Thursday, February 20, 2014

Emily's NICU stay

Another long and rambling post...

All of my children ran on the high side with their jaundice bilirubin levels. So it was no surprise that Emily's was running high and that they stressed the importance of seeing a pediatrician the day after we left the hospital. We saw a pediatrician in the practice, but not our regular doctor. She was very sweet, but concerned at her high bilirubin test they took that day (it was at a 17). So told us we needed to go to Children's Hospital to have her sit under the lights for a day. 

Okay, I was a little emotional about the news, but new it would be okay. My parents were flying in the next night (Saturday, January 11th), so it would just be a little stressful not having the house ready for their arrival. No biggie, it would only be for a day... right?

Off to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh (CHP). They didn't have any beds in the NICU available, so they just sent us to the ER to get her under the lights. It was funny when we were there we had to tell the story of why we were there over and over again... "Um, she's a newborn, and has high bilirubin levels, so we were referred here by our pediatrician's office." But the questions didn't stop there. They had to go through the steps and ask for her medical history... some questions made sense, but others made us laugh.

Dr: So was she full term?
Us: Yep, 40 weeks, 1 Day.
Dr: Any complications during pregnancy or at birth?
Us: No, not related to her. Mom did have her appendix out at 18 weeks, but it didn't affect the baby.
Dr: So have you noticed any changes in Emily? Has she been acting differently?
Us: *chuckles* Well... not that we know of, she's only 3 days old, we're still trying to get to know her in general. 
Dr: Has she been more sleepy lately?
Us: *blink blink* Seriously? Um, well... she is a newborn... sleeping is pretty much all she does.

You get the idea. It didn't annoy us, we knew they had to go through their list to make sure they didn't miss any clues. But it was just for jaundice... we kind of felt like it was ridiculous. 

Here she is working on her tan.

Full-head-gear eye wear.

While she was in the ER sitting under the lights they noticed that her Oxygen levels were dipping when she was in a deep sleep (it also happened when she fed). This raised some red flags. Change in respiration can be an early sign of infection in newborns. Since she was only 3 days old, they decided to do a few extra tests on her. 

They hooked her up for an EKG.
 It was normal.

They also took a chest X-Ray.
It was normal too. 

The doctors were all nervous that her oxygen levels were dipping so low, so they put her on a little bit of oxygen (30%... room air is 21%). Her O2 levels jumped right up when they did that. They decided it would be safest to monitor her for a day or two, so they had us admitted to the NICU. 

Much nicer tanning bed in the NICU.

They even stuck little velcro dots on her cheeks to keep her tanning shades on better.

She didn't look too miserable, but still so sad seeing her all hooked up like this. 

That darn oxygen tubing made breastfeeding a real treat!
She hated it, and it made it hard for her to breath at all while nursing. 

She still was a cute little squirt.

They decided to run the whole panel of test on her. I was fun up until the point that they brought me the consent form to do a spinal tap to test for meningitis. They told me I had to leave the room while they did that, and I lost it. I am not a big crier, in fact I HATE crying in front of others. This probably made it worse. I couldn't talk. I just quietly sobbed as tears poured out of my eyes. I was exhausted, I had postpartum hormones raging through my system... I was simply emotionally unstable. It didn't help that I couldn't reach Ryan by telephone right away.

They did all the tests, and then all we could do was wait until the results came back, some took 48 hours. 

In the meantime my parents got into town. What a blessing that was that they had their trip scheduled for this time. AND that it wasn't just my mom, that my dad had arranged to come this time.

Here he is loving on sweet Emily!
 I really don't know how my mom would have managed taking care of everything by herself. It would have been so exhausting (not to say that it still wasn't tiring, but you know what I mean)

After some of the tests started coming back negative, they decided to move her to the next level down of the NICU. They moved us to the 8A area of the hospital which meant nicer room (and nicer bed) and it wasn't on lock down quite so much. More than two visitors could be in the room, and I didn't have to call in and ask my nurse when I wanted to get back in the NICU (which was weird!). 

Plus, it came with a stellar view.

Much better than staring at this all day long, watching that blue number to make sure it was staying in the 90s. 

I even got to watch a spectacular sunrise. 
It has been a long while since I've been able to do that!

Slowly they started to wean her off of things as more results came back.
Here she is after they took off her oxygen tubing.
 Those sweet little cheeks could be kissed again!

Sleeping in her bed.

Chubby face stretch.

Waking up to eat.

After being off the oxygen for 48 hours they felt comfortable enough to let us head home. Hooray!! 
January 15th. It was a long 4 1/2 days in the hospital. Don't know how people do this long term. 

Because she did have antibiotics (as a safety precaution) they did a more sensitive hearing test on Emily. They checked to see if her brain activity showed signs that she was hearing the stimuli they administered. Kind of looked funny, I had to snap a picture!

Yay!! In our carseat, waiting to head home. :D

It was so hard being in the hospital all day, every day. But it was bearable knowing that my home was being taken care of by my two sweet parents (Ryan had to go out of town for a residency interview during all this). I also was very comforted spiritually during this whole fiasco. I never once felt anxious that there was something seriously wrong. I always felt that everything would be fine, and it really helped me survive the stay. That and the free hospital food. *wink* The cafeteria at CHP was actually quite good! I felt so blessed and watched over by the timing of everything. I am grateful for modern medicine and the reassurance that Baby Emily was fine, and nothing more serious was going on. I did have emotional moments, but what new mother doesn't. ;) Yay for a healthy baby!!


Aden & Jamie Hirtle said...

Yay for blogging again! I just got caught up on all the posts. What a trooper for trying to go without an epidural. I'm going to be asking for one before I even tell them my name. I'm a baby when it comes to labor (er, the thought of labor since I've never actually had real labor). How did the nurses respond to your treats? I've thought about making some for our nurses but wasn't sure if they are allowed to take treats from patients. Of course yours were all cute and coordinated. Might have to steal that idea. I'm so glad everything was ok with Emily in the end. Adalyn had to have 2 lumbar punctures which was awful. But almost worst than that was when I was holding one of the girls one time and the team was on the other side of the curtain with another baby doing a LP and they described the whole thing to someone who was new. I was grateful I hadn't been allowed to stay when Adalyn had hers because it sounded terrible. I can't imagine going through the NICU days with kids at home. The NICU is hard enough. That's awesome that your parents were there to help out. She's a cutie, Liz! Keep up the blogging!