My husband and I were trying to get pregnant for a year when we finally found out in August 2016 that we were finally having a baby! I waited 4 weeks before making my first appointment, as I had a positive pregnancy test earlier in the year that turned out to be a chemical pregnancy only a few days after scheduling the initial appointment, and wanted to make sure the same thing wouldn’t happen again. When we went in for our first appointment at 10 weeks, the tech said his measurements actually put him at 11 weeks 4 days, with a due date of April 2, 2017. It was so surreal to see our little creation on that screen! We had another ultrasound at 20 weeks to find out the sex and have the anatomy scan. Pretty quickly we learned that it was a boy! Everything was within normal limits for the anatomy scan. When I went over for my check up and chat with the doctor, my blood pressure tested somewhat high, but nothing that surprised me since I had just learned the sex of my baby boy. Side note, I have pre-existing high blood pressure, and had weaned off my medication (that I had been on for 6 years) at week 4 of pregnancy. Up until this point, my blood pressure had always been normal at my checkups and any time I took it myself outside of appointments. Fast forward to week 27. I had my 1 hour glucose test scheduled on January 5 late in the afternoon. Note, I was feeling fine when I got to the appointment, a little warm because I was in layers and it was warm in the office given it was snowing a little that day). Nothing out of the ordinary for me. They did the finger prick to run the tests, then took my blood pressure. Woah! it was higher than I had ever seen it, 170/110. They took it 2 more times with no significant changes. The doctor passed by as this was occurring and seemed concerned. I brushed it off as being nervous (diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder 6 years ago) about glucose test (don’t like finger pricks and worried about failing) and meeting a new doctor (I was seeing all the doctors in the practice in case I delivered on a day my primary was not on call). The doctor measured my bump, and he was measuring where he should have been for 27 weeks. The doctor did not like my blood pressure and told me I needed to go to the hospital to labor and delivery triage.
We headed to L&D. They checked us in and hooked me up for monitoring. They started me on medications to try to manage my blood pressure, and we were hoping to be discharged the next day. We had an ultrasound late that night to check on baby boy. At 27 weeks, he was measuring small, close to 24 weeks. They also noted that the umbilical cord was compromised. They would continue to monitor both of us. That night, the OB on call (also the doctor who saw me at my appointment) said it was almost certain that he would not make it to term, and that they were hoping he would stay in at least another week. I would be on bedrest until he arrived. Fear struck me. I received the first steroid shot to boost his lungs just in case he needed to be “taken out”. We don’t have family that lives down the road, so we started making calls and sending texts to let our parents and siblings know that what we thought was going to be a precautionary visit was turning into something more serious. We live in Kentucky, my husband’s parents live here as well but are 2.5 hours away, and my parents live in Louisiana. That Friday, January 6, my blood pressure was not improving, and it was looking likely that we would need to deliver in the next few days. They monitored us both closely, and that night, around 6pm, the OB said we would need to deliver that night. His parents could get there soon, but my parents wouldn’t be able to get there until much later. I was scared, needless to say. They brought me back to the OR when it was time, and gave me a spinal. That was more painful than I anticipated. It didn’t work! I had to get another one. Thankfully that took. I was cold, scared, numb, shaking… more terrified than I had ever been. The delivery was quick. At 8:25pm, they delivered my 2lb, 13.5in baby boy. I was able to see my 27 weeks and 5 days baby boy for a brief second before they gave him over to the neonatal delivery team. He was so wrinkly, and had a full head of dark hair! I was in love already. Now, I was given the 2nd shot before my surgery, but they usually want it to take its 24 hour course, which we did not have. We had about 2hours. I was not anticipating hearing my baby cry for the first time right after delivery, but there he was, giving us a cry. It was such as sweet sound. They checked him out, intubated and insulated him, and wheeled him by, just slow enough that we could see him one last time before they brought him up to the NICU. I was brought back to my room after surgery to rest. Things get a little fuzzy at this point, and the story has to be told to me by my husband because I don’t remember much. Apparently, I had a slow bleed from the surgery, very slow, and didn’t show symptoms for a few hours. My blood pressure dropped significantly, and I faintly remember them having to scratch my back and prompt me to take deep breaths because I was not doing a good job of breathing. They sent me to interventional radiology, and they were able to stop the bleed. Thankfully I was still numb from the c-section, because they couldn’t get through the artery in the right side of my groin and had to go in through the left. Yay for more scars! Funny side note, they said I was delusional. They asked where I was, and I said McDonald’s! In my defense, I was hungry, thirsty, and had been smelling coffee all day (I would get a small McDonald’s coffee every morning before work while pregnant).
I was transferred to ICU after all of my surgery stuff and I was more stable. My blood pressure would not come down! I was in ICU for about 3 days before being transferred to the mother/baby unit. I did not get to see my boy for 3 days. It was agonizing. I remember the first time I got to go up to the NICU. It was the first day I was able to walk again after surgery. I was checked in, walked through the doors and immediately saw his room. They had cut out bubble letters and decorated his window with his name: Walker. I couldn’t go in just yet, as i had to was up for his safety. When i first saw him, i had a hard time maintaining my composure. There he was, in a large box isolated from the world. i like to say he was getting a jump start on his summer tan while he was under his light with what i called his “cool shades” on. Because i was still sick with my hematoma and ongoing blood pressure issues, i could only visit him in short bursts of time. pretty quickly though, i was able to start kangaroo care with him. pictures will never capture just how small he felt lying on my chest. he felt like nothing, except for the few little wiggles he would give. we started with 1 hour a day of kangaroo and pretty quickly made our way up to a couple of hours at a time. that first week was scary, I knew nothing about survival rates of a 27 week old baby. i started reading things, and I encourage any new mom to a preemie to NEVER read anything about preemies! Stay naive! i sincerely think that’s what got me through our 81 day stay. He was intubated twice, once at birth and another time near the beginning of February. I don’t even think his time intubated would add up to 2 full weeks. After he was extubated the second time, they started to push him really hard, and he pushed back. He started to have apnic episodes that required “bagging” intervention. He hadn’t needed it before, and I’m still unsure of why he needed it after all that time. He would get bagged what felt like once a week from mid-February to end of March. We did find out that they were most likely reflux related, and my mid-March everyone was trying to figure out how best to get this kid out of the NICU because the only thing that was holding him back, that ever held him back, was his breathing. We’re fortunate that it was never really untying more than that, given his age. He started with apnea of prematurity, and now has reflux related apnea. We learned that his reflux was better when he bottle fed, so he went from taking every other feed by bottle (the others by NG tube), to all feeds by mouth. His nurse said they rarely progress them with bottle feeds that quickly. He did really well with his bottle feeds for about 2 days then started backsliding. He wouldn’t wake up to eat, would only take half a bottle, would refuse to open his mouth… Then he started having choking episodes that resulted in apnic episodes, so he had a swallow study. His food was penetrating his airway (at this point, he was taking half breastmilk/half formula), so they decided to thinking it. The decision was made to take out breastmilk completely, as it thinned any thickening they tried to do. We got the formula to the right consistency, found the right bottle, and this kid just took off! The swallow study was done on a Thursday, and we said our goodbyes to the NICU the following Tuesday.
We’ve been home for a week and a day, and he still has at least 1 episode a day with his feeds or right after his feeds. Because we were fortunate enough to be in the NICU every day for hours on end, his team and we felt as though we could handle these episodes, and so far we’ve done well. He’s done well. We couldn’t be more proud of what he’s overcome to get to where he’s at. He is 40 weeks 3 days corrected age, and will be 3 months on the 6th. He just weighed in at 7 pounds 7 ounces, and 46 cm long!
Some Kickee Pants side notes:
My sister in law introduced us to the brand when she and my brother had their first child. I knew I wanted my first outfit for Walker to be Kickee Pants, and it was! Very soon after we announced the pregnancy, our family sent us an outfit (blackbirds in a pie). I now have quite the collection of outfits for our little one. As soon as he was allowed to wear clothes, I chose to put him in the giraffe footed onesie. It was perfect, as his isolette was the giraffe brand, and the isolette cover had giraffes all over it. Very quickly this kid became the best dressed kiddo in the NICU, and it was a thing for nurses to come see what kickee outfit he was in each day. Some crowd favorites were blackbird in a pie, lion butt (as I like to call it), cassette tapes, panda bear… who am I kidding, they were all favorites! We will continue to enjoy your brand, why it was created, and what it stands for. Thank you for being a little bright spot during some of our darkest days.
#KicKeeGivesBack #NICU4U #KPspreadtheLOVE