I have been hesitating actually sitting down and writing about what happened, as I have a fear of re living this horrifying time in my life, but I feel I have given it enough time and everything has settled down, so I am ready to share what happened for those who have asked. So, here we go...
I was admitted to the hospital on August 15, 2012 at 26 weeks pregnant (40 weeks is a full term pregnancy). My body decided that it was going into labor. I started contracting and bleeding, so the doctors started several medications to stop the labor. Thankfully it stopped, but the bleeding continued off and on for the next 2 weeks. I was on very strict bed rest in the hospital, which was so hard having a 3 year old. Everyday Chloe and David would come visit me, and I cried every time they left. My mom would come a lot too, and we would have slumber parties in my room. We ended up keeping a toy box in my room as they were spending hours at time with me there. Chloe actually liked it, and still till this day thinks she is a Doctor. The dr's and nurses loved Chloe, and would bring her snacks and let her play with some of the equipment. We were told we would likely be there for the duration of my pregnancy as I was too high risk to be sent home. That was 14 more weeks. I cried everyday at the thought of this, but knew I would do whatever it took to keep my baby inside.
During the 2 weeks of bed rest, it was touch and go. It seemed like every other day I thought we were going into surgery. They sent the neonatal doctor up to my room to prepare me for what would happen if I were to have my baby this early. It was awful, he told me to really take it easy and if we could delay my labor at least another 2 weeks, our baby would have a fighting chance. Well, I was able to hold out another 2 weeks and I will never forget the night Jacob was born.
I was exactly 28 weeks, when all of the sudden I had the most unbearable pain. I just remember blood was everywhere, and I was being rushed down to labor and delivery. I was terrified. I literally had 10 people in my room at one point. I had an additional IV being inserted into my hand in the event they had to give me a blood transfusion in surgery, I had the ultrasound tech checking the position of the baby, I had the Dr. trying to control the blood, there were several nurses in the room getting everything ready, taking my vitals, etc. I remember begging the Dr. to please stop my labor and telling her I was not ready for the c section. She proceeded to tell me that if we did not go NOW, my life would be in danger as I was losing too much blood. So now I was terrified that I was dying (which I obviously was not). David threw on his scrubs and it seemed like we were in the surgery room within minutes. It all happened so fast.
I just remember during the entire surgery, I kept ask the anesthesiologist if I was dying. I thought I was bleeding out on the table, but he kept reassuring me that I was ok. He warned me that when they take the baby out, I would probably not hear him cry, but not to worry as they had the NICU nurses, Doctor, and respiratory therapists in the room to start working on him. Sure enough when he came out, I heard nothing. It was the most horrifying silence, you could have heard a needle drop. They rushed the baby out so I had no idea at that point if he was even alive. I was sent to recovery, and the NICU doctor came in about a 1/2 hr later to tell me that the baby was alive, he was breathing on a ventilator, and that David could go in and see him. It was the best news I heard in 2 weeks. He weighed 2 pounds, 15 ounces and his foot was smaller than my thumb.
After I was ready to leave recovery, they wheeled me into the NICU, in my bed, so I could look at my baby boy. The picture above reflects exactly what I saw, and I had never been so happy knowing that he was alive. It was as if all of the cords, wires, monitors, etc, were not even there. I just saw my beautiful baby boy breathing, and felt such a sense of relief. The next morning we went down to see him and were given all the rules, visiting hours, etc, for the NICU. This is where we learned that this would now be our second home for the next several months. That first day was awful, in fact that first week was terrible. Jake was not doing good, he was bruised head to toe from the delivery (when they are so little the doctors sometimes have trouble getting them out), and his stomach was very enlarged to where you could see his bowl loops. The first day they had to bag him because he stopped breathing and they could not get him back. The nurse later told me that he was passed the point of blue, he was grey, and was basically dying but by miracle they were able to save him. I was able to touch his hand, after a thorough sanitation process, but I was not able to hold him as he was not stable enough. In fact, I had to wait exactly 7 days before they placed my beautiful baby on my chest.
Taken his first week
This is one of my favorite pics. He was grasping my hand so tightly.
Jake went through test after test, and they started giving him blood transfusions as he was very anemic. He had a total of 3. They told us he would likely be there until his due date, which would be a total of 3 months. They started to give him some of my milk, and he could not take it without having complications. He was off and on the ventilator the first week, but eventually moved to just oxygen. Every time I walked in there the first week I just cried at his bedside. I could not believe what had happened. It was the second week that I finally got a hold of myself, and told myself that I have to be strong for him. He started to progress, his stomach went down, and he was finally able to start taking a little bit of milk through the feeding tube. It seemed like every other day they were testing him for something, but magically, all tests usually came out great. He gained weight very fast, and the doctors could not believe how big he was for his gestational age. After several weeks being intabated, he was finally moved to an open crib. He was off and on oxygen, but eventually started to breath on his own. He started to learn to drink from a bottle, and eventually his feeding tube was pulled out.
First picture taken in an open crib and his first time taking milk from a bottle, which was not an easy task for him. The occupational therapist was the first person who got to feed him with a bottle.
Our first family of 4 photo and his very first submerged bath
Completing his car seat challenge
I spent every day in the NICU for hours at a time. I would spend the entire day there when Chloe was at school, then David would go at night so I could spend time with Chloe. Then after Chloe would go to bed, I went back at night. David and I were 2 strangers passing in the night. On average, I spent 12 hours a day there. I played a huge role in Jacob's care, I took his vitals and helped make all of the decisions on his care. The nurses and other moms around me all became very close, and I still keep in contact with them. It was amazing the things I saw in the NICU. The baby across from Jake was born at 1 pound 5 ounces, and I feel like I lived that journey with that mom as well. There was another Jacob who was in our pod who was born at 2 pounds, and I became great friends with his mom. If one of them were having a bad day, my heart would break for them. We were all in it together, supporting each others journeys. It's amazing that due to modern day medicine that these babies survive and actually do well. Jake progressed so well, he was released almost a month early. My friends babies were also recently released, healthy and happy!
We are home now, he is still on a heart monitor and having some reflux issues, but overall he is doing great. He is gaining weight steadily and has definitely found his little voice. We do not know yet if he will have any developmental delays or disabilities, but we are already in the process of meeting with specialist to help us with that. Our family is finally complete, and I truly believe this is due to the power of prayer! Thank you family and friends for the amazing amount of support we received during this journey.
Our going home day with one of our favorite nurses
Taken the week he was brought home