After the first night in the hospital, the nursery informed me of their concern about Grace being unable to maintain good blood sugar levels. They told me that if she continued to decline she would have to be put in the NICU. Unfortunately, even with my attempts at breastfeeding along with formula supplements, she ended up in the NICU on Friday anyway.
It was heartbreaking to watch the NICU nurses attempt to put in the IV twice before they actually got a vein. What was sad was that her blood sugar was so low that she didn't even have the energy to cry as they inserted the needles. She would just jerk slightly. It was so sad.
They needed to have an IV so they could give her constant sugar. They started high and would wean her slowly for the next few days until her insulin levels dropped and she could balance out her sugars on her own. They were able to take her off the IV on Saturday.
Here she is resting on my leg
Here my mom is feeding her in the NICU
Because I was discharged on Saturday, I decided That I should board at the hospital to be with Grace.
Her Bilirubin levels were also high, so she spent most of her NICU stay under the UV lights.
She was really good at taking her mask off, or at least turning it to the side. We were constantly fixing it.
Pulse oxygen monitor on her foot
Me and my baby on Sunday morning
When we finally figured out her name, she got a name tag. This was on Monday
Randy and the girls brought me flowers. That cheered me up a bit.
While boarding, my other babies came to visit a few times. It was so hard for me to be away from them for so long. Every time they had to leave, I would bawl in my room by myself.
My stay at the hospital was super creepy. They had the mothers boarding at the edge of the women's pavilion. I rarely saw another person who was boarding and they had most of the lights off in this part of the wing. I probably watch way to many zombie shows, but I was freaked out every time I had to walk in the dark quiet hallway all by myself.
Here is the room I stayed in.
Randy with Grace in the NICU
My other babies visiting
waiting to look at Grace through the window
Me showing off the baby to the kids through the window.
Our experience with the NICU was a little bit frustrating at times. We ended up staying at the hospital for six days! I felt it was wholly unnecessary for us to stay that long. Especially since we weren't there for her blood sugar at that point. We were there for jaundice and it wasn't that bad. I learned that the doctors and other NICU staff are more concerned about protocol than they are about individual cases.
A couple of frustrating things:
1. My nurse told me on Saturday that we would be able to go home by 2:30 on Monday. When Monday came (of course that nurse wasn't there anymore) when I inquired about us going home with the baby, I was told that there was no way we could go home with the babies bilirubin above 8. I was also told that "The nurse who told you that you could go home doesn't usually work in the NICU and doesn't know how we do things." Talk about heartbreaking! My kids came home to balloons and no baby. I had to cry by myself in my room away from my family. We had to wait another two days after we thought we would go home. Also, I had to argue with the pediatrician to get him to let us go in Wednesday anyway! (Nobody seems to know exactly why we had to continue our stay in the NICU for so long. the only thing that makes sense is protocol. If it was based on my individual baby, we would have been sent home way earlier.)
2. Nursing a newborn is difficult. It is especially difficult when they "schedule" you for feedings and you don't wait until the baby is awake and ready to eat. It is extra difficult to nurse a newborn who is asleep with low blood sugar and therefore has little energy. It's kind of a perfect scenario of the cards being stacked against you as far as nursing goes. But, I was patient with her as best I could be.
One morning I went to nurse the baby at 5:30 am. The nurse hadn't taken her blood sugar yet or changed her diaper, so I waited until about 5:50 to try and feed the baby. Grace was so tired that I had a hard time getting her to latch on and suck. I literally tried for an hour! I finally succeeded at 6:55 to get her to actually start eating. I was tired, I was frustrated, and I was so happy to have finally succeeded.
That's when I hear whispering (behind the curtain) about me. "What is she DOING?" and "She can't be in here!" and "You need to tell her to leave." Unfortunately for me, the shift change is at 6:45. They have a rule in the NICU that parents are not allowed in the NICU from 6:45 to 7:45 while patients are discussed. They don't want everyone knowing everyone's business. I get it. What I don't get is this: my baby's nurse came up to me and said "is the baby done eating?" I told her that I'd been struggling and I finally got her to eat just a few minutes before now. she said "Oh, well, it is the shift change and I'm going to have to ask you to leave." I told her I wasn't done feeding yet. But she took the baby and said "I'll just give her a bottle this time and you can come back and nurse at 8:30am." I told her I would wait in the hall, or go to another room to feed her, but she told me that that wasn't an option. I left heartbroken and angry. That is not appropriate.
3. For a "breastfeeding friendly" hospital, they sure push the bottle a lot. I understand that my baby had specific caloric needs and that they wanted me to supplement her with the bottle after I nursed her so she could get the sugar she needed. But when I come down to the NICU to feed my baby at 11:30 at night only to find the nurse already feeding my baby a bottle that's nearly gone, it makes me angry. When I asked why she was giving my baby a bottle she said "Oh, we needed to push her schedule up a half an hour" and I said "Sooo WHY are you feeding her a bottle?" She said "I didn't have any breast milk" I said "I have breast milk! I feed my baby!" to which she responds "I didn't know how to reach you." I told her "I was in room 206 and that I was boarding and that I'm just sitting upstairs waiting to feed my baby and that she needs to call me ANYTIME the baby is hungry and I will come."
I'd like to say that this was the last time they fed my baby a bottle of formula, but it wasn't.
Now that I've vented some of my many frustrations in our extended stay at the hospital, I will say that it was the longest 6 days of my life. I wasn't able to enjoy one on one time with my baby. I felt very much thwarted no matter what I did. Thwarted in my efforts to feed her, to visit her, to get permission to bring her home and it was a devastating feeling. I felt very much alone. I felt like the hospital was doing everything it could to work against my wishes for me and my baby. It's sad, because I'm sure they do a good job saving babies and helping moms normally. That just wasn't the case for me. I understand that I was/am a mom who literally just had a baby and hormones can be crazy! BUT, they should understand that as much as I do and do anything in their power to make a mother feel like everything is being done to benefit her and her baby during their stay.
Let's just say, I'm grateful this is behind us and we are home now.