I’ve been avoiding this for the past week. I’ve been going back and fourth between writing it down or letting the memory fade over time. I’ve told the story what feels like a million times over the past 3 weeks, and I can’t get through the first few sentences without crying. I figured I’m an emotional person, but I had hoped I’d be a bit better by now. And to a certain extent, I am. But reliving everything that happened on December 5th still causes me to cry just as hard as I did that day. I guess thinking about it, 3 weeks and 5 days really isn’t that long to “get over it”. I guess I’m hoping that by writing it down, it’ll help me let some of it go. Writing has always brought some sort of healing, right? So here it is, every detail I can remember of baby Jacks birth and NICU stay.
DECEMBER 5, 2017
I woke up with cramps that morning. I remember not knowing if it was the real thing or a false alarm because I had been cramping on and off for the past week or so and I wasn’t technically due for another week. The cramps felt consistent so I began timing them. By the end of the hour, they had gone from 5 minutes apart to 2 and a half minutes apart so Brandon and I excitedly grabbed the car seat and hospital bag and got in the car. It was so cool to think that wed be coming home the next day with our new baby, learning a new way of doing things as a family of 3. I remember thinking contractions felt different than I had thought they’d feel. It was bearable and I was feeling pretty confident. We got to the hospital and checked in and they brought us to our room and had me change into a gown. While I was changing my water broke, which was the weirdest thing I’ve ever felt. From there things got much more intense. Things started getting kinda blurry. I remember them having a hard time keeping track of Jacks heart rate. I remember them saying something about me having a fever and they gave me oxygen. I remember them trying to monitor Jacks heart rate internally (before an epidural, that was probably the most painful thing I’ve ever felt coupled with contractions). At that point I wanted an epidural and the anesthesiologist came in the room what felt like a year later to give it to me. I remember the nurses were trying so hard to get ahold of my doctor because with every contraction, Jacks heart rate would drop and they didn’t know why. They had me lay on my right side to try and track his little heart down but they couldn’t find it, so they had me lay on my left side (which wasn’t really going numb) and at that point another doctor came in the room. I could tell she was trying hard not to freak me out but she was telling me because of how Jack was handling the contractions, and I was only 6 centimeters dilated, they wanted to take him out via c-section because they didn’t think he’d make it if we waited til I was the full 10. Exhausted and just wanting Jack to be okay, I agreed and that’s when it got really scary. I always saw panicked doctors on tv shows and whatnot, but I never thought I’d see it in real life. There must have been 6 or 7 people rushing me to the O.R. In what felt like 2 minutes they had pumped me full of numbing drugs and had the sheet up. Brandon came in and sat by me, thank God too because I don’t know how I would have handled it otherwise. I didn’t realize when they said “you’ll feel a lot of pressure” that they meant “this is gonna hurt pretty bad” because wow. I’ve never felt pressure like that before. I remember hearing Jack cry for a second but then it went quiet. A bunch more doctors came flooding into the room and I saw them passing a limp, slightly blue baby to the back of the room and started giving him oxygen. Doctors were blocking him for the most part so I was relying on Brandon to tell me what was happening. He told me Jack was okay, but I could tell he was lying to make me feel better because he looked just as scared.
They put Jack in an incubator and rushed him out and over to CHOC (the children’s hospital next door to the hospital I was in) after letting me have a quick look. Brandon went with him while they stitched me up and took me to the recovery room. That was hard because I couldn’t move my body at all and I could hear moms on the other side of the curtain with their babies and I was alone, not knowing what had just happened or if Jack was okay or anything. Brandon came not too long after and told me he was alive and they had him on oxygen and antibiotics and nutrients and that I could go see him once I was able to walk. After a couple hours in recovery, once I could move my legs, they took me to the Mother-baby unit where I would spend the next 4 days. Jack had to stay at CHOC though. So once again I could hear all the babies crying and new moms looking all exhausted and happy and it was just me and Brandon trying to process everything. Brandon brought me pictures that night of Jack and I was so glad he was alive and I was angry because so many people got to see him and touch his sweet little toes and I couldn’t get out of bed yet. I’ve never felt sadness like I felt that night.
My doctor doesn’t even know what happened or what infection Jack had. The whole situation was so overwhelming and confusing and I was so tired. We slept on and off that night. Nurses kept telling me to make sure I was pumping so that my milk would come in and it felt so wrong. I just wanted my baby with me.
DECEMBER 6-8, 2017
The next few days were incredibly difficult. I was able to walk enough the next day to get to see Jack. They plopped me in a wheelchair and wheeled me over CHOC. My first time seeing him broke my heart and mended it at the same time. Seeing your baby with tubes all over, not being able to cry or eat or anything is devastating. But seeing your baby alive is also the most exhilarating. I wanted to hold him and kiss him. I wanted to take him home like we had planned, I wanted to hear him cry and change his diaper and stay up all night feeding him and making sure he was okay. But I couldn’t. I’ve never cried so many times as I did in those few days. Every time I had to leave him to go back to my hospital, I felt horrible. Like, I should be there with him. People kept telling me to rest and sleep, but how can you rest in a situation like that? I felt like I had something stolen from me. People kept congratulating me and asking to come visit and telling me how happy they were for me, but I didn’t understand. Because nothing felt okay. Nothing was right. I felt so alone.
I have to say though, Brandon was amazing during this whole time. He let me cry when I needed to cry, he went back and fourth between hospitals so many times, I don’t remember seeing him sit down much. He was my stability when everything else felt like quick sand. He made sure I ate and drank enough water. He took me on walks around the hospital and bought me new slippers and he bought Jack and stuffed teddy bear. I appreciated him so much and I’m so thankful to have had support like that.
DECEMBER 9, 2017
I got discharged on this day. We had planned to go home to shower and pack some stuff and go stay at the NICU with jack for the rest of his time there. Healing from a c-section sucks. Healing from one trying to sleep on a hospital couch and constantly moving around sucks so so much. I mean, I’d do it all over again, but still. I remember that day I was such a mess. Driving away for the first time without the baby wrecked me. Walking into our apartment without our baby was the worst thing I’ve felt. I was trying to rest a bit before going to the hospital to be with him but I couldn’t stop crying so we went back pretty quickly. This was pretty much a daily occurrence, going home to nap and shower and waking up feeling totally sick because he wasn’t home with us. But being at the hospital and feeling sick because no one would tell us when we would be able to talk him home. Trying to breastfeed a baby hooked up to machines and trying to change his diaper without setting off one of the heart rate alarms proved to be just as challenging. I just remember wondering why all this had to happen.
DECEMBER 10-15, 2017
Slowly but surely tubes were taken out of our baby and we were informed he was responding extremely well to the antibiotics. He was considered a “normal baby” and was to be treated as such. We stayed the remainder of the ten days and ended up coming home late on December 15th. I’m obviously leaving out details, like how difficult it was mentally and physically that week.
I’ve never actually felt my faith in God being challenged. I’ve always been pretty good at leaning on God blindly and just trusting. Knowing He has His reasons for things and it isn’t my responsibility to understand it all. But this past month has brought new difficulty to my faith I’ve never experienced. On top of everything, I ended up catching the flu a week after coming home which set my healing back because of all the coughing. I had finally been able to walk around and even drove once, but after catching the flu, I regressed so much and that is so frustrating. Not being able to walk without hunching over in pain has caused me to feel so claustrophobic at times, all I can do it cry and cry and for the first time, I’ve gotten so angry at God. I know He didn’t cause any of this but He didn’t stop it either. And that at times feels like He’s abandoned us totally.
I don’t know what the new year is going to bring. I’m holding my breath for outstanding hospital bills and lack of childcare for my return to work. I’m trying to stay calm and just let things play out. At the end of the day, Jack is healthy as can be and my husband is so incredibly helpful and emotionally supportive and our friends and family have been so amazing all I can say to that is I am blessed beyond what I seem to let myself focus on. I’m thankful the worst is over. And I look forward to watching God work out the details of what next year may bring.