I recently gave birth to my third child, Carter Samuel Hayes, and I am so grateful that he is up stairs right now sleeping in his crib. We've been through a long journey together. My life and my perspective on life is changed forever because of this tiny little being.
On December 27, 2011 I woke up to a sharp pain in my uterus. It went away quickly so I thought nothing of it. I coincidentally had an appointment with my midwife that same day at 10 am. I was going to cancel because I was tired and the appointment was an hour away and I really didn't feel like stopping for gas! I decided to go anyway because I was only 2 weeks away from my due date. I brought my sister and my 3 year old daughter with me and when we arrived I was brought in right away. The nurse asked all of the routine pre natal questions such as does anything hurt? are you sleeping? are you taking your vitamins? are you feeling him kick? I answered all of her questions with positive answers and she left to get the doctor. While I was alone in that room sitting and waiting a light flickered on in my head and I became panicked. Wait, No! I haven't felt him kick since the previous night! I flipped out and called for the midwife who immediately put me on the monitor and the baby's heart beat was going up and down and back up and way back down. This was one of the scariest moments in my life. Thank God my doctors office was in the hospital. My midwife called the doctor in and he quickly decided to prep me for a c-section. Previously I had only had quick hour long painless natural labors. In that moment I didn't care about getting cut open, I would have let them do it without pain meds as long as they got my baby out safely. I called my husband who was literally in a tree, he is a tree climber, and gave him the nearly grim news. The doctor ruched me to the OR and he started the procedure. He delivered my quiet beatless child, you could hear a pin drop in that room. My midwife stayed by my head the whole time since my husband wasn't there, she was my only support and without her I probably would have either passed out or freaked out. My husband came in as they were intubating our first born son. The minutes were seeming like endless heart attacks crippling my body one by one.. and one minute went by, then two, and five, then 6, then at 6 and a half I heard a faint cry. So tiny but strong. They whisked him away to the nursery as they sewed me back together. I knew I couldn't live without him and I couldn't think about the condition he was in so I just laid there lethargic and on pain numbing medication, as much as I wanted and without any questions asked. They called another hospital 15 minutes away so that Carter could be transferred to the NICU. They brought him into my room before I left, he weighed 5 pounds and had bright red hair, he was covered in tubes and wires and I could barely make him out in the huge infant transporter contraption. I remember one nurse said, "come on we have to go, he doesn't have allot of time". For five days I laid, healing and morning, without being able to touch my child. I cried, I watched TV, I hung out with family , I pushed my call button as many times as possible for more meds, I took a shower, I ate fruit and refused sugar, I pumped air, I hung out with nurses who talked about politics and random misplaced current events. I lived by knowing that my baby was in the best possible place if he was going to have any chance at survival. One nurse said to me, "You know you'd heal quicker if your baby was here because you'd be moving around more" and for the first time in my life I felt hatred towards someone. I wouldn't move a finger while under the care of that nurse and made her get me everything.
So five days pass and I'm discharged with all my crap including a car seat but no baby. I had my husband drive me to Carter right away. They had me scrub a million times and then took me into this surprisingly small room with about 4 isolettes with tiny babies in them. There was Carter, red hair and all, so tiny sitting in his little bed. For the next month I scheduled family to babysit my girls and I spent most of my time with Carter. He had many things wrong with him. He had a low platelet count, an abnormally formed heart and he had multiple seizures. He refused to eat from a bottle and would only breastfeed so they had to gavage feed him while I was gone and they wouldn't release him until he would take every feeding from a bottle. Our doctors refused to gives us any answers and gave us little hope, they braced us for the worst.
Carter had amazing nurses in the NICU, some were supportive and some not so much. I remember one nurse in particular, she was amazing and I would have taken her home with us if they gave me the chance. I knew she really cared for my son and I could tell he was attached to her. One day I went in and I had been crying all day. When I went into see him he looked so Ill that I kept thinking the worst and couldn't bring myself to hold him. I had to have Ian hold him while I paced the halls and pumped milk in the 5x10 pumping room that smelled like rotten milk and had a squeaky old rocking chair whos sound I oddly miss. The next day I went in I was completely optimistic and full of smiles and shortly realized that being a parent of a baby in the NICU creates a temporary BiPolar disorder in the mind, a two dimensional, multi level, emotional and behavioral split. I lived on cafeteria wilted ice burgh lettuce and citrus infused cantaloupe fruit salad. I was reunited with an old friend who's baby was admitted a couple of weeks after Carter and I made a new friend who was Indian, i remember her face, she was so beautiful. She came to me when I was breast feeding Carter and just sat down and talked with me as if we'd know each other our whole lives. She's probably the best friend i've ever had. Her baby was much sicker than mine.
You earn your way in the NICU, your respect. Not only your respect as a parent but your respect as someone who has the honor to be standing in that room. The nurses have the last word and what they says goes. You hold your baby, you don't hold your baby, you could feed your baby every 3 hours but not a minute before, you can change your baby but don't get in anyone's way no matter what you do. Their just doing their job and if they didn't my baby wouldn't be alive, so I listened and moved around quietly. I've never been in such a cold sterile place that is so full of love and emotion.
I'd gotten so use to my little routine. I'd pump milk every three hours all night long as if my baby was with me. I kept the light on and somehow I woke up every night at the same 3 hour intervals without missing a minute. I'd pumped into little sterile bottles, stick my label on them adding the date and time. I'd wake up in the morning and get my girls ready for their day then get myself ready. Every morning I packed the same diaper bag but instead of diapers it contained a lunch box with an ice pack and 10 or so little bottles full of my mommy milk, my cell phone, some nursing pads, a receiving blanket, and some snacks that till this day were never eaten. I'd drive an hour to the hospital and when I got there I'd show the security guard my over sized yellow hall pass. Then I'd make my trek across the hospital turning left then onto the elevator to the third floor, turning right and through the double doors to the scrub sink. I'd hand a nurse my milk supply which quickly filled up their entire freezer and I'd ask permission to see my baby. There was never time for healing and all emotions were forced aside. I broke every rule on the "do not do after your c section" sheet that my doctor had provided me with. My incision became infected because it was quickly forgotten and replaced with worry for my sick baby.
So fast forward one month later when Carter was discharged. I was better off alone that day when I got the news that he was coming home. I didn't care about anything or anyone and had his image stapled to the inside of my forehead as I pressed my gas petal to the floor in full anticipation of taking my baby home. I knew I was taking home a baby with seizures and a baby who's future was unclear. He was my baby and was absolutely perfect. He could have been missing an eye ball or green or anything, I didn't care because he was my little man. Since he has been home he has been back to the ER once for a seizure, he has regular 24 hour EEG's, he is on anti seizure meds, and he gets ultra sounds of his abnormal heart every six months.
Carter is now 4 months old and is simply a miracle baby. He has met all of his milestones. He is talking, playing, rolling over, gaining weight, everything a 4 month old should be doing...
Updates will follow as soon as Carter grows more!