Thursday, March 14, 2013

NICU Week 1

Dexter went in for his surgery on September 21st at around 2:30am. He was exactly 24 hours old. He was out of surgery in about 2 hours, and all went well. He lost only a minimal amount of his bowel. I was told that he would be in the nicu for a few weeks and that we would need to watch him to be sure he didn't have any leaks.

I was up all night the first night. I was pumping every two hours for 15 minutes. After pumping and cleaning the pump parts each time, I only had about an hour before I had to start all over again each time. I was getting about 2-5ml of colostrum each session. It seemed like so much work for so little, but I kept it up because I knew how vital it was to Dex. I rented a hospital grade pump to take with me.

When I was discharged Debbie came and we went straight up to the children's hospital. When we arrived at the nicu Dex was still in too much pain for us to touch him. I visited with him briefly and then Debbie drove me home so that I could fill my prescriptions for my pain meds. Dexter had 3 apnea episodes and a CT scan was ordered. The neonatologist said that it could be from pain but most 37 weekers didn't have apnea so the scan would be precautionary. The scan came back about 7 hours later, and was normal. So they put a nasal condula on him to give him bursts of air with his episodes.

When the transport team came to take Dexter from the hospital to children's I was given a rag doll called a snoedel. They told me to sleep with it in my shirt so it would have my scent and I could give it to Dexter. I put it in his isolette before we left the nicu, and it triggered his sucking reflex. I nearly had a break down right then.

Once at home I tried to put my mind at ease and relax. I was in the shower around midnight when my phone rang. The nicu called to tell me they were starting Dexter on seizure medication as a precaution. The doctor had witnessed one of his episodes and was concerned it could be from seizures. I was terrified, and nearly rushed off to the hospital. They told me they would call with more information if anything changed and that they would be speaking to a neurologist in the morning.

The next morning when I arrived for rounds the news wasn't great. They had raised his morphine because he was in so much pain. They had cathed him because his legs were turning red. They said they would now have to watch him closely because with such a high dose of morphine he may relax too much and need to be intubated, his breathing was becoming shallow.

He ended up being put on a ventilator later that day. But it allowed him to rest much more comfortably and I was able to touch his hand that night before I went home.

I was also up to 20ml per pumping session. The nurses were thrilled.

I woke up and realized I hadn't gotten a call from the nicu that night. I was excited, hoping this would be a turning point.

When I got to his bedside he opened his eyes to the sound of my voice. They had shaved his head and put an IV in. I signed a consent form for a picc line so that they could take some of his IVs out. They also switched his drainage tube out for a bigger one because they didn't want anything to pass through his bowels. He was still having apnea episodes even with the vent and the seizure meds so an EEG was ordered. He was hooked up and was going to be kept on it overnight.

My milk finally came in, and the nurse had to give me bigger containers to pump into.

Dexter's EEG came back normal. The doctor said that she thought the episodes were still from pain. But, if they didn't stop she would be looking at his heart.
I got to hold him for awhile. It was so amazing to have him in my arms again.


I got to hold Dexter skin to skin for the first time. He immediately relaxed and snuggled into me. It was heaven for both of us. They gave me a mirror to use to look at his face. The back said  "In this mirror you will see, the wonderful reflection of you and me. Hold me tight and snuggle close, this time together means the most. My skin next to yours has healing power, let's be together for at least an hour. Sit back and enjoy the view, there is nothing more I'd rather do."

Dexter was completely off of the morphine and seizure meds. They had been weaning him down slowly. They removed the catheter, and let me change his first wet diaper. He was taken off the vent, and didn't even act phased. It was a huge day for us. I got to wipe his mouth with a swab soaked in breastmilk. He tried to suck on it and seemed very excited. I was able to hold him for over an hour. By this point I was also pumping over 3oz every two hours. They gave Dexter a pacifier, since his sucking reflex was so strong. He seemed much more relaxed and content.

At exactly a week old Dexter had made amazing progress. The NICU had 8 rooms. The lower the number room you were in, the sicker the baby. Dexter started out in room 2. They moved him to room 5 at the end of the day. 

Amazing how much time and energy it took to write all this out. Will post about the rest of our NICU stay later.