Something That We Do

Love is something that we do!


The Day After

Later that day.

As my last post mentioned, everything was perfect. WAS.

We were home with our brand new baby, doting on his every delicate feature and talking about who he looks like, and loving every precious moment with him. Carl, my mom and I were all eager to change every last diaper- and answer every last whimper coming from this new little person. As a new mommy, I didn't feel the least bit of stress. Although Luke was new to this world, I truly felt I knew him as well as an old friend. And oh, those eyes.... in the few moments he opened his eyes, he made eye contact with me and I felt him looking deep into my soul. Every time our eyes met, I teared up, amazed at the depth he was able to reach into my soul. How could such a tiny human be so amazingly powerful? It was relaxing, and everything was as it should be.

And this might be the hardest blog entry I've ever written.

The whole time we were in the hospital, Luke only fussed if he was hungry or had a dirty diaper. Soon as I fed him or we changed him, he was content as could be.

Well, a little while after we got home, he wouldn't stop crying. He kept passing gas so we figured he must just be constipated and have trapped gas. We tried to help him work through the pain, and did all kinds of leg exercises to help him get the gas out.

When I nursed him, I was for the first time in a lot of pain. Not knowing why, I called my friend Ruia and asked her to come over and check Luke's latch. She told me to try to express some milk and that's when I realized why I was hurting. Although I had colostrum, I apparently "ran out." He was trying to nurse but wasn't getting anything out, so that is why I was hurting. I talked things over with Carl and we decided that we would start supplementing formula for Luke's next feeding.

At this point, it was around 8pm. Luke would be waking up any time to eat. Carl and I were eating our supper, and my mom was holding Luke. She was in a lawn chair outside, and Luke was very content sleeping in her arms. All of the sudden, we heard panic in my mom's voice as she screamed my name. Carl and I both dashed outside and my mom said Luke wasn't breathing.

She shoved him into my arms hoping contact with his momma would somehow kick start his little body. He was completely limp, and I was completely horrified. He was just in a diaper, and the first thought that ran through my head was that I needed to rip my shirt off and get Luke to have skin on skin (see previous blog post). But instead, I smacked him on the back hoping that would sting enough to make him cry. And it did. Praise The Lord.

A second after screaming out, he fell completely limp again. We were moving him in big swinging movements hoping to trigger his startle reflex and get him breathing. He just remained limp. Carl called 911 and I slapped my baby again. Bringing him discomfort was the last thing I wanted to be doing but I was desperate. He wasn't responding to me slapping him anymore, and so my mom took him back and tried more. She told me later that she was sorry for taking him from me but I didn't even notice... I know she loves that baby like she loves me, and for him to be in someone's arms who loved him so much comforted me. And I didn't know what else to do.

I remember seeing my mom put her mouth over Luke's nose and mouth and breath small breaths into him. CPR hadn't even crossed my mind. We ran into the front yard so that when the paramedics got there, they could have immediate access to him. I stood outside screaming my baby's name trying to get him to respond since every second counts...and he just laid there. The paramedics arrived within about five minutes but it felt like five hours. Even at the time all of this was happening, I felt like I was watching a movie in slow motion. I was seeing all of us from a third person perspective.

The paramedics arrived and we pushed the baby into their arms. At this point Luke had started breathing. They started him on oxygen and loaded us into the ambulance. They let me ride in the back holding Luke.

When we got to the ER, Luke was given IV fluids and a bottle. His chest was x-rayed and they also took his blood but his little veins just couldn't take it. They had to prick him repeatedly. Carl and I sang to him and talked to him to comfort him. We were not leaving this baby's side.

The nurse also gave Luke a pacifier, something I had originally been opposed to because I wanted him to suck his thumb like he did in the womb, and like both my dad and I did as babies. But sucking is a comfort tool for babies, so since Luke couldn't maneuver his own little arms to put his thumb in his mouth yet, I was absolutely fine with the paci. Whatever my baby needed in order to be comforted- I was completely on board with. I should also mention that a few hours prior, Luke had figured out how to get his thumb in his mouth, and so he did keep trying while we were in the ER. Unfortunately, once we were in the ER and he had an IV, he also had a board attached to his arm so he didn't bend his arm in a way that would cause the IV to come out... Well, he tried to go for his little thumb to comfort himself and he wound up whopping himself in the head with that dang board. My poor little baby. Bring on the paci...bring on the paci.

After a long night of waiting (and multiple needle pricks), we were admitted into the NICU...once again. Lab results confirmed my suspicion that he was jaundiced, and jaundice can apparently stop breathing. Although he was only slightly jaundiced when we left the hospital, he was much more so by this time of night. Lab results also revealed that Luke was dehydrated. This shocked me and made me feel absolutely awful. Dehydration can cause a baby to stop breathing- so between the jaundice and dehydration, Luke had a double whammy! It is so hard to know just how much milk your baby is getting when you breast feed, and as a first timer- I trusted the countless nurses that told me he was getting plenty of nourishment those first days! Looking back, I can't help but wonder what caused the dehydration.. I know I had colostrum, but how does a baby become so dehydrated in 36 hours?! I guess his little system is just SO delicate.

We were in the NICU from Friday night to Sunday afternoon. I felt relief that Luke was hooked up to monitors so we would know if he stopped breathing. I had a really hard time being okay with leaving Luke at all but everyone kept reminding me how important it is that I take care of myself so that I am able to better care for Luke. The more rest I would be able to get, the quicker my milk would come in, so the quicker I could nourish my baby.

So, that first night, Carl stayed by Luke's side. My mom and I went home and slept. Carl insisted I go try to rest up so I could sit with Luke the following day. I wanted so badly to stay by Luke's side but everyone pushed me to go rest so my milk would come in. My mom and I stayed in the same bed that night because I was so emotional. As I climbed in my big comfy bed, I started crying. It was my first night being in my bed, in over nine months, not being pregnant. And I wasn't getting in bed with my husband, or rocking my baby to sleep in his bed. Instead, both of them were in the hospital, away from me.

The "night" flew by. In approximately 2 hours, I woke up and felt so well rested. My concept of time was so warped, I didn't realize we had gotten home at 5am. It was now 7:30 and I was waking my mom up saying "Let's get moving so we can get back to the hospital!" She asked if I slept enough and that's when I told her how rested I felt... and she told me it had been under two hours of sleep I had gotten! Regardless, I hopped in the shower and we got ready to head back to the hospital.

The following night, I stayed in a room at the hospital called the boarding room. I was provided a meal and a safe place for the night, and Carl got to use it during the day. One of us always remained by Luke's side while the other slept and got his or her self cleaned up every day. I also used this room to pump for my breast milk several times every day. 
Here's our sweet boy under the bilirubin lights, being treated for jaundice. He had to wear a mask so the lights didn't damage his little baby eyes.
It was so hard seeing him have to lay under the lights instead of in our arms.  When we did get to hold him, it took a team effort since he was hooked up to so many monitors and IVs.  The NICU nurses were so kind- they allowed Luke's Momau to come in the NICU even though grandparents weren't typically allowed.  It's hard to see in this photo, but Luke is still tethered to IV's.

Once his bilirubin levels returned to normal, he still had to lay in the bassinet while his breathing and heart rate were monitored.

We were only allowed to hold him to feed him... the highlights of our day! Because of this, and the fact that my milk hadn't come in yet, I allowed Carl and my mom to feed Luke as well. Had my milk come in, I would have exclusively breastfed. A lot of moms tell you to wait until your milk does come in- but having him nurse before my milk was in was one of the things that landed us back in the hospital to begin with! (Disclaimer: at the time, I didn't know my milk hadn't come in.)

The NICU nurses were all so amazing. They all treated us like real people, not just patients that they pushed out of their minds at the end of the day. They offered us advice and support, and even helped me get Luke to breastfeed once my milk came in after being given bottles.
(Warning: the following paragraph goes into some detail about nursing... if this isn't your cup of tea, skip ahead to the next photo!)

One of the things they did to help me continue to breastfeed and bring my milk in was use SNS which stands for supplemental nursing system. For those of you that don't know, if you are trying to breastfeed but have to give your baby formula, your milk might not be made if your baby is satisfied. The milk comes in as needed... Think supply and demand. So, if Luke was getting formula (since my milk hadn't come in) then my milk would continue to not come in because Luke wasn't at my breast asking for it. So, with SNS, Luke was given formula so he didn't continue to get dehydrated, but it was arranged for him to drink it "from me." The formula bottle was hung over my head (kind of like an IV), and a very very thin tube ran down from the bottle to my breast. The nurse taped the tube onto my breast, and put the opening of the tube where Luke's mouth would be. So he "nursed" formula from me. Does that make sense? It would encourage him to breastfeed rather than just take the bottle. I apologize if that's more than you ever wanted to know! Moving on...

Occasionally, Luke opened his eyes. And oh, how precious were those moments!! Looking straight into my soul, let me tell you!

After being in the NICU for three days, Sunday afternoon, we were finally discharged again. I requested an apnea monitor prescription from the doctor so that I would have peace of mind at home.

The doctor....ugh, that doctor requires a post of his own... kept discounting every concern and question I had, and told me the apnea monitor was overkill...  but I politely told him I wanted this done my way. This was my baby and I wasn't leaving any chances for this happening again! And after a few family members recommended the monitor, AND a labor and delivery nurse who we ran into in the hall suggested one, I felt validated. Monitor prescription, please!

We did end up getting the monitor but we didn't end up using it. After being home with Luke a couple of days, I began to realize I had some post traumatic stress. I would hear little things like "C'mon, Luke!" and I was instantly brought back to the night he stopped breathing because that was a phrase used when trying to get him to breathe. Or, when I left him in my mom's arms outside again, I became very anxious since the last time I did that, we wound up in the hospital. I knew in my head that it was a very good thing my mom was holding him because had she not been here, Luke might've been in his cradle while Carl and I were eating! And then it would be too late.


We had a follow up doctor visit the following day, and Luke's doctor said he looks great. Carl and I were noticing a little yellowness again, so we checked with the doctor about it. I was concerned we were heading down the same road as before, but the doctor ordered some bloodwork to test the bilirubin levels and they came back perfect. Thank goodness!

So far, since we have been home (our second time) everything looks great.

Baby Luke, we love you!

One last thing before I go: thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for praying for our baby boy. So many prayers have been lifted up to God, from all corners of this country and even Canada. We appreciate you lifting him up in prayers... God is so good. And He has answered our prayers.

We are home and are enjoying every moment with our precious baby!


Labor Day

The morning started out like any other. Carl got out of the shower and I hoisted my pregnant self up in bed. A wave of nausea came over me. Nothing new. I hobbled to the bathroom, barely able to see out of my dry and tired eyes. And that's when I realized it.

Labor had begun.

I realized that day was the big day and I immediately perked up. I told Carl to go tell my mom, so he ran in the guest room and woke her up. We all had hit the floor running and our adrenaline was an all time high!

I had very minor cramping from the time I woke up (8:30) till about 1:15pm. Nothing major, no huge contractions. I was feeling a little tightening and dismissed the feeling since I didn't want to get my hopes up. Just five days prior, I had been in the hospital while they monitored Luke's movements...

Rewind to the previous Friday...
It was at my thirty-eight week checkup that I told my doctor that Luke was being unusually still.  I had eaten a sugary breakfast to try to get him to move, and I had a cup of coffee.  Still, my little active baby wasn't himself that morning.  The doctor did a small procedure and said that would aggravate the baby and cause him to move, but if he didn't start moving I should head over to Labor and Delivery at the hospital to have him monitored for about twenty minutes or so.  When he still didn't move after the procedure, she said she wanted me to go on and have him monitored for a little while.  I called Carl and told him what was going on, and as I stepped into the elevator I finished explaining what the doctor said, telling him "She wants me to go to labor and delivery."  And then the call dropped.  Great timing, huh?  The elevator doors opened so I called him back right away, letting him know I was not in labor but we just needed to make sure Luke wasn't in distress.  Mom and I went over to the hospital and the nurses all told me we were doing the right thing, having him checked.  They said they would keep me for just a little bit, but after they hooked me up to the monitors, they realized I was having pretty regular contractions (about 5-6 minutes apart for over an hour).  The contractions weren't growing in intensity, so the nurses let me go home and said "See you soon!" as we headed out the door.  I had hoped I would be back that night.  Mom and I ran some errands around town, and by the end of the day, I had a few contractions that knocked the wind out of me.  I thought for sure that my water would break sometime during the night and we would be heading off to have a baby within the next 24 hours!  But… that didn't happen.  I had contractions for over 14 hours straight, so when they completely stopped and I realized it wasn't "Labor Day," I was disappointed. 

Fast forward five days... on this particular day, when I was having regular cramping, I kept trying to downplay the fact that I could actually be in labor.

Around 1:15, I started having some more serious cramping…but these weren't regular cramps…these were undoubtedly contractions. I was still in denial.  Carl texted me close to 2:00 asking how far apart my contractions were.  We had a plan to go to the hospital when my contractions were regularly 5 minutes apart, or when I could no longer handle the pain (whichever came first).  Imagine his surprise when I texted him after timing several contractions and letting him know that my contractions were three minutes apart.  "3 Minutes?!?!?!" he responded.

I did some light housework and took my time doing a few last minute things, knowing that I'd be heading to the hospital later that day.  The contractions were getting stronger and stronger but I was able to breathe through them and keep my mind off of the pain.  My mom kept encouraging me to rest, but I knew I would be laid up for a few days, so I wanted to get as much done as possible.  Looking back, I wish I had rested more so I was in better shape for labor.  (Note to self-listen to mom more...) But, ya live, ya learn, right?  At 3:15, I took a hot shower, and the hot water felt so incredible on my aching body.  I stayed in the shower for about thirty minutes and by the time I got out and the cold air hit me, the contractions were bringing tears to my eyes.  My dad was waiting on the phone to talk to me, so soon as I got out of the shower, my mom handed me the phone and I started talking to my dad.  I think he could hear the pain in my voice as I started being unable to talk through each contraction.  I was getting emotional talking to him because I knew his grandson was about to be born and he wouldn't be at the hospital for the birth.  I wanted him there, but knew logistically it wasn't possible.  I fought through the emotions the best I could and did my best to stay in great spirits, looking forward and knowing full well that I'd be meeting my son soon!

At 4:00, Carl surprised me at the front door.  He came home knowing that we'd be going in soon.  I purposely didn't call him to tell him to rush home because I didn't want a false alarm.  I was probably too concerned about getting to the hospital and being sent home.  My goal was to be admitted and be dilated past one centimeter, and be at least 75% effaced. 

Carl took a shower, since he knew it might be a couple days before he would be able to take one again.  Meanwhile, my mom encouraged me to eat and I took her up on her offer to make me some tuna and crackers.  I don't know if it was a pregnancy craving, or a good way to take my mind off of things, but I began really looking forward to that tuna.  It sounded like the yummiest thing I could imagine.  So, imagine my disappointment when my mom said we were out of tuna.  I asked Carl to run to the store really fast, for some more tuna… but as another contraction hit, I told him he better just stay with me.  While I continued breathing through the contractions and eating a bagel the best I could through the tears, Carl worked on installing Luke's car seat.  I had asked him to do it earlier in the week but he insisted on waiting… stubborn man.  While Carl worked on installing the car seat, I worked on bringing Luke down into my pelvis more.  I rocked on that birthing ball like you couldn't imagine!  I wanted some serious progress to be made before leaving home. 

Not during a contraction:
During a contraction:
(Excuse the mess in the house- we had a ton of nursery projects still going on at this point.)

Carl finished installing the car seat.  Then, we headed to the hospital.  I was still focusing on breathing through my contractions when we pulled up to the emergency room.  My mom ran inside and told the nurses that her daughter was having a baby and that she needed a wheelchair.  She rolled the wheelchair out to me; I hopped in and Carl pushed me into the hospital while mom parked the car.  A labor and delivery nurse met me in the ER and took down some information as she jetted me down the hall to labor and delivery.  This was the real deal!  I was so excited to be doing this- this event that I had long awaited!  While coaching me through breathing, the nurses asked me who I would allow in my room while I was in labor and delivering the baby.  They told me I could have up to four people.  I gave them my mom's name and Carl's name, and my friend Amanda's name as well.  I asked Carl to call our friend Amanda, who is a labor and delivery nurse at another hospital, just to tell her what's going on.  Amanda had helped me with so many questions throughout my pregnancy, and she eased my mind with every last labor or delivery question you could imagine!  We invited her to the labor and delivery ward, and told her she's welcome in the room if she'd like to be there. 

Last few photos being pregnant:
Carl helping me through a contraction:

The nurses came and checked me shortly after filling out the paperwork, and upon inspection, I learned I was dilated to a 3 with a melting cervix, and I was 100% effaced.  Yep, this was definitely D-day!  (Delivery day, what else?!)

Through each contraction, I was debating whether or not I wanted an epidural.  My original goal was to not have an epidural unless I felt I needed one because I wanted to know what labor pains truly were.  During each contraction, I asked for an epidural but soon as each contraction subsided, I told the nurses I didn't think I wanted an epidural.  They waited for me to say absolutely yes before they called the anesthesiologist.  I finally decided I did indeed want an epidural, and so they called for the anesthesiologist to come and administer it for me.  He arrived within half and hour and I was already dilated to a 6!  Things were moving quickly!

Amanda did come to my labor room and she hung out with us. She arrived after my epidural, and I was so happy to see her.  I visited with her for a bit, while my mom and Carl ate the dinner she brought them.  Unfortunately, I was starving because I had the epidural without eating first!  Note to self- next time I have a baby (Lord willing), eat up before the epidural!  Amanda calmed me as my legs continued to get more and more numb, and get more and more itchy. It was an odd sensation to be coping with for the first time!  

After the epidural had fully kicked in, the nurses (including Amanda) strongly advised me to rest and get as much sleep as possible because soon it would be time to push.  I was able to sleep for a few hours but I woke up intermittently.  At one point, Amanda had to get going because she worked the following day.  I was hoping Luke would come while she was there, but he wasn't quite ready.  A couple hours later, I woke up feeling like I had to go to the bathroom.  I told the nurses I felt like I had to go to the bathroom, so they checked where the baby's head was.  They said he was really low, and I would need to start pushing soon.  They prepared my delivery bed and then the real fun started.

At 2:59, I pushed through my first contraction.  In my head, although unrealistic, I prepared for pushing for five hours.  It was more exhausting than I had anticipated and after pushing for thirty five minutes, I began to wonder if I could actually have the strength to push this baby out.  Part of me desperately wanted to ask someone to reach in and pull Luke out- but I knew that wouldn't happen! I kept following the orders to bear down and push when I felt a contraction coming on, and around 3:40, I heard something that caught my attention.  The nurse asked another nurse "My guess is 3:52, what do you think?"   3:52 sounded like a time to me, but I was unclear what she was thinking would happen at that time.  So, I asked.  "I think that's when your baby will be born!"  I had no idea I was that close, so hearing this great news gave me even more gusto to finish the task at hand.  Then, the nurse informed me that my doctor would be here momentarily.  I knew that the doctor literally came in to catch the baby, and not much else (no offense doctors) so that meant my baby was THAT much closer!  Boy was I excited! 

"I see his head!" The nurse said excitedly.  "He has hair!!"

"Really?!" I was ecstatic.  I had hoped Luke would have hair. 

I was curious as to how close his head was…and when my mom peeked down there, she came back and said "Boy does he ever have hair!"  She told me the nurse had his hair twirled around her finger!  With his head being so incredibly close, I asked if I could touch it.  The nurse guided my hand and I was able to gently feel the top of Luke's head.  Coolest thing ever!  (I told some friends about this and some of them think it's pretty cool, while others were utterly disgusted!  To each her own, I suppose!)  I was feeling my baby's head for the first time, and I was just that much more excited to be meeting my little boy!

My doctor arrived, and since she was in the room, I knew that Luke would be in my arms any minute.  After a few more good pushes, Luke came flying out of me (I now understand the term "Catch the baby"). 

After waiting nine long months, I was ecstatic that at 3:56 am, on Thursday July 11, Luke Robert was born! He weight 7 lbs, 6 oz and was 20 inches long.

Carl and I had planned on having Luke stay on my chest for kangaroo care (skin to skin) time as long as we would be allowed once he was born. We had heard so many wonderful things about skin to skin time, like how it regulates his and my hormones, helps regulate his body temperature, heart rate, and so much more. We made it clear that we wanted to have him on me right away, so once he came out, they laid him on my chest. I had previously thought I would want my baby cleaned, and not slimy when they laid him on me... Oh, but this was MY slimy baby and I never wanting anything more!  The nurses laid him on me and I told Luke how beautiful and perfect he was.  I kissed him, repeatedly.  And I didn't even think to count his fingers and toes, because I already knew he was perfect.  I cried about as hard as Luke was crying- which was not hard enough apparently.  Luke had trouble getting the amniotic fluid out of his lungs, so the nurses had to remove him from my chest to continue to stimulate his breathing. 
I remember feeling restrained on the bed- unable to move from the epidural- while the doctors worked on me.  I was trying my best to listen to what was happening with Luke, and occasionally pausing to ask for more numbing meds while my doctor was sewing me up.  "Another shot of lidocaine please!" My doctor thought I couldn't feel her working on me because of my epidural so she was taken aback when I proved I could indeed feel the needle going in and out of my skin.

Meanwhile, my mom was rubbing Luke's back while the nurses suctioned more and more fluid out of his lungs, and she would periodically come over to me and update me as best she could. Carl, too, bounced back and forth between me and Luke.

As quickly as he was initially laid on me, he was whisked away to the neonatal intensive care unit.
 My heart, which was now outside of my body, was being rolled away to the NICU and I couldn't be with him for the first time in over nine months. Thankfully, I had made it clear to Carl that if something did happen where Luke and I had to be separated, I wanted Carl to go with Luke. He needed support more than I did. I say I am thankful that we talked about that situation ahead of time because as one team of nurses told Carl that Luke was having a hard time breathing, another team announced they couldn't get me to stop bleeding. Carl felt torn but decided to go with Luke and for that I am so thankful. My mom stayed with me while I tried not to panic having my baby removed from my sight.  I didn't even realize that the doctors were having a hard time with my bleeding- I was completely enveloped in the fact that my baby was having a hard time.  My bleeding or recovery was the very last thing on my mind.  All that mattered to me was my sweet little Luke. 

The doctors eventually got my bleeding under control, but it had been what felt like forever and I still hadn't seen my precious baby boy. Every time a nurse checked on me, I asked when I could have my baby back. The nurses were so sweet. Every time I inquired about Luke, one of them would pick up the phone in my room and call the NICU to check on him. We had to wait until Luke's doctor arrived to give him the clear to be released from the NICU, where he also had his first bath.

Thankfully, at 8:00, Luke's doctor came and inspected him and Luke was returned to my arms.  We were so glad to be able to hold our little one again.  We all took turns loving on him...
After I loved on him for quite a while, a nurse came in and had to check me again.
I passed Luke to my mom, who sat down next to a very tired daddy.


By the way, isn't that a sweet hat?  Luke's Momau (my mom) made it for him!
We were rolled over to the mom and baby unit, and so since we were all safe, mom headed home to catch a few Z's and play with our pups who were all alone.  Carl and I hung out with Luke, while nurses came and went. We were so happy to have our baby boy back in our arms. Carl and I both wanted to hold him so badly...we just could not put him down. Carl unbuttoned his shirt and participated in skin to skin time with Luke as well.
That first night, I slept holding Luke (I slept very lightly, for fear that the nurses would come yell at me for holding the baby and sleeping at the same time). I just couldn't put him down! He had heard my heartbeat for the last nine months, and now he was in a cold hospital room. The best place he could possibly be was in my arms! 

Later that day, we were discharged from the hospital and we were free to go home. I had noticed Luke looked slightly jaundiced, but I knew that was pretty common in newborns so I had planned on putting him in some sunlight when we got home. That would help his vitamin D levels get where they needed to be. We fed and changed Luke into a precious light blue going home outfit, complete with smocking and footies. He was crying a little bit, seemingly more than "normal" (what is "normal" when you know someone for just over 24 hours?) and the discharge nurse made a comment along the lines of "You think he is crying now, wait till you put him in his carseat!" Well, Carl went to the car to get the carseat (Mom drove up to the main door for him) and I remained with Luke. I sang "God is so good" to him, as tears poured down my cheeks. He calmed down as I sang to him, and by the time his daddy came back with the car seat, we were in a nice relaxed state.  We loaded Luke up into his seat, which he loved and didn't make a peep about, and headed home!
Here we are leaving the hospital.
And we are home!

Another chapter in our life story was officially beginning.

Everything was perfect!