Monday, October 17, 2011

Jacob's Beginning

Wednesday, September 28, started out like any other day. I wasn't feeling especially well, however, and I was dealing with some extreme swelling and was having difficulty breathing. Although my expectant due date was nearly a month away, I had a feeling that Jacob would come within the week, and had bags prepared for all of us in the event that he would.

My appointment with the specialist, that morning, went exactly the way that I had predicted it would. My blood pressure was through the roof, despite all efforts to keep it down in that last month. I was 37 weeks, according to the specialist...My doctor had me charted at 36.6 weeks...just one day shy of 37. The fetal specialist performed an ultrasound. He seemed to be doing great, despite my body's declining status. She thought it would be best to deliver him within that afternoon. She performed another ultrasound to check his lung functioning. She believed that he was more than capable of delivery, and sent me on to the hospital with assurance that all would be well. "37 weeks is considered full term. He's a great size, and his lungs look great! He'll be fine!"....

It all happened so quickly. My doctor had an open schedule and was waiting in triage for me. They prepped me fairly quickly. The air was light, and I shoved my nervousness aside and put on a smile. The nurse that prepped me was especially kind, and I enjoyed a few exchanged jokes with her. Inside, though, I was with the Lord. Praying that Jacob would do well, and we'd both come out of this with a quick recovery. I focused on holding and kissing him. Little things, like his possible reaction to hearing my voice. Before I knew it, I was saying goodbye to my husband who seemed to have a harder time hiding his emotions than I was. I knew that if I focused too much on that fact, I'd lose it...and I didn't feel strong enough for that. So, I kissed him, and told him I'd see him in a minute. He replied with, "I love you so much. We're going to meet our son today.". :0)

My sweet nurse walked me down to a cold sterile room. Soon, a spinal was administered, and I was laid down and covered in several warm blankets. As much as I hated this feeling at the time, I really wanted to fall asleep. I had to keep talking to myself to stay awake because I didn't want to miss a thing. The blankets were soooo cozy. At first, the spinal had such a calming effect. I felt so free, and cozy laying on that table. Soon after, however, I had a bad reaction to the spinal and got sick. I don't know how long that went on, but my husband told me later that they were in the process of bringing him in and made him wait until I was cleaned up. It scared him and he went to the Lord, asking to make the process easier for me...I appreciate that guy more than words can express. :0)

Soon, Darrell was by my side, and they started the c-section. He stood and watched. I stared at his face the entire time. I've never seen more worry on his face, but as he looked down at me he'd smile or kiss me. The pressure and tugging seemed to last hours, however, was a mere thirty minutes or so. They had an especially difficult time pulling Jacob out, and a vacuum was used. I wasn't told that at the time, or else I may have thrown a fit about that. Darrell had tears in his eyes, and I kept begging him to tell me what was going on. He just replied, "He's almost out! It's okay, baby. I can see his head. He has a lot of hair!". When Darrell let out a small cry, and exclaimed that, "He's here, baby! Jacob's here!", I waited for a cry. It never came, and I was briefly shown my new son for approximately ten seconds, before he was whisked away to the NICU. Darrell kissed me and took off after them, and I was left in that cold room, worried over what had just happened. Praying to God to fix whatever was making my son grunt for breath.

I was assured, several times, that he was okay. "Just had a little trouble breathing and you"ll get to see him soon.". I listened to the nurses conversations as I was being closed up. My mind was racing, and all I could think of was how they could be so nonchalant as my world was spinning. How could they talk about the latest episode of Big Brother at a time like this? I had, what they referred to, as a panic attack. I didn't feel panicked. I felt sick with worry, and alone while they conversed over television shows. I began crying, yes...but not panicked. Argh. I was later advised to consider antidepressants. "You are, unfortunately, a perfect candidate for postpartum depression.".

Instead of stitching me up, my doctor worked quickly and decided that staples would be more appropriate at getting the job done so that I could be taken to recovery and calmed down as quickly as possible.

While in recovery, my husband was told of my "panic attack", and was reminded that my bp was through the roof and that stressing me out would complicate my recovery. When he came back, I asked a million questions that he couldn't provide answers for. Aside from what our baby looked like, I received very little info to suffice my ache to see and hold my baby. Like me, he was left without answers, and was aching just as much as I was...if not more, upon seeing the physical state of our son and having to keep what he saw from me so as not to upset me. He told me, later, that Jacob's arrival in the NICU was chaotic because he receiving so little oxygen. His feet and lips were blue, and Darrell was asked to leave. He didn't tell me any of that, when he came back to me.

These were the first pictures taken in the NICU. They wouldn't allow Darrell to take any when he first arrived, so these were taken two hours after birth.

One of the nurses made a little sign for his bed. So sweet.

And gave us his little footprints:
It would be another 48 plus hours before I was able to see Jacob again. Every hour that passed was sheer agony. I was still being treated for excessively high blood pressure, as well as for the possibility of seizures. So, until the magnesium was gone and they thought my bp was down enough, I was planted to my bed in recovery. Just seconds away from my son, but feeling like a world away from him. On the third day, I was being prepped to move from recovery to a regular room. I begged to see my baby. Darrell was able to visit him all three days I wasn't able to, but was having a hard time obtaining much info on our baby's status as the pediatricians never seemed to be in there when he was. My doctor and nurses requested that one of the NICU pediatricians visit us and give us an update. That never happened, so I was in complete distress over my son's status. All that I knew was what Darrell was able to obtain based on sight alone. He was hooked up to a feeding tube, and a breathing machine. His color was normal, but the nurses did tell him that he could not breath on his own. Before being wheeled to my room, I was given the okay to visit Jacob. I was, for the first time, instructed on how little stimulation he was able to cope with. I was told that I could not touch/hold him, and had to speak in a quiet voice. While that was all understandable, my emotions plagued me. I never imagined my first real meeting with him would be under those circumstances, but felt so blessed to have him nonetheless. He was beautiful. He had a hat on, as well as a cpap machine over his nose. A feeding tube was taped to his tummy, then again at his chin, and was placed down his throat. His right arm was completely covered in gauze and tape in order to keep one tiny iv intact. I saw past all of that. I knew that underneath that tiny hat was a head full of brown hair. His skin was a beautiful olive complexion. He had his daddy's toes. His eyebrows were so tiny and light they were almost nonexistent. He had tiny dimples above each corner of his top lip, just like his daddy and big sister, Ella. I watched his tummy go up and down and praised God for each breath. My arms ached to hold touch him. I ached to kiss him, or just whisper "I love you, Jacob." I was so afraid that with those words, a world of emotion would fall out of my mouth, and overstimulate my baby. I fought to keep my hands together behind my back...and I reluctantly left as the tears began to fall.

This was my first time seeing Jacob in the NICU.

A couple of hours later, I asked Darrell to call the NICU to check on his status. It was after "visiting hours" but I had to know something. My heart was in such distress. I couldn't eat or sleep. The physical pain brought on by the c-section was nothing in comparison to what my heart was feeling. I had such a bad feeling. I watched Darrell's face as he spoke to the lead nurse. He wasn't able to hide fear/worry as she explained that our baby was having difficulty breathing, even with help from the cpap and wasn't able to eat, and my heart fell. Darrell rushed down to the NICU, and I was left in my dark room praying for a miracle. Once he was back, he explained that a respiratory team had been taking care of him, and they called a pediatrician in, as well. We didn't know why it happened, or what the outcome would be. I sent out mass texts to get a prayer chain started. Panic and fear surrounded my innermost being. For that moment, that fear and worry damaged my sight, and I forgot that God was in control and had Jacob in His best interest. My imagination ran wild and I was, in that moment, angry at the thought of carrying my child for nine months and only been given MAYBE five minutes, in total, of seeing him after birth...and I was so scared of losing him.

Sleep did not come for me that night. I prayed all night. We called the NICU several times, throughout the night. We were told that he was not going to be able to eat again, until that could stabilize his breathing. We visited him as soon as the sun came up. It would be my third time getting to see him. I was hopeful that it would be a much better visit with him. However, we were greeted by a nurse who informed us that the on call pediatrician was just about to insert a tube into his tummy and we would not be able to see him for a few hours. I went nuts. Before I could contain myself, I cried, "Why haven't any of you called us to tell us what was going on? Why didn't you tell us that he was going to receive this new tube? She apologized and turned us away. I sank to my knees in that hallway, outside of the NICU. We were completely distraught and in disbelief. On one hand, I was truly thankful for their help in taking care of my child, and knew that he was where he needed to be. On the other hand, however, I felt as though my baby belonged to that hospital and those nurses. I felt completely out of the loop. I was angry that they hadn't updated us once. I was confused, and scared. It was just a horrible feeling. Thankfully, the pediatrician came out, and apologized for not keeping us updated. She asked to "Please come in and spend time with your son before we insert the tube.". She allowed me, for the first time, to touch my son. She showed me how he liked to be touched, with a firm grip around his tiny leg, as apposed to being rubbed/stroked. While that fear still enveloped me, having that bonding moment with my son was indescribable. I think he and I both needed that. I held onto his little legs, and I spoke softly to him. I told him how much I loved him, and how happy I was to be his mother. I think I told him, a thousand times that I loved him. He instantly much so that his stats came up tremendously. The pediatrician was so impressed she asked us to stay longer and continue talking to him. Darrell and I locked hands with one another, and touched him with our empty hands, and prayed fervently for his healing, as well as for the doctors and nurses. An hour later, the pediatrician told us that she didn't think he would need the new tube after all. She explained that it may be a possibility later, but she was going to hold off for a while. What a precious blessing!

This was our first "touch time" with Jacob:

Once "touch time" was over, we walked back to my room and was met with cell phones full of texts....precious prayers from precious people. We will forever be thankful for each and every one of those messages and prayers.

At our next "touch time" he was still doing great! In fact, he was doing even better. Still having to breathe with the cpap, but they thought it would be safe enough to start feedings again, which was HUGE! We LITERALLY, felt Jacob being lifted up in prayer by our loved ones, and we FELT the Lord answering those prayers. It was just amazing!

By that evening, I was able to begin pumping milk for Jacob's feedings. He began getting that milk that night. He just progressed so well each day after. We were so very blessed to be given the opportunity to remain in the hospital until that Sunday. Our insurance company wouldn't pay for anything past that, but my doctor was kind enough to allow us to remain in the room until as late as midnight, that night, so that we wouldn't miss any of our "touch times" with Jacob. That last morning, we walked into the NICU and was told that he was doing so well, that not only was the cpap coming off and a nasal canula would be used, but that we could hold our baby for the first time! I relished in that! The wires were abundant, but oh how my baby felt in my arms! Thank you, precious Lord!

Leaving, that night, was absolutely horrible. We were so torn, because our other children needed us and we were thrilled to see them...but, our little guy was nearly an hour away. That was difficult. We felt so very blessed, however, to know that he was being taken care of so well....and he really was.
Each day, we dropped the older babes off at school and made the drive to be with Jacob for every touch time (which was every three hours). Darrell left in time to pick the kids up from school, while I remained there so that I wouldn't miss his 2:00 pm touch time, and then he brought them to the hospital, where we all remained until his last touch time that evening. It was a chaotic schedule for all of my babes. I felt so horrible for the older kiddos. They handled it well, however, and it was nice having our family together all week after not getting to be with them the week before.

Ella, outside of the hospital, playing under a tree:

He spent that next day and a half, being treated for a mild case of jaundice:

On Tuesday, he was given his first bottle!

Oh happy day! I mean, the Lord is AMAZING! Jacob was doing great! By that evening, I was asked if I'd like to nurse him. I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't scared silly. He was hooked up to so much. There were wires all over the place. Plus, I was just worried that he wouldn't do well and I wanted him, so badly, to nurse. Be that as it may, I nursed my baby for the first time that night. It took a couple of minutes, but he latched on and it went wonderfully! Praises be to God!

Jacob, on his one week old birthday:

Jacob was 8 pounds and 3 ounces at birth. His NICU neighbors were anywhere from 3 pounds to 5 pounds. He was, by far, the largest baby in the NICU (until his last two days there. There was a baby girl who beat him by over a pound!). To look at Jacob, you'd think he'd be well enough to come home. On his week old birthday, two of his tiny neighbors were discharged. What a blessing for those families! Darrell and I were ecstatic for the parents we had come to know in that week! I couldn't help but wish that Jacob would be discharged, too, though. We were given hope when a lead nurse told us that she was certain he would be discharged the next day. He had done so well that they had taken his feeding tube, iv, and breathing machine off that day! We were thrilled! The next day we arrived at the NICU with thoughts of leaving with him that night. While he seemed to be doing great, he did have two breathing relapses, but we were assured that it was, more than likely, due to eating too quickly. By 2:00 pm, Darrell was picking the older babes up for school, when I walked into the NICU and began scrubbing up as usual. His lead nurse said, "Guess who's going home?!?!" I think I nearly screamed! I was beyond excited! I texted Darrell the good news, before nursing Jacob. Once we were finished, the nurse began the discharge process. I signed paper work, and then she began helping me to give him a bath so that he could be put into the clothes I brought from home, and have his pictures made.

Just then, the on call pediatrician came up to me and told me that he would not be letting Jacob go. His earlier relapses were too significant, in his opinion, to ignore. That was extremely upsetting to all of us. The older children took it really hard, and once again, we went home without our baby.

He did, however, come home the next night. That Friday was a waiting game, it seemed. The pediatrician kept him as late as he possibly could to insure there were no more relapses had. We appreciated that. We knew our baby was being well taken care of. Having my babies all together was calling my name, however!

Jacob did great, and he came home, finally! We had arranged to have a family friend keep the kids at their home, after school that Friday. We didn't tell them the news that Jacob was discharged. Instead, we stopped by the hospital gift shop, bought a few bubble gum "It's a Boy!" cigars, and gave them those before they realized that their new brother was asleep in the car. They met him, for the first time, that night and the tears were abundant. It was precious!

Today, my little guy is doing great! He checked out quite well at his first doctor's appointment, last Tuesday. He left the hospital weighing 7 lbs. 10 oz., and weighed in at 8 lbs. 4 oz. just four days later....slightly over his birth weight. He's eating well!

We are so very blessed to have Jacob home with us. Life is completely different with him here, but it's as if he's been with us all along. The older children have adapted well to having a new baby in their enviroment. They help out, so much, and adore him as much as we do.

I want to thank all of you who lifted Jacob up in prayer. I can't describe how amazing it was to feel those prayers being lifted up, and answered for Jacob. You guys blessed our family well, and we are forever grateful.

Thank you Mom and Bill for everything! Bringing dinner to the hospital for Darrell, keeping Ella for a weekend, keeping us company while in recovery, cleaning my floors at home, fixing last minute things up for us here at home....the list goes on and on. You guys are amazing, and we are so blessed to have you both!

MeMe and Jacob:

Thank you, Amy, for keeping the kids for us after I was put in the hospital, and through that Friday. I know how busy your schedule is. We really appreciate the fact that you provided stability for our kids, and comforted us in the process. Thank you for the sweet baby gifts, as well as showing up with a delicious chocolate cake and cold milk, after Jacob finally came home! That was such a blessed visit! Also, thank you for the prayers, and phone calls of reaassurance while I was in the hospital. You lifted my spirits more than I can tell you. I'm so thankful that the Lord used you to do that...and to have you as my sister. xoxo

Thank you, Wendy, for the many texts and phone calls. Thank you, also, for sending Jacob his very first package! That was very thoughtful of you. You are a constant source of thoughtfullness, and I am thrilled to have you for a sister-in-law. I love you so much!

Thank you, Allie, for bringing a sweet care package of food for Darrell so that he had something to eat in the well as for those delicious crunchy sugar snap peas for me. Not to mention, Krispie Kreme!!! Mmmmm! That was extremely thoughtful of you, and we appreciate that kind gesture so much! Thank you, also, for picking the babes up from school the Friday that Jacob was discharged. We REALLY appreciated the fact that you dropped what you were doing, at the last minute, to take care of our kiddos for us. You have been such a blessing!

Life, as we knew it, is no's just gotten better!

After his first bath at home. :0)

Two weeks old:

One day shy of three weeks old:

Relishing in His goodness...


Rightthinker said...

Praise God for Jacob's arrival!

I am so sorry to hear of all the difficulties you and your precious one had in the early days. Please know that I understand, as my first pregnancy was horrible (misdiagnosis, heavily medicated with horrible medicines during pregnancy, delivery @ 34 weeks, NICU for 3 weeks, etc) so if you want to talk about this, please email me..I am ALWAYS here for you, and will never judge your emotions.

How are you feeling now? Are you healing up alright? Getting stronger?

Jacob is beautiful, and your family is in my prayers! Praise God!

Cassy said...

Oh beautiful beautiful baby boy! Praise God from whom ALL blessings flow! Thanking Him today for His hand of love and protection on you and beautiful Jacob.
Rejoicing with you precious sister
Lovelovelove and sweet kisses to Jacob from Alaska...

Christy said...

Andrea-I am doing really well, actually! Breastfeeding works wonders at helping heal the body, doesn't it? The bp issues remained for about a week after his birth, but have since subsided. Thank you for being a constant encourager in my life! I appreciate the love, prayers, and sweet compliments for our new son! <3

Cassy-How I love all that love from Alaska! Thank you so much for praising God, along with us, for this precious gift He's blessed us with! Love you so much, sweet sister! :0)