Sunday, September 7, 2014

Adventures in the NICU #4

Our baby was moved into an open crib that night - but this time the nurses were smart and moved his crib away from the air vent. Once they did that, he did much much better and maintained his temperature easily.

Unfortunately I wasn't doing so well.

Over the weekend, my post partum bleeding had gotten heavier and heavier. So much so that I often felt I was spending more time in the bathroom tending to it than spending time with my son. I had called one of the doctors at the hospital regarding it, but she had insisted that having such a heavy flow, and passing large clots was fairly normal considering the fact I had such a large fibroid.

I trusted she knew what she was talking about, but another part of me was worried. The blood clots were now the size of the palm of my hand, and I was going through a pad an hour. Everything online said that that was not normal even though she swore it was. Finally a family friend pointed out that I needed to go to the hospital because it sounded like I had a retained placenta - which, considering I had had placenta abrupta when I had delivered my son, was entirely possible.

My husband and I drove down to the ER, where I was brought into one of the triage rooms. My pulse was higher than normal so I was escorted into the back. There they took my blood, hooked me up to an IV, and escorted me to an ER bed.

Over the next five hours, the ER doctors ran several tests. Finally they explained that while I did not have a retained placenta, the fibroid wasn't allowing my uterus to shrink normally (In fact it still felt like I was four months pregnant when they did their examination) and the uterine lining was unstable as a result. This was why I was bleeding so heavily.

In fact, I had lost so much blood over the past few days that they needed to admit me and do a transfusion. Normal hemoglobin levels for an adult woman is 12 to 16 - mine was 8.

The doctors wanted to put me in the post partum ward, where I would be close to them in case anything went wrong, and where the nurses knew how to handle situations like mine. Unfortunately the only bed they had open was all the way over in Oncology though - which was on the other side of the hospital.

The next 24 hours were absolute hell. The blood was supposed to be ready as soon as we reached the room but it wasn't. Apparently the nurses thought the blood bank was supposed to call them, not that they needed to call the blood bank. It took my doctor showing up on rounds and yelling at them to get them to do their job. In addition to that, the ER had put my IV in a horrible spot - the crook of my elbow - so any time I moved, or, heck, even looked at the IV the wrong way, it would stop and an alarm would sound. Even though I was right next to the nurses desk, and they could hear the alarm, whenever I clicked the call button and told them what was going on, it would take them sometimes an hour to check on it. Finally I had asked to be brought a breast pump so I could pump milk for my son, but they never brought one.

To add insult to injury, once the blood transfusion was complete around 6pm the nurses wouldn't let me go see my son in the NICU until they did a blood test to make sure my levels had gone up. They said they called the tech right then and there, but when she showed up at 8pm, she told us that she hadn't been called to come over until 750. Unfortunately that blood test came back showing my levels were lower than they had been when I entered the hospital. Rather than realizing that that had to be wrong and doing another blood test themselves, the nurses called up my doctor - who then proceeded to yell at them again and tell them to do another test. That took another hour and a half, because, again, the nurses didn't call the tech to come and do the blood test like they were supposed to until my husband yelled at them. Then once that blood test was done the nurses still didn't want to let me go to the NICU until they'd had another chance to talk to my doctor.

I had a melt down. It was ten o'clock. I hadn't slept in 36 hours, I hadn't seen my son in over 24 hours, and a simple transfusion that was supposed to take 6 hours had taken 12 because these nurses were incompetent and would rather spend their time at work gossiping rather than doing their jobs. My husband started yelling again, and my mother in law also got involved and gave them the what for.

Finally I was allowed to go and see my son.

Of course by the time I made it to the NICU it was past his feeding time and the night nurses there didn't want me to bother him. Thankfully, once they heard my story, they broke down and let me hold him even though it wasn't his 'touch time'.

I was pleased to see that he had been moved back into a crib. In addition to that they had also moved the crib out from under the air vent, so he was maintaining his temperature better than he had the first go around. In addition to that he had also been finishing his bottles since 5pm that night. If he kept up the good work, the nurse told me, they would be able to remove his NG tube.

By the time my mother in law and I made it back to my room from the NICU, I had finally been discharged from the hospital. Also, the manager of the nurses for the area had come over and apologized for what had happened and had offered us a free parking pass - as if that could make up for the hell we had been through.

We finally made it home and I promptly collapsed in bed.

The next day, after I'd had a chance to shower and eat, my mother in law drove me back down to the hospital so I could see my son. Thankfully he was still doing well; he was maintaining his temp, and he had finished all his bottles through out the night, so they had removed his NG tube just like the night nurse had told me they would. The day nurse told me that if he continued to finish his feeds for the 24 hours, then he would be discharged on Friday.

I stared at her in shock.

FRIDAY? My son would be coming home FRIDAY? We had originally been told not to expect him home until his original due date! We were not prepared!

The next 24 hours were spent rushing around to get everything ready. My aunt and my cousin had bought a travel set for us that included a stroller and a car seat. They dropped that, and plenty of diapers, off the next day and my husband and I spent a good hour trying to figure out how to install the car seat base in my car. Then we had to clean our room, move some of the furniture around, and set up his bassinet.

Just as the nurse had told us, after being circumcised and receiving his first vaccination, Garrett was discharged the next day.

We carried him out of the NICU very carefully, and drove home oh so cautiously. Then we sat him in the living room in his carrier and looked at each other as it slowly began to sink in.

Our baby boy was home!

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