We were instantly in love with Isaac and I couldn’t stop looking at his chubby little cheeks. For an hour he laid on my chest and we all stood around and looked at him.
I cried a few times. The baby I had carried, talked to, and sang to for nine months was finally in my arms. And he was perfect.
During the hour I was cleaned and stitched up. Knowing that was going on down below made me very grateful for the epidural.
After our hour of kangaroo care, the nurse took him for his measurements.
7 Ibs. 15 oz, 20.5 in.
I was very happy he didn’t push over that 8 Ib mark, I was worried about having a big baby the entire pregnancy.
*Today he is 3 weeks and lemme tell ya, he has put on some serious weight already!*
Then, everything changed. The nurse got nervous and called down to the NICU, asking for someone to come up because the baby’s breathing was fast.
A nurse practitioner came in, looked at him for a second and turned to me.
“I can tell just by looking at him that he’s breathing fast. We are taking him to the NICU; he needs to be on oxygen.”
Unlike the rest of the women in my family, I have about zero knowledge of medicine. Well…except my Grey’s Anatomy training. Even though she was a little too straight forward about my baby needing special care, I wasn’t worried at this point. He had been fine when he was on my chest. He was still crying and breathing, everything would be fine.
But then they brought in a NICU bed and wheeled him away. Ben ran out of the room with him, an amazing father already, and the tears threatened to flow down my cheeks.
Give me my baby back, was all I could think as I watched them leave.
My mom and sister assured me that he would be fine; it was good that they were taking him just to be safe.
NICU Visit & Mother Baby Unit
The nurse wheeled me down to the NICU once the doctor was done sewing me back up. There, I was able to hold my baby’s hand. I ignored the IV in his hand, the wires sticking out of the swaddled blanket and the oxygen hood over his face.
I prayed, please let his breathing return to normal.
As they wheeled me away from my baby, my husband by my side, I once again fought back tears.
I was an exhausted emotional wreck and my baby was not in my arms.
We got to our room around 5 AM. There was a huge upswing in deliveries at the hospital so we were actually put into the overflow rooms. This meant that our room was bigger and, arguably, way nicer than the normal Mother Baby unit rooms.
The nurse helped me into bed and introduced me to the nurse who would be taking care of me for the remainder of night shift. They explained that someone would be in every 2ish hours to give me my rotation of Tylenol/Motrin and to check on how I was doing. Then, they left, and it was just Ben and I.
“I didn’t even get to hold him,” Ben said, breaking my heart once more.
We were a family but a piece was missing and we could already feel it.
We squeezed into my bed, even though there was a cot right next to me, and he held me for a little while.
Together we prayed for our son, and reminded ourselves that Jesus was going to take care of him.
Finally, after nearly 30 hours, we went to sleep.
Sleep did not last long. The nurse came back in around 7, as promised, and helped me walk to the bathroom. At this point, feeling had returned to my legs and I was able to walk.
Though I couldn’t go to the bathroom just yet, the nurse taught me my new bathroom routine (thank you stitches) and then made sure I was able to get back to the bed on my own. She gave me my meds and I was able to fall back to sleep for another hour when I woke up and needed to pee.
Ben walked next to me, making sure I wouldn’t fall, and I was successful on the toilet. My wonderful husband teased me about my squirt bottle and pain relief spray & tube. Things felt just a little bit normal.
Visiting the NICU
Once I was done in the bathroom I had one thought and nothing was going to get in my way. I needed to see my baby.
Ben’s arm around me, we walked out of the room. The nurses were a little worried about me walking and offered to get me a wheelchair. I promised I was fine, even though I had started to feel warm and a little dizzy, I wasn’t waiting around for a chair.
We got upstairs and were so beyond happy to see that our son was no longer under an oxygen hood but sleeping soundly. His IV and heart monitors were still in place.
The pediatrician came in and explained everything that was going on with Isaac.
- He did great over night and didn’t need to be on Oxygen anymore (yay!)
- His breathing was still fast but was evening out more each hour.
- They were giving him a 48 hour round of antibiotics (one in the morning and one at night for two days) since tachypnea is a sign of an infection.
- He would not be able to eat for 24 hours, poor guy.
- The Doctor didn’t think it was an infection but that Isaac had swallowed a decent amount of amniotic fluid on his way out.
We talked about the labor and delivery and the doctor laughed, “18 minutes of pushing with your first child? Wow! Your next one is going to fly out!”
We felt so much better even though Isaac would still be in the NICU. The nurse saild we could visit him whenever we wanted and that they would call down for us with any other news.
Ben and I sat in the NICU room for over an hour, taking turns holding our son. We counted fingers and toes and marveled at the fact that we had become parents!
Later that day, my mom and sisters brought lunch for Ben and I and visited with Isaac. We all laughed at how big his feet and hands were, and guessed that he will be a musician like his dad.
Between naps and updating family, we spent every minute we could with our son. It hurt to leave him each time, but we needed sleep just as much as he did and knew he was in good hands.
That night, I told Ben to go sleep at home. Since the baby wasn’t in our room, there was no need for him to sleep on an uncomfortable cot and our dogs probably thought we were never coming home (Ben’s mom and dad were taking care of them). He kissed me goodnight and headed out.
After my 3 AM checkup and medicine dosage, I didn’t want to sleep anymore. Alone, I walked up to the NICU and got an update from his nurse (who had been there the night before). He was doing great! “He’s like a different baby already,” she said.
We stripped him down to only his diaper and I pulled my shirt down so we could be skin to skin. He fell asleep on me within ten minutes and we laid together for two hours. I sat with him while he got his morning round of antibiotics and tried not to fall asleep.
When his antibiotics were done, I headed back down to my room. My meds were due.
I texted Ben and let him know how the morning was going. Then, I went back to sleep.
I woke up again around 8 AM and decided I was way overdue for a shower.
That first shower was amazing. I cannot express this enough. I felt like a new woman!
Ben got back just as I was finishing washing my hair, though I stayed in the shower for at least another 15 minutes, and we discussed the birth through the shower curtain.
“The craziest part,” I told him, “Is that I can remember being in a lot of pain, but I couldn’t describe the pain and I would do that again tomorrow. He is so worth it.”
After visiting with our son again, Ben headed back home and my mom and sisters came up to visit. Grace was the first one I let hold him.
After spending a little time with him, the four of us headed back down to my room to eat our lunch and chat. My mom told me I looked a lot better and I admitted that I felt better, except for my sore crotch!
Learning to Breastfeed
When lunch was finished, we headed back upstairs to the NICU, it was time to start feeding!
This was not easy at first. I had milk coming in, but Isaac was hungry after not eating for the first 24 hours of his life. We struggled a little and were visited by a lactation consultant. This is when I found out I have flat nipples and will need to use a nipple shield until my nipples realize they need to stick out for feeding him.
*I am still using the nipple shield, I bought two sets of these, but we are slowly reaching the point where it is not needed. At least one feeding a day we are able to latch (and stay latched) without the shield.
I didn’t allow myself to get stressed about him not latching on because I knew there was a learning curve. Thankfully I was producing and pumping, so we gave him what I had pumped using a syringe.
The rest of the day and night was all about feeding. I woke up every two hours and went up to feed him. We ended up needing to use formula to trick him onto my breast. We would put the bottle of formula in his mouth and let him suck, then we pulled the ‘ole switchero with the bottle and my breast. This worked like a charm and by morning he was staying latched on my breast!
That night, Ben’s mom and dad came up to visit. We sat with him for an hour or so, talking and teasing him about his big feet.
Everyone that met him fell instantly in love.
On October 6 Ben and I were a nervous bundle of energy. Isaac finished his antibiotics that morning and we were hoping we could take him down to our room.
When the pediatrician made his rounds that morning, he marveled out how quickly Isaac bounced back and recovered. He said they were going to monitor him that day but as long as feedings went well all day, we could bring him to our room after 4 PM.
Isaac and I, don’t back down from a challenge. My little boy eats like ate like a champ all day and by 5 PM, Ben Isaac and I were all in our room.
One happy family!
Ben stayed that night and we together we learned what it is like to sleep in a room with a newborn. Thankfully, our boy is all about sleep. He slept for 2-3 hours, we changed his diaper, he ate, and went back to sleep.
Until 3 AM.
At 3 AM (pictured above) my boy decided he was awake and was not ready to go back to sleep. I propped him up in the boppy and let him look around. We sat together for about an hour before he finally decided he was tired and fell back asleep, meaning I could sleep again!
Ben headed home around 7 AM the next morning, when they took Isaac for his morning blood draw, so that he could spend time with the dogs and clean up around the house. We had high hopes that the three of us would be heading home!
Around 8:30, two nurses came in with a new bed and three sets of lights.
Isaac’s bilirubin levels had spiked and he was being put under UV lights.
I was annoyed. The day before I had mentioned to the NICU nurse that he was looking a little yellow. She informed me that his bilirubin levels were elevated but not high enough that he needed treatment yet.
Looking back, I should have pushed for him to be put under lights for a little bit that day. I knew he was getting Jaundice and I’m the mom.
As they set up the lights in my room, I asked the new nurses how long he would need to be on the lights.
“We will check his levels again tomorrow morning.”
At this point, I couldn’t handle it. I started to cry.
The nurse hugged me and told me that it was okay, this was very common among newborns and it was nothing to worry about.
“I know!” I sobbed with some annoyance, “He has had such a hard life already!”
The nurse asked if I would prefer him to be under the lights in the nursery, and though I had only had my son with me for a little over 12 hours, I nodded yes. I couldn’t handle all the lights and I couldn’t stop my tears from flowing.
They wheeled him and the equipment out and I broke down. I texted Ben through my tears and told him what was happened.
I jumped in the shower, hoping that would calm me down enough to stop crying. Tears flowed in the shower for a half hour, washing up as tears rolled down my cheeks.
Isaac was fine, but I was drained. I was 3 days postpartum and most of that time I had had to see my son wired up. I was exhausted. Emotional. Defeated. Nothing had gone as I expected since the delivery and it felt like I was never going to leave the hospital.
When Ben got to me, I had stopped crying but started all over again as I told him what was going on.
Ben, being the amazing husband he is, went and asked the nurse if it would be okay for him to take me out to lunch. He knew I was down and I needed a change of scenery.
He took me out for lunch, Penn Station, and to Walgreens to stock up on Tylenol & Ibuprofen. I had been discharged the day before and was no longer receiving meds from the nurses but definitely needed them!
Lunch helped. Getting out of the hospital helped. But I was still not 100%. We got back to the hospital and squeezed into the bed to snuggle.
The rest of the day passed without anything exciting. The nurses wheeled Isaac in every 2/3 hours so that I could feed him.
Ben’s older sister visited that night, bringing us dinner, and the three of us sat and talked for almost three hours. During that time Isaac needed to eat so she was able to see him up close instead of only through the nursery window.
Having a visitor that night was definitely needed, for me especially. Though I felt a lot better after getting out of the hospital, I was still down. After she left, Ben and I curled up on my bed for a few minutes before he left. I brushed my teeth, took my dosage of pain killers, and fell right to sleep.
After a shower the next morning, Isaac was wheeled back into my room and this time he got to stay. His bilirubin levels and dropped exponentially and he was staying with me! The Pediatrician explained that they would check his levels again around 3 PM and as long as the count was below 14, we would get to bring him home.
I called Ben, hoping to update him on everything the doctor had said and ask why he still wasn’t up at the hospital with us at 10 AM.
The answer? He was buying me a new car!
My husband, ladies and gentlemen, spoils me to no end.
Isaac and I spent the morning together. He sat in my arms and ate when he wanted to; I just couldn’t put him down.
Around 1 PM my mom, dad and 5 younger siblings (13, 10, 9, 8) came up to visit. Dad had driven out the day before with my four youngest brothers (an 8 hour car ride from PA!) so that they could meet Isaac.
They spent an hour or two, teaching the younger boys how to hold an infant and answering some awesome questions. The youngest, Luke, asked me if he could see my scar from where they took the baby out. We carefully explained that I was not cut open and that I had to push the baby out. THAT was a fun conversation let me tell ya 🙂
At 3, Isaac was taken for his blood test, and we said goodbye to my family.
Then we started praying and, in Ben’s case, anxiously pacing.
“If they say we have to stay another night, we’re escaping with him.” Ben said while we waited to hear back about the tests. I agreed, wholeheartedly. I wanted to be home and I wanted my baby with me! I had been in that hospital since 12:30 PM on October 3. Enough was enough.
When the nurse came in with a handful of papers, I couldn’t help the sigh of relief. We were going home!
Now, without getting mad all over again I will say this: we were told we could leave at about 4:45 and didn’t actually get to our new car until around 5:45. I sat in the room waiting for a wheelchair while Ben brought our stuff to the car and pulled the car to the entrance of the hospital.
I sat there for 45 minutes before Ben came back, asking why the hell I had’t been brought down.
So we stole a wheelchair, told the nurse Ben was wheeling me out, and were home free because that’s how we Hovey’s roll. (ha! roll, get it?)
Having our son with us in our home that first night, was such an amazing feeling after the long hospital stay. Though we knew we were a family the moment he was born, it didn’t really sink in until we were home together.