Sunday, September 13

Birth Day Part 2

... disclaimer: i'm writing this at 1am, so it is bound to be convoluted, boring, and typo-filled ....

After surgery I was wheeled to the recovery room where I was the only one recovering.  I was tucked away in the corner and as comfy as could be after surgery.  I was desperately thirsty so the nurse took pity on me and give me some water, but warned me that too much would make me sick.

A little while into my recovery I began to get sick again so, after a few unfortunate vomiting episodes (one that embarrassingly enough required a full change for myself and the bed) I was given some IV anti-nausea medicine.  I tried to get some rest, but every few minutes the nurse would come in to press on my lower abdomen to make sure that blood was draining as it should.  Despite still being pretty numb, it hurt a lot.

Johnny was anxious to get back upstairs to visit the boys, but as they were in the process of being admitted, the nurses were reluctant to let him up.  At this point all I really knew was that we had two boys.  Neither Johnny or I knew their weight or length or even time of birth.  Eventually Johnny was cleared to head upstairs.  After a kiss goodbye he first headed down to our parents to announce that the babies were born, they were doing okay and I was recovering nicely.  He then headed upstairs for a peek at the boys.  They were still being set up, so the doctors would only let him see the boys through the glass of the room.  

After a few minutes visit, Johnny came down to see me again.  At this point, every few minutes the nurse was still coming in and when she did she would ask me if I could move.  I wasn't going to be allowed to leave until I could lift my body off the bed.  Slowly I began regaining feeling in my toes.  Then my feet and legs.  Eventually I was able to lift myself up and was labeled okay to go visit the babies.  I was wheeled upstairs to the NICU and I had no idea what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised.  (I had every intention of taking a tour of the NICU prior to having the babies, but the opportunity didn't present itself early enough obviously...)

In the movies and on tv and in most hospitals the NICU is a big room with a bunch of isolettes.  It's bright and noisy and there are people everywhere.  The NICU at Beth Israel is a bit different.  The NICU is a converted ward for adults so it's made up of 20 or 30 2-person rooms.  Each room is home to two babies, you can control your own lights, and it's a lot more intimate than a huge room.  

I was wheeled up on my bed to room 974- the home of the Jamerson twins.  Outside the door were name tags for the boys- Jamerson 1 was in the closest bed (Connor) and Jameson 2 was in the further bed (Colby).  I went in and again wasn't sure what to expect.  Both boys were sprawled out on their open-air incubators.  They looked small, but not as tiny as I expected.  They where tucked into sheepskin and blankets, intubated, and covered in leads, wires, and IV's.  The sight was intimidating, but I wasn't worried about the boys at all.  They were alive and well- they were going to be fine.  I was so scared of hurting them, though.  I gently touched their feet from my bed.  Instantly I loved them, but I didn't feel like their mother.  Instead, somehow, I felt like they belonged to the doctors and nurses instead.  Right then they didn't need me... they needed everyone who could help them stay alive.

After a few minutes in the NICU- the words were a blur as they explained the boys' conditions and procedures- I was wheeled back into the elevators and brought down to my room of the last 3 weeks.  It was nice to be back and the familiarity, but I couldn't believe how quickly everything had changed.

Once we got settled back in, Johnny had our parents and my brothers come up to the room to see me before bringing them up to the NICU to visit.  Though I should have been anxious to get right back upstairs, I wasn't.  I loved my little boys and wanted to see them, but I felt like I had all the time in the world to see them.  I was too wiped to think about getting to see them right then.  Before he left to go upstairs, Johnny ordered my "clear" dinner and I rested on and off as Johnny led the tours.  Much of the day was a blur.  Late that evening my family left-- and I felt horrible because my brothers missed a friend's wedding to be with me.  

A bit later a doctor from the NICU came to visit to talk to us about the boys.  She assured us that, while they were small and not the healthiest 27 weekers they had ever seen, they weren't the sickest, either.  They didn't appear to be in immediate danger and they were responding well to their treatments.  Our of desperation I asked a question that I knew was stupid as I asked it-- had the steroids I was given helped with their lungs?  I knew there was no way to really tell, but I wanted some reassurance.  I can't remember exactly what she said, but it wasn't really the reassurance I was looking for.   I still wasn't worried though. 

A little before midnight my nurse, Kristy, came in and helped me to the bathroom.  If I could tolerate the short trip I would be allowed upstairs to see the boys before bed.  The trip to the bathroom-- just a few feet away-- was so painful and I was so queazy and dizzy that my trip to the NICU was put on hold until the next day.  I got back in bed and Johnny headed upstairs for a good night kiss.

Finally around 2 we both got to bed to get some sleep.  I woke up to Kristy around 4 am.  I can't remember why... I'm not sure if she was giving me meds or checking some vital or something.  As soon as she left the fan which I had been using every day in the hospital made me shiver.  I was shivering so uncontrollably (and couldn't really move to get more covers because I was in so much pain) that I started yelling for Johnny.  I was trying to wake him up to turn off the fan for me.  Eventually, when he wouldn't wake up I rang for Kristy.  She came in, gave me a blanket, and decided to check my temp.  The temp came back over 101.  She got me a blanket, turned off the fan, and called the doctor for instructions.  I was given meds, IV antibiotics every 8 hours (and a different kind every 10 hours), and had blood drawn.  The results came back that I was fighting an infection-- perhaps the reason that I had delivered early.

The infection and antibiotics didn't slow us down that day.  Despite the pain, I got up to see the boys a few times.  I began pumping and my parents came to visit with pictures of the boys.  I only saw the boys about 4 times that day, but, again, I felt like I had all the time in the world.  When we were visiting we were given the updates on the boys.  Colby was almost ready for his new isolette and was given his umbilical line.  Connor wasn't really tolerating the vent, so he was put on a high-fi vent to help.  He was fighting off an infection too.  They were having a hard time placing his line.  He was having some blood pressure issues, but they were resolving.  They wanted to do an early head ultrasound because he seemed kind of lethargic.  Overall, though, we were assured that they were doing pretty well.

Later that evening another doctor came in to talk to Johnny and I to get consent for Connor's PICC and for a blood transfusion for Connor.  As the doctor explained all the preemie things-- bleeding on the brain, and the PICC, and transfusions, and PDA, and infections, and lung disease-- I wasn't worried at all.  Looking back, I can't understand why I was so calm about it all.  I had read up a lot about preemies and everything that was being mentioned was pretty common so it didn't phase me.  Johnny, however, was scared to death by what we were told.  The transfusion scared him, the infection scared him, bleeding on the brain scared him.  On the other hand, while I wished that we didn't have ot think about these things-- bleeding and infections and transfusions-- I knew they were at least common, babies dealt with them and lived all the time.  I can't stress enough how NOT worried I was.  When the doctor left, I sat there reassuring Johnny that these things were normal.  

Before bed we made one last trek upstairs to see Connor and Colby to say good night.

And then it was 4am and Kristy was waking us up...

I only wish I had spent more time with the boys.  I wish I hadn't been so confident that all would be okay.  I wish I hadn't taken that time for granted.  Though I knew a lot about preemies I obviously didn't grasp the enormity of the situation we were in. Once Connor and Colby were born and thriving, I thought we were in the clear.  I had such faith in the NICU team that I didn't for a second think anything could go wrong.  

But then, of course, we were awoken at 4am and you know that story.  


Jenn said...

Thank you so much for sharing with us and for your honesty.

There is a reason for the saying, "hind sight is 20/20". If only we could go back knowing what we know now.

Take peace in knowing that your love for Connor is being channeled into all that you are doing for Colby.

Shinejil said...

I can totally understand your feelings, but you were recovering from serious surgery and the stress of giving birth! You did all you could. I think sometimes our mind protects us, when our bodies are seriously challenged.

You're doing an amazing job.

Catherine W said...

'I only wish I had spent more time with the boys. I wish I hadn't been so confident that all would be okay. I wish I hadn't taken that time for granted.'

I have so many of the same feelings. I also thought that, once my babies were born alive and in the NICU, nothing could wrong. But we couldn't have known, we just couldn't have known.