Friday, April 1, 2011

Grey's Brought Tears

I watch Grey's Anatomy every week... and I LOVE it! Shane used to watch it with me all the time, but this season he has probably only watched 3 episodes. Anyway, tonight was their big "Music Night". Essentially it was a musical.

Shane decided to watch it with me. We were laughing at the cheesy songs and the lighthearted way they handled the big car accident. I suppose some people will think we are mean or heartless for feeling this way, but it was not what I was expecting and I can't say that I really enjoyed the musical aspects of the show. For me, it distracted from the seriousness of the event.

Regardless our laughter was brought to a crashing halt when they pulled the 23wk baby out. The doctors worked diligently to revive the baby. They did, but I was immediately brought to tears. And Shane said, "Well, this brings back a lot for me."

In June of 2009 we found out we were going to have another baby. We were so excited. My pregnancy was pretty smooth... I suffer from gestational diabetes, so I have to visit the specialist more frequently than the average prego. Baby #2 was due on February 22, 2010. In early December, we scheduled the c-section for Feb 16.

We had everything figured out. I would work (teach) until the Friday before the surgery. And we planned a "day of fun" for our daughter for the day before her little brother arrived. It was going to be fabulous.

But, like most things in life, you can't plan everything.

Things at my job had quickly become intolerable. I was miserable there. And the stress was starting to negatively effect my pregnancy. My blood pressure was up (not too high, but enough for the docs to watch it). My diabetes was under control, but by the first of January I was up to 2-3 doctor's visits each week. Twice a week I had an NST (non-stress test). I actually loved this appointment. It was one hour where I could relax in a recliner and listen to my baby's heartbeats. But each time, Ri's heart rate would drop off several times during the tests and the doctor would do an ultrasound to check his status.

This one day started off as any other... Shane was off of work that day, so he was going to spend the day with our daughter. I got up, put on comfy clothes and headed off to my job. I hadn't been feeling great all week, but that was nothing new. Plus I hated going to work, so I was extra miserable. I remember at lunch my friend Meg said, "Geez Min, you look like you are going to have that baby real soon." But the scheduled C was still over a month away.

After school, I picked up Shane and Rea, and we headed off to the NST appointment. Shane usually works on the days that I had them, so I was super excited he could go to this one since there was a pretty good chance we would have another ultrasound. He was excited to see his little boy on the screen. I had been taking Rea to those appointments so she could feel like she was apart of all the action. She loved getting the print pictures of her little brother.

That appointment started like all the ones before it. An hour in the chair. A couple of heartbeat "dips". An ultrasound.

As I looked at the screen, I said to the ultrasound tech, "Um, where is all that black stuff that is usually around the baby?" Then I looked at her face. She was concentrating hard and looked like she was trying to find the right words. Finally she said, "Yeah... there isn't any fluid there. I have to talk to your doctor. Wait in the waiting room, but do NOT leave."

Not exactly comforting words.

Shane was already starting to pace. I was sitting with Rea. She was chattering on and on about the new picture of her baby. Finally, my nurse came out and said, "You need to go to [the hospital]. Go to the Labor & Delivery floor for probable delivery. They are expecting you. Do not eat or drink anything. Go now."

I froze. Shane said, "What?!?! I haven't showered yet today!" (haha... silly boy)

So off we went.

We called my parents, filled them in on the news and asked them to meet us at the hospital so they could pick up Rea. Shane's mom had flown to Georgia that morning, so his dad would also be joining us at the hospital. We told Shane's mom not to come back right away... we still had no idea what to expect.

Ready and waiting...
Grandpa, Dadden & Papa

The anesthesiologist didn't think it was a good idea to do the surgery immediately because I had eaten a granola bar on my way to the doctor that afternoon... we would have to wait until the food was out of my system.

At 11pm my OB came into the room. We discussed all of the possible options for us at that moment. The biggest unanswered question was how far along I actually was in my pregnancy. My original due date was set for February 14, but a few months in my doc pushed it back to the 22nd. So there was a chance that Ri was a week more developed than we thought. There is no way of knowing that, but it was something for us to consider. My OB was really "on the fence" about whether to perform the c-section or keep me on hospital bedrest. Since I had been having so many problems and complaints, he thought it would be ok to pull the baby out... but since I had been laying in the hospital bed, Ri had not been having any heart troubles.

It would be a decision that Shane and I would have to make. He left the room and let us talk.

A few minutes before 1am, I was brought into the OR. I was terrified. Had I made the right decision? What was going to happen next? Would I regret this forever? Is Ri going to be ok?

Shane was amazing. I wouldn't have gotten through the surgery (or the next 10 days) without him. When I was giving birth to Rea, all he wanted to do was watch the surgery... he likes all the blood and guts. But this time, he sat calmly next to me and kept telling me how much he loves me and how we were all going to be ok.

Ri was born. He didn't cry immediately, which FREAKED ME OUT! But the team of doctors and nurses took care of him, got him to cry, and brought him over to see me for 30 seconds before they rushed him off to the NICU.

I was kept in recovery longer than normal because the only way to see Ri again was when they wheeled me through the NICU on my way to my room. After that, I wouldn't be able to see him until I was up and walking around. So, we waited until the doctors had him stable.

It is still a blur for me. By now it was like 4am... I had been awake for about 23 hours and had just had major surgery. But, I remember it was scary. I was scared out of my mind to see him. Again, all the answerless questions. And the NICU is a very intimidating place.

We saw him for about 1 minute before the nurses wheeled me out and into my room. We prayed together. Then Shane fell asleep. I couldn't relax. I laid there in the dark, listening to the passing trains and Shane's snoring, and cried for 3 hours. My guilt kept me up. I could not shake the feeling that I had made the wrong decision. Even if the drugs had worn off, my fear was paralyzing.

At 9am my day nurse came in. She told me that my OB had left orders for her to get me up and moving ASAP, so I could go see my baby. It took about an hour... then I was strong enough to get up out of a chair and walk with the assistance of my wheelchair. I was cleared to enter the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

The NICU is divided into 3 sections. Level 1, 2 & 3 babies. Ri was a level 3, the most unstable and scariest part of the room.

The doctors and nurses told us that the first 24-48 hours were going to be the worst... they were the most touch-and-go. No one could tell us how Ri was going to turn out. That was the worst part.

We stayed for a little while by his side. When we went back to our room, Shane broke down and cried. I don't know that I have ever seen him cry at any other time. We prayed. Honestly, I prayed CONSTANTLY for the first 48 hours of Ri's life.  The Bible talks about the peace that passes understanding, and I think that really helped me get through Ri's time at the hospital. Although I never stopped feeling guilty for him being in the NICU, I felt a strange sense of calm, at least that's how I remember it. When Ri made it past the 48hr mark with no major problems, the peace I needed helped me push through. It allowed me focus on our daughter, resting and regaining my strength.

It is hard to put into words what a conflicting emotional experience it was. I think only other NICU parents can understand what it feels like to worry about your little one, love your little one and trust in the people taking care of your little one, while having to take a few steps back. It is so painful to see your precious baby with all the tubes and wires in and on him. It is even more painful not to be able to hold him. And the parental/maternal guilt can be debilitating.

We were some of the lucky ones. Ri was discharged after 10 days. He was healthy and happy. Big sister was so excited to bring him home.

And I thank God everyday for all that He has blessed us with.

1 comment:

  1. I cried while reading this. You're right. Only other NICU parents can really understand. It's terrifying and surreal. I don't think I ever even understood prayer before Windsor spent 19 days at St Mary's. Now I know a little better what the bible means when I read that the Holy Spirit intercedes when we can't find the words. There are times in life when there just aren't any words. Love you guys!