Wednesday was a bit of a roller coaster day. I woke up very emotional, knowing I had to leave the hospital and had to leave my little girl. I cried. Then I cried some more. Doctor H came in to examine me and asked, “Ready to go home today?” I choked out a “No…”
“No? You want to stay an extra night?” She was going to check out the insurance, but yes, it was an option, all things considered. I started to feel a tinge better, but didn’t want to get my hopes up, just in case.
I ordered my breakfast and got myself somewhat situated before heading to the NICU to see Haley. The nurse told me she’d had a good night, but they had pulled residual from her tummy tube (meaning she wasn’t digesting her food, and there was concern.) They had postponed her feeding and were waiting for the doctor to do his rounds to determine the next step from there. I cuddled my hands on her, trying not to get overly emotional, and just prayed that she’d be okay.
Later on, Mom and Dad came over and Dad and I scrubbed in to go see Haley again. Dr. J was in there and came over to give us an update. She was doing fine, he had put her back on a feeding, and they were going to keep an eye on how she processed her food. She’s still receiving “food” and nourishment through her PICC line (to which Dr. J made a joke saying, “This is just like food you and I eat. Salads, McDonalds burgers, donuts….” I gotta love this doctor!), it was just her digestive process in her tummy that was under watch. They were still monitoring her billirubin levels and they were “about the same” as they had been the day before. Overall assessment, however, was that Haley was doing really well. Mommy, on the other hand, was having a hard time pulling herself together.
The nurse had to do some assessments and I had to walk around – post surgery style – so we walked around to the NICU window. I watched the nurse pull more residual from Haley’s belly. I watched the nurse put the syringe of food away. “Dammit.” One step back. Baby’s having residual in their tummy can develop into a very serious issue, where their intestines and bowels can become incredibly infected and require surgery. Surgery which isn’t performed here – we would have to go to the Cities if it were an issue. I just wanted my little girl to be able to eat, and be okay.
We walked back to the room and I ordered myself some lunch. Mom and Dad treated themselves to the hospital cafeteria. In the meantime it was determined I was in fact able to stay another night at the hospital. Hallelujah! I needed to be with my little girl one more night. When my parents came back upstairs, I gave them a shopping list and told them I was going to pump, shower, and take a nap. They left, I pumped, and fell immediately asleep. I woke up about two hours later when Brent called. I got up and got in the shower and tried to muster up some energy.
I went across to NICU to deliver my latest “production” and spend time with Haley. She had a splint on her arm – which upon seeing, immediately broke my heart. The nurse came over and I asked “Has Haley eaten today?” “No….no, she still had residual, so we pulled her feeding schedule.” More heartbreak. “Why is there a splint on her arm?” “Her PICC line was getting irritated because she was moving around so we tried to stabilize her arm to keep it from bending and making her PICC line inflamed.” More heartbreak. I just rested my hands on her little body, as she was sleeping, with her eyes covered by the little mask to protect them from the billy lights. Brent arrived and scrubbed in to spend some time with his girls. I tried to be strong and focus on how good she was doing, and was grateful to have one more night across the hall from her.
Around 8:30, Brent and I went back to the NICU to give Haley her bath. I walked in and saw they had the lights off, and her eye protector mask was off. She was wide-eyed looking all around. I immediately felt a sense of relief. “Hi, Sweetie!” I opened the isolette and cuddled her with my hands as she stretched and looked at me. Brent came alongside and we oooh’ed and ahhh’ed over her. The nurse got us all set up and we got started bathing our little girl.
We had an absolute blast. Haley did so well – she just let me wash her and dry her and do whatever I needed to, to get her little body clean. She didn’t fuss a single time. Brent was right there and combed her hair, help get her weighed, and held his daughter in his hands at every opportune moment. We were both having such a great time bonding with Haley and with each other. We wrapped things up and had to put her little eye mask back on, turn on her billy lights, and say goodnight. I was on cloud nine. I couldn’t stop smiling and felt so at peace with her strength and progress. This extra night in the hospital was exactly what I needed – both physically to recover from the cesarean, and emotionally to have that positive experience with Haley before having to go home without her. God blessed me immensely with that extra night. He gives the most awesome gifts!
I woke up early on Thursday feeling great. And soaked. This milk thing – what a trip! I pumped, showered, and ordered breakfast and pain meds. The nurse came in to check my vitals and commented on how nice I looked (I was wearing jeans and a real shirt rather than the last week’s outfit of sweats and a t-shirt). Doctor H came in and asked how I was feeling – and I told her the truth. “Fantastic!” I walked across the hall in my role as the milk woman, and saw Haley just briefly enough to see she was under the blue lights.
Mom and Dad came to the hospital with some items I had requested from home, and I showed them I had grouped all my belongings together, so we could just grab and go when the time came. On Thursdays from 10 to 11, the NICU has “grand rounds” where the nurses, doctors, dietitians, case workers, lactation specialists, etc. all gather in the NICU and review each case. I had forgotten this and tried to go in and see Haley but was stopped by one of the nurses who assured me she would call my room as soon as they wrapped up. I went to the window where my parents were and peeked in on Haley. There was another mother of a NICU baby there at the window with her husband. She was being discharged as well and was really having a hard time with it. I put my arm around her – I so knew what she was going through. We stood there at the window, teary eyed and quiet, each watching our babies. I went back to the room to wait for that phone call from the NICU nurse. About 20 minutes later, it came. Grand rounds were finished, and I was free to see Haley.
I walked across the hall, scrubbed in, gowned up, and walked to her isolette. The billy lights were GONE. She was awake! She was mask-free! She could look all around, just like she loves to. That was incredible. The next thing I noticed – her oxygen mask was gone! The little firecracker was fully breathing on her own. I anxiously waited for a nurse to come by – this would be my first opportunity to give Haley kangaroo care in two days. I could hardly contain myself.
The nurse placed her in my shirt and I sat in the rocking chair and held her. Mom and Dad were watching from the window, trying to take flash-free photos. Dr. J came over and gave me another update. He was so proud of Haley for not needing oxygen. Her billirubin levels were back in the normal range, but they would check them again the next few days just to stay sure. There was a chance she would need the lights again, but not today. She is still gaining weight, as she’s getting nourishment through her PICC line, but she won’t be eating “mommy’s milk” for the next couple of days, until they can get a good grasp on what’s going on with her bowel loop. She's still progressing and they're keeping a very close eye on her. Praise God, praise God, and praise God!
I waved to the window that one of my parents could come in. Mom darted back to scrub in. She ooooh’ed and ahhhh’ed over her tiny little granddaughter as Haley slept against my chest. Before too long there was a labor and delivery nurse telling me that I needed to check out of my room ASAP as they just had three new admits. I had a nurse help me put Haley back in the isolette, and headed to the room to grab my things and go. The discharge nurse was going over my paperwork with me, and I was trying to wave Mom and Dad to get my things out and meet me at the car. I knew how important it was to get the room available ASAP – I had been an emergency admit, and didn’t have to wait for my room, so didn’t want someone else to have to wait either. Especially since I had been granted the extra night to recover.
The discharge nurse walked me down to the car, and we loaded up and headed to meet Brent for lunch. Everything happened so fast – and I realized as I reached across my body to fasten my seat belt, it had been over four hours since I last pumped. All I could say was “OW!”
This is already the longest blog ever, so I’ll skip the boring parts of the afternoon and tell you that Brent and I went back to give Haley her bath. This time Brent did the bathing, and he was fantastic! He is such a great daddy! We were able to swaddle her and hold her for quite a while. I loved watching Brent’s face as he looked at his daughter. It’s so precious to see him fall so in love with her.
We came home and I realized I hadn’t even peeked in to see the nursery! I walked inside and saw the dresser, the crib, the little bookshelf, all the baby accessories, and I started to cry. It looked great, but Haley was missing. I wasn’t sad, necessarily, but more anticipating the day we get to bring her home. She is receiving amazing care in the NICU and she is doing so well – I imagine it will be sooner rather than later that we get to enjoy her in her nursery.
The day was filled with an overwhelming sense of God’s presence, and how many lives he has touched through the miracle of Haley. She is a little answer to hundreds of prayers, and a blessing to so many. I was just so humbled by God’s grace today, in so many different ways. It took a 2 lb. 12 oz. 15 inch miracle for me to see how far, how wide, how long, and how deep the love of God reigns. He is so much bigger than I ever could have fathomed.