...to the blog? You might ask. Yea, well, that, too.
But, really, I am talking about Little C and our stay in the NICU. So many of you offered prayers and well wishes during our crazy stay and I promised an update of what actually happened.
My labor and delivery with Little C was great. For those of you who love a good birth story, I will be writing up both of mine in the next few days so I won't elaborate here. However, when Little C came out the doctors noticed a sack attached to her umbilical cord. They had heard of such sacks, but because they are extremely rare they were not entirely sure what to make of it and I was told we would find out more when the pediatrician visited her in the morning. All of the doctors proceeded to take photos of the sack (with my permission) in order to document it, if needed.
My OB came to see me the next morning and assumed I was antsy to be discharged (he knows me all too well). He assured me we'd leave that afternoon as long as Little C was cleared by the pediatrician.
That is when everything started to go wrong. The ped came in (and goodness I love her but she's a bit hectic) and said she had some concerns and was sending the photo off to WVU Children's Hospital in Morgantown. Her many explanations left me feeling a little confused and unsure how to process exactly what was happening. Honestly, I assumed we'd have to take Little C to the hospital *at some point* in the future.
Within hours they were calling for an ambulance to come and I was told she needed to be transferred to the NICU 3 HOURS AWAY from us. I couldn't even cry. What was supposed to be a funny little sack was now being referred to as an abnormal umbilical cord cyst and I started to hear the words "surgery," "organs," "IV" being thrown around like candy. Now, as an exclusively breastfeeding mom my first concern was whether I'd be able to nurse her during the 3 hour ride. Ok, listen, I get that should NOT have been my main concern, but that was the ONLY thing I had any control over at that moment. I was told no, that I could choose to give the ambulance personnel formula or they could hook her up to an IV. The thought of an 8 hour old infant on IV made me sick, so we packed formula. I was also told I couldn't ride in the ambulance with her, so I went into crazy mode - calling my mom to pack bags for us so we could just swing by, pick up the bags, give O a kiss, and head to Morgantown.
When the personnel arrived they did offer me a seat.
I turned it down.
No, I don't know why I did that. I will struggle with that until the day I die. I just couldn't sit by and watch all this unfold - I couldn't watch them give her formula when I was right there; I couldn't watch them give her an IV if she needed. I needed Ray beside me. I just...failed.
Fast forward a few hours and we're on our way to Morgantown. For those who don't know the area, there is a black hole of a place in the mountains called "Frostburg" whose name could not be a better fit. I left the hospital in yoga pants, a short sleeve shirt and sneakers. Less than 90 minutes later we were stuck in the pitch black darkness in a BLIZZARD. Going down windy roads, covered in pure ice, at 35 miles per hour behind the only truck on the road. I exaggerate not.
Of course, as a mother, I could only think about the ambulance ahead of us carrying my hours old daughter in this terrible blizzard.
And how I chose not to go with her.
Calling the hospital, I prayed they had already made it - but, no, they weren't there. We continued on.
Eventually we did make it to the NICU (God blessed my husband's hands as he steered the car), shortly behind the ambulance. A doctor came out to talk to us, finally explaining why the need for the emergency transfer - they believed the sack could be omphalocele or a bladder extrophy. The moment I heard my baby's organs could be on the outside of her body the blood started pumping in my ears and I am completely shocked I held it together. At this point she turned exactly 24 hours old.
Basically the sack was 1 of two things - harmless Wharton's jelly, or her bowels/intestines. The surgery would either removed the sack easily and we would call it a day; OR the surgeon would have to go in, reconstruct her organs (sewing them back together) and then would later have to check out her heart and brain, which consequently may not have developed properly based on the timing of the development in the fetus in utero.
Choosing to focus on all the wrong things, I immediately asked how I could have access to a pump (the one thing I forgot to pack) and they said they would work with me (all the while thinking I was overreacting to the breastfeeding thing, I'm sure). They took us back to see her and I saw she was, in fact, hooked up to an IV. They explained that they needed her to be ready at a moment's notice for surgery. 24 hours old and she'd eaten maybe 4 times. Ray found our carseat (they used it to transport her on the gurney) and inside was the bag of supplies - including unopened formula. I hated that she was on an IV, but the fact that they did not give her formula was a weird comfort to me. I would have hated for her to have both.
That night we slept on cots in the hospital while I woke up every 2 hours to pump.
Lots of blurry things happened the next 24 hours. The staff was phenomenal - they made sure we had full access to her and that we knew everything that was going on every minute. The most heartbreaking thing for us was the other babies. Here was our full term, 7 pound baby in a room with all of these preemies who were struggling for their lives. Ray and I had a really hard time processing all of it.
At some point my dad showed up. Then she was ready for surgery. The anesthesiologist and his nurse made sure we knew every detail of what they were going to do. They allowed us to walk to the prep room with her, before taking her through the doors.
Less than an hour later we received the call: her surgery was done. I finally sobbed. They allowed us to see her even though she was still asleep. She was SO CUTE. The surgeon spoke with Ray and explained that the sack and the skin around it were removed easily and THEY WERE NOT CONNECTED TO HER INTERNAL ORGANS. He simply removed the umbilical cord and the sack, made her a cute little belly button (which he joked we won't know for 15 years or so whether his work is satisfactory to her) and all is done.
The next morning we were released, drove through another terrible ice storm on the way home, an collapsed as soon as we entered our house. Finally, a mere 4 days after giving birth, my family was all together.
Ray reminded me more than once that I wanted a good birth story to tell people. Be careful what you wish for!