Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Gain

Last week, I went and met with the best nurse I've ever encountered.  She was far better than any doctor that I've met even.  She is also one of the lactation consultants that we met with.  She speaks in such a soft voice and somehow was able to read my worry for Caitlyn. 

She helped me to latch Caitlyn properly.  It turns out that Caitlyn was latching correctly, but just started to push away after awhile, something that is hard to see from my angle.  She told me that Caitlyn was probably overwhelmed with the weight of everything after letdown, and showed me how to fix it.  We weighed Caitlyn again after she fed and she had eaten 2 ounces just off of one side and within a short period of time!  This was so relieving.  She was also up to 8 lbs overall, a gain from the last visit.

After that, Caitlyn got the hiccups and started to cry pretty hard when we tried to switch sides.  I'd already told the nurse about her holding her breath while crying.  She instantly tried to soothe the two of us as I was trying to calm Caitlyn.  She showed me a way to hold Caitlyn that got her calmed down and then started telling me that it was okay to put Caitlyn down at home when she is crying.  I started to cry.  It was like she knew instantly what to say next because she said, "It is okay to cry.  This is completely normal for NICU moms. You worry that what happened in the hospital will happen again. But it won't.  She is a healthy baby.  She will be okay if she cries."  She was so calm and so comforting.  She left me with a bunch of blogs and Facebook sites for NICU moms.  The other doctors seemed so nervous when I started crying, but this woman knew exactly what was going on and I didn't even have to try to explain.

She also gave us some of the best advice for Caitlyn's colic.  I'm not sure if it will work, but we will see.  She told me that NICU babies frequently have colic because of the antibiotics that are put into them before they are even able to eat. This made complete sense.  She then told me to give her probiotic drops to see if that would help.  If not, then we are going to try to eliminate dairy from my diet to see if it helps her. 

The days are getting better.  We went out to lunch with my mother-in-law and father-in-law today to celebrate my mother-in-law's birthday.  Caitlyn was as calm as can be during the entire lunch. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Breastfeeding Adventures

During our stay in the Special Care Unit, Caitlyn was admitted for low blood sugar due to the trauma of her birth.  Due to this, she was given an IV immediately.  On the first night visiting her, they allowed us to try to breastfeed.  She wasn't at all interested and screamed.  The reason she was held in the Special Care unit is because she held her breath while crying until she turned blue, so I hated to hear her scream. 

Caitlyn was also spitting up mucous during the early days of her stay in Special Care.  Once Caitlyn had finished a dose of antibiotics, they decided to try to take Caitlyn's dose of the IV down and see if she would take a bottle.  She was still spitting up everything she ate.  I came down late one night to feed her and the Nurse Practioner had ordered that Caitlyn be taken off of the bottle and to just receive the IV.  They allowed me to try to breastfeed, but she was again very upset.  She kept rooting and seemed to want to eat, but there was nothing I could do to try to get her to latch.  I cried as they told me that my baby couldn't have a bottle and to swaddle her and put her to bed.

Eventually they took Caitlyn entirely off of the IV and said that we would bottle feed or give her a feeding tube.  The first time that we fed her, she wasn't taking the bottle because she was tired.  She had jaundice during her stay which may have attributed to this.  They inserted the feeding tube and the milk that went along with it.  Slowly but surely, she started to take down her food in the form of the bottle and not the feeding tube.  She still refused to feed from my breast.  She would squeal and squirm.  A lactation consultant was called to her bedside many times so that we could try to breastfeed.  Each time Caitlyn would refuse.  I did get her to breastfeed for five minutes in the hospital and I thought that it was a miracle, but that was her only time while we were there.  Meanwhile, Caitlyn was choking on bottles as she took in too much milk at a time. 

When we were released, Caitlyn continued to squeal and scream when given my breast and continued giving us a scare by choking on her bottles.  My sister-in-law recommended another lactation consultant who came to our house.  She was so patient and sweet with us.  She recommended using a laid back position rather than the traditional football hold, cradle hold, or cross-cradle hold.  Caitlyn still refused, but we had hope.  This felt more natural. 

That day I went to the pediatrician and he recommended another lactation consultant who he said many people really liked.  I made the appointment  thinking that I would end up canceling, but after a few days of Caitlyn not nursing and still washing pump parts, I figured I would give it a try.  She again recommended the laid back approach.  She was a tender lady who didn't push Caitlyn either and I really appreciated that.  She gave us a tip to help her with the bottle to slow things down (push the top of the bottle in and tip it over).  Just like everyone else had told us before, she told us that NICU babies just take some time. 

I continued to try to breastfeed Caitlyn here and there, but I was starting to think that I was going to be stuck at the pump.  One day before heading to Target for some errands, I decided to try again.  I had been trying without the nipple shield for a few days, hoping that she would latch without it.  That day I put the shield on to see if it would help.  Caitlyn latched immediately with no fuss and breastfed for an hour straight.  I was shocked.  Caitlyn hasn't gone back to the bottle since then.  I had the mantra of one of our lactation consultants going through my  head, "Every baby can breastfeed.  Some babies just outlast their mothers in the struggle."  I hadn't wanted to be that mother that had her baby outlast her.  I made it and Caitlyn is doing much better without the bottle. 

The Saga Continues...

I'm not even sure where to start with this post.  I have 15 minutes to write this before taking Caitlyn to the doctor again.  We've been there multiple times this week...

Caitlyn went in for a weight check on Monday and lost weight since her visit the week before.  I broke down in the doctor's office.  I thought we'd had such great success with breastfeeding and it wasn't true.  We'd come so far to go backwards again.  The doctor wanted to see us again the next day.

The following day, Caitlyn lost another ounce.  We'd spent the entire day nursing. I'd supplemented a few bottles even as the doctor suggested.  And she lost weight again.  My husband was with me this time and I again broke down and could barely ask the doctor what needed to be asked.  At this point they probably think I'm suffering from Postpartum Depression, but really I'm just very worried about my daughter.

Yesterday, Caitlyn was given bottles after breastfeeding each time as suggested by the doctor.  She did really well in the morning and even slept most of the morning.  The afternoon was another story, she was up for 10 hours straight.  Some of that time was perfectly content.  The evening time was filled with crying. She cried so hard that she held her breath again.  She hasn't done that since the hospital.  She turned purple right in front of me and there was no nurse running to help me this time.  I blew in her face and she snapped out of it, but it happened at least a few more times last night.  I was going to take her to a dentist to see if has tongue tie to assist in our breastfeeding journey, but now I'm so worried about her having any procedure that causes pain because she is still holding her breath while crying. 

I'm headed to the doctor today with her again to see if I can't figure out what is going on with her breastfeeding and her crying...

Sunday, July 13, 2014

My Birth Story

I decided to start writing this blog because of the experiences that I've had after the birth of my daughter.  Maybe someday I will pass this link down to her so that she can read her own early adventures (when she is an adult!).  With the small amount of time that I seem to have these days, I felt that I really needed to share this story, not really for the rest of the world, but for me.  When I was a kid I always felt the need to write to heal.  This blog post is my healing.

It all started on Friday, June 27th.  My husband and I went in for an ultrasound.  We were almost one week past our due date and the doctor had already mentioned induction, but I had asked to wait until at least 42 weeks.  She ordered up many ultrasounds to make sure the baby was okay throughout this process.  We watched the monitor as our baby's heartbeat in her chest and....she took a really long nap.  We waited and waited for her little feet or hands to make a move.  Half an hour, we waited.  Eventually the time was up and she had failed her ultrasound test because she needed a minimum of two movements and we had none.  They sent us directly over to a non-stress test.  I was hooked up to a machine that read to see if our baby's heartbeat would spike a few times.  Again, she failed this test.  The nurse went to find my doctor in the office.  "Because she has failed these two tests, it is time.  We need to do this for the safety of the baby."  I was almost in tears, so I couldn't say much, just nodded.  They explained that they would start me on Cervadil to soften the cervix and then eventually I would be given Pitocin.  I had wanted to do this without any drugs, no interventions.  I knew this would be difficult with the Pitocin.  I had read that they usually send you home when they start Cervadil, I thought I'd go home and pack and have time to digest this.

We walked over to Labor and Delivery with the nurse.  They checked me in to a room and told me to put a gown on.  They told my husband, "You can go get bags if you need to.  She can't leave."  Somehow I still wasn't putting all of this together.  I still didn't realize that I was stuck there.  My husband finally explained to me that I wasn't leaving, I was giving birth via induction in the next 24 hours.  The tears were still pushing behind my eyes, not quite running yet.

My husband left to go get our bags, and the doctor came in to talk to me and start the Cervadil.  The tears could no longer be held back.  They flew from my eyes and I could barely catch my breath to say anything to the doctor.  "I know this isn't the birth plan that you wanted," she said as she tried to calm me down.  `She explained the steps that were to come in the following hours: 12 hours of Cervadil and then Pitocin in the middle of the night.  She asked if I had any questions.  It took a bit for me to talk, but I finally said, "I had planned on doing Hypnobabies.  How are the contractions going to be with Pitocin?"  I knew the answer, but for some reason I needed to say this so that she knew this is what I had wanted to do.  Her face told me the answer, the words didn't matter.

After about 5 hours on the Cervadil and a lot of boredom, I got up to give my husband a hug.  He would later find the Cervadil string on his shoe.  "What is this??!" One of our few humorous moments at this time. The doctor decided that instead of putting another string of Cervadil in, they would begin Pitocin.  I could feel a knot starting in my stomach.

In the beginning, the Pitocin was fine.  They started me with a low dosage and I texted my sister-in-law to let her know the bum news.  She sent me encouraging texts back.  "You're doing this!"   I really thought that I could do it.  I practiced my breathing and envisioned my safe place.  "I've got this," I said.   I asked for a birthing ball and used that as much as I could.  The bed was worse than a camp cot and I couldn't stand laying in it.  The baby monitors kept falling off of my stomach though, and the nurse kept coming in to adjust them. At some point, my in-laws came in with my mom and I remember just being in my own zone taking on the contractions.

  Eventually the doctor came in and told me that they would need to put a monitor on the baby's head if I planned on moving more.  I hadn't done my research on a monitor on the baby's head!  I didn't know what to think of that.  I asked if I could just rotate between the bed and the ball, and she agreed, but I never made it back to the ball.  Once I was in the bed, they turned up the Pitocin more.  My contractions got closer and closer together.  They were stronger and stronger.  I felt like I could barely catch my breath before another came ripping through me.  My husband clenched my hand, rubbed my head, and looked at me with concern.  I loved him so much during all of this because he showed me how much he cared. 

I lasted four hours without pain medication before the nurse checked my progress and told me that I hadn't progressed at all.  I was exactly the same as when I entered that morning.  I cried out in pain as another contraction hit me and she said, "What would you like to do?  Do you want something for the pain?"  I had read many tales of women who tried to continue with Pitocin at this point and no pain meds who ended up in C-section because they just didn't progress due to the pain and not relaxing.  I modified my goal again, "No C-section," I told myself.  I signed off the paperwork to get an epidural and turned to the window so I wouldn't see anything as they prepared it.  I could hear the anesthesiologist, but I never did see his face, nor did I see any of the equipment that he brought.  I envisioned my safe place and tried not to think of what was going on.  The pain slowly let up in my body and my legs became tingly.  The nurse helped me lean back. 

I was in and out of sleep for the rest of the night.  The nurses checked me multiple times in the hour, my mom and my in-laws were in and out checking on us.

At 7 AM, the nurse came in to check me again and said that I was complete.  I was so exhausted that I didn't react and she said, "Did you hear me?  You are complete!"  I pretended to act excited, but wasn't sure what this meant.  I knew that there was still pushing ahead, and that seemed like it would be a lot more work.  She had me do a few practice pushes to see how the baby reacted, and then told me that we would need to "labor down".  I'd never heard the phrase.  I thought  laboring was done when you were complete, but I was so wrong.  The contractions could be felt again.  I thought the epidural had worn off, but it hadn't.  They hurt so bad and my husband sat by my bedside again.  They told me that we would be pushing at 8 AM, but then my nurse and doctor changed shifts.  The new nurse barely checked on me.  The machines would go off beeping loud and she didn't show her face. The pain was getting stronger and stronger.  I felt like I needed to push, but I was told that it wasn't time yet.  We labored down for many more hours.

The nurse checked me at 10 AM and said that we could start pushing.  I thought that a doctor would come in to help, but they didn't.  She had my husband hold up one of my legs and had me push. "The baby is right there!"  she said.  "Keep pushing.  Don't make noises," she said.  I pushed as hard as I could and she kept telling me harder.  I told her, "I am pushing!"  She kept trying to push her monitors to call for the doctor and nobody came.  Eventually what seemed like 15 people and the doctor entered the room. They were all shouting at me to push.  "She keeps turtling back in," I heard them say.  I felt like I must have been doing something wrong.  I pushed as hard as I could and they kept telling me to push harder.  The doctor told me that the baby's heartbeat is going down and asked if she could use the vacuum.  I agreed knowing that this baby needed to get out.  She put the vacuum on her head and yanked and pulled while I pushed. The baby turtled back in again.  All I could see was the faces surrounding me, every one of them had a look of total panic and adrenaline.  I couldn't see the baby monitor.  I didn't know what was going on.  "We need a C-section prepared stat," the doctor said.  That was all I needed.  This had to be serious.  15 people and now they are asking for a C-section.  Something is wrong, something is very wrong.  I pushed as hard as I could and felt my baby's head pop out.  I pushed one more time and her shoulders popped through and the rest of her body flew out. Beautiful Caitlyn Rose was born.

 I didn't know it, but they had used the vacuum again and sliced me open to get her out.  They threw her on my chest for a millisecond and I barely touched her before she was taken away.  I couldn't see her.  I could hear her shrill cry.  The nurse said, "I'm just glad to hear the baby cry."  I still didn't know what was going on.  Why was my baby taken away?  Why were all these people panicked?  I started to cry.  The doctor stitched me up and I cried.  She thought I was crying out of my own pain, out of my own frustration.  I was crying because my baby was taken away without me seeing her. 

Caitlyn had come out with her cord wrapped around her neck.  I didn't know this until I heard the nurse and doctor discussing how they were going to report what had happened.  They took her away because she was breathing high in her chest and she was supposed to return in 6 hours.  My  husband went to see her and brought me back pictures.  I wasn't able to see her until an hour after her birth.  There were many tears in that hour.  What was supposed to be a natural birth had turned into nothing I had ever imagined. 

The nurse took me into the Special Care Unit to see my daughter.  She was beautiful.  The cannula that I had seen in the pictures that were brought to me was removed.  She was breathing fine.  So why was she still in Special Care?  The baby nurses told me that her blood sugar was low, probably due to her traumatic birth.  She would be kept longer.  There now was no timeframe as to when our baby would be with us. 

Caitlyn ended up with many more issues that kept her in Special Care.  Her blood sugar went back up within the next day, but then she was held because she was holding her breath while crying.  I had done this as a baby, so I didn't think anything of it, until I saw it for myself.  Her little face turned blue as she cried.  They threw an oxygen mask on her face.  She outgrew this within the 8 days that she spent in the Special Care Unit, but then began choking as she at
e.  It was as if we weren't ever getting out and the days were long and tiring.  I've never cried so much in my whole life, never been so long without sleep.  I cried every time a nurse or doctor talked to me.  I could barely speak when I wanted to and my  husband who is normally shy had to ask all of the questions.  Eventually a doctor came in that could see how worn we were, who could see the great progress this baby had made.  She had no breathing issues, normal blood sugar, and was acting like a normal baby.  She still choked on her milk, but we learned how to deal with it.  The doctor let us go exactly one week after Caitlyn was born and our lives with a beautiful baby girl began...