Thursday, November 14, 2013

Prematurity Awareness Month

This month is Prematurity Awareness Month! It's a reminder of a difficult time in our lives but out of something difficult came something so wonderful! Chandler's Story:

When I got pregnant I was overjoyed but terrified. During my pregnancy I was dealing with a lot in my personal life that was putting stress on my body and my baby boy. Nearly a month in I was put on bed rest with horrible morning sickness. It was to the point that I had to have an IV at home along with a medicine pump that pushed nausea meds constantly. Once I was finally able to keep things down, I was ready to return to work. Day one back to work was great. Day two, not so much. At some point in the day I got really dizzy and felt like I was going to pass out so I went to our companies dispensary. My blood pressure was crazy out of control. Right away they sent me home to make an appointment with my OB. Dr. Campbell immediately put me back on bed rest since we were not able to get my BP under control. Several months of bed rest later...I got up one morning to go to the bathroom and I must have passed out because that is where my kids found me. I was rushed to the ER and told that under no circumstances was I leaving the hospital until the baby was born. That was November 29th. Every day while in the hospital I would be taken for a biophysical profile. A BPP is pretty much like a game that no one ever wants to play and if you are forced to play it you hope to God you win. A BPP measures the heart rate, muscle tone, movement, practice breathing and the amount of amniotic fluid. They would start with a nonstress test and they would do the ultrasound portion if the didn’t see the peaks and dips they liked. More often than not we would continue to the ultrasound which was kind of neat getting to see the baby every day. My doctor said you were given 2 points for each thing they measured including the nonstress test for a total of 10 points. I would always get 2 points for having enough amniotic fluid but my boy would struggle with the practice breathing, demonstrating muscle tone and showing movement. The day Chandler was 31 weeks I went for my BPP and failed miserably. The only thing he got points for was having enough fluid. I knew before they came back in the room that he was coming whether we were ready or not. Sure enough my OB told the high risk doc that she was on her way and to get me prepared. I called my husband in tears and he said he was on his way. I believe he showed up just as they were giving me the epidural. It didn't take so they had to give me a spinal block. During the c-section my husband started to tear up and I very quickly realized that Chandler was out of the womb and not making a sound. He was born at 5:30pm but it seemed like forever before I heard the most pathetic little sound and they very quickly held him up for me to see before that little 3lb 4oz baby was rushed to the NICU. It was honestly the most heart breaking experience I have ever had. Not knowing if your baby was okay. Not getting to see him or hold him destroyed me. I was in recovery until 11:30pm that night. On the way to my room they wheeled me past the NICU and I briefly saw him. It wasn't until I threatened to pull out my catheter and walk myself that I was finally able to get to the NICU and see that beautiful, tiny, loving little baby. I wasn't allowed to touch him because it was RSV season and he wasn't stable enough to come out of the isolette. Even though he was born at 31 weeks we were blessed and more than grateful that while his lungs were under-developed, the rest of him was doing okay. Chandler spent his first Christmas and New Years in the NICU but they made sure to decorate each child’s crib/isolette. I can say that no one can prepare you for what you will endure when being a NICU parent. Every single time an alarm goes off you are looking at your child’s monitor to make sure that their stats are solid. You feel for the ones whose aren’t and you build friendships that only other NICU parents can understand. Chandler spent two weeks in the 1st NICU before he was transferred down the hall to the 2nd NICU for babies who are doing better but not well enough to go home. It was there we were introduced to Cathy who became our primary nurse. Unlike others she was a little more proactive in helping us bring Chandler home. One day I came into the NICU and realized that Chandler had moved from an isolette to a crib which meant he could stay warm on his own. This was a hurdle we were excited to get over. Now he needed to gain some weight and get off the feeding tube. He struggled a little with getting off the feeding tube. We tried several different types of bottles since he wasn't able to go to breast. (I had pumped for his feeding tube for the first three weeks but then my supply just stopped.) Once we found one he liked we slowly increased the flow he was able to receive. Finally he got up to 4lbs and was increasing what he was able to eat through a bottle and then we needed to pass a car seat test. This is where they leave them connected to the monitors and sit them in the car seat to make sure they are able to make the trip home. I believe we went through 4 different car seats and ended up with the first one we started with. They were always attempting the car seat test during Cathy's off shift but finally she was on shift and noticed the problem. They were sitting him in there but they were not rolling blankets to keep him upright or folding wash cloths for between the buckle and him. She finally got him all squared away and even took a picture of the setup so that we could make sure everything was just right. Week five in the NICU was pretty awful. We thought we were going home just to have a setback. We were told that Chandler would only be allowed to come home if he was on a heart monitor at all times, had an at home nurse and if we both took a CPR class. We did those things and finally in the middle of week six I was able to leave the hospital with my son. Today Chandler is five years old and has completed a season of basketball, two sessions of ice hockey, flag football and tackle football. He is growing leaps and bounds and while he is still the smallest one on the field he is keeping up with the rest and I can't ask for any more than that.

Here are some pictures from when he was born and then some today.

This was taken the first time my husband got to hold him.  Thanks to the Christmas flu it was several days after the first time I got to hold him and it was so emotional.

Sleeping peacfully in his isolette
This was the first outfit that he was able to put on.  He was still so tiny and not even 4lbs here.

This is a premie outfit.  His feet don't even fill it out and the sleeves were huge. 

Chandler's first time out of the isolette.  You can't see it here but he still has his monitors attached and his feeding tube.

Look Ma I'm over 4 lbs and they got rid of the feeding tube.

4 Lbs 10 Oz and almost ready to go home.

The picture Cathy took and had printed for us.  She was the best nurse ever!

All grown up at his first Kindergarten field trip with his teacher. 

Me & Chandler at our first Blues game ever!

He LOVES football!

Getting a picture and autograph with his favorite Rams player #94 Robert Quinn

Not afraind of being the smallest guy on the team.

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