Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Rest of the Story

I've been trying to formula this in my head and it isn't coming together. Probably because I was a walking, talking numb person at the time - so bear with me.

When the doctor came out of delivery, it was the neonataligist carrying Kenny. This was Jim's introduction in the the world of the NICU. All NICUs are different and have different rules about weight, size, treatment, etc. This was our experience at St. Vincent's in Birmingham, Alabama. Our NICU was pronounce N-I-C-U - I know it's become popular to prononunce it Nick-u but ours wasn't that way. Jim was able to see Kenny when the doctor stopped to show him to Jim and pretty quickly in the NICU itself. Kenny started out on a c-pap for breathing (prongs in his nose,) an IV for glucose (no formula yet,) and small white eye shields (called goggles) to protect his eyes from the billi-light. He also had a gold heart placed on his heart to measure his heart rate. He was placed on an open bed (the tall bed you always see on TV) and usually just had a diaper placed around him. They didn't try to tape it up. The diapers were weighed when change to measure just how much was going in and out. Jim had to wash his hands thoughly (there were instuctions) and couldn't pick him up. Premies like a firm touch and we were asked to only touch him on his trunk, not legs or arms.

Because my blood pressure was still so high I wasn't allowed out of my room for 2 days. I remember lots of people coming to see me and my blood pressure going though the roof. I felt fine but the nurse would only let one person in at a time. I slept alot and the blood pressure cuff would inflate (and wake my up) every 30 minutes. So I would wake up n the middle of the night and ask about Kenny - Jim would tell me he was fine. I would ask Jim to go check on him and by the time Jim got back I'd be asleep! Jim knew all the nurses - roll the clock. When I was finally allowed to go to a room on the floor, I was able to see Kenny. We still couldn't pick him up. The premies had to be 1600 grams (Kenny's birth weight) and we had to wait for him to get that big. Only JIm and I were allowed to touch him and only 2 people could be at a bed at one time. By the time I got to see him, the goggles were gone (but the velcro patches on the side of his head remained) and he was off the vent.

Funny thing: I was still VERY hot. It turned cold and my mom had come to see me. I was on the floor and I had my own room. She was talking to me and I said to her to take off her coat and stay awhile. She had on her heavy winter coat! She told me it was freezing in my room. Now it was 40 outside and I still had the A/C on 50! I was shocked at how hot it was in the hallway.

Kenny quickly moved to a isolette and I was able to hold him for the first time 5 days after his birth. We could hold him for 20 minutes at a time so Jim didn't get a chance until 8 days after his birth. We learned about "kangaroo care" - the baby is held up against the skin. I did it behind a screen or out in the open. Yall know how good it feels to have a baby right up against you! He was taking formula through a feeding tube - his first bottle was given at 10 days old. We were told (more than once) that he wasn't supposed to be here until the end of December - so don't look for him to come home until the end of December.

I left the hospital 4 days after his birth and cried all the way home. It's horrible to leave your helpless baby with someone else! After awhile, I would go in the morning and be with Kenny until the shift change at abut 3:00. Then Jim would come home from work, we would eat something quickly, and we would both go to the hospital until about 10:00. We saw some parents that lived far away and weren't able to see their child every day. I wanted to take care of those kids, too. I was told to call anytime I wanted to to check on him. I remember calling one night at abut 3:00 and the nurse was wonderful! She remembered seeing Jim and checked on Kenny right away and gave me a report. I felt confident in their care but I wanted him home!

Kenny's heart would have bradycardia - his heart would get dangerously slow and he could turn blue. The policy was he had to go 10 days without a brady before he could go home. He would never quite make 10 days. I pumped the entire time and I was given a private room to try to nurse him. He wouldn't latch on (later, at home, he did and nursed for about 9 months) but we sure tried. I would pump, freeze the milk, take it to the hospital, and they would give it to him when neither of us was there.

It was the week of Christmas and surely, he would come home! My in-laws came from Abilene - thinking he would come home that week. He had been in the hospital for 7 weeks! Then he contracted RSV. Kenny was immediatly put into isolation. We weren't at the hospital (it was night) but the doctor called us to tell us. He was back on an open bed, face down with lots of IVs that he was trying to pull out whenever he was awake. I would just pat his bottom to put him back to sleep. That first day, I thought him might die - Jim didn't. He looked very sick and had his own nurse - all to himself. It was awful for me. We were there the next day with Mimi and Pop and his vein (?) had collasped again. The antibotics were tough on them and they kept finding new places to put the IV. We were asked to wait outside while 3 or 4 nurses tried to find a vein. We could hear him screaming and Jim and I just prayed. I had to walk down the hall so I couldn't hear it anymore. It was a memorable Christmas.

This was a dark time for me. Margaret was in the hospital down the street and I thought she was dying, too. No one wanted me to know just how sick she was but her heart wasn't doing well. It wasn't long after this that she got a kidney from her brother - it's still working well, praise God. One of the women I didn't know well at church told me that she couldn't sleep the night before and was praying for Kenny then. I was asleep. I'm so thankful others were taking care of us then.

After the RSV, he had reached his due date. He weighted less than 7 lbs and I guess they felt like "Get this kid out of our NICU!" He was 8 weeks old and allowed to come home. He had a heart monitor that he wore all the time (wires around his chest) and we had to have infant CPR. January 7 Homecoming.

Sorry this has been so long - I hope you had lots of coffee with our story. We praise God that He allowed us to have our 9-year-old and that our story can help others. I have since visited others that I don't know whose babies had to go to the NICU. (Buy them some parking passes) I really just wanted all my Texas friends to know that God can carry us even when we can't even think about anything but making it to shift change.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise Him all creatures here below. Praise Him above ye Heavenly Host. Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.


Sarah said...

I love your story -- especially that I know EXACTLY what I was doing on January 7, 1998. It was Ashley's 2nd birthday, and I was holding my own 7 week old who literally screamed ALL day. It was awful. But he was healthy and in my arms! (I sure didn't have that perspective at the time!)

Anonymous said...

What a great story. I am sitting here with goosebumps! What a blessing Kenny truly is. Thanks for sharing. =)

Melene said...

Thank you for sharing this amazing story with us. I'm so thankful your son is ok.

Anonymous said...

Great story!


Roxanne said...

Victoria had transient tychypnia of the newborn and was in the N-I-C-U (like yours) for 6 days. She was large enough that they were able to put her IV in her hand rather than her head. . .but I will never ever forget leaving the hospital at midnight on a Wed. and not being able to get her home until late Sunday afternoon. I WALKED out of the hospital--no baby--no flowers--no balloons--carrying a breast pump that I would use every hour on the hour. I was CONVINCED if I could get some breast milk in that baby she'd be fine. And she was--about five days later. :)