Declan was born at 12.29pm on Sunday, February 15 weighing 8lb 7oz.
Labor was both better and worse than I expected. We got to the hospital at 2.40am Sunday morning after having regular, frequent but mild contractions all day Saturday. I hadn’t dilated so they were going to send me home, but concerns about my elevated blood pressure led to the decision to induce me. The doctor arrived at 5am and broke my water, resulting in the most intense and horrifying 40 minutes of continuous pain in my entire life! The epidural man was summoned and he became the most important and wonderful man in my life as the pain subsided. Just a few hours later we were ready to go, and after 90 minutes of pushing Declan arrived in the world (with every nurse and the doctor commenting on the size and “roundness” of his head as he came out, as well as how much hair he had!). Unfortunately, he had the cord wrapped around his neck, which meant he had not expelled all the fluid from his lungs on the journey out. A NICU nurse was summoned and he was wheeled away with Christian on his heels. I was left alone bleeding, shaking, and crying. The adrenaline had gone and the world closed in around me. Soon after, I was wheeled to see him and we learned that his blood oxygen was a little low and his respiratory rate was high. They hadn’t admitted him and were waiting to see if he would clear the fluid and stabilize on his own. Some time (no idea how long) later, he did stabilize and they released him to us. It didn’t last, however, and some time (no idea how long again!) later they took him back and this time they did admit him to NICU. I was a wreck. Never have I experienced so many highs and lows and pain and relief all in a few short hours.
Declan stayed in the NICU for two nights and then in the CCN (Continuous Care Nursery) for two nights. Each day we thought we would be taking him home, only to discover they wanted to keep him for another 24 hours. He cleared the fluid relatively quickly and came off the oxygen, but then his glucose levels were slightly down so they didn’t want to take him off the IV until they recovered. Once they did, he lost 5% of his body weight in less than 12 hours, so they didn’t want to release him until that had stabilized. It was torture. I was summoned every 3-4 hours to attempt to breastfeed him, while pumping milk in-between and attempting to recover from labor. After 48 hours I was discharged from labor & delivery so we had the added challenge of trying to secure a room in the hospital so we could stay close. Breastfeeding was not successful. The lactation consultant didn’t work weekends or holidays, so I wasn’t able to see her until Tuesday. The nurses were amazing, but I became thoroughly overwhelmed by so much varied and often counter advice. When Declan was on the IV he wasn’t really hungry, so that didn’t help. Both the NICU and CCN were bright spaces full of beeping (sometimes screaming) monitors, crying (sometimes screaming) babies, and nonstop movement. We could draw a curtain around our space and dim the lights, but the stress never really left.
My emotions were the hardest thing to deal with. On the first day I was an utter wreck because I thought Declan was going to die. On the second day I was an equal wreck because I’d stopped producing milk. I had no perspective – everything destroyed me. I cried to Christian, I cried to the nurses, I cried to the lactation consultant (when she finally showed up, she was pretty wonderful), I cried to the pediatrician, I cried to my OB. So. Many. Tears. Christian was amazing – supportive, kind, helpful, patient, reassuring. I most definitely would not have survived without him. I knew in my rational mind that we were very lucky – Declan was born at full term, was a good weight, and had minimal medical issues. My hormonal brain was unable to accept that, however, and I cannot be grateful enough to the nurses for their endless patience with and concern for my delicate state of mind.
Eventually, finally, we achieved moderate success with breastfeeding, Declan stopped losing weight, and we were able to bring him home on Thursday, February 19. The roller-coaster didn’t end in the days that followed, but that’s a topic for another blog post.
Welcome to the world, Declan! Despite all the tears, your mum thinks you’re pretty awesome.