chance we get. That’s been good for me, because it’s forced me to heal a lot faster than I think I would have otherwise. He’s so small and so fragile and it breaks my heart thinking of him sitting in his crib for hours on end with no one holding him or loving on him. I know he’s in the best place he could be and he is being taken care of. But it’s hard to come home every night without my baby.
He’s just got to take some time and grow big and strong, then he’ll be home soon. And I can’t wait for that day.
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