Just when I would get comfortable with my new normalcy (the feeling I was in labor every.single.day) something new would happen and throw me back into panic mode and an extra doctor's visit. Then, amazingly enough I made it to the last week of my medication. My doctor had been on vacation the week prior and said I was the only patient he checked on and thought for sure I'd have the baby before his return. I held onto this pregnancy and was so far along that I didn't need medicine anymore. I was almost term. It was a miracle.
At 36 weeks and 4 days I went into labor. After trying to decide if I was really in labor or not I called my doctor and he sent me to Labor and Delivery. I did not want to go in only to be sent home again so I waited until I was certain. I got to the hospital and sure enough I was in active labor. I was still preterm...barely...so my doctor checked my fluid levels and my levels were low. That sealed the deal and I was going to have my baby that day. I was so happy to be finally finished with this stressful pregnancy AND it seemed like a take home baby was in my grasp. That was all I wanted. A healthy take home baby.
I went to the OR and had a nice section...they do exist. Obviously its not the most pleasant experience but I knew what to expect and it all went well. My beautiful baby was born at a healthy weight of 7lb 2oz. She had pouty lips and was mad at anyone trying to clean her up. She was perfect and had moxy.
Then the NICU nurse practitioner asked why they had her so early. She had a worried look on her face and another nurse whispered to her. They had to keep suctioning her mouth, they gave her oxygen and took her away. I finished up my surgery and went back to recovery. As it turns out I did not have a take home baby within my reach. Her lungs were not quite ready for the outside world. She was struggling to breath and needed help.
I got to see her the next morning and she was on a CPAP machine, her hands bruised and dotted with attempted IV pokes and an IV taped to her forehead. She quickly developed pneumonia and could not tolerate any stimulation. She would cry if someone touched her, there was a light on or there was too much sound. It was a horrible feeling to not be allowed to hold your baby because she was too sick. There I was in the NICU again wondering what would happen to my baby and when she would be able to come home.
The nurses, nurse practitioners and neonatologists were all wonderful. I had been there before so I knew what to expect. I knew not to ask when she would come home because they can't tell you that. If they do tell you a date its likely to change and devastate you all over again. I listened to what they had to say, waited and gently laid my hands on her back to help soothe her. That was all I could do. My arms ached to hold her and make it all better but I could not.
I had two other children at home wondering about their mommy and their new baby sister. Raph took it the hardest because he'd been down this road before and remembered what it was like. He told me with tears, "I thought we were going to be able to take this baby home." It was heartbreaking but all I could say was, "I thought so too honey. I thought so too."
Its hard to have a baby so fragile and sick. Its hard to explain to others what is going on. No one comes to visit you, no one knows what to say to you. You are alone with your husband trying to be in two places at once. All of your children need you and they can't be together.
As she gained strength she was able to tolerate stimulation. When she was 6 days old I got to hold her. It took two people to wrestle all the wires, tubes and equipment and place her in my arms. Not only did I get to hold her but she would take her first nipple feeding at my breast. That was one of the best moments for me. Not only was I able to hold my child but nourish her weak body at the same time.
Each day she was able to tolerate more, feed more, have a wire removed and eventually was ready to come home 12 days after her birth. Everything was ready to go except her car seat test. They told us she would be ready to come home early afternoon but I got a call around noon. She was failing her car seat test and they didn't know what to do. After consulting with the neonatologist again they ordered a new battery of tests and a caution that she might not be able to come home as planned. After several anxious hours they called to tell me that she could come home, but she must not spend any length of time in her car seat. Avoid unnecessary trips and certainly no extended car trips. Finally my baby was coming home.
We brought our beautiful, healthy Heidi Sophia home to meet her brothers. It was a joyous day and we didn't put her down for the rest of the evening.
She is a sweet, easy going, snugly baby. A far cry from the screaming, high maintenance, untouchable baby that she was in her first few days. She is well worth all the tears, anxiety and frustration. Our home is now complete.