Saturday, May 16, 2015

Kai's Story Continues

Bed Rest at the Hospital

It was the evening of December 11th when I started having more contractions and heavy bleeding. Tomorrow I would be 29 weeks. Rory and I rushed to the University of Utah hospital. After we got to the hospital, I was rushed to OB emergency care. After many tests the doctors determined I had a minor placental abruption. The placenta was actually tearing away from my uterus. They told us that they wanted to keep me overnight. They said if my bleeding got worse they would need to do an emergency C-section. Thankfully the bleeding got better; however, because my water had broken, I had a placental abruption, and I was contracting, they wanted to keep me at the hospital for the rest of my pregnancy until I delivered. At first I felt relief. Now I could relax a little and not worry about having to go to the hospital for every little thing that went wrong. However, that faded quickly during the first week, which was definitely the hardest. I was contracting almost every night as well as being moved back and forth from women’s special care to labor and delivery. I never really dilated so they would send me back. My days consisted of blood pressure and temperature checks every four hours and a non-stress test (NST), which would check Kai’s heart rate, everyday for an hour each time.

Also, to my delight, I was questioned about my bowel movements every morning. I had no privacy, and I had no familiar surroundings. I began to become very depressed. Rory would visit me for several hours almost daily and that would certainly raise my spirits, but as soon as he left, the loneliness would set in and most nights I would cry and cry. Kai did his best to keep me company at night. That was when he was the most active. His favorite game to play with me was swamp monster. He honestly looked like a little swamp monster trying to pop out of my belly. I found it very entertaining. The hospital staff was amazing, and there was also a lovely woman that would bring me crafts and other activities to keep me busy. I also had many visitors that took time out of their days to bring me comfort and support. I always looked so forward to the visits. However, I still worried about my baby daily and missed my husband a great deal. A big comfort that I had was the opportunity to go to church in the hospital every Sunday. My husband or a nice nurse would wheel me (I was not allowed to walk around except in my room) over to the chapel every Sunday morning. Even though the service was only half an hour long, I still got the opportunity to take the sacrament and remember my Savior and how he knew my thoughts and feelings. He was my great source of peace at such a difficult time. At church I also got to hear the stories of trial from other patients in the hospital. I always became more and more grateful for the trials I faced. At least I would be able to leave in a month or so. Some of those people had to be admitted for many months at a time. I gained such strength from their testimonies and their faith.

Kai's Birth

It was the morning of January 17th when my doctor came in to discuss being induced that day. I had another week of nightly contractions that were 5-10 minutes apart for four or five hour blocks so the doctors felt it would be best for me to be done with my pregnancy. They always looked at the balancing act of what was safer for the baby. Naturally, they wanted to leave Kai in there as long as possible, but there comes a time when leaving the baby in becomes more dangerous, especially with my contractions and placental abruption. 34 weeks is the magical number that doctors usually say is the safe zone for inducing babies.  Kai had hit 34 weeks the day before, and it was like he knew just how old he was.

The night before I had experienced what felt like a never ending contraction from 1:00 am to 4:00 am. I was sort of able to sleep through it, but it never let up. I told my doctor about it, and she said that my body was getting really tired and it would be best for me to be induced. I called Rory as soon as the doctor left and asked him what he thought. He agreed it would probably be best so I told the doctor that we would go forward with it, and they prepped me to be induced. Since I had been dilated to a one for almost an entire month they figured that hadn't changed so they hooked my up to the Pitocin and let it work its magic (or should I say its devil craft). The first two levels weren't so bad; I was totally handling it without much of an issue. They checked my cervix and were surprised to find out I actually started at a 4 before the Pitocin was administered. It looked like the four hour long contraction did something after all. They then kicked the Pitocin up a notch, and it started to get a little more painful. They told me I could get an epidural at any time, but I decided since I was coping so well I would see just how far I could go without medication. Some of you mothers who have been induced before are probably chuckling right now because you know what a BIG MISTAKE that was. Yes, as it so happens the anesthesiologist was stuck in an emergency C-section for the next TWO HOURS. I was in the deepest pit of despair. I had never felt so much pain. I, in fact, called out for my mommy, who arrived 20 minutes later. The nurse offered me other drugs, but nothing could settle the intense, wrenching "waves". Finally, the anesthesiologist arrived, and I got my sent from heaven epidural. It took about twenty minutes, and I was laughing, smiling and feeling AMAZING!! The nurse checked me I was dilated to a 5. She said it could be quite a while before I would be ready to push. About an hour later I started to feel the "pressure" that all my birth books and movies told me about. My doctor checked me and was surprised to find I was at a 9. She began to call in more hospital staff to prepare me for delivery. I couldn't believe it - it was finally time! I was going to see my sweet little boy! So, I have to brag a little here because I only had to push for twenty minutes. Yes, I know, I am a rockstar. I have decided God was giving me a break since I was in Hell a few hours earlier. I pushed the fourth and final time, and there he was! He was finally here with us looking healthy and perfect! He looked right at me almost saying "I'm ok mom, you don't have to worry anymore." They rushed Kai to the NICU. Rory and my parents left shortly after to go see Kai, and I was left to endure the "after birth". Honestly, it wasn't too bad. Maybe all the horror stories I had heard were from women that never received the oh so wonderful epidural. Eventually, I finally got to see Kai. It was an incredible feeling holding him and knowing that he was finally safe and out of reach of those horrible bands. I felt he was also relieved to see us and know that he made it to our loving arms. There he was weighing in at 5lbs 6 oz with a head full of hair. We were the most anxious to hear about his left foot, which we had fought so hard to protect. The good news was that his foot was ok! He was even able to wiggle his toes. He had a groove on his ankle, which would have to have surgery, and we would have to correct his clubbed feet, but those were all things that could be fixed. He did lose the tip of the ring finger on his right hand, which wasn’t expected, but for as bad as it could have been, it didn’t even faze us. Kai would be just fine. He looked so strong laying there in his crib. I am so grateful he has such a warrior spirit to make it home safe to us.

Kai’s Time in the NICU

Now that Kai was born, it was his turn to spend some time in the hospital. As hard as it was to be in the hospital on bed rest all that time, it was even harder to leave Kai in the hospital by himself every night. For his first few nights, they monitored him very closely. He had a few issues he had to face in the NICU. Solid breathing, eating on their own, and controlling body temperature were things that almost all NICU babies face, and Kai was no exception. He had to be on oxygen, have a feeding tube, be under a heat lamp, have an IV, and be on antibiotics to begin. One by one, he worked his way off of each of them. He got off the antibiotics, IV, and heat within about a week of being in the NICU, but the eating by mouth and breathing on his own would take a while longer. The good news is that the medical staff said that babies who lose their amniotic fluid as early as 19 weeks usually have to be on a ventilator for weeks, or even months, but the steroid shots had worked, so Kai’s lungs were much better than they would have been.

Rory and I visited him every day he was in the NICU, hoping that he was making progress on his goals. We would hold him, read to him, sing to him, and try to feed him after he got a little older. He was such a sweet and easy-going baby. He hardly ever fussed, and he usually just put up with whatever was being done to him. It was so amazing to hold this little boy in our arms – it seemed so surreal that we had a child. I think having to leave him every night also made it seem this way. But it was the best feeling in the world to be there with him, to be a family.

We also got to know the wonderful nurses at the NICU who took such good care of him. They helped us to know how to best care for him. It was like we got a little crash course in being parents, which made it a little less daunting when we finally took him home. We learned the best ways to change diapers, to get Kai dressed, to swaddle, to breast and bottle feed, to bathe him, and so many other things as well.

While Kai was in the NICU, they did something called an echocardiogram. This was basically an ultrasound of his heart. We learned that the anatomy of baby’s hearts before they are born is different than after they are born. Some of the valves shift locations right after birth so that babies can use their lungs properly. This is one of the main reasons Kai still struggled to breathe after he was born – his valves were still shifting into place. We watched his breathing progress over the weeks, and he finally got off his breathing tube completely after about 3 weeks in the NICU. His eating habits really picked up after that. He started taking more and more of his meals by mouth. We could tell he was getting close to coming home!

A day or two before the day he would come home, the nurses started prepping us to take Kai home. We couldn’t have been more excited. We went through some trainings on first aid, purple crying, and car seat safety. They also had us bring in our car seat to do a test with Kai to see if he could handle it. He failed the first time, but they gave him a second chance and he passed that one. We were so relieved! We had gotten our hopes up before that he would come home, but we were really counting on him coming home the next day.

The morning of Monday February 16th, which also happened to be President’s Day, the hospital called and gave us the final ok to take Kai home. We were beyond thrilled! We packed everything up to make our final trip to the NICU. The whole event was incredibly surreal as we packed him into his car seat and took him down to our car. He was finally home with us.The real adventure had just begun.

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