Tuesday, April 28, 2015

I Had a Baby: part two

I left off with us being moved over to the postpartum rooms and choosing Alice's name. Generally, that is the end of the hospital story, you go home, get less sleep, fall in love with your newborn, etc. However, Alice ended up being in the hospital for five days. Which is really nothing compared to preemie babies, or other babies with serious problems. We are super grateful that we were able to come home as soon as we did. It gave us a tiny taste of what parents go through with babies in the NICU, or children in the PICU or any form of hospital stay families have had to endure. Ours was really inconsequential compared to some, but if you are not familiar with our little story, here it is.

Fairly soon after we were moved over to our postpartum room, we were informed that Alice had low blood sugar. They wanted me to continue breastfeeding her (it is just colostrum at first as the milk does not usually come in until day 3 or sometimes later) and check her blood sugar every three hours. They check a newborns blood sugar by pricking the heel, squeezing the blood out and then testing it on a handheld device. Often, the device did not work or got a poor reading and so they would prick her or try and squeeze blood out again. It was not a pleasant experience for anyone involved, as poor Alice screamed and screamed and I or Tyler did our best to console her. 

Unfortunately, her blood sugar did not go up. So, then they tried to have me nurse every two hours and also supplement with formula while nursing with a SNS (basically there is bottle that holds the formula and it runs down a tiny tube and is put in the baby's mouth while she is breastfeeding). Using the SNS was difficult and Alice did not seem to like it much either. We spent a whole day working with it. They also upped the amount of blood sugar testings to one a half hour before a feeding and one a half hour after. Poor Alice screamed so much from all the pokes she became hoarse. I would say her heels were pricked over 40 times in a two day period. Her heels looked awful! All of us were also getting hardly any sleep as I had to nurse so often (it took forever with the SNS as well), all the heel pricks, and then people coming in to check vitals, ask questions, etc. Sometimes I wonder about the hospital. It is two or three in the morning and we have the lights off, I'm trying to get a tiny rest and then some random doctor comes in and asks me if I have thought about contraception. Why at that hour? Why in the hospital at all, as it could wait until the 6 week check up, right? So, the lack of sleep was hard. We did have a super great daytime nurse, named Jael. I really loved her and she helped out so much. She was there for our two days we were in our room.

After two days of trying to get Alice's blood sugar to normal (her numbers were in the 20s and 30s and the doctor wanted her to be in at least the 40s, but preferably the 60s-70s-80s), it had still not risen. I also had no medical reason to be in the hospital anymore, so they had to discharge me. The doctor decided to put Alice on an IV to give her some sugar. They also had taken some blood and had it tested to see why she had low blood sugar. They found out that she had too many red blood cells (it made her blood thick) and this caused the low blood sugar. It is called polycythemia. Through the IV, they put in the same stuff they were putting in for her blood sugar to dilute the blood and help break up the red blood cells. Since she had an IV, she had to be in the nursery. The hospital has a regular nursery and an intermediate nursery. The intermediate nursery is for babies that have some problems, but not so serious that they have to go to the NICU. Alice was in the intermediate nursery. Mind you, at this time I was having a bit of a hard time. It was at first hard not knowing why she had low blood sugar and seeing her pricked so much. Then, it was hard knowing what she had, because if diluting it did not work, then she would have to be moved to the NICU and have a blood transfusion. I feel like I did fairly well, but the lack of sleep made me a bit more emotional than I otherwise might have been. Tyler was able to give her a blessing, although they would not let me in the nursery to see it, as only two people are allowed in there at a time (you need two people to give a blessing of healing). I heard it was a lovely blessing though and I'm grateful to have a husband with the priesthood.

Her IV was in her head unfortunately.

I am so thankful my mom was able to come to Salt Lake. She took care of Elanor and anything else I needed. Once I was discharged, they could no longer give me food, so she brought food up for me for every meal. Elanor was able to meet and hold Alice while I was in my postpartum room, but once Alice was moved to the intermediate nursery she was not allowed in there so she could not see her. It was a bit hard on her to not see me much, as I had to nurse Alice every three hours and I also held her as much as I could. Adults are allowed into the nursery, so my parents (my Dad flew in on Friday) were able to hold Alice.

My mom with Alice.  In the intermediate nursery we were able to draw curtains around Alice's area so it felt more private which was nice. 
Alice had such low blood sugar so she was very sleepy and I hardly saw her eyes the first few days.  It took all of  her energy to eat and cry when she was pricked. Once she was on the IV, she started to wake up a bit (maybe 10 minutes at a time). This was one of those times.

At this University of Utah Hospital they have what are called "Twilight Rooms" (I'm sure most hospitals have them). They had two Twilight Rooms for parents whose baby is in the nursery. It basically consists of a twin bed, a chair and side table. It was tiny and windowless (our nurse, Jael, called it a "Harry Potter closet"), but free! I had to apply to stay in a room each day, as any other parent whose child was in the intermediate nursery could also apply to stay in one of the rooms. Luckily, I got a room all three nights that we were there after I was discharged. The first night I stayed in there by myself and nursed Alice throughout the night. Every other night, Tyler stayed with me, which was much nicer. Also, Tyler was and is just stellar. He is so helpful, supportive and willing to do anything I need. I chose a good husband.

This is not a great picture of me, but is an accurate one. I was pretty tired, nursed a lot, and spent quite a bit of time in this chair.

By Friday, Alice's blood sugar was normalizing and my milk had also come in, which helped her blood sugar as well. I was a lot less worried and slept a lot better once I knew that the treatment was working (If it had not worked, she would have had to go to the NICU and have a blood transfusion, so we felt very blessed). It had taken some work to get her there, as she needed some extra doses of the dextrose, instead of just the drip through the IV.  Since her blood sugar had stayed in the normal realm, on Saturday they started to wean her off the dextrose. It took 14 hours of her IV being slowly turned down, her blood sugar tested every three hours to see if she had maintained a normal level, and also some blood draws to check her red blood cells.

{Some people that did the heel pricks and blood draws were fairly good and quick, but some were not good and took several attempts! One of the worst was when Alice had to get her blood drawn and they took her into the procedure room and the girl who always had a hard time drawing blood was doing it. I had to stay out of the room, but I could hear her screaming and she screamed for a full fifteen minutes. That is a long time when you're just sitting there listening. The girl had to poke her a few times as she could not get it in the right spot. It was frustrating. }

By the late afternoon on Saturday, her IV was turned off completely and they said she would most likely be able to come home on Sunday.  They just needed to see how her blood sugar would do on its own. So they tested her blood sugar a few more times and took one more blood draw as well to see if her red blood cell level was down. Thankfully, her blood sugar was great (each time she was in the upper 60s and 70s!) and her red blood cells were in the normal range! Since everything looked good, they said we could bring her home on Sunday, which was Easter.

We stayed another night in a twilight room, gave her a bath that night, and in the morning I was able to put clothes on her for the first time! She was so tiny so I put her in preemie clothes. I was so excited for Alice to be discharged from the hospital and to go home!

Alice went home in this little preemie outfit. Thanks Becky!
A family of four and we are so happy to be leaving the hospital.
I missed Elanor's Easter egg hunt and basket in the morning, but was able to make it home for a late breakfast. It was a sunny, warm and beautiful day. It was Easter, General Conference (I missed a lot of it and am still catching up), my parents were there, and my baby was home, so I was pretty happy!
Matching Easter dresses for the sisters! Thanks Mom!

It was really nice to have my parents here and I wish they could have stayed longer. 

Sword fighting with Grandpa!
Both of my brothers are on missions for our church, but it was Ian's birthday on April 10th. My mom wanted to make him a birthday banner with every one important to him holding a letter to spell out "Happy Birthday Elder Scott". Alice was born so much earlier than anyone expected so we were able to add her to the banner. Here she is with letter B (Elanor colored the B in and was pretty proud of herself!).

Just a bit bigger than a piece of paper!

Tyler is a pretty great dad!

My mother-in-law, Kim, came and visited as well when Alice was just a little over a week. It was fun to have her and to have her help!

So serious. 
She has such big eyes!

 Alice is doing great now! At her last check up she was 5 pounds 6 ounces and is probably bigger now. She loves to nurse, really dislikes getting her diaper changed and baths, is generally quite content, but can also scream impressively loud, and is such a tiny, adorable baby and we love her.

Also, thank you to all who helped us out, our family, friends, people who brought food, etc. We feel so blessed to have you all.

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