Alright, so this post will be about the rest of our hospital stay - our hospital stay post labor. Last time it wasn't that eventful and I didn't have enough thoughts on it to devote a whole post. This time I do!
So, first off, I remember that at some point when we were still in the labor room someone told us that Emerson had, had what's called a pneumothorax and that, that had something to do with why he wasn't breathing when he came out. I didn't really know what that was and it's still a little fuzzy to me, but basically, his lung collapsed. The whole time he was at the hospital I kept asking questions, trying to figure out why it had happened because usually it happens because either the baby's lungs are still immature because they were born early or because the baby has an infection. He obviously wasn't early and after doing some tests, determined that he did not have an infection. One nurse suggested that maybe because he was late the placenta had begun to deteriorate and that, that had affected the lungs or something. Another suggested that his trouble with breathing when he first came out was caused by something else and that the pneumothorax was caused by them doing chest compressions on him (or by them using a ventilator, I can't remember which one she said), but when she checked the notes it didn't look like they'd done that. Anyway, who knows? Apparently, sometimes it just happens. We'll never know.
Back to the timeline. So, another thing that happened when we were still in the labor room is that I started asking everyone for food. I am a food person. Last time, one of my fondest memories is of getting to order whatever I wanted off the menu, whenever I wanted. I ordered a steak right after labor and a bunch of other stuff and ate it all. I was hoping to have the experience repeated this time, but it was not to be. I did not end up getting any food for like 3 hours (and I was STARVING!). At Salt Lake Regional you can order food anytime, but at the U they have set mealtimes. I'm assuming that's because it's a much bigger hospital.
Both labors I was amazed at how busy I was while in the hospital! Like, more busy than almost any other time in my life. Between breastfeeding every 2 hours (or, in my case, pumping since he was in the NICU), filling out paperwork, nurse's checks, aid's checks, midwife's checks, pediatrician visits, pharmacist visits, visits with other random people (like the social worker, etc.), visiting the NICU, visits from Harper, updating family and friends, going to the bathroom (a labor in and of itself!), trying to find time to eat and trying to find time to sleep, it's always busy. I found myself needing to schedule every moment.
And in the 3 days I was in the hospital (1 during labor and 2 after), I barely got to see either Harper or Emerson. I remember feeling guilty that she was without her mother for so long and guilty that poor Emerson was having such a harsh introduction to the world with immediately having people work on him as soon as he was born and then spending the rest of his hospital stay on a warming table, by himself, in the NICU, mostly without his mom or dad. It was really strange to be in the hospital room by myself most of the time (aside from the hospital staff), since Tom went home to Harper a few hours after Emerson's birth and Emerson was in the NICU. It was also strange to know that I'd had a baby, but to not have him with me. It was almost like a dream that he existed. I'd love to talk to other women whose babies unexpectedly went straight to the NICU and hear what they thought and felt. Tom was sad about barely seeing him too. I didn't see him very often and Tom saw him even less. For me it was hard to visit him not only because of my limited time, but because just getting to the NICU was painful and tiring, not to mention sitting in a chair and holding him. By the time I left the NICU after each visit I was always exhausted and sore.
At first, Emerson was hooked up to a CPAP machine (I think it puts pressure on the lungs?), a canula (tube that goes in their nose to provide oxygen) and an IV (for feeding). He was taken off the CPAP machine after a day and a half, the canula after maybe two and a half and the IV right at the end, the morning that he got discharged. Because of all this, and labor, he looked pretty beat up and it was hard to hold him. I wasn't allowed to try to breastfeed him til the CPAP machine was disconnected. Because of this, he had a bit of a rough start with breastfeeding. It wasn't until a couple weeks after he was born that he really started to do it regularly. And even then, it was a struggle. Until then, I only got him to really latch and eat a handful (or less) of times. It was really exhausting, because I'd have to spend a lot of time pumping so that I could get enough milk for them to put in his IV, and then on top of that, I'd have to try to get him to breastfeed. All of that every two hours, day and night. And all while trying to recover, myself. Both activities required me to be at least semi-upright, which was painful.
Anyway, the real fun began when, after 2 days post-partum, I was discharge and Emerson was not. It was kind of ironic, because the only reason he couldn't be discharged, at that point, was because he wasn't feeding 100% without the IV (aka, he hadn't gotten breastfeeding down). But, I was being discharged, which meant I couldn't be there with him to try to get him to breastfeed every two hours. Kind of a catch 22. I knew he'd be much better off at home, since he was a champ at taking a bottle at least and since that was the only way for me to really get him breastfeeding regularly. So, I told them to please please just give him a bottle if I wasn't there, so that he could be taken off the IV and sent home. Also, because I was recovering and couldn't really hang around the hospital to feed him all day, my nurse acquired this old exam room for me to use as my room for the night. The U has these rooms called twilight rooms that are for NICU moms to stay in, that are these mini, very basic rooms. But, there's a high demand for them and they were all taken. This exam room was going to be turned into one, but hadn't been yet. It was kind of like a mini dorm room and it was a godsend. I kind of felt like Mary, begging for a room at an Inn for she and her baby and being grateful to end up in a stable.
The night that I stayed in the exam room went like this. I was discharged mid-day. I pumped and said goodbye to Emerson, then Tom drove me home. I stayed, to be with Harper, until she went to bed. Then, I drove (by myself, which you aren't supposed to do right after giving birth and which a nurse scolded me for) through a huge storm (and kept hydroplaning) to get back to the hospital (it's 45 minutes away). I set my stuff up in my room, pumped, then went to see Emerson. In the NICU, there are 2 babies to a room (the other baby in Emerson's was a suuuuper preemie born at 27 weeks and teeny-tiny) and one nurse. Because the nurses only had 2 babies to watch, I found that they were usually pretty anxious to chat and I got to know them pretty well. Anyway, after the visit I gave her my cell number and told her to call me when he was ready to eat again. I made my way back to my room, got ready for bed, pumped again, dropped the milk off at the nurse's station. All of that would take me like an hour and a half. Then, I'd sleep for like an hour because my phone would ring and I'd have to wake up real quick and head over to the NICU again to start it all over again. It was a rough night.
In the morning I tried to make it over there at the same time that the attending was doing her rounds so that I could try to convince her to let him go home. When I got there, no one knew where she was or if he was being sent home or not. I notice that his IV (which had been in his head) wasn't there anymore though. When I finally found the attending, she gave me the good news that he could be discharged!
The rest of the morning was filled with trying to find someone to take Harp so that Tom could meet me at the hospital and help with the discharging and going through the list of things that needed to be done before he could leave. Things like doing his hearing screening, checking to make sure his oxygen levels stayed stable while he was in his carseat, watching mandatory parenting videos, getting paperwork signed, etc. We were lucky to have some friends volunteer to watch her while they went to Stake Conference (biannual church meeting) and after a few hours, we finally got to take him home! We left the car that I'd driven up in Salt Lake for a few days so that we could all drive home together, as a family. It was so nice to finally go home!
And that concludes the hospital stay! Next up, the recovery / the rest of June, which will probably be combined into one post.