Thursday, February 17, 2011

Ryan's Hospital Stay

On Monday, February 7th, a home health nurse came to us for a “post partum check up.” Her name is Kim, and she was one of my nurses who took care of Ryan and I in the hospital when Ryan was born. She was there when we were discharged on Saturday and was very surprised that the pediatrician was letting us leave, because Ryan appeared to have jaundice. I was questioning myself whether or not we should request the billi test again, but also felt like we should trust the doctor’s judgment... even though part of me didn’t feel like he was very thorough. When she came to our home for that appointment, she still thought he looked very yellow. We were going to Ryan’s first actual “check up” the next day, but it was nice to have her come to us and check on how we were doing. She said we were both doing really well [minus the possible jaundice], and she would probably call us tomorrow to see what the pediatrician said at the appointment.
Our appointment was at 10:30 on Tuesday, the 8th. We saw Dr. Engstrom, a female doctor that I really liked. She did the basic “check up,” and then agreed that Ryan looked quite yellow. She ordered some labs to be drawn, and Ryan got a prick in his foot to draw some blood for the tests. He did really well with that… he is a comfort sucker, so sucking on my finger kept him calm. I think him being calm helped me, too.

While the tests were being done in the lab, Jake, Ryan and I went to the cafeteria for lunch. In the middle of lunch, the nurse came to find us; she said the doctor wanted to talk with us before she saw her next patient. When we got into the room, Dr. Engstrom explained that Ryan’s levels were high and that she really would like to re-admit him to the Special Care Nursery to go under the billi lights for treatment. She explained a little bit about jaundice and how it worked, and after I shed a few tears, Jake and I decided that it would be the best option. She said he was borderline, and had given us the option to take him home and use a special “billi blanket” with him; but it would have had to be delivered to our house [and that would have taken a while], and he would have had to be ‘hooked up’ and on this blanket for 22 hours a day. She thought that might be too stressful for us, to keep him in one place for so long, so she suggested staying at the hospital.
We were sent straight upstairs, back to the maternity care center that I thought we had left “for good” on Saturday. It was weird to be back. We went to the “baby ICU” and met with our first nurse. She was very gentle with Ryan as she explained what was going on and what we could expect. Seeing Ryan in the incubator with the foam “sunglasses” on, covering his eyes from the blinding blue light, was really hard. He squirmed and fought laying still until sleep overcame him, and finally he rested. 

The nurse explained that I would be able to nurse him for half an hour, every three hours. She said that since my milk was not yet in, they may have to supplement him with formula to prevent him from getting dehydrated. Jake and I definitely wanted to avoid this route as much as possible, but knew that if it had to be, it had to be.
We were able to stay in the hospital, in a room almost directly across from the SCN. We were told that this room was free of charge for us to use, but if a laboring mother came in and needed it, we would be “booted.” I prayed that wouldn’t happen.

We sat with him for some time in the ICU, and then went to our room for a moment alone. I think that’s when the tears really came; Ryan had only been “with us” for 5 days, but “with me” for 9 months, and I felt SUCH a void in my heart. Jake was such a rock for me, just letting me cry, holding me, and praying. When I felt like I could pull myself back together, we went back to the nursery for Ryan’s first feeding. It was the shortest half an hour of my life; I felt as soon as I put him to my chest, that the nurse said that we needed to put him back in the incubator. Breastfeeding, to a new mom, is a challenge in and of itself… it’s a natural thing, but it doesn’t COME naturally. It takes practice… and I felt like half an hour was not nearly enough time for Ryan to get what he needed.
Jake and I decided that we should go home to get a few things since we would be spending the night. I didn’t want to leave, but I knew there was “nothing” I could do at the hospital for the next three hours and that some fresh air might do me good. I cried the whole way home but tried to leave Ryan in God’s hands. He’s better off there, anyways.
We quickly grabbed some things, and then the phone rang… someone from the MOPS group prayed with me over the phone. A little later my friend Abri called, and she said she and her husband were going to bring us lunch the next day. We then headed back to the hospital… and didn’t make it very far before we got stuck in a snow bank [in the driveway]. Jake got out the 4-wheeler with the plow and started digging us out. I was watching the clock like a hawk, praying and praying that we would make it back in time for Ryan’s next feeding. Then, to the frustration of both of us, something happened with the plow on the 4-wheeler and we were unable to use it [Jake was later able to fix it, but not at that time]. So he got out a shovel and started digging. FINALLY we were on our way. 

Dr. Engstrom came to our room and apologized for earlier. She said she had felt like she hadn’t explained things well enough and just kind of “sent us on our way…” so she wanted us to ask any questions we had or if we needed things to be explained better. It was very nice for her to stop by again; you could tell she really cared about us and Ryan.
We made it back in time to nurse Ryan, right on schedule. The nurse suggested that we should try to get some sleep. We went to our room and tried to rest, but sleep didn’t come easily. I was anxiously awaiting the next 30 minute window I got with my baby boy.

During one of the night time feedings in our room, Ryan was sleepy and wouldn’t latch on. I broke down and cried… Jake called the nurse for a little help. She came in and said, “It’s actually kind of nice to see some tears… you were acting so stoic.” I tried to not let her comment bother me; just because I didn’t cry in front of her didn’t mean my heart wasn’t being ripped apart. She helped him get latched on and by the time the 30 minutes was up, he had actually nursed only a total of 5 minutes. The nurse said that she thought we should try to supplement him with some formula because he was obviously still hungry. I tried to not feel like a failure… 30 minutes is such a short time, and my milk was not yet in. We decided that we wanted to avoid using bottles as to avoid confusion for Ryan, so we went the “finger feeding” route… a small tube that was attached to a small bottle, was taped to one of our fingers which Ryan sucked on. He was fed a little bit of that, enough to satisfy him, in the incubator while under the lights,
The night slowly passed by, and finally it was a new day. Both Jake and I were cautiously optimistic about going home that day. I felt more at peace about being there, because I knew that it was for the best, but I couldn’t help wanting to take my boy home and get back to “normal” life. The morning and afternoon came and went… a different pediatrician finally came along to examine Ryan and talk to us. His numbers were still too high for them to be comfortable with sending him home… so a second night at the hospital it was.
A  nurse helped me with a “nipple shield…” a small, silicone nipple that was placed on me to give Ryan something easier to latch on to. He never liked putting his tongue down to nurse, so it was hard for me to get him latched on… but the shield helped a lot. Since I have MA, I was given a breast pump and I used that after every feeding to try and make my milk come in faster. I was able to pump just a little bit each time, and they used that in place of formula when they finger fed him. They still had to use a little formula, but the less and less they had to use, obviously the better it is.
The 2nd night seemed better. Although there was another time during a feeding that Ryan wanted nothing to do with it, and I had a really hard time with that. I felt like nursing Ryan was the ONLY tangible thing I could do for him, and I felt like that was being taken away from me.
I met with the lactation consultant on Thursday morning, and she helped me figure out why my pump didn’t seem to be pumping very effectively. Finally it seemed like my milk was coming in and I was able to pump some more than I had been able to previously.
Ryan had some labs drawn that morning, and when the numbers came back, the pediatrician decided that we could go home. “Funny” tangent… this was the same doctor that sent us home on Saturday. He pulled back the curtain in the nursery and said, “Oh, I’ve met you before, haven’t I?” Uh, yeah. Hopefully we won't be back this time...
He showed us the jaundice chart; it seemed that Dr. Engstrom didn’t want to scare us when she re-admitted Ryan on Tuesday, because the level he was at was WAY higher than just “borderline.” I’m glad I didn’t know that before.
We were finally able to leave around 11am on Thursday, and we took our baby boy home. One week later, he still looks “yellow,” like a perfectly tanned little baby… but he acts completely normal… he is nursing really well and is alert often. He gets mad when he’s bathed or when he’s getting his diaper changed; “good” things, because being lethargic would be “not good” signs, as jaundice babies are really sleepy all the time.
Those two days/two nights in the hospital were really hard for us as parents, but it helped us rely on Christ for strength to make it through that time. Being a parent kind of gives me a better picture about how Christ feels about us, His children… the overwhelming love I feel for Ryan is just a grain of sand compared to how much the Lord loves and cares for us. It’s good to be reminded of that, especially when we feel like He is so far away and unapproachable. 

No comments: