Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Processing Dash's Birth

I'm having a hard time processing Dash's birth and subsequent events right now. At first, it was easy to overlook the sadness surrounding the events - I was so busy with balancing the NICU life with home life, and still reeling (in a positive way) from the post-birth hormones, adrenaline, etc. Now that things have settled down (thankfully!), I'm left to try to face and process my feelings - something that's always been tough for me, as an expert in issue avoidance.

I knew that I was having a hard time when I noticed all the pregnant women checking into the hospital while I was walking down the hall to the NICU. Seeing families waiting in the waiting room also brought some sadness, as did seeing babies being carried out to waiting cars. The worst was when I saw a lactation consultant advise a brand new mom who was nursing her baby. I believe I had my first of several  breakdowns that night; I so badly wanted to be the mom nursing her baby.

Dash is here. He's healthy and we love him so much. Obviously that's what matters most. Secondly, I'm doing great, and I feel better than I've felt in months. I certainly wish that I was able to carry him longer and not subject him (and all of us) to the NICU stay, but I'm the first to admit that it's been such a relief to feel human and healthy again. There are a lot of silver linings to the situation, and we've spent a lot of time pointing them out over the last couple of weeks. But, I do believe that birth matters. I believe the whole experience matters, and I'm having a hard time reconciling the beautiful birth of my beloved son with the events with rapidly followed, and seemed to have overridden the birth experience. To be honest, it just feels like such a major let-down, after so many months of planning and dreaming about how my next baby would enter the world.

Here's the strange thing: I pretty much had the birth experience that I really wanted. Yes, it took a long time to bring labor on, and yes, I was synthetically augmented, but the big parts of the day went as close as to "plan" as any birth ever does (most likely). The people I really wanted present were able to be there. I was able to do it without any pain medication. I wanted to try different laboring techniques (such as in the bath), and I even wanted to give natural induction techniques a try, if it came down to it. My baby girl was well looked after and happy while I was away. She even got to wake up and get put to bed by my mom, something which I really wanted to happen. I even dared to wish that the day would start by my water breaking before labor actually began (something that only happens in 10% of pregnancies), which did happen, AND to be even pickier about the how's and when's of the whole thing - I wanted my water to break sometime in the night. Which it did. And, I was only in transition for a couple of minutes, and I pushed the baby out in 7 minutes. When you're doing it without pain meds, every minute feels like an eternity, so this was certainly welcome with open arms. :)

But, Dash was born prematurely. And he was in severe respiratory distress. He was placed on my chest, but soon after was taken to where he could get the medical care he needed. Dash seemed to leave the room as quickly as he arrived, and left with Peter. As soon as I was cleaned and presentable, my mom and aunt came in to share in the moment. But, it was 4 am, and almost everyone at the hospital with me had been up since early in the previous morning. People left to go home and try to get some sleep. My sister fell asleep in the pull out bed beside me. Peter came back from the NICU to give me a status update on the little boy who I'd given birth to, yet was a stranger to me. Then he went to get some sleep as well. In the meantime, the nurse decided I was bleeding too heavily and started me on more pitocin to stimulate more contractions. She promised it wouldn't hurt as badly as labor, but it almost did. And so there I was - alone and breathing through contractions. No baby inside me to motivate me, just the morning sun coming up to remind me that it was another new day I was starting while still not having really slept for more than 2 out of the past 48 hours. I think about that memory and I'm struck by the fact that despite being so lonely and isolated, I doubt I would have wanted any company. All I wanted was a do-over and to see my baby. (As it was, it would be several days before I held him).

After Eleanor was born, we had a joyous party with many attendees. The contrast between experiences is so stark. For someone who believes in the significance of birth, I'm struggling to see it in this one. It feels like the whole experience was so overshadowed so quickly. Further, it feels like it never really happened. There was no time to process or reflect - instead, we moved on quickly to the next phase of life, as though this never happened. Even then, it was like we had two separate lives, and our "home life" (vs "hospital life") was almost the exact same. No influx of baby items, just going through the motions like before. I found myself wondering if I was ever really pregnant at all.

Of course, I'm typing this with a baby boy sleeping peacefully on my chest, with baby items cluttering the room. So despite the start, 15 days later, things are "normal" for life with a newborn. And I'm thankful. And, he just let out a big ol' burp, which hopefully will settle his tummy enough to allow me to get a little sleep in the next couple hours. :) Still though, I'm just having a tough time processing the way this whole experience started.

That's all. Thanks for listening. Does anyone else want a birth experience re-do?

Saturday, April 27, 2013

All Around Update

First, I want to say thank you to everyone who has reached out to me over the last two weeks with encouragement and kind words. It means so much to know there are people out there who are rooting for us. Heck, just to know there are people reading the words I write in this space is pretty cool! I know that our experience with a premature baby and our NICU stay pales in comparison to so many families, but it was our experience, and it was hard enough as it was. My heart goes out even more to families with extended hospital stays. 11 days was no walk in the park, so I can only begin to imagine what months of that must be like.

 Peter just left to pick up some light bulbs, which means that for the first time, I have both babies alone. Five minutes in, and we're doing okay... :) I took Ellie alone to the grocery store today (an attempt to get my stuff together and start "making" meals again. I use quotations because of course we went to Trader Joe's, and I got pretty much all frozen, pre-prepared meals. Hey, at least I'm sorta trying!) and she was so happy to spend one-on-one time with her mama. This is probably the first solo outing we've had in many, many weeks and it felt great to be alone with my happy big girl. Even more remarkable, I left my baby boy at home with no problems. I would NEVER have left Ellie at 2 weeks old. I'm not sure if this is a post-NICU thing, and I'm just sadly used to not having him around, or if it's a second baby thing.

Speaking of, I think it's going to be difficult for the first couple of weeks to determine if how I parent Dash (in the beginning) is a result of his time in the NICU, or a result of him being the second baby. I'm way more comfortable with him "unattended" in his bassinet while I take care of things in other rooms, I'm not co-sleeping at all (I think Ellie was in bed with me/us until she was at least 4 weeks old), etc. I'm trying to make up for lost time with lots of snuggling, but it's hard given that I usually have someone else hanging off me as well.

Dash is doing great. He's definitely still jaundiced, and I'm curious if his levels have even increased. He looks pretty yellow to us, so his pediatrician appointment on Tuesday can't come fast enough. He's nursing like a champ though, and his diapers need frequent (seriously!) changes. He's a sleepy little guy, and wakes only to nurse (pretty much every two hours). I cannot wait until my supply regulates with his demand - as of right now, I'm probably making at least triple what he needs, and I'm finding myself pumping way more than I'd like to, just to take a little pressure off. I know this is creating more demand, but it's so uncomfortable (I use that word lightly) I can't help it. I'm also curious what kind of development is "normal" for a 35 week baby. Do we use an adjusted age, and expect milestones 5 weeks later? He's considered late preterm, so I'm not sure how much we need to adjust. For example, I know a lot of babies have a growth spurt at 2 weeks. Would Dash have one around 2 weeks? 7? Somewhere in between? I know that milestones are always on individual babies timelines, but I'm still curious. He's been cluster feeding the last couple nights, and I'm hoping it's because he's about to put on the fat!

I'm doing pretty well too. Physically, I feel completely recovered from the birth (and have for at least a week - yay for quick second stage of labor!) and while I'm completely exhausted, I'm pretty sure that's just being the mama of a newborn. While I hadn't entirely forgotten what engorgement feels like, my body is still reminding me multiple times a day. In fact, if Dash goes 2 1/2 hours or more without eating, I feel it like WHOA. I'm experiencing the same hot and cold flashes that came with Ellie - being freezing cold then  ridiculously hot, but much more emotional side effects than the first time around. I've found myself prone to tearing up, or full on crying, very easily (so unlike me), and my fuse is very short. I'm easily annoyed and quick to lose it entirely, so I'm hoping that will pass fast! My appetite is much less than it was postpartum before - in fact, it's basically normal, bordering on pretty diminished. Usually when I'm stressed I eat a lot, but the opposite happened with our NICU time. I think it's my body giving me a break from all the calorie-demanding it had been doing for the last 35 weeks...

We're thrilled to have Dash home and be finally living all together under one roof. I was so worried about life with two babies, but compared to the first 11 days, having two in the same house is a breeze (so far)! We're happy and healthy, changing lots of diapers and eating what we can when we can. All in all, pretty fantastic. :)

Thursday, April 25, 2013


My living room looks like it imploded on itself. My kitchen is a disaster. It's 9pm and my not-even-two-yea-old daughter is wide awake, making kitty noises through the monitor. Her dinner tonight? Mac & Cheese from a box and two bottles (yes, baby bottles) of breastmilk. I haven't had more than an hour's worth of consecutive sleep in many nights, but I'm overcome with happiness tonight, because at last, my two babies are under one roof where they belong.

The best shot we could get of our two kids together! Blame the toddler...
I'm so grateful. So thankful that our boy is healthy and free from the wires and monitors which kept him at the hospital, thankful for the incredible hospital staff who walked with us through our stay, and thankful for the modern medicine which surely kept him alive when he was in such respiratory distress. Most definitely I'm thankful that the hospital we've been camped out in is not only 7 minutes away, but one of the best in the country for it's NICU.

I'm thankful for my big girl, who is smitten with her baby brother. She's protective of him and seems pretty darn in love with him already. She's been such a trooper for the last 11 days, and despite some pretty epic meltdowns, she's done amazingly.
What I came home to the other morning. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree(s)!

I'm thankful for my husband who has held our family together, rocked me to sleep and recognized my stress and reacted appropriately and kindly. Thankful for my family who have stepped up every day with whatever we've asked from them, provided meals, childcare and support.
Grandma-mama and her two babies

The gang toasting Dash's arrival. Party at our house, without us!

I'm thankful the sun was out today when it was finally our turn to walk our new baby out and put him in the car under the watchful eye of the nurse, as her last official duty before we drove away.

And I'm so thankful for this little guy, who filled a gap I didn't know I had.

So happy. So happy.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Pictures only

Well, ran out of time today for updates. Here are some pictures instead
she LOVES to go visit Blue Baby

Funny kid!
Sweet boy
In an open air crib!! One step closer...

Monday, April 22, 2013

One Week Old

Short update because my brain is hardly working anymore...

Hard to believe it's been a week. It's definitely getting harder (to be expected) having my babies separated. When I'm with baby Dash, I miss Ellie, and when I'm home, I miss Dash. I slept at the hospital last night, and while I'm so glad to have the opportunity to room in with him, I missed Ellie and Peter fiercely. Since we've been married, Peter and I have spent probably 3 or 4 nights away from each other, and this was my second night separated from Ellie. But - Dash needs me right now, and learning to eat is our biggest priority so we can get out of the NICU.

He's doing great with that as well. When he's wide awake, he'll take quite a bit - even a full feed on occasion. When he's sleepy, not so much. We put him in clothes today, and he was quite... dashing. :)

Other than the eating thing, everything else looks great. Respirations are great, and he's maintaining his body temp quite well. People ask when he's coming home, and while we certainly don't know for sure, we're hoping a week or less from now. At least these days pass quickly...

AND, I'm off to the NICU. Again. Sleep tight.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Surprise! Special Delivery, part II.

First, your daily Dash update: he's doing marvelously today and I'm starting to sense we'll be going home sooner than we even anticipated. He started really nursing this morning, and at his first feed, he took 40 grams (around 1 1/2 oz), which is just shy of what they consider to be a "full feeding" (55 grams). The nurse was literally blown away, and I could hear her telling the other nurses in the hall. Their reactions were gold, and made me super proud of my boy. While this may have surprised them, it really didn't surprise us at all - he's going to be an eating champ (uh - 6 lb 7 oz 5 weeks early? Yeah, he's going to know how to eat). We've been able to camp out at the hospital most of the day, which has been a luxury, and I've finally gotten rid of the plugged ducts which have been plaguing me all week. A really great day for all.

AND, Eleanor sort of fell in love with her baby brother today. She got to touch him and look at him up close and personal, and offer him all sorts of toys and snacks and whatnot. Adorable.

Back to Dash's birth story though.

It was around 8:30pm when my midwife started the pitocin. While I really didn't want to go down this path and was reluctant to accept it, it was obviously the right decision, as my water had broken nearly 19 hours earlier and I still wasn't in labor despite all the tricks we'd pulled. The staff was very respectful of my reluctance and really gave me a long time to come to terms with it, which I appreciate so much. We figured that we'd get things going right away with the pit, and so while we waited, we (me, Peter, my sister, Kelli, my mom, aunt and dad) played a hilarious pictionary-esq type of game. It was a great distraction and left us howling with laughter. Within an hour, my contractions were so intense that I had to bow out of the game. Eventually, my parents and aunt left the room and we settled in to get things going.

Laboring on pitocin is intense. I watched the contractions on the monitor, and they were LONG and their peaks lasted nearly the length of the entire contraction (as opposed to a natural contraction where you slowly ramp up to the peak and then slowly ease off). I was on a very low dose, so I can only imagine what it must be like to be on a high dose. Those suckers hurt like heck.

I labored in bed. I labored on the ball. I labored in the tub. I labored back in bed. I labored face down on a giant bean bag chair. One or two at a time people started falling asleep. I was so sure I was close to the end, but the nurse kept (slowly) turning up the pitocin and my midwife told me she guessed I was at a 3 or 4. I was positive she was wrong, but continued on. Eventually, the contractions got so intense that I was literally collapsing with exhaustion into a deep sleep in between every contraction. They seized my body and shook it like a leaf.

I've heard stories of women who become fixated on certain objects during labor. For me, I wanted to hold onto a barf bucket. I would not let it go, and every time someone tried to take it away from me, I got seriously pissed off. I was certain I was going to throw up (I didn't) and apparently took comfort in the pale yellow hospital bucket. I still have it, and now wash pump parts in it...

Around 2:30, I told Peter I couldn't do it anymore and needed an epidural. He told me that it wasn't an option (I told him to say this...), so on I went. My midwife checked me again, and told me that I was a 4cm, 80% effaced, and -2 station.

That meant in 25 hours, I had progressed 2 cm. So much for quick. Technically, 4 cm isn't even active labor yet. We still assumed I would go fast once I turned into active labor, but it was SO disheartening to hear I wasn't even there, despite incredibly regular and painful pitocin contractions. Further, once I got to a 4, she was able to determine that the baby was Left Occiput Transverse (facing my left hip). This was more than likely the reason I hadn't progressed all day - baby was kind of wedged in the wrong position. Come to find out, he also likely had his hand next to his head the whole time.

Knowing this, we were able to change our game plan. We got me situated on my side/almost tummy in bed, and the plan was to labor for 30 minutes on one side, then switch sides and go 30 on the other. I declared my desire for an epidural and someone (the nurse perhaps?) told me that they'd let me decide if I really wanted it in an hour. Okay then - I labored on. After 30 minutes, I switched sides (also after finding out that the umbilical cord was around his neck, causing decelerations in his heart rate. Mentally I promised myself that if I still hadn't made progress by the time the hour or so was up, I was going to seriously ask for the epidural (despite really truly not wanting one). In my head, if I was still at a 4 after 26 hours, they'd be cranking up the pitocin to a level which I wouldn't be able to handle. OR, I'd be headed for a C-Section. Either way, there would have to be pain relief.

I told myself this as each contraction seized my body. And I told my baby out loud, over and over, "low, low, low." And after just about 30 minutes, I felt a giant corkscrew like motion and a drop - just like that.

I called the midwife to check on me (it was 3:30), and she immediately told me that I was at 8cm and 100% - meaning in that single movement I felt, I had instantly dilated. She then told me that as soon as I needed to push, I should (as I'd be at 10 any moment). Someone woke up Peter (he'd been given permission to take a nap while my sister(s) took over, AND had managed to sleep through transition!) and I waited a couple more contractions and then the familiar feeling of my body bearing down without my brain directing it began.

I bore down through one contraction and another and a third. The third (I believe) he crowned, and then he was out. Just like that - 7 minutes of pushing. She put his warm body against my chest and Peter declared that he was, in fact, a HE. This moment will be seared into my memory forever - the look on the faces in the room, the joy. It's hard to imagine the birth of your second being as impactful as the birth of your first, but it was.

He was pretty blue, and obviously retracting quite a bit, so he was handed to the NICU team which was on standby while I delivered the placenta, etc. Soon, he was taken upstairs (we'd been prepared that this would happen) and Peter went with him.

All in all, I was in the "early" stages of labor for 26 hours, followed by instant dilation from 4-8, followed by 7 minutes of pushing. Everyone had been right - once I turned into active labor, I'd go fast (I don't think anyone thought that it would be instantaneous though!). Even better - the high I felt was like none I'd ever felt. I don't think I truly felt the hormonal rush that I've read so much about after Ellie's birth, but after Dash's, I was floating. I felt so good, I asked to be discharged as soon as I could, and even managed a quick trip to the grocery store later that evening. Dash's birth was much more complicated than we thought it would be, took much longer and was 5 weeks early, but it will always be an amazing day where my wishes were respected and I was able to feel in control along the way. It was a perfect day.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Dash day 6

I promise I'll continue the birth story, but tonight, I'm just exhausted. I'm so exhausted that I'm willfully skipping going to the hospital tonight for a late night visit with my boy. I need to try to take care of myself just a teeny bit.

I told Peter the other day that I have four categories in my life which are taking up my attention, and room for absolutely nothing else at this time. I have Baby #1 (Eleanor) at home, Baby #2 (Dash) at the hospital, pumping every 2-3 hours round the clock, and category four is shower/try to eat/sleep on occasion. Try to talk to me about anything else and it goes right over me.

So, yeah - we're pretty tired. But the good (GREAT) news is that Dashiell is doing fantastically today. He turned a major corner two nights ago, and continued with the huge steps forward progress today. I went in this morning and his oxygen had dropped from a 4 to a 3, and he was continuing with stable respirations. His bilirubin levels also dropped dramatically. When Peter and I went back around noon, he was completely off the oxygen support entirely! No nasal cannula, no oxygen machine, nothing. And, he continues to hold pretty steady with respirations. They still fluctuate a decent amount, but this is just fabulous. Plus, you can see his sweet face, and he looks just like his daddy. Like, twinsies. :)

Last night when we went in, the nurse let us try to nurse for the first time! I was so overjoyed with this news, and even more so when Dash literally latched right on and went to town. This boy knows what to do, for sure. In fact, he might even be a bit too eager, as he fell asleep very shortly after he started. Hopefully he'll get his stamina up soon and we can start nursing a lot more. Starting tomorrow (probably), we will nurse prior to him getting his feeding via feeding tube. While this is even more fabulous news for Dash (and me!), this means that life is going to get even more hectic. He has 8 feedings a day, and they'd like me to be there for as many as possible, which will likely mean sleeping at the hospital (and feeding him, then pumping, every three hours) and going back and forth a lot during the day. We'll need to figure out how best to keep Eleanor calm and give her the parent attention she craves, without compromising his feedings at the hospital too much.

We brought Ellie back this evening for her second visit. She saw pictures of him under the blue phototherapy lights a couple days ago and has called him Blue Baby ever since. She waved at him through his isolette, and his respirations went right up. I'm guessing this is a picture of their relationship to come!

Ellie's doing much, much better as well. We've really tried to get as much quality time with her as possible the last two days, and it shows in her attitude. She's much happier and calmer. We took her to the lake this afternoon to visit with my family and give her a change of pace (she's basically been in our home for the last 7 days straight) and she's been so happy ever since. Major relief all around tonight.

And with that, I head to bed. Or first - shower, maybe start a load of laundry (probably not, who am I kidding?), pump, wash pump parts, then go to bed. :) Sadly, I didn't upload any new Dash pics today, but here are two cuties of my first baby, taken by my sister.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Surprise! Special Delivery!

Oh, sweet baby Dash. So eager to join the world, but not quite ready. His story is quite different than his sister's, but first, a daily update.

He's doing really well today. I was greeted early this morning by great news: bilirubin levels down considerably, oxygen pressure (the measure of breathing support he needs) fell from a 5 to a 4 (at a 3 or below we can try nursing! This makes me SO happy) and his respirations (the primary "problem" spot for Dash) went from consistently clocking in around 90 breaths per minute to 50, which is right where they should be. We came back this afternoon, and found that his IV is out! Even better news. This means he's receiving all his feeds from me, via his feeding tube. It's great to see him without a clunky, uncomfortable IV, and according to his nurse, he passed out as soon as it was out - so comfortable. Can't blame him. :)

Now for his birth story. Or maybe just the first 18 hours of it.

I'm pretty sure I had what might be considered as an "irritable uterus." Yes, that's a true term. I felt Braxton Hicks contractions regularly from the very beginning of my second trimester, and by last Saturday, not only were they regular, but getting pretty painful. Some of them I found myself even breathing through. Just under two weeks before he was born, I had an unexpected trip to the midwives office, because I was having so many. She checked me out, and I wasn't dilated at all, and performed what's called a Fetal Fibronectin Test, which tests if you will be going into labor within the next two weeks. A negative result is 98-99% accurate, and my test came back negative. I didn't think about it again, but apparently I'm in the 2%. The following week, I had another midwife appointment, and again - despite an increase in uterine activity, no progress. Great.
last belly pic, 35 weeks
On Saturday the 13th, I was in a ton of pain. Pressure was almost keeping me from walking and the contractions were stopping me in my tracks. But - they weren't picking up in frequency or intensity, so I thought nothing of it. Spent most of the day on the couch, but also went for a nice long drive through a very random hail storm. (For what it's worth, I'm a huge believer in barometric pressure changes bringing on labor. It's happened to me twice now). That night we went to bed at 11 or so, and around 1:30 I woke up to use the bathroom. When I came back to bed, I curled up, rolled over and GUSH!

For a split second I thought maybe it wasn't my water. But the gushing continued and I hustled to the bathroom to check it out. Clear fluid, obviously amniotic in nature. (Funny story: my water broke in the exact same way and in the exact same place as it did with Eleanor!). Came back to the bedroom, turned out the lights and completely freaked out Peter by telling him my water broke. My heart was pounding through my chest. There is literally nothing like the shock and excitement of knowing that you're about to have a baby. We rushed around like chicken with our heads cut off, throwing things into bags and calling my mom to come watch Ellie. Eventually I realized I should call the midwife, who assured me that if the water was clear, I was fine to stay home until labor started (at this point, I wasn't having any more contractions at all. In fact, they had slowed to probably their lowest level in months). While some people definitely prefer this method, I think we were so amped up, and had no idea what to do with ourselves, so we decided to head to the hospital again.

(side note: we went in through the Emergency Room entrance because they were the only doors unlocked. The security guard took one look at me and let me pass. Score!)

After getting admitted, Peter and I tried to get some rest. Going back to sleep after this kind of adrenaline rush is nearly impossible, and I completely failed. One of my biggest concerns about going into labor was making sure my sister would arrive in time. We expected a quick delivery, and she lives three hours away. I started calling her at 2:15 in the morning or so, and continued calling her every hour on the hour. I sent text after text, and still nothing. Finally at 6:30, she answered her phone and immediately jumped on the road, assuming she might not make it. I waited a little longer to call my best friend Kelli who would be photographing (and supporting too!), as her 30th birthday was the day before and she was at a nearby casino/hotel celebrating/gambling/drinking etc.

In the meantime, I laid as flat as possible, willing my body to not go into labor yet, and willing the contractions to not start. I got my wish. Nothing happened, and by the time both my sister and Kelli arrived, I was no closer to being in labor than when the day started. Everyone's assumption was that once labor started, it would go fast.

When the girls finally arrived, we tried everything we could think of - walking, lunges, squats, bouncing on the ball, walking up and down hills (outside around the hospital!), pumping (to stimulate the oxytocin), etc. My midwife checked me at 9am, and I was 2cm dilated, 70% effaced and the baby was high, at -2 station. While I had contractions throughout the day, I could tell that nothing was really happening (although, I assumed I was dilating slowly). By 6pm, my mom and aunt (who had joined us after finding backup care for Ellie) went home to put Ellie to bed and Kelli went home to put her kids to bed. By 7pm, the first midwife's shift was over and the second began.


taking bets. We revised our bets several times

lunges! I've been told several times since then that "oh you were the girls who were lunging down the halls!" Apparently, this is unusual...

Just out for a stroll...

Relaxing. :)
My birth plan was to avoid artificial augmentation or induction at all costs. I hated the idea of being attached to any sort of IV and pitocin (aka, artificial oxytocin) scares the heck out of me for multiple reasons. Needless to say, when the second midwife came in at checked me, I had made zero progress and she carefully (to respect my wishes) but firmly (to communicate the need) said it was time to move forward with pitocin. I knew this was coming, but it totally broke my heart. Her concerns were very valid: at 35 weeks, our baby could have a hard enough time as it was transitioning from womb to air. If we were to introduce any sort of infection (and the risks of infection go up as the time goes on after a rupture of membranes), the baby's safety would be further compromised. Further, we'd tried pretty much everything, and had made zero progress in the 19 hours since rupture. After much deliberation (in hindsight, I think she just gave us the time so I could get adjusted to the idea), we agreed, at around 8:30 (with everyone who'd gone home to put babies to bed) an IV was inserted and a very low dose of pitocin was started. We assumed it would go fast at this point.


So - like labor, which I assumed would go fast, I also assumed this blog post would go fast. :) Haha. It's taken me all day to write this out (thanks, having two babies in two places!) so I'll finish tomorrow. I hate birth stories which are To Be Continued, but.... oh well. Cutting myself some slack, here!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Greetings, Dash!

Just over a week ago, I titled a post "Six Week Countdown." Apparently, I was assuming that I'd go the full 40 weeks. A week later, I had a baby. That was three days ago.

This is Dash. Dashiell Jack Lucas Lacy is his full name, born at 35 weeks, weighing 6 lbs 7 oz and measuring 20.5 inches long. He's perfect and beautiful and we love him so incredibly much already.

Because of his early delivery, he'll be camping out in the NICU while he learns to breathe on his own, and then masters the art of eating. We're hoping it won't be too long, but we're encouraging him to grow at his own pace.

We've had a constant request for updates from family and friends (the benefit of having such a wonderful extended support network), so I've decided to use this blog as a way to keep everyone up to date, hopefully daily while he's in the hospital. Tomorrow I hope to get his birth story written out, but apparently life with two small children, one at home and one in the NICU, combined with pumping every 2-3 hours is pretty time consuming.

So, the big questions are "Why is Dash in the hospital?" and "How's he doing?" Here's what's going on. He was born 5 weeks early, and he's a boy (big boy!), and often, for whatever reason, boys take a little longer to develop than girls - especially their lungs. On top of that, apparently his lungs are a  little underdeveloped for 35 weeks. So, he's breathing pretty rapidly (currently around 90 breaths per minute) while his lungs are developing. That being said, he doesn't need any supplemental oxygen support, he just needs pressure to help keep his lungs open. This is our primary concern, and he's already shown a good amount of improvement since his birth (however, it's a slow going process). Upon his birth, he was intubated (had a breathing tube down his throat), but his improvement led him to receive a CPAP instead (little breathing mask apparatus) and last night he was moved to a nasal canula (two pronged device in his nose). The next step is to decrease the help the canula provides, and then wean him off entirely.

He started receiving feeds (my milk) yesterday and their plans are to slowly increase his feeding volumes, while decreasing what he's been receiving from his IV (supplemental nutrition in the form of lipids and an electrolyte combo). This is great news. Once he's done with the oxygen support he'll get to start trying and learning to breastfeed, and once he's mastered that he'll come home. We both got to hold him yesterday for some time, but today we're holding off, as he's developed a good amount of jaundice and must stay under the phototherapy lights until his jaundice levels improve.

This whole process could take some time. We've heard everything from a week or so, to "closer to his due date." Obviously, we'd prefer the first, but whatever it takes to bring him home healthy. This will be an exercise in patience, for sure, but we're so happy with the care he's being provided with, and know that we're super lucky in the large scheme of things. He could be so much sicker, we're so close to the hospital (7 minutes!) and it's one of the best hospitals in the country.

And big sister Eleanor? She's adjusting... sort of. She had the time of her life while we were in the hospital giving birth, but now that we're home, she's showing definite signs of separation anxiety and general fussiness. It's hard - she's too young to understand what's going on, but knows that things are changing. We're going to try to make our time with her as intentional as possible, and extend her as much grace as we can when she melts down (the meltdowns we've seen in the last two days are the worst she's ever had). We'll get there. :)

More to come tomorrow, hopefully!