The shakes are back…

As we drive to the hospital to feed our brand new baby girl (I can’t wait to see her, to feel that I have her, that she is real) I feel hot and cold at the same time, the dizziness and overall discomfort won’t go away.

I feel my forehead which is warm but not hot and compare with my husband’s. Like a child I ask my mom to feel it too and she agrees, definitely warm but not alarmingly hot.

Maybe a slight temperature, but like I said before, I gave birth only a couple of days ago and I get a fever for basically everything so I’m not that worried about feeling this icky.

Except when we reach the hospital, I feel worse…

I am hotter and suddenly the shakes are creeping up on me. As we wait for our turn to get a sticker, be allowed in and wash our hands (I sent my husband to Mc Donald’s with our son to get some fries) I tell my mom to hold on.

I have to sit down because the room starts to spin and here comes my friends (more like my enemies) the shakes from last night. They get worse and worse and my mom tells me to stop shaking, like she did when we were kids when we were coughing or had the hiccups (which might sound a little brutal but actually do work).

Like a good daughter I try to listen to my mommy but I just can’t stop shaking for the life of me.

I tell my mom that I need to go the bathroom, trying to tell myself that I can control this but at the same time starting to wonder what is wrong with me, something like this has never happened to me before.

Since the restrooms by the NICU are being cleaned my mom searches for another bathroom on the first floor since I am now shaking so bad, I don’t feel that I can walk. I suggest that we ride the elevator up to the third floor where I know that there is a bathroom for sure since I just spent 2 days in recovery there (on the third floor not in the bathroom).

I really want to get away from people, I feel like they are staring at me and I really need to get a hold of myself. The trip to the bathroom didn’t help, I have to concentrate hard on walking and then there is if possible even more blood in the toilet (but still not enough to soak my pad but I’m starting to think enough to be concerned?) and the shakes are getting worse not better.

We go back down to the NICU and I can’t even focus on seeing my baby (sleeping peacefully, clenching her tiny hands).

My favorite NICU nurse, Kate is there, telling us she needs to eat in about twenty minutes (the baby not Kate that is).

I am now starting to realize that I will not be able to feed my baby, the shakes have turned violent and I am now so so cold, freezing actually.

I don’t know what I tell my mom, something about going to the bathroom again but I know she looks really worried now…

I walk as fast as the shakes will allow me to the bathroom right outside of the NICU and luckily the cleaners are all done in there. I make it in to a stall before I sink to the ground, thinking something is really wrong here…

I try several times to get to my feet but I’m shaking so much I have to make attempt after attempt, clenching my teeth as I’m hugging my body, trying to zip up my sweater further than it can go and telling myself that I need to make it back into the NICU to tell my mom we need to go home.

All I want to do is crawl into to bed with about a hundred warm blankets, fall asleep and just forget about how cold and shaky I am and hopefully wake up feeling better.

I also attempt to call my husband to come pick us up but my phone keeps sliding out of my hands and forget dialing, it is a lost cause, this is starting to get ridiculous.  

As I walk back into the NICU, I believe even more people stop and stare at me but I have a one track mind, people fade out of my vision and I can see that my mom is now looking more than concerned.

I tell her that I don’t think I can feed the baby and that I need to go home but as she tells me to stop shaking and tell her what is wrong and my eyes well up with tears as I can’t, she takes matters into her own hands. She usually lets me (and my sister) do the talking here (in the US) as she is Swedish (but quite good at English I might add) but right now she goes to find the nurse.

I don’t even know what they are saying as I become less and less aware of my surroundings, all I know is, I WANT to stop shaking and get warm. Oh why, why is it so damn cold in here, could they maybe turn off the A/C, it’s ridiculously cold for these tiny poor infants!

Nurse Kate takes one look at me and I can hear her tell mom that I must be running a seriously high fever. No I protest, it’s just the shakes (whatever that means). She leaves just to come back seconds later with a wheel chair. I do think I can walk (besides where am I going in that? I have had enough of wheelchairs for I don’t know…about a life time) but when I stand I realize that I absolutely can’t walk and am actually grateful as I sink down in the rolling chair.

Kate asks if I can direct my mom to triage (isn’t it only extremely pregnant women and women with pregnancy complications that go there? I have time to think) but she takes another look at me and apparently determines that I am in no condition to direct anybody anywhere. And off we go to the elevators and triage, Kate wheeling the chair and my mom hurrying after us.

 

 

 

My baby boy just turned ONE 🥰👶🏼💙😭

About a year ago, I was all alone in a hospital bed yet again (looking back on the premature birth of my sweet daughter and her NICU stay). This time around my baby was “only” four weeks early, but unfortunately he inhaled his first poo and it clogged his tiny lungs. On top of that I had pneumonia and tested positive for influenza so all the nurses and doctors in masks debated whether I should even hold and nurse my brand new child.

It is a very lonely and unnatural feeling to have your baby whisked away from you right after birth. You just accomplished a miracle and your (priceless) price is taken away from you shortly after receiving it (him). You are left achy and sore after excruciating pain followed by the highest of highs and then left to process the experience all alone. I know all moms of preemies having been taken away can relate to this devastating feeling of emptiness.

Once in the recovery room someone was acutely missing…

I couldn’t even get some well deserved rest, knowing that baby boy wouldn’t be able to rest at all- that he would have tubes down his throat and his little body would be worked on. I kept worrying about him and wondering if he was uncomfortable or (worse) in pain…

It was decided that I could give my new son formula or donor milk (real breast milk) but I wasn’t allowed to try to nurse him just yet. I have read that a mother’s breastmilk have powerful antibiotic qualities and is always best for the baby no matter how ill the mother is, so I was slightly taken aback by this. It also felt slightly strange and somehow sad to be giving him someone else’s breastmilk (as his first milk) and not my own…

After having thought about it, I could see the tremendous benefit of giving him breastmilk right from the start and how lucky we were that this was even an option at our hospital.

Since the epidural never worked, the aftermath of childbirth was quite different. There was no period afterwards of feeling sluggish or being unable to walk on your own. No headache or backache or tingly legs as the feelings in them returned. I didn’t feel nauseous and as I went to the bathroom I needed no assistance and I could get out of bed and move around right after birth how I pleased, except for the pain and the bleeding I felt myself being more awake and alert and more in charge of my own body!

As they gave him back to me to be feed the donor milk, my baby boy was also awake and alert and sweet as can be.

No matter how many babies you have, the feeling that hits you as you get to hold your brand new baby in your arms and really soak him in for the first time after the stress and trauma of the birth and delivery room, is nothing short of extraordinarily.

I smelled him (his tiny newborn body that had been through so much already) and cuddled him (mask on) and as I tried to feed him (someone else’s milk) I didn’t see the obstacles, only the opportunities of the future. I promised right then and there to love and take care of him forever!

And now my baby boy, it’s been a whole year and you are still the sweetest, happiest, cuddliest boy!

Happy first Birthday to my youngest baby boy! My very last baby…

I can’t wait to see you grow and thrive and try to keep up with your siblings!

NICU no entry

Oh, that is right, my fever. I completely forgot with all the fear of my baby’s apnea episode. I try to convince the nurse that I am fine but she is determined to get me back into bed. I’m not allowed to go down and see my baby (and think of all the other babies) until my fever is down. With a helpless sigh I give up, understanding the infection risk and agreeing that I wouldn’t want my- or any other-baby to get ill because of me (talk about a bad mom, getting a bunch of preemies sick). Apparently my urine sample also came back with too many white blood cells and when they check my vitals again, they don’t look too good. I wish I could have gone down to hold my baby but instead I worry about getting her sick, could I have gotten her sick already? Could it have come in the few drops of breast milk she might have gotten in her mouth? The nurse taking care of her reassures me at the other end of the phone line that this should not be the case. I’m so tired of should. What if I have gotten her sick? I know some preemies don’t even survive early infections. I also know that she is in one of the best NICUs in the country and that they do everything in their power to take care of these preemies and their health. I manage to go back to sleep and luckily I wake up completely fever free and my vitals look much better!

My mother and father in law come by in the morning, I get a pretty cross necklace that I have been eying and my mother in law fusses over me, helps me to the bathroom so I can brush my teeth and get ready in order to look somewhat normal and she remakes my bed. We go down to the NICU together, my father in law wheeling me down in the wheelchair. After we sign the necessary papers that we are not sick (I’m thinking about last night’s fever but they told me it was okay to come) and haven’t been for the last 72 hours (hmm, where are those handy mouth masks they wear in Asia…?). When we try to roll through the locked door in to see little Madeleine (I really want to see for myself that she is okay after last night’s scare) the door does not swing open as it normally does. I guess we have activated the automatic shutdown lock since we have been standing too close to the door with the wheel chair and tried to open it “without authorization” (grandpa). The person behind the screen who checked us in is severely confused, she explains that she is just an intern and has no idea how to now get the door open. She repeatedly tries to buzz us in by pushing a button in her booth but nothing. She then tries to call a supervisor but can’t get ahold of anyone for the longest time. She looks slightly panicked as a line of anxious parents waiting to see their little ones form behind us. I am sitting there in the wheelchair, slightly embarrassed while my father in law is not sure what is going on and my mother in law happily chatters away. Finally, somehow the door gets open (luckily because I think people were starting to get annoyed). My mother in law lets her husband roll me in first since only one person besides the parent is allowed at a time. My baby has “graduated” to a different bed (eh, she stopped breathing last night but okay…), nr 13 (hmm) because she had such a good morning (yay) except her jaundice is up from a 4 to a ten and she did lose some weight, which is normal but I completely blame myself; stupid milk production (or lack thereof). My father in law (despite having to take both the flu and the whooping cough shot to be able to “interact” with the baby) declines to hold her, “oh no she is way too little”. I can’t say I blame him, with all the cords hanging from the little preemie’s body she looks impossibly tiny and fragile. My mother in law though is excited to hold her brand new grandchild. I understand that all everyone else sees is an adorable healthy looking (albeit very yellow) little baby (at over 5 lbs she is considered “big” for a 34 “weeker”) but all I can think about is the apnea. There are more problems with being a preemie than weight. Yet again the thought strikes me that “what if I was somehow misdiagnosed and this is the outcome”, should my baby really have to suffer? It’s really terrifying me and nobody told me it would be like this after she was born.  I worry about taking her home and not being able to take care of her and how I would freak out if she had breathing problems under my watch or worse…stopped.

That night I’m feeling better and am hanging out in the NICU with my precious baby. I ask a lot of questions about the monitor and what everything means. I ask about Madeleine’s homecoming and how to take care of her. The night nurse is a chatty Katy and tells me everything I want to know, how I should totally isolate my baby for at least 4 weeks once she is released (only get out for doctor’s visits), continue to check her temperature and her weight, count her diapers, make sure she is eating. She also needs an adult to be in the car with her, holding her chin up and make sure she is breathing and only take her on short, necessary car rides (if it can be avoided she shouldn’t be in the car for longer than 20 minutes). Nobody should visit and if family absolutely has too, limit it to close family that have not been sick or been around illness for at least 72 hours. Everyone around the baby should religiously wash their hands and we have to be careful with my son and dog. Any infection is extremely dangerous, could even be fatal and is a sure ticket back into the NICU. We should carefully monitor her and continue the 22 calorie formula powder in her breast milk as well as the vitamin D drops. Even though none of the nurses recommend the alarm because parent gets so worried and frantic (“you should watch your baby not monitors” and “you should rely on your instincts not alarms”), this nurse recommends a simple alarm that records movement that you clip on to baby’s diaper. It is also important to remember that that just because the baby has reached full term (or 40 weeks) she will not magically be okay, development and maturity can be slowed down the first two years of the baby’s life and beyond. She tells me that my baby won’t go home anytime soon though; she still has blood work to wait for, antibiotics to run through her system, jaundice to get better and lungs, immune system and digestive system to mature and develop. Besides, any time they have an apnea episodes, five more days are added before the babies are allowed to go home.

The next morning the doctor stops by (my doctor always comes by super early). She is concerned about the pain I experience when she presses on my belly and that I am still bleeding. She tells me that she will recommend that I will stay another day or two.

The baby’s aunt and uncle come by later on after having picked up their daughter at the airport. I appreciate how nice they are and how they really seem to listen to what we have been going through. A lactation nurse comes by; she is definitely the kooky kind (but I do take kooky over the milk Nazi kind any day). “You are supposed to get at least 75 ml of milk at each pumping by now” (eh, okay, so I don’t, not even close, who are we supposed to blame here, my body, nature, biology…my boobs?) My brother in law comes in after auntie has stayed with the baby and me through the lactation session and he gets a little misty eyed as he sees the baby snuggled in my arms. He offers to take my son out on a fun adventure one day next week during their Easter break which I really appreciate. After the hugs goodbye I am feeling better about things, I get to stay another couple of nights to be close to my baby, she is doing better, they take really good care of her here and they won’t release her-or me- until we both are okay, but when I reach my room, I’m in for another surprise!

 

 

 

 

 

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