I had Naomi 2 weeks and 6 days early; at 37.1 weeks. I was a little worried about the chance that she may need the NICU, but figured she would be fine since she was technically full term. We were able to take her right home. Although, she was so small and not strong enough to get a full feeding from me. Having to supplement and the fact that she slept at least 20 hours a day for the first month or so and then slowly went down to 18 hours a day until she was 8 months old was the biggest sign that she was a bit of a preemie. (Although, I now know Naomi just loves to sleep and does so really well. Compared to Adalyn, anyway.) So when my water broke at 34 weeks and 2 hours I, at first, held hope they could stop the labor. Until I started walking and it never stopped gushing out. Then the contractions started about 7 minutes later and were only about 3 minutes apart from the beginning, before I even got to the hospital.
I knew she was coming and I knew she would need to be in the NICU. But honestly, I held hope that I would be able to take her home when I went home; three days later. I had heard a few stories of that happening. Six and 5 week early babies going home 3-5 days after being born. I just assumed Adalyn would be one of them.
When my doctor came into the room while I was in labor, before I was wheeled back to the O.R., he let us know that he wasn't going to be her pediatrician while she was in the hospital. I was a bit sad, because we really like him and I asked, "How long do you think she'll be in there?" HONESTLY expecting a few days when he said, "It's hard to say until she is here, but at least 3-4 weeks." I looked at Jaren and could tell the dread and weight that had settled on my heart had settled on his as well. We were pretty somber after that. There were so many different thoughts and emotions rolling around during the time I was in labor, I don't think I had any time to sort any of it out.
I went through the recovery room and sat in my room trying and trying to move my toes. At this point it was about 6 a.m. and my poor Jaren was haggard. He had been in there seeing her and all of the tubes and the I.V. and wires and how little she was really had an effect on him. My nurse was really nice (happened to be the same one when I had Naomi), as soon as she saw the tiniest bit of movement from one of my toes she let Jaren heft me onto a wheel chair and take me to see her. Seeing her for the first time was so difficult. I couldn't touch her, because I couldn't get off the chair (she was lifted high and in the incubator), and she was so tiny and hooked to so many things. I felt so bad that I couldn't keep her in longer. Sad that I didn't know I was in pre-term labor for a week. Sad that my pregnancies were so horrible and my body can hardly handle them. Sad that Jaren had to go through all of this. Sad that I couldn't carry a full term baby for him and them.
It was right here, first time seeing her that the Pediatrician came and told us we don't know how long she will be in, she looks good, she only needed oxygen for a little while. The IV will be in for a while. Don't rush things, baby is having to cook outside of me. Even though she looks done on the outside, she isn't on the inside. All hard things to hear. Then Jaren turns to me and says, "I don't know if we should have anymore...." WRONG THING TO SAY!! And definitely the wrong time. I was a giant mess and cried a whole lot about how we can't say that yet, we just need to see. I have already had to drop the number of kids I would like to have because of my body; the thought that this was it, right then when everything was so huge was a bit too much for me. After talking to the doctor and each other we have decided to just wait a long while before the next one and see how that goes, then we will know if we can try for four or not. I am already preparing myself for three when I want four, just in case.
Jaren went home to shower and get Nae's thing to his Mom's while I tried to sleep a bit. He came back that afternoon and wheeled me to see her again, and that was the first time I held her. It was incredibly emotional. She was so tiny and I was so sad that it had taken so many hours till I could hold her and I felt incredible amounts of guilt again for not being able to keep her in longer. That next morning they let me nurse her. She latched right on and I cried and cried because I knew that was the key to getting her to come home. They were all shocked because she was so early, but let me try to nurse her that day and the next.
I had her early on a Wednesday, It was Friday when everything caught up to me. I walked me and my wheel chair in and went to the nurse standing at her incubator and asked how she was doing. "Not good. She just had an apneic episode. She stopped breathing and I waited a few seconds to see if she would start up on her own and when she didn't I had to stimulate her. Whenever that happens it is at least 7 days until they can be released. It doesn't matter how well she does, it has to be at least a week." She said all of this in a little of an angry tone. Like it was my fault. I can imagine how scary it must have been to go through that, I don't know how often it happens since the youngest they take babies into the NICU there is 34 weeks. I didn't quite know what to say. I was feeling terrified, overwhelmed, sad, exhausted, deflated and totally helpless. Holding her was so emotional. I was alone, she was so little, the nurses were treating me like an uneducated little girl who needed to get the gravity of the situation. Making me feel like I did this to my baby. Broke my own water and wanted her out SIX WEEKS early. I was already going through my own feelings of guilt about it all. What I could have done or what I did do to make that happen. Feeling so incapable of carrying a baby to full term, feeling sorry for Jaren that his wife has early babies and can't seem to cook them long enough making the first few months very, very hard. I was capable of rational thought; I did what I could, what I knew. I made it to 37 weeks with Naomi, so how was I to know I wouldn't with Adalyn? I went to the doctor the week before when I started cramping in my low back. I knew it wasn't normal, I went in, did what I was supposed to and my water still broke. At least I can have children and carry them as far as I can. It's not all my fault. I have no control over my body. But then again.... had I known, I wouldn't have eaten so much salt. Or any, for that matter. I would have worked harder at staying down (although, I could hardly move as it was I was in so much pain), I would have asked for more help. I wouldn't have nested during that last trimester where I de-junked, cleaned and sorted my entire house all day long. Well... up until I was about 32 weeks because it just became impossible after that.
So there I was, thoughts like these going through my head. Feeling terrible for Naomi who was having such a hard time having her Mom just up and disappear one night. There to tuck her in, gone when she woke up. She was rather attatched to me at this point. I had just started preparing her for when the baby comes. Talking about how she would go to Nie Nie's house and then a few days later Mama would come home with our new baby girl. I was going to pack a bag with her, we would take it to Jaren's parents house, get her excited about it. But then she was starting to not feel well and was sick and it was another two days until they brought her to me. I still feel terrible about the way everything happened with her.
We had a fence put around the entire backyard during the NICU time and Naomi loved to watch Jaren exexcavate everything level for the fence installers.
Each time something new came up it felt like such a blow. Such a set back. The feeding tube going in meant that she couldn't eat from me. (I know it was necessary, I totally understand). Each time I went in for the first 4 days or so she was losing weight. They were tsk tsking me for taking her out of the incubator to HOLD her or try to feed her. I stayed until midnight Saturday night, my very last minute able to be there. Sunday morning they told me I couldn't nurse her anymore because she was too weak with Jaundice and fatigue at trying to nurse and keep up her temperature. I could do kangaroo care and that was it. Cue another intense melt down. Feeling guilty for trying to feed her and wanting to feed her when she wasn't strong enough to eat. And how doing so was wasting her away. This was also the day they put in the feeding tube. Which made me sad all over again. Putting a tube in her nose, down her throat, making her gag, into her stomach and then how uncomfortable it must have been just sitting in there. She would pull on it sometimes; get her little finger hooked. Every consoling word, "She wont remember any of it.", "It's actually not that uncomfortable and it's so quick to put in.", "She has to have it in order to grow and get out of here.", "It's actually better because we can get all of the air out of her tummy with it and she wont have gas bubbles." All of it didn't make me feel a whole lot better. I still felt so sad for my tiny baby. And for my toddler at home.
Jaren and Naomi were sick during this time. So Jaren wore this incredibly uncomfortable mask when he came to see her until he felt better.
This was how I fed her until I could nurse her. And even after that we still fed her through the tube.
She loved the elevators and wanted to ride them over and over. Then when she saw my wheel chair she wanted to push it everywhere. It was all a bit ooverwhelming to her.
This was how she ate when no one was able to hold her. See her syringe hanging at the top of the picture? She was on the billi light for a good 4-5 days and even though they continued to turn her on it she still developed big red spots :(
This was the cutest thing to me. The would roll little receiving blankets and position them around the baby so they felt a little more cucooned. She loved being on her side with it inbetween her legs and her arms. It's how I sleep with a body pillow. Also, this was the first piece of clothing she wore; a purple tie-died onsie.
I didn't keep very good track of everything while I was there. I wish I had written about each day as it went. Her progress, my feelings, how Nae and everyone was doing at home. But, I never had time. And it felt too daunting to type it all in one handed on my phone. I did, however, write down her percentages of feedings. The first day they kept track they didn't try too much and she took 15% through either me or bottle. The next day Lindsey did a night feeding and I did three of the day feedings and she took 36%. Then they started offering a bottle for a few more feedings and she did 47%. Then all of the feedings got either me or bottle and she did 73% and weighed 4 lbs 15.5 ounces (4.5 ounces above birth weight and the first day I wrote down her weight). Last day of the tube in she took 95% of feedings and weighed 5 lbs .05 ounces. They took the tube out and she came home the next day weighing 5 lbs 3 ounces. Rule of thumb is once they hit their birth weight they usually are strong enough to do all the feedings through Momma or bottle. That held true for Adalyn. I think she could have come home at least 2 days sooner if everyone had worked a little more with her. I was only able to do so much since I also had a toddler at home who really needed her Mama.
I would go to the 10 o'clock feeding, then stay and do Kangaroo Care for 2.5 hours where, if my Mom was with me we would have lunch, talk and I usually would nap a little bit. Then I did the 1 o'clock and then went home. I left just before 7 p.m. to do that NIGHT feeding. That's what I did all but 2 of the days where I did the 7 a.m., stayed till 10:30 a.m., then would go back for the 4 p.m. feeding. That allowed me to be home for Naomi's bedtime. I don't know what I would have done without my Mom. She came the day after I got home from the Hospital (learned my lesson, if I have a NICU baby again I'll have her come the day I have him/her so I'm not alone. Even if I have the baby during the winter when Jaren isn't farming we will still have two kids for him to be around for, so he may not be able to be around much.).
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Naomi was stealing my cereal and learning how to eat both cereal and milk off the spoon. For the most part, it was more licked than slurped.My Mother-in-Law would take Naomi so my Mom could take me to the Hospital for those first few days because I couldn't drive yet and park so far away and walk. Or Jaren would take me and drop me off and pick me up. Once I was able to drive, I would even pick Lindsey up and she would park my car so I wouldn't have to walk and she would come keep me company. We did that a few times. After about a week I was able to both drive and walk myself there and then I mostly did it on my own for the last week. I kept my nursing pillow there, took my pump and water every time and ate a meal from the Hospital each day. I actually liked quite a bit of it and had this Jello poke cake that was delicious. Oh, and some sort of fudgey chocolate cake. I wasn't too concerned about calories at this point; too much stress. One thing at a time.
She slowly went from being only clad in diaper to a onsie, to pajamas, to swaddled in this with a hat on. With each drop of the temperature more clothing went on, and it meant she was maintaining her temp while still gaining weight. Something we had struggled a lot with during the first week.
The show was so funny and it was something I desperately needed. Although, my incision hurt rather badly from laughing so hard and I was constantly thinking about Adalyn in the hospital. I hated every single milli-second of walking away from her little section/room. Every time. And she was constantly on my mind; she wasn't where she belonged and I wanted her home so badly. We had the tickets for the concert months before and weren't going to go, but in the end, my Mother-in-Law wanted Naomi for the night, it gave my Mom a break, too.
This was a glorious day. When she was moved from the incubator to a "crib". It meant she could control her own body temperature (huge) and was so much closer to going home. It was only about 3 days from this 'till we were able to take her home.
This is a very long, jumbled, emotional post, but that was exactly how that time was for me. I think any woman who gave birth unexpectedly, so early, with or without other kids at home experiences a roller coaster of emotions from very low lows to moderately high high's. When I look back at the pictures or think about it much I usually am in tears (like I was most of the time writing this post). It's hard to understand until you've experienced it and I feel for those who have had to. I cannot imagine anyone who had to go through a longer time with more than one baby there. I feel for them.
Knowing what I know now, we are waiting quite a while longer to have the next one. My body needs the break and so does my mind. I need Adalyn old enough during my third trimester to be able to do everything on her own. Potty, get into and out of bed, climb onto a chair to eat and totally understand and communicate with me. Naomi isn't 3.5 yet and can do all of those things. I will go on a low salt diet from second Trimester on and as no salt as possible at about 26 weeks on. I'll put myself on bed rest (my doctor may, anyway) beginning of third trimester and then pray and pray that those changes will keep the baby in longer. Now that my body knows it can be done and make the pain go away at 34 weeks, we worry about that happening again. Depending on how all of that goes and how early the baby comes and what the doctor says will determine if I can have that 4th baby, like I hope. I am preparing myself now for only 3 so I wont be so devastated if I am not able to have more.
This is 9 month old Adalyn and I today.