Monday, August 25, 2014

An Unexpected Stay in the NICU (Part II)



Four days after having my second child, I took my son into the doctor because he seemed unusually tired and lethargic. I realize newborn babies sleep a lot but this was different. Something just wasn't right. It turns out his body temperature was extremely low and we were sent to the NICU via ambulance. You can read more about this in Part I of our NICU story.  

As the doctors ran tests on my son, M, my family and I occupied a room for families with babies in the NICU.   I was happy to have a place to sleep and be close to M.  However, the room didn’t have windows that could be opened.   I felt as if I were suffocating, physically and emotionally.  

On our second night in the NICU, I woke up in the middle of the night, shivering and not feeling well.  The uncomfortable air mattress, coupled with a lack of sleep and a clogged milk duct had led to a breast infection (even though I didn’t realize it at the time).  

That morning, I brought some milk I had pumped to the NICU.   M was sleeping and still hooked up to oxygen.  He looked so small and fragile.  I couldn’t wait to hold him again.   At this point, I was eager to talk to the doctor and learn about any test results.  The day before the doctors had given him a spinal tap and run several blood panels.  

It was the waiting that was the hardest.  

Yet, on that day, we received some good news.  M did not have meningitis or any infection.  His oxygen levels were good too. The doctors attributed his low body temperature to dehydration.   Although I was feeding him around the clock, late premature babies sometimes have trouble latching and feeding well.  When you are breastfeeding, it can be hard to see exactly how much food your child is intaking.  The day before he went to the NICU, I had even gone to the lactation specialist to see how well he had been feeding.   Although he had lost a little weight after leaving the hospital, the nurse wasn’t worried.  M had reflux too and had a hard time keeping his food down.  Later we found out he had GERD, gastroesophageal reflux disease, and a sliding hiatal hernia (but that’s a whole other story).  

On my second visit to the NICU that day, M’s eyes were open, bright and eager to see the world.   I was able to hold him, nurse him and touch his soft skin.

The next day, M was ready to go home.  I was excited but, at the same time, scared.  What would have happened if I hadn’t taken him to the doctor that day?  After all, he had gone from thriving to dehydrated in less than a day. I worried it might happen again.

I supposed I was just going to have to trust my motherly instincts.  And I did. I rented a pump and brought it home. This way I could try to bottle feed him so I could more accurately measure his milk intake. A few days later I took him to his pediatrician, just to make sure everything was okay. 

And, they were.  M is now a healthy two and a half year old, enjoying life to the fullest!