Thursday, June 16, 2011

NICU Mamma

I'm a mother of a baby that was in the NICU. Wow...that only took me 8 months to say. Seeing my precious baby boy today, one would never know that he was a NICU baby. Seeing him just after he was born, one wouldn't think he would even remotely be anywhere near the NICU. But, my precious, 8lb 9oz baby boy spent the first 4 days of his life in the NICU.
It all started with contractions on October 8th. This was 11 days prior to my "scheduled" c-section. I was set to have a c-section because of my history with Crohn's disease. I've had 5 abdominal surgeries - 4 full open ones - in 6 years. Having a history of perianal fistulas, my OBGYN and CR surgeon and myself, decided that it would be in all of our best interest to have a c-section. It was set - for October 19th, 2 days prior to my due date. I was always nervous that I would go before my scheduled date - I can't ever seem to do things on schedule. We had a plan - first thing in the morning, Dr Morgan (OBGYN) and Dr Page (my CR surgeon) would do the c-section in the main OR, and everything would be great! October 8th rolls around, and I'm not feeling Benton move very much that morning - in fact, not at all. I get scared, and call the Dr. I'm also having contractions. The Dr says to come in, which is easier said than done - it's a 45 minute drive to the Dr's office from Ames. So - I head down there, and they hook me up and do a non-stress test. Of course, as soon as I'm hooked up, they see the contractions, and then Benton starts to move like crazy. Kids and dog make liars out of you every time. We determine he's okay, and we determine that I'm in pre-term labor - nothing serious yet, and barely dilated....go home :-(
I'm done at the Dr's office and in a lot of pain, so I call Steven to come pick me up. He's on his way, and the contractions get stronger, and closer. I got back up to the Dr's office and talk to Dr Tran (whom I really like!) and she tells me to go the L&D and they can monitor me for a while longer, but won't stop the contractions if they don't stop on themselves. Steven gets here, and off we go to L&D (not our first trip there!)
Benton and I get comfortable in the monitoring room, and get hooked up. We are watched for a while, then the Dr comes in and orders a biophysical profile ultrasound. When he's done doing that, they come in and talk to me and Steven, telling me that Benton is showing some signs of distress, and want to watch me overnight (sigh). The contractions have slowed down, but are still strong, and I can't sleep or rest. So - we're moved into the post-partum area to be monitored overnight. I don't sleep a WINK - this is even after 2 Tylenol pm. I watch TV, toss and turn, and even make Steven go on walks with me around the floor. I gaze lovingly in the nursery, imagining Benton laying in the bassinet and people walking by talking about how sweet he is. Wow - nice plans.
The following morning, Dr Tran comes in and tells me that she's going to check me, and if I've progressed at all, she'll do the section. If not, she's sending me home (still contracting). I've progressed slightly, so the c-section is on! Now, let's get the room scheduled, and where is Dr Page? We spend the next few hours waiting on the room (there was an emergency with a guy cutting off his arm in some accident, blah blah). We find out the Page is in Chicago - mind you he PROMISED that he wasn't going anywhere during the month of October - he was in trouble! - but his partner was "on-call" in case something happened during the section. About 2pm, we were wheeled down to the OR. Steven was looking lovely in his garb, and I was nervous! I remember getting myself on the OR bed, the spinal, and remembering that I felt very sick, then got something in my IV and felt instantly better! Steven set beside me and held my hand as we anxiously awaited to hear our baby boy's cry.
He came out, and was beautiful. Steven went to him and watched them dry him off. They were checking his apgar scores, and he was breathing really fast. They decided to bring in the NICU team to help him breath a little. I was devastated. He was stabilized and put into an isolet, and wheeled by me while I was still being closed up. Steven asked if I wanted him to stay with me, or go with Benton, and I of course said to stay with the baby.
The next parts I'm not sure on - because I wasn't there. I was closed, and taken back to my post partum room, and fell asleep, wondering how my baby was. My mother-in-law came in shortly after I got back. Steven came back to check on me, and brought pictures of my baby boy. He was perfect...but covered with wires, and tubes. It scared me. It wasn't supposed to be like this. I was supposed to be holding him, cuddling him, and showing him off....not waiting to go see him.
My mom and dad came, I slept, Steven stayed with Benton....
Benton had an umbilical line put in after he was sent to the NICU, to draw blood and give fluids. One of the fluids they gave him was heparinized saline. It was a 250ml bag. He was supposed to have 62 units of heparin in this bag....
After his fluids were started, his umbilical line didn't clot properly, it was oozing around the line itself. The Drs and nurses watched it for a few hours. About 2 in the morning, while Steven was asleep on the "uncomfortable" couch - the nurse noticed it was oozing more, and called in the neonatologist. He immediately pulled the line, and a swarm of people were around Benton. Orders were flying right and left, and a nurse pulled Steven aside, and questioned if we had any history of bleeding disorders in the family. In his sleep-deprived haze, Steven couldn't think of any. Benton's bleeding stopped, with 10 stitches, surgi-gel, and fresh frozen plasma. The next 3 days were spent wondering if he was okay - if he had a bleeding disorder, if his brain bled too, if he was going to be "normal".
The day we were discharged, the Dr told me as a precaution, he was going to have the saline bag tested to see the concentration of heparin in the saline. He said he highly doubted there was a pharmacy error, and that Benton had some type of Factor V Clotting disorder, but we couldn't be sure until he was about 14 days old, and the plasma was out of his system. I got a call 2 days later that somewhat put my mind at ease. There was a pharmacy error. Benton's 250ml bag of saline had 5,000 units of heparin - not 62. For those non-pharmacy, non-medical people out there - 5,000u of heparin is an adult dose of heparin. They apologized profusely, swore up and down that their procedures have changed, etc etc...
I'm a NICU mom. My baby was in the NICU. I missed the bonding time with my son, the first food he received was a bottle from the nurse. I cried and cried and cried those first 4 days of his life. I felt that I didn't do a good enough job as a mom to keep him safe, to keep him in long enough that he was healthy. I've since learned that it wasn't my fault in any way, and I couldn't have done anything to keep him out of there, or any safer.
Why am I telling you all this, now? 8 months later? 1. I need to let you know. 2. I have friends that are currently pregnant with twins and triplets. The mom of the triplets is preparing herself mentally for having babies in the NICU. I'm devastated at the thought of these parents having to experience the things that I did, and have the feelings that I had. While I knew that Benton was in the best place of him, I would not wish anyone to have to experience the NICU.
Me...I'm a NICU mom. But we're past it, and Benton is healthy, happy, and growing!

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