Thursday, July 17th – Happy Birthday, Daddy!

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Our first night home wasn’t too bad.  I admit that I became a bit emotional just thinking about what it was going to be like throughout the day yesterday, (going home to the empty house with an incomplete nursery, and without my baby), so maybe I got it all out of my system and didn’t have any sad emotions left for when we actually made it home.

Ian provided me with a guided tour on the car ride home, pointing out the important sights and landmarks of Pittsburgh, including the Southside, Mt Washington, and Duquesne University…in case I had forgotten:) I felt like I hadn’t been home in forever, although it had really only been a little over 2 weeks.  There was a part of me that was excited to see my house, sleep in my own bed, even do a load of laundry for myself…finding some comfort in the familiarities and my old routine.  Although lets face it, no day is going to fall nicely into my pre-Riley daily routine for quite some time.

It took me some time to fall asleep, and I didn’t have the soundest sleep.  I’m sure that will get a little better over time. Alarm was set for 6:45am so we could get over to see Riley Mae by 8:00am.  I was also happy I remembered it was Ian’s birthday when I woke up this am, as it sort of snuck up on me.

We get to Riley’s room, and the nurse reports no changes or issues overnight.   I asked about her pooping status, as this is something dad always wants to know, and if I don’t ask, he certainly will.  The nurse says “Oh yea….she pooped alright!” and by her reaction, I had to ask further….”So did she go a couple times or what?”  “Yea, she went A LOT.” confirms the nurse.  Now Ian and I were feeling less like she was switched at birth;)

Morning rounds – some b’s and d’s (which means some bradycardia, or drops in heart rate, and some desaturations, or drops in O2).  The doctors weren’t concerned, as this is normal and to be expected given that she was extubated yesterday and now on CPAP.  However, it can be torturous to watch as her parents…listening to the dinging of the monitors going off and waiting…watching for those numbers to go back where they belong.  She continues to tolerate CPAP without difficulties, and her settings remain at the lower end.  They continue to increase her feeds, now administering 9cc’s every 3 hours.  Her bilirubin went back up to 6.8 (from 5.9), which means they’d like her to go back under the low lights.  Starting to see a pattern here…

Our friend who visited yesterday went into labor this am, so we now have their company and are looking forward to the arrival of their little girl!!  Also got a visit from a couple friends today, which is always a nice distraction.

I have to admit I am having an emotional, rough day today (nice timing Brooke, way to be an emotional mess on your husband’s birthday).  It all started when the floor manager, who knows us and Riley’s case quite well, stopped by to check on Riley.  She asked “Have you gotten to hold her yet?”  and I responded “No,” thinking….can I??  Obviously that isn’t her decision, but it got me thinking…how cool would it be if we could hold Riley today for the first time?  What a birthday present that would be for Ian (although I know he would need some coaxing and convincing to actually do it, because she is so tiny and fragile, and he has held one baby in his entire life, not by choice).  Then when the decision was made that she has to go back under the lights, that opportunity went out the window.  However, I felt bad for myself for a few minutes.…and then pulled it together (temporarily).

Then as I was sitting in Riley’s room writing this blog, with Ian taking a nap in the uncomfortable chairs next to me, Riley’s heart rate began to drop, and she also desated into the 70s,  alarms going off.  This happened several times today, and again remains scary for us as parents, despite the nurses and doctors telling us “not to worry.”  The next thing you know, a nurse, who is not Riley’s assigned nurse, then comes in and puts her hand in Riley’s incubator, patting her butt and back, as if to console her and calm her down.  And it worked.  I immediately felt a build up of anger….feeling completely disconnected and powerless in regards to caring for and comforting my own child.  What the hell was that??  Why can’t I do that?  Isn’t that my job as her mother?….to comfort her when she’s upset or not feeling well?  Instead, some random person (she’s not random at all she’s a nurse who was helping out Riley’s nurse, but I’m angry, so to me she is random) who doesn’t even know Riley gets to come in and console my child.  I had to leave the room.  So I went outside to the courtyard to get fresh air.  And what do you know…I’m surrounded by several mothers with their children, some newborns in their carriers, and some 1-2 years of age. I fully admit I feel some jealousy and envy.  The tears are flowing.

Then I think back to my blog, and what I’ve written about having a positive attitude.  How can I possibly put a positive spin on this current helpless feeling of a situation?  It took some time, but then I thought….Ok Brooke, think about it.  Technically she’s supposed to still be growing inside of you, and you weren’t supposed to meet her until late September.  So you shouldn’t have even been able to see her yet (besides on routine ultrasounds), let alone interact with, touch, hold, or feed her, until then.  Therefore, every glimpse of her and interaction with her right now should be considered a bonus.  It’s extra time that you wouldn’t have normally had.  Easier said than done, I admit.  But it’s worth a shot.  Listen, I did just deliver the stinker a week ago, and there are still some of those lovely pregnancy hormones floating around in my body.  I’m going to have my moments.  This is a given.

So I come back to Riley’s room and try to recoup and pull it together.  A few hours later, the nurse comes in. Riley’s nurse:) I had talked to her earlier in the morning about holding Riley, and she thought it would be a possibility today.  I also let her know that it was her dad’s bday, and how awesome of a gift would that be??  So when she came in this time around, she said “Why don’t we go ahead and get you two to hold her?”  I was elated.  Ian said “I’m going to wait a few days.”  Then I felt sort of disappointed.  Ian has expressed to me before he is not only concerned about holding our fragile, tiny child, but he’s afraid to rock the boat…afraid that we’re going to interfere with her stable state if we stimulate her too much.  I get it.  He’s right.  We need to be careful and take things slowly.  However, between the nurse and I, we convinced him that it would be okay for him to hold her…he wasn’t going to hurt her.  Hard to convince him given his limited interactions with infants and that his daughter now only weighs 2.6 lbs.  But we eventually got there.

The nurse got Riley unhooked from the monitors, tube feeds, and ventilator so she could transfer her over to us.  I had Ian go first, just in case she did start to desat and we had to get her back in her comfort zone.  I really wanted him to hold her on his birthday.  Ian placed his arms in the baby holding position and asked the nurse, “Just like this?” and she hardly answered him before handing his daughter over, placing her in his arms.  What an amazing moment!  Happy birthday, dad!! He was a natural (sort of…a little awkward at first), and God she looked so petite resting in the crux of his arm.  Photos were taken, and after about 3-4 minutes, Ian says, “Ok I’m done”  and wanted to hand her off to me.

I couldn’t wait.  This is what I was just sobbing about 2 hours earlier (I guess this is what they mean when they say emotional ups and downs).  The nurse handed her off to me, and it was absolutely incredible.  I felt like we had our first real connection as mother and daughter, as she looked into my eyes and I looked into hers.  The past several days I’ve been asking myself if she’s going to ever recognize my touch as her mother, given that she has been man-handled by at least 4-5 different medical professionals every day, or is mine just going to blend in with the rest of them.  Will she even know it’s me when it’s finally time for me to interact with her? However, after tonight, I feel differently. She knows I’m her mother.  She told me so…through the sweet look in her eyes.

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