Wednesday, November 5, 2008
We woke early on the morning of October 22, anticipation and anxiousness filled the house as we clumsily got ourselves ready. Luke had spent the night at my brother's house as we were scheduled to arrive at the hospital at 6am. Scheduled. It was all planned out, it would be routine. Arrive at the hospital at 6am, register and check-in downstairs, find our room in the Snuggery and get prepped with an IV, catheter, etc. John was to change into his "daddy scrubs" and we'd walk ourselves down the hall to the operating room and have ourselves a baby.
I had myself in a tizzy, too anxious, too aware of what was about to happen, already being a mom to one I was petrified of something going wrong during the surgery. I almost passed out when they stuck me with the IV, seriously they had to use the "smelling salts" on me to whip me out of the tunnel I was going down. John thought if I had to smell it he should too so the nurse waved it under his nose and he practically jumped out of his skin. It's potent stuff alright. So after that calamanity I thought for sure I had myself together, it was going to be fine, I could do it.
As we were waiting in the recovery room while they prepped the operating room the anesthesiologist came to tell us how the spinal would go and what the side-effects would/could be. All I heard him say was that it was common to shake, vomit, and have a terrible headache after all was said and done. Okay I thought, well I shook last time so I'm sure that will happen again, but the anxiety started to creep back up at the thought of the huge-ass needle numbing 90% of my body. And at that moment they said they were ready for me. John was asked to wait until I was fully prepped and they would get him when it was time, he kissed me, wished me good luck and told me to stay strong. The needle went in okay, I didn't flinch like I thought I would but it certainly felt weird on my left side and I kept telling them that. I dont' know if it was normal or not, but within a few seconds I was completely warm and numb. I thought, Oh my God, I'm here, it's happening, the past 9 months are over, we're having a baby, in just a few minutes I'm going to meet her. It was overwhelming. And then I started to gag. Convulse even. Laying flat on my back with my head turned to the right I started to throw up. Flourescent green bile was spewing everywhere. I was choking and gagging and the nurses were clammering for one of those u-shaped pepto pink recepticals for me. John finally came in and before he entered they were trying to clean up the floor of puke and then the gagging started again. I remember him saying, "oh honey, no, it's okay" with every convulsion. I must say it's particularly hard to throw-up while on your back and completely numb all over.
With all that distraction I had no clue that they had started the surgery already and within minutes Ellie Grace was out. There was much commotion and betting going on regarding how much she weighed and John won the bet with a guess of 9.6, father knows best. She wasn't crying right away, and I couldn't see her all that well for the first few minutes and then like with Luke, off they went with her with John in tow leaving me to be sewn up.
When I was wheeled out of the OR and into the recovery room the first thing I saw was John walking around with little Ellie snuggly cradled in the crook of his arm. The excitement and anticipation were over and we were finally going to get a chance to coo over the little one together. I held her, finally, and we commented on how much she looked like her brother when he was born.
And then it stopped. The nurses looked at her, noticed her lips turning blue, mentioned something about TTN (transient tachypnea of the newborn) and said they had to take her to the Special Care Nursery. Dr. Finkowski said not to worry it was common and they were just being extra careful. John went to find my mom and I was left there to be monitored for the next hour or so before being wheeled back to my room where I hoped to rejoin my baby.
The rest of the day was a blur, they mentioned that she maybe had pneumonia or an infection, that her breathing was rapid, she was on oxygen and was going to need antibiotics. We might be in for a longer stay, it was all up in the air at that point. They had to do bloodwork, a blood culture, and an xray. And since I had a spinal I couldn't get out of bed until 10pm or so that evening if at all.
Scheduled and planned and routine went out the window.
I finally did see her that night however. John brought me to the nursery in a wheelchair, we felt like an old couple slowly wandering the hospital halls. We sat there and teared up as we looked at our helpless daughter. She was hooked up to two broad-spectrum IV antibiotics, an IV for nourishment, an oxygen hood covered her head and there was a thin tube down her throat that was sucking out all the mucus she had inhaled that was causing the infection. Her breathing was fast and shallow, no deep breaths, just panting. Her rate of breathing was 128 breaths per minute compared to a normal infant who breathes 40 breaths per minute, it was exhausting to watch. The nurses said that while not that common, it happens and usually resolves itself in a matter of days. They warned us to be prepared to stay for a week, that it could be pneumonia which requires seven days of treatment. And in the end that's just what happened.
For the next three days we danced between visiting her in the special care nursery where all we could do was stare at her and pray to visiting with family and friends who stopped in with flowers and gifts, cards and hugs. It was emotionally draining, we had a baby and yet we couldn't hold her or feed her or barely even touch her. Friday night the nurses said that most likely she'd be off the oxygen by morning as her breathing was down to the 80s and 90s. I didn't want to get my hopes up so I tricked myself into thinking that they never said that, I couldn't handle a "most likely" I needed a yes or no. Early the next morning I went down to see her as I couldn't sleep and the nurse who was caring for her was just about to change her sheets and asked me to hold her while she did so. It was heavenly. In the twilight of the early morning hours I sat in the rocking chair and held my baby for real, she was hooked up to wires and IVs and we almost all got completely entangled with each other but it was the most precious five minutes I could have ever asked for. Her black hair was dewey and damp from being under the moist oxygen and her grip was strong, she held onto my finger with such intensity that I knew we'd all come out of this stronger.
Later that day she was off of the oxygen and I finally got to feed her, John got to hold her and we had our moment of fawning over her as we should have three days before. She quickly progressed to rooming in with us for most of the day but had to spend the night in the nursery for monitoring. I was thankful for every precious moment, when she was with me she barely spent anytime in her "crib", all we did was snuggle and sleep and stare at each other. Of course then the jaundice set in and she was back in the nursery and had to be "under the lights" for 24 hours. I was still able to feed her but the cuddle time was taken away. On her one week birthday we were discharged and sent home for good. A clean bill of health, a happy and content baby and relieved parents.
It was a long road Ellie, so many people were there for us, praying and hoping. Your dad and Will made wishes in the hospital fountain and your brother, too young to fully understand certainly looked over you with real honest concern. We love you, you were worth the wait.