The month of February has a whole new meaning these days, it is my daughters birth month and this year will mark our 1 year anniversary of being in the NICU.
My daughter was born on February 22, 2019 weighing 7lbs 6oz and 20.8inches long. She came via scheduled repeat c-section. Her birth was great, way better than my labor and delivery (emergency c-section) experience with my son. It is what happened after her birth where things got a little scary.
It still gives me all the feels and I remember bits and pieces very vividly, like I am reliving them if I think about them long enough. I first have to say wow, what a blessing a child is and I am so thankful for my two little ones. Life is so precious and I am constantly reminded of that each milestone they hit and each morning they wake up, even if they are screaming on the top of their lungs for whatever reason, life is just so dang precious!
So, why was London in the NICU? I will tell you here, but I also want to educate you, because I was unaware of the problems a repeat c-section without any labor can cause. Giving birth with no laboring can sometimes cause fluids to build up in babies lungs, for example, like pneumonia. This is called Transient Tachypnea in newborns.
Transient Tachypnea in newborns causes a breathing problem. Babies with this problem have to breathe faster and harder to get enough oxygen into the lungs. This happens because before babies are born, they have fluid in their lungs (amniotic fluid from you). Babies reabsorb some of that fluid because of the hormone changes that happen before birth while you are laboring. Some fluid gets reabsorbed as they pass through the birth canal during delivery. The rest of the fluid is absorbed into the lungs after they are born and start breathing on their own. Sometimes if the fluid isn’t absorbed fast enough or if they have too much fluid in the lungs, babies can’t take in oxygen very well. This tends to happen with fast L&D and c-sections without labor.
It sounds really scary, and it is, but to the doctors and nurses, this is pretty routine. Scary nonetheless, but treatable. One of the many symptom of this is a grunting sound, which London had, she sounded like a squeaky door. We had no idea, the nurses just kept checking on her and putting a stethoscope to her chest and did not say a word to us until one nurse seemed really concerned and took her to the special nursery for a better evaluation. I remember feeling empty. Like I just jumped off a cliff into darkness and kept falling. I had only just nursed her for the first time and seconds later she was taken from me. The nurse couldn’t tell me how long she would be gone and I felt so hopeless. My son Parker’s delivery experience was traumatic enough and now my precious baby has something wrong or was completely okay. No one told us anything. Not my OB (as a pre-caution), none of the nurses, no one.
She was brought back just as we were leaving for our recovery room for the rest of the stay. THANK GOODNESS. But her stay with me in that room wouldn’t last long. Our families came to visit and I was alone briefly with her before my parents came together to see us. At this point, my husband had left to go get Parker from my parents and my mom came back with my dad so he can meet her for the first time and of course, see me. Well, my dad met her for one second while she was being taken away by my recovery nurses, because again, they seemed concerned. This broke me into a million pieces, but, I still had no idea, so my parents stayed and chatted with me and I brushed it off as a routine check-up. All the sudden my recovery nurses and a stranger in a white coat walked in without London. I had a lump in my throat. I thought, what the f*ck is going on? They explained everything, but I really couldn’t even hear them because my ears were on fire. They left and my parents turned so white, they could have been ghosts, and I quickly asked them to leave as I held back some major tears. They left and I lost it. My husband was with Parker, so he wasn’t able to be with my all night or the reminder of our stay, just visits as my parents watched our son. So I felt more alone then ever. My parents offered to stay, but I was so distraught, I just wanted them to go.
I called my husband bawling. I kinda of explained it, but I again, didn’t really know what the doctor were even saying. I didn’t look anything up, I just blamed myself for eating too many fries, not eating enough fresh fruits and veggies. The real kick in the throat was when they said I could not hold her or nurse her until the morning. Which seemed like forever away at this point. My body was so sore from just being cut open and stitched up, my heart ached and my head was pounding. I was so mentally drained and my body was exhausted. Eventually one of my recovery nurses for the night asked if I wanted to go see her. A glimmer of hope, I scooted my sore body into a wheel chair and off we went to the NICU nursery.
Before we left, she warned me about all the tubes and IVs she was hooked up to. So I took that all in and when I did see her, wow, was that hard. Her tiny little body in that bed with beeping machines everywhere. It was surreal. I still didn’t really have an idea on what was going on, all I knew was that she had fluid in her lungs from the X-Ray that was done of her chest.
Since I was not able to nurse her, I pumped. They brought me a pump and I pumped every 3 hours, all night and our whole stay. When I did get to nurse her, it was extremely hard. All those cords and IV’s on her and some on me made it nearly impossible, but I was very determined to do it. So I did it the best I could. She also developed jaundice really bad her second day earth side, so she was always so sleepy and I also couldn’t hold her for hours on end in the NICU because she had to be under the lights. London was also born with a heart murmur, so she got some ECG tests and had monitors all over her chest until the day we went home. A rollercoaster ride it was, so many obstacles I was not familiar with.
Yet, every day she would do better. The best news they gave me was when they would lower her oxygen on the CPAP machine and that she would do really well with that. I learned so much from all the nurses in the NICU. They really helped me cope with that fact this was not my fault and that London was doing really good. Better then anticipated. The pending question was, will she be able to come home with me? That answer was up in the air during my 3 day recovery, but ultimately she did end up being able to. I was so thankful when they told me this. I thought, there is no way I can leave without my baby, no way. I know, so many parents do, and they are so strong and brave and I know how deeply that must hurt. Modern medicine is such great intervention we have and it saves the lives of so many people and I am thankful it helped save London’s.
Needless to say, I am a changed person when it comes to health and safety of my kids. I am very cautious, because I am so scared to ever be in that situation again. Seeing my child attached to so many machines and there is nothing you can do, it is truly heartbreaking. The thought scares me, especially if it could be prevented. Mama’s, it gives me a full on panic attack. I am stronger, but I also am weaker. I have some postpartum PTSD which I am currently working on. This is my anniversary too. I am proud of how far we have come and this memory will always be special for me.
So, happy anniversary to us and a very happy birthday to you, my amazing daughter. I love you to the moon and back.