At his second check they found his blood sugar levels low, so they gave him a bottle of formula without even asking me. He zonked out and didn’t want to nurse the rest of the night. Finally around 7am I got him to nurse a little bit. When the new nurse came in a little later and heard him moaning or “singing” with each breath she became a little concerned. She asked how long that had been going on. I told her he’d done it some during the night, but the previous nurse had taken him and found his O2 levels to be okay. She took his temperature and said that was a little low too. She asked if it’d be okay to take him and have him evaluated again.
Jake woke up, breakfast came, and the pediatrician came by too. We told him our baby was in the nursery, so he said he’d go and meet him and come back to talk with us. We waited and waited, and waited. When he came back he said that Titus was showing symptoms of many “Late Pre-term Babies”. He said that Titus’ blood sugars were low again, that he wasn’t maintaining proper body temperature, and that his breathing patterns and oxygen levels were not where “we want them to be”.
After a little discussion we decided to admit him to the NICU where he could have an IV of sugar water to keep his blood sugar up, but then I could still try to nurse him. I really didn’t think he’d be in there too long. When Josh was born, he’d also done some grunting and went to the NICU to be on oxygen, but was only there about 3 hours. When we went to the NICU to check on him they had him hooked up to all kinds of monitors! They explained that the heated bed would regulate his body temperature, that they had hooked up his IV, and that they were monitoring his breathing and O2 levels. He was “holding” his breath for seconds at a time a couple times a minute, but would return to normal breathing patterns, and so far had not had to be on oxygen. They said that his body was so tired after those first hours of life doing everything else, that he was not showing any desire or even readiness to attempt nursing again.
Monday was the hardest day. It was so hard to see him so still, hooked up to all the monitors, and feel like I was useless. I wanted to pick him up and hold him, and try nursing him. I was advised though that his body needed time to focus on other things, and I should wait till he showed signs of being ready. My mom had changed her flight to come in that day, and her friend Lynne picked her up and brought her by the hospital before taking her to Heber to relieve Becca from kid duty. They were the only guests besides Jake and I to go in and see Titus in the NICU. Access was strictly limited.
Though Monday was a really hard day, there were a couple of blessings to come our way. You would think that having gone from 6 cm to complete in one or two contractions I would have torn and been in a lot of pain, but I didn’t tear at all! My recovery was very easy. This was a huge blessing, because had I been dealing with a lot of pain and unease on top of having a baby in the NICU things would have been much worse. All the nurses were surprised to see me walking so quickly to and from the NICU. The other blessing was that even though I was able to “check out” of the hospital Monday night, because we live further than 30 minutes away we qualified for “boarder privileges”. Basically the hospital let us stay in the room (unless they got really busy and needed it, in which case we would have been kicked out) for free while Titus was in the NICU. I wouldn’t get assistance from the nurses or hospital staff- but I had a room right there. Jake still wanted to go to a nearby friends’ house that first night and sleep in a “real bed”. I convinced him to go home to our kids and get some real sleep and collect a lot of things we hadn’t had time to think about getting when we left.
After he left I had some quiet time to myself to sit and process everything. I was reading through some materials about breast-feeding and the power of skin-to-skin contact. I felt very thankful I’d at least had that first night to connect with Titus a little, but felt a huge need to hold my little baby boy. I said a prayer that I would be allowed to hold him and try nursing him again. I kid you not, it was less than an hour later that I got a call from the nurses in the NICU saying that Titus was awake and wanting Mom. I texted Jake the good news, said a prayer of thanks and practically ran to the NICU to hold my baby. It took a little bit of effort, but Titus was soon nursing and we had a sweet bonding time together. When he was done the nurse told me that Titus and I should get some rest so that we would be ready for the next feeding. About 3 and ½ hours later I got a call again, and happily woke up and headed down the hall. He again nursed well. At his next awakening he wasn’t as interested, but we were all happy to see that his oxygen and blood sugar levels were looking much better. They began decreasing his IV drip with each good nursing session and his blood sugar levels stayed up each time!
Jake came back and was trying to tell the nurses that we’d be taking him home that day. They all smiled, but the pediatrician that saw Titus that day said that once he was weaned completely from the IV, could maintain his body temperature without the bed warmer, and as long as weight and oxygen levels stayed good, then we could take him home. By that afternoon they had the first successful attempt of taking Titus of the bed warmer. He was maintaining heat levels by himself! We were so excited. Jake and I took advantage of our NICU babysitters and went out for Valentines Day, and to celebrate his Birthday. We went to Carrabas at 4:30 before the rush, and the to The Chocolate for dessert. Jake went home again that night to help with the kids at home.
Wednesday morning Titus was completely independent of all the NICU equipment. The nurse said he’d even pulled out his own IV that they’d left in just in case they had to hook him up again. Now they were concerned about his Billy Rubin levels though. When the pediatrician came into consult I told him we really wanted to take him home that night. He said we’d better get him under lights for the next 6 hours and run one more infection test, and if in the afternoon those things looked better, and his weight was good (he’d dropped a little more during the night than they’d hoped) that he would okay us to go. I was only allowed 30 minutes with him away from lights for feeding, so Jake fed him a bottle of expressed milk while he was under the lights to make sure we were doing everything we could. Jake and I could not wait for 3:30 to come. Sure enough, Titus, our fighter, did everything he needed! We were discharged and heading home!
It felt so good to be home, to have the kids meet Titus. To be away from all the NICU beeps, cords, and equipment. I was so happy, and though I’d been a bit nervous about bringing this fragile guy home, he has been thriving. We took him for his last Billy Rubin test and to the pediatrician on Thursday, and he was given a clean bill of health then too. I can’t believe tomorrow will be one week since TJ’s birth. In some ways it has felt SO much longer than that, but in other ways I can hardly believe how fast its all gone. I’m just happy he’s doing so well!