The busy life of a full time employee, student, mom and wife

Saturday, August 18, 2012

One year - Noah's birth story

One year ago today I was sitting in the living room on my exercise ball, 36 weeks pregnant. I had been on maternity leave for all of four days. I had just laid Anthony down for his nap and had turned on my latest addiction - Ghost Adventures. I was bouncing on my exercise ball, minding my own business when I felt a gush. I was shocked and confused, thinking my water broke at only 36 weeks pregnant. I ran to the bathroom to find that it wasn't water, it was blood. I went into a full on panic, calling my mom to come over and watch Anthony and telling my husband to come home from work now, that I needed to go to the hospital. The bleeding was heavy and wasn't stopping. The contractions started pretty quickly after the bleeding started. The bleeding slowed and eventually stopped, but we went to the hospital anyway because my contractions were strong and about 3 minutes apart, I was in labor.  I got to the hospital to find that I was 4cm dialated and my placenta had ripped, causing the bleeding. Noah was in no danger though so they let me proceed with my labor. To my surprise they labeled me premature. I was under the impression that 36 weeks was term, but apparently its 37. Technically I was only about 4 days shy of "term" but they still labeled us preemie.

After 5 short hours of labor and a whole two pushes, on August 18, 2011 at 9:06 pm Noah Oliver was born at 5lbs 14oz! He came into this world screaming, but quickly showed that all was not okay. He couldn't breath correctly, he was gasping and grunting for air. He wouldn't latch to nurse, he didn't even show interest, it seemed as though he didn't have that instinct yet. They let us hold him for about a half hour before the nurses were too concerned with his breathing and called up a NICU nurse who immediately took him down to the NICU.  They said they believed his issue was a combination of not fully developed lungs and that he swallowed some fluid on the way out. Words cannot describe the heartbreak and guilt I felt having my baby taken from my arms and whisked off to the intensive care unit. Making matters worse, I was told to stay in my room and recover, that I couldn't see him until morning. The next morning I got a phone call that will forever remain in my memory. They called my room from the NICU and said that I could come see him, but that he had deteriorated over night and was now on oxygen and connected to a heart monitor. Again, words do not suffice to describe the fear, hurt, guilt, and heartbreak I felt seeing my tiny little newborn covered in wires and with oxygen tubes taped to his face. His stomach pulled and his body jerked when he took in a breath because he was fighting so hard to breathe. We tried to nurse and he still showed no rooting instinct, so I started pumping.  They let me hold him for only a short time, but touch made his heart rate drop. So I spent my time by his incubator, just watching him. I looked around at the other babies in the NICU; some that had been there for months and were still so much smaller than mine. I heard alarms ringing on other incubators, I saw babies whose parents I never saw visit, I saw a baby get transferred to Children's because this hospital couldn't give him the care he required, and worst of all, I heard a pastor get called in to give a baby his last blessing. I brought home memories from my time in the NICU that I never wanted to have. I knew that our situation wasn't ideal but it was so much better than some of the babies around us, and I was eternally grateful for that. Despite our struggles, we were very blessed.

Later that day we were able to give Noah some pumped breast milk through a feeding tube. Within hours you could see an improvement. I am no where near a "breast nazi" I believe everyone makes the choices that they feel are best for them, and I am no one to judge those choices. But it is impossible for me to argue with the improvements we saw after he got breast milk in him. His stomach no longer pulled when he tried to take a breath in, you could visibly see that he was fighting less to breathe. The next day his breathing had improved so greatly that we were able to remove his oxygen tubes. The Dr told me his stats looked great but he couldn't send him home until he could show that he could eat, which he couldn't. We spent all day trying to coerce him into nursing. We would put him up to the breast and put a feeding tube in his mouth so he could make the connection that milk came from the breast. We made a little bit of progress. Slow and steady would win this race, we were determined. I came at all hours of the night to nurse him, his sucking was still very weak so he got small amounts and nursed very often, but the fact that he was nursing at all was exciting. The next day the Dr was happy enough with his improvements to send him home! After three long, upsetting days in the NICU he was finally being sent home.

In the months that followed, our breastfeeding issues remained. His suck was just not strong enough to sustain him. I was pumping and feeding him breast milk bottles as well as nursing, but it was still not quite enough. When at his 3 month check up he was only 7 pounds (.2%ile. that's POINT two) his doctor told me that something needed to change, he was unhealthy and in danger of needing to be re-hospitalized if he didn't gain some weight. I visited lactation consultants, I bought expensive "supply enhancing" pills, I ate all the foods they told you to, I pumped and supplemented breast milk bottles, but despite my best efforts, it wasn't enough for him. He was unhealthy and I needed to push aside my nursing mom pride and put his health first. I started supplementing with formula bottles and the improvement was seemingly instantaneous. Within a few weeks he shot from the .2%ile to the 15%ile. I can say happily that he is sitting in the 45% ile now days and aside from a small bout with RSV has had no further issues.

Despite his rocky start, Noah is the happiest baby I've ever seen. That may be because his brother had colic so any baby that doesn't cry all day seems like the happiest baby ever. He's happy playing with the big kids or he's happy just sitting watching everyone else play. He's crawling at the speed of light and seems to be a bit lazy, not wanting to walk. He's happy walking if you hold his hands but just doesn't seem to care to do it on his own. He babbles and chats all day every day, and loves to poke people in the eye (don't ask me why!). Before he came into the world we loved our little family of three, but we knew we could stand to expand a little bit more. Now that he is here, I couldn't imagine our family without him. We're complete. He brings so much joy into our lives and reminds us to count our blessings. Happy birthday little man, I love you more than you know.

Little tiny newborn Noey!
Anthony meeting his brother

Going home! Wearing his Padres shirt, of course.
Now! Healthy and happy. We are blessed.

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