Friday, October 19, 2012

Cherishing Every Moment: Wrapping Up the Baby Story

It sinks in a little more as time goes on. Life is so precious. His is a miracle, in so many ways. Those two weeks in the hospital may have seemed long, but being able to bring him home was a dream come true. That dream does not always come true for many families of babies who contract Group B Strep. Thanks to early detection and prompt, proactive treatment and a God who knows the end from the beginning, little Jacob Alfred is here in my arms.

I was going home on Friday. He would be staying. There would be no more midnight trips to the NICU to hold my little baby. No more spur-of-the-moment treks down the hospital corridors to find my boy, just because I wanted to see him. My visits would have to be planned out and I would be dependent on others to help me get to where I needed to go. The thought of leaving him behind brought tears to my eyes every time I thought of it. Even though I reminded myself that "it was only two weeks" and "at least I get to bring him home", it was still painful. What if he needed me and I wasn't there? What if I needed him? But I still had Wednesday and Thursday to go through before Friday would come. And so I would get up and have the nurse wheel me down to the NICU at 2 in the morning, I would scrub up and down my arms for the allotted three minutes and I would go, sit, and soak him in during those late night hours.

He was NPO, which meant "nothing by mouth" until Friday afternoon, so I pumped milk for him to drink eventually and hoped there would be no great learning curve when the time came where I'd be allowed to nurse him. Penicillin was given and a stronger antibiotic for the meningitis in it's appropriate doses. Jake's swelling gradually went down and eventually the massive hematoma on the back of his head disappeared. He began to look like a normal baby. We waited anxiously for cultures to come back from the lab. A second blood transfusion was given over Wednesday night. An IV had been placed through Jake's umbilicus which lessened the risk of infection with a regular IV line. Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and friends came to visit, though not all were able to see Jake at that time. He was looking better and better. He was by far the biggest baby in his room. His neighbors were tiny preemie babies, one of whom was born at 24 weeks, 5 days. Jake dwarfed them all, being born at a whopping 10 lbs, 2 oz.

Friday morning came and so did Adam and Joshua. We procrastinated as long as we could. Dawdled in the NICU kissing our boy and little brother. I held the tears in until we got to the car. We weren't home ten minutes before I was wondering when we could go back to the hospital. Uncle Jim and his fiance were coming into town and they were going to go up and see our new baby. It seemed like days before we were finally back in the car and on our way.

And so it would be all week. Anxiously waiting for the minute I'd be back with my tiny boy. I had friends and family who graciously volunteered themselves to drive me to the hospital, friends and family who made meals, and friends and family who cared for Joshua during the afternoons while I held Jake. I was given the okay on Saturday to finally try nursing my baby for the first time. He was four days old. Someone must've been praying that'd he be able to nurse, as that learning curve I'd been afraid of was non-existent. Everything seemed to be going very smoothly.

Then Monday happened. Another scare for Mommy. My friend and I were sitting in the NICU and I was nursing Jake. We'd been there about a half hour. Jake's heart-rate monitor begins to sound it's alarm, which is entirely normal, and I tell my friend that it's a false alarm, assuming it is like every other time. Except that this time it's not. The alarm continues to sound until his nurse peeks around the curtain to see what is going on. His heart rate is up at 250. The neonatologist is called and a few other people too. Ice is applied to my baby's face and the doctor talks in a quiet voice to those now standing around my boy. I don't know whether to be brave or to cry. My friend stands by with me. After about 20 minutes, Jake's heart-rate goes back down on it's own. There was speculation that this high heart-rate episode was caused by the UV line, which was due to come out the next morning. Often times, the line gradually works it's way in too far and "tickles" the heart into a fast rate or tachycardia. But this was not the case, as three days later, after the line was pulled, again Jake's heart went into a tachycardia, only this time it did not resolve on it's own. Two doses of a medicine which I do not know the name of were given, and finally his heart rate went down. I think I am thankful I was not present for the second episode, as it sounds like it was more intense than the first. The neonatologist called me at home to tell me of what happened and again I waited anxiously for my ride to arrive.

The cardiologist prescribed my baby propranolol to keep his heart rate down and we have not had any more episodes since then. They diagnosed Jacob with having SVT's due to immaturity of his heart tissue and an overactive electrical system. There is hope that he will grow out of it and will no longer need to be medicated. Left untreated, if an SVT continues for over a couple days, it can cause heart failure. I am again thankful to know that this is possible and we can be proactive and work to prevent such an occurrence.

After that, our stay in the NICU was uneventful and we played the waiting game, waiting for Jacob to be cleared to come home. Two weeks after his birth, our little boy was given the okay to come home and joined his family. I am cherishing every moment.

No comments: