Well, today is a big day. Checked out of the hotel and we’ll be making our 15 minute trek home at some point today. It’s going to be emotional, and I’ve been trying to prepare myself for it. Nothing about this process has been what Ian and I pictured obviously.
You imagine that when you deliver your child, the doctor immediately hands you your baby so you can hold her against your chest, and have that immediate mother-daughter bond with her. I was able to get a quick glimpse of Riley (which lasted several seconds), after the doctors had spent ~30-45 minutes working on her following the delivery, before they took her to the NICU for continued management. Like window shopping…look but don’t touch. You plan on having your child with you in your hospital room until discharge…listening to your baby cry, learning how to provide her with adequate nutrition and hydration, changing her diapers, and putting her in the adorable outfits that you’ve gotten from friends and family over the past several months, as you’ve been dying to play dress-up….doing those things first-time parents do. We haven’t been able to hear Riley cry because she has had an endotracheal tube down her throat; I haven’t been able to breast feed for obvious reasons, but I thankfully have been able to pump, and it’s the one thing I feel I can do to contribute to Riley’s health and recovery, so I am ecstatic that it’s been successful for me thus far; we haven’t been able to partake in her diaper changes because of her fragile state; and the cute outfits remain in her closet at home, as her body temperature needs to constantly be regulated, there are too many tubes, wires, etc. covering her body and she’s been under the lights so much, clothing would prevent the doctors and nurses from what they need to do to care for her. You imagine leaving the hospital with a huge grin on your face as you bring your child out in her car seat carrier, feeling on top of the world, but also feeling a little bit nervous that you’re now about to do this whole “parenting thing” on your own. We don’t even have a car seat yet (or much else beyond adorable clothing and shoes), because my baby showers were in August; we’re leaving the hospital today without Riley, and going home to an empty, quiet house (which my family, who are leaving this am, have done an amazing job taking care of for us), and an incomplete nursery, as we had just ordered the furniture the Monday night prior to my admission.
You can see how it would be easy to constantly ask “Why is this happening to us? We’re good people. We don’t deserve this.” But where the hell does that get you? Nowhere. I believe that feeling sorry for ourselves doesn’t get us anywhere. I like to think of it as this is the hand we’ve been dealt, and we’ll play it. There’s going to be some good luck and bad luck, wins and losses, and probably a little bit of gambling going on, but we’re going to make it through this. I’m a true believer in the power of positive thinking. It’s the ONE THING we can control. Our attitudes. This is what is getting me through each day. I have my parents to thank for this strong life lesson.
Phew ok. Pull it together, Brooke. Sorry about all that. This blogging has certainly been therapeutic for me, so I apologize if you’re experiencing the emotional ride with me and you hadn’t planned on it. Recommendation: you may not want to pull up this blog while you’re sitting in your office on a conference call:)
The rest of this blog is more upbeat, I promise…
During rounds….bilirubin has dropped to 5.4 and she can go back off the lights. She still hasn’t pooped, but the docs aren’t concerned yet. If tomorrow comes around and she still hasn’t, they may give her a glycerin suppository…to help get things going. Results of the ultrasound were confirmed, and she continues to have a Grade1-2 bleed, which is resolving. No evolving bleeds or clots. Phew. Her respiratory status remains stable, and they continue to wean her, as she was breathing on room air (21%) this am when I first came in. The doctors plan to extubate her this am, and put her back on CPAP. She will also get the PICC line placed later this afternoon. We asked the docs if they were concerned about extubating her before completing the PICC; they were not, given that she has been doing so well on such low vent settings. We trust them. We’re thrilled with this news (extubation and moving onto CPAP). Thrilled but nervous. It’s a big step. A big step taking place less than one week after the night from hell. How the heck did she bounce back so fast? Granted it’s felt like an eternity to Ian and I, but we expected her to be on the ventilator for several weeks. She has made quite the comeback. Go Riley go! We may need to add “fighter” as a second middle name:)
Shortly after rounds, the Respiratory Therapist and RN came in to extubate Riley. Dad had to leave (for his own sanity), but I stayed and watched. She tolerated the procedure extraordinarily well. I got to see her for the first time without ANYTHING on her face. No tubes down her throat, no nasal cannula across her face, no tape, no fancy eye protection….WOW! Her eyes were wide open…and she was looking around as if to say “Hello world, where the heck have you been?” What an amazing moment. Ian comes back in and is thrilled with how well his daughter is doing.
The nurse began to change her diaper, and bonus! There it was…this tarry black colored gem…SHE POOPED!!! As happy as Ian was that she was extubated, there was definitely more excitement on his face about the fact that Riley had gone to the bathroom. He was getting concerned.
We had a visit today from a close friend of ours who is due with her little girl any day now (she was actually technically due yesterday). She will be delivering here at Magee Hospital as well, and so we’re excited to have some company and have someone to visit while we’re here. Ian joked about offering to be her midwife. Apparently Ian now wants to go back to school…”midwife school” he says, because he feels he’s seen and partaken in enough here throughout my pre-delivery, delivery, and post-delivery phases, that he’d make a hell of a midwife. Never thought I’d see the day…
Around 2pm, they started the PICC line procedure, so Ian and I grabbed a quick lunch. Lunch was kind of quiet, because we were both a little nervous about how this procedure would go. As soon as we got back, we took a walk past her room and the doctors said “we’re still finishing up, we’ll call you when we’re done.” Ok, sorry for being impatient. We go sit outside…sit and wait game…limited conversation. Another hour later, we go check again at the desk in the NICU waiting room and ask them to call back to see if the docs are done with Riley’s procedure. We’re finally given permission to go back…
Riley tolerated it well. Per the nurse, the procedure took longer than expected, and it took them a total of 3 times to get the PICC line placed. Poor kid. Ian reassures me “she won’t remember any of this, honey.” I know he’s right, and it makes me feel a tiny bit better. Then he says, “Although I do still remember when I was circumcised.” There’s the old Ian.
Believe it or not, during the next diaper check, we discovered that Riley went to the bathroom AGAIN….that’s our girl! An early birthday present for dad. I feel he enjoyed it more than any present I ever got him. Who knew it could be so simple…it’s the little things🙂
Riley continued to do well for the remainder of the day. We actually heard the sound of her faint cry for the first time, and it was like music to our ears (as sad as that sounds). I’ve been secretly wanting her to cry since she’s been extubated, but I feel like that’s something no mother should say about their child. Ear muffs.