Colette's Birth Story, Part II

As Colette continues to make improvements, I'm becoming more curious about the day she was born and am actually ready to hear it. Last week, she had a nurse who I hadn't met before who told me she hadn't taken care of Colette since the day she was born. Sure, she's come a long way from that first day, but she's come even further from her bad regression at the end of June and this nurse didn't know much about that beyond what's passed on during reporting at shift change.

So I asked the nurse if she remembered that day and she said of course she did. She took over at 4pm and needed two other nurses to help her throughout her shift. Most nurses take care of two babies during their shift, so it definitely says something that Colette needed three nurses, plus a doctor and a respiratory therapist (RT) throughout that first day. She also told me how the RT was basically giving her breaths through a mask for 2 hours straight while they tested different forms of respiratory support. I asked her if it was 'chaotic' and she said it wasn't. In fact, there were periods of calm as they needed to test different things to see what would work and that often involved some downtime. She also mentioned that Andrea had been her daytime nurse. Andrea is someone who I've seen around the NICU many times but had never really talked to and as far as I knew, she had never taken care of Colette. So when I heard this, I made sure to talk to Andrea the next time I saw her.

She described being called to the 'crash section' as they called my emergency c-section. She was one of the nurses in the room for the procedure, along with several others, two doctors and two RTs. Andrea was in charge of confirming a heartbeat. Sounds easy enough, but Andrea wasn't able to hear a heartbeat. Apparently two RTs immediately started chest compressions and Colette sort of startled and started moving her legs. There was so much fluid in the chest that they couldn't hear her heart. Andrea was under the impression that we were expecting a stillbirth, when it was the opposite. A perinatalogist had told Dave and I a few days before that the baby would be born alive, but beyond that, they really didn't know. Apparently while the baby's heart had been monitored the whole time I was in the hospital, it wasn't monitored while I was moved to the OR. Andrea remembers my ob noting that the amniotic fluid was 'bloody' - I guess they usually say if it's bloody, clear (what you want) or meconium. Bloody means there's been a placental abruption.

After they confirmed she was alive, she was intubated (while given 'breaths' with a mask over her nose). They tried to pull out some fluid from her chest with a needle but weren't able to so they worked on putting in the chest tubes. Dr. Lewis put in one and Dr. Kaleem put in the other on the other side. The fluid started draining immediately. They pulled out over 200ml (at least 7oz) and had to change the fluid reservoir. At one point back in the NICU, they needed to replace the chest tube as it had gotten clogged. Again, fluid started pouring out. Andrea said that her bedside was pretty busy throughout the day, with a doctor, RT and at least one nurse monitoring and adjusting things.

I guess Dave went straight to the NICU and was in there for a bit waiting with the social worker, with Andrea coming over to keep him informed on what was going on as the doctors were just to busy working on her to talk to him. The wheeled me in a few hours after delivering and I remember being so surprised that it was so calm (that's probably why they were able to bring me in). No one was around her, I was able to put my hand into her isolette. It didn't seem that bad. What was bad was the hours that afternoon when I didn't get a call back from the NICU when I called to check on her and they were too busy and she was too unstable for them to get back to me. Her oxygen needs were in the 80s, which is just ridiculous, though I think they were able to start weaning her down a few days later.

I still don't remember much from those first few days. I remember feeling relieved after Dave came in to tell me how she was doing, since it seemed like she was doing better than we expected her to be, wasn't quite as swollen, etc. For me, if Dave had been a mess, I would've lost it, but he was pretty optimistic about the whole thing, so at least while in the hospital, it was okay. I remember being on a high after she was delivered. I definitely couldn't sleep that first day but I did let myself sleep all night before starting to pump the next morning. I was still recovering from the c-section and very little sleep in previous days so I remember being in my postpartum room a lot by myself. Dave would usually come around 11am and we'd go visit her together, then I'd go back and pump and rest. Some days I'd see her again midafternoon, but often I wouldn't go back until that evening with Dave after he had put the boys to sleep. It's odd to think I didn't spend that much time with her when I was still there but I guess there really wasn't much I could do.

I still can't fully picture what the first day was like for the doctors and nurses and how bad it really was (Dave claims it wasn't 'life or death' that day but who knows), but I'm (and she is) at a place now where it is nice to have a fuller picture.

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