Wednesday morning, I woke up with a bad headache. I knew it was likely sinus infection related, but I wanted to check my blood pressure just in case, because something in my gut told me it might be higher than I wanted to see it.
I talked to M to let him know that I was on my way to the restaurant to get the Mommy!Van! to pick Butter up with later in the day, as M had dropped Butter off at school that morning. I remember saying, “No big deal, my head really hurts and I want to check out my blood pressure just to prove to myself it’s a sinus infection.”
It wasn’t a sinus infection. The first reading I got while in the WalMart pharmacy was 153/95. Later that afternoon, after a trip to Target to see if they had a BP cuff [they didn't] and after picking up Mommy!Van!, I made my way to my in laws’ house, where I knew there was a blood pressure cuff my father in law uses to keep track of his own blood pressure. The last number I remember getting was 146/99.
I’d previously averaged out my pressures [roughly six readings] and sent the results to M. He begged me to call the doctor at that point [I'd told him when I picked up my van that I was going to call, but something told me to just chill out, go have lunch with my father in law, and keep track of the pressures for a bit longer]. When I finally gave M the last reading, he insisted I call. The doctors’ office was closed at noon for a meeting. I could have given my symptoms [aside from the headache and blood pressure readings, my feet were way more swollen than I remembered waking up to at all the entire pregnancy] to the answering service and had the on call doctor call me back, but I knew what she was going to tell me – go to L&D triage; do not pass Go, do not collect $200.
I finally got to triage around 3:30. My left arm read 150/96 and my right 150/97 when the nurse took my pressures. I was immediately sent to registration and back to a room to be monitored. This is where things start to get interesting.
My pressure never read more than xxx/89 the entire time I was on the monitors. The attending physician asked if I wanted anything for the headache and I told her Tylenol with Codeine hadn’t worked earlier in the week and I didn’t want percocet if there was a chance I’d be going home. All she said was she wasn’t so sure about going home. She was right. The doctor who was in for my OB’s office came in and said there was nothing to be gained from sending me home to a potential seizure.
I was having a baby, two full weeks early.
I texted M to ask him if he could make it to the hospital by 7 pm, because they weren’t going to do the surgery until between 8-9 anyway, because I’d eaten lunch around 1-1:30. My father in law had already been given the access card for Butter’s school, and the keys to my van, so he went and picked Butter up from school that afternoon. My mother in law left around 6:15 to take dinner to the guys, and around that time I was whisked away to what was basically the equivalent of pre-op holding.
I answered the same questions over and over and waiting for M to arrive. He got here around 7:30, was dressed around 8:20, and then we were rolled into surgery. The doctor had given me a fair amount of warning that the baby might not have the most mature lungs in the world and we were going to have to monitor him closely. At 9:07 pm, Little Bear entered this world with a full belly cry. He weighed 8lbs 3oz and is 20.5 inches long. He scored an 8 and 8 on his APGAR tests.
I was able to hold him the entire way back to recovery, and I got to try to feed him pretty much right away.
The pediatrician who was in on the c/s was concerned from the get go that Little Bear had fluid in his lungs. It only made sense, because c/s babies don’t have the added benefit of being squeezed through the birth canal which helps them to get some of that excess fluid out of their lungs. When we got back to recovery, the nurse was even more concerned. She took Little Bear out of the room [M went with him] to check him over, and it was determined that he’d spend 4 hours under observation in the NICU.
I started sobbing. No mother wants to hear that her baby has to be observed in the NICU, despite the doctor’s reassurances that these are the best doctors and nurses in the hospital. As 2 a.m. approached, it was determined that Little Bear was still breathing too fast in an effort to get the excess fluid out of his lungs, so they wanted to keep him there for 48 hours.
He’s on a CPAP machine and antibiotics because when you introduce tubes where they’re not supposed to be, you run the risk of infection. He’s had 3 chest x-rays so far, and the last one was the most concerning; the nurse said she thinks he might have pneumonia. His blood gas levels looked really good last night, though, and he’s scheduled to have another x-ray at 8 am. I’m going to go down after I eat something so I can hear the doctors’ plans for him for the day.
The positive news is that aside from breathing too fast, he’s doing really well. Everything looks perfect as far as test results go. That’s really good news. I’ve got several friends who’ve got NICU graduates to lean on when I start to get upset, and I’m so, so grateful for them.
But this is a place for me to be a tiny bit selfish, right? I’ve only been able to hold Little Bear once since he went to the NICU. M hasn’t held him at all since the night he was born. My in laws haven’t gotten to hold their grandson yet. My parents aren’t local and will be coming in as soon as they can, but we don’t have a ton of pictures of him because I’m sure not comfortable with taking pictures of Little Bear all hooked up to tubes and wires. I tried to feed him while we were still in recovery, but he didn’t want to eat. Luckily he’s getting his nutrition through an IV right now. I’ve only been able to pump maybe a quarter of an ounce of colostrum from him. I know part of the problem is that I’m so upset when I really allow myself to think about things. I had an absolute meltdown at 6:45 yesterday morning because I wanted to see my baby so badly. One of the doctors who was there for my c/s stopped in yesterday morning and mentioned food. I told her I’d rather see my baby than eat, though I did make sure to ask for breakfast when we got back from our first visit.
I genuinely don’t know how parents of preemies do it. The thought that I might be leaving the hospital without my baby boy in my arms is absolutely killing me. I’ve got my fingers, toes, and eyes crossed, along with saying prayer after prayer for my baby’s well being.