Friday, February 25, 2011

Justin, Day 1 in the RNICU

I’m sort of going backwards and will try to document what has happened over the last few days with this little boy.

Born at 6:28 at EAMC. As I said in the last post, I was able to hold him for maybe 15 minutes and the nurse thought he needed a little suctioning. She then said that he needed a bit more oxygen and she was going to take him to the special care unit (at EAMC) to help him out. About an hour and a half later, she called and said that she was still working on him but would call back later. I decided to take a shower. Brian and I started trying to get the word out that he had been born.

We waited. Brian went downstairs to make some phone calls. Three hours after J was born, Dr. Gibbs, a pediatrician, came in the room and told me what was going on with Justin. He would need to go to UAB. The air team would be at the hospital by around noon. I lost it. At that moment, I just wanted to have my little baby back in my arms. I felt empty. Oh, and Brian wasn’t there! I knew he would feel terrible. I called him, he came back to the room and we waited for the pediatrician to come back. Brian prayed for us and thanked God for the situation we were in at the time. He thanked him for the opportunity to have another child and asked that God lead guide and direct the doctors and nurses who would be taking care of Justin. He asked for His will to be done. All I could do was cry. I was pitiful.

The UAB team came in and talked to us about how Justin would be transported. I assumed either ambulance or helicopter. I asked and Sherry (his new nurse) said they came over in the UAB jet and showed me a photo. Brian lost it – maybe he was jealous of the plane ride?!?!? A few minutes later the team came in with Justin in an incubator, on oxygen and on a stretcher. Sad from the standpoint of a parent doesn’t quite explain how it looked. I cried while I took some photos from him. Sherry W. was super nice, I asked if she could text me some photos of the plane. She did more than that: sent me a photo of the ambulance, the jet, loading Justin into the jet, Justin sleeping on the jet, loading him into the UAB ambulance. She also checked on us later. Very, very sweet lady!

We had some visitors come by (I had asked for some donuts and they brought them over). Brian’s parents got there after a bit. I asked Brian to call my mother while we tried to figure out what to do. I couldn’t talk to anyone on the phone. I was fairly calm but was trying not to lose my composure.

We had to figure out what to do. We didn’t want Justin in the NICU alone. One of us had to go and it couldn’t be me….I just had a baby. I knew I’d have to stay in the hospital for at least a day. I waited for the OB working the hospital to come by so I could figure out when I could leave. Brian told my mom what was going on, asked her to bring some clothes and plan to stay with me in the hospital.

I asked for a lactation consultant because I knew the only physical thing I could do for Justin would be to pump. It took a while, probably because they were busy, but I pumped once in the hospital.

Brian left with his dad to go get some food (I was very hungry by this time). Dr. A came in and said that he wasn’t trying to kick me out but he knew that I would rather be at UAB with my baby. He said that I seemed to be doing fine and that he would like to monitor me for a couple more hours. If everything was fine, he would release me  to get to UAB.

The time came and went, my mom got to the room. At 3:15, I left the hospital. Got home, tried to think of what to pack, played with Troy a little bit. Grateful that I was able to see Troy (we still didn’t know exactly how to juggle Troy) before we left. He was as happy as can be which made it much easier to leave. It took us a while to get everything together, for me to think about what I might need and, well, I was moving around a little slowly.

Brian and I left around 6:30 p.m. Without having any sleep for a couple of days, we were exhausted. Probably not the smartest thing to do but I swear God got us there safe and sound. We stopped at a McDonald’s (it’s been years…) for a burger. Arrived at UAB around 10. Walked the long walk from the parking deck through the buildings a couple of blocks to get to the elevators and then the 3rd floor.

We had to push a call button and tell the desk nurse that we were the parents of Justin Corbitt. The floors are a light hardwood. I distinctly remembering looking at the floor thinking I didn’t need to break down. Turned the corner and saw the first NICU room and lost it. Couldn’t talk. Got signed in and headed to his room.

There he was, my newborn, only a few hours old, in an isolette, depending on oxygen. I tried to say hello but the words wouldn’t come out. I felt helpless. I couldn’t hold him, was afraid to touch him and didn’t know if he was going to be okay. Completely helpless. I asked God to help us both, I didn’t know what else to do.

His nurse, Jenni, came in and said he was doing good. He was on 80% oxygen, down from 100%. That was good news. We stayed around a bit and the doctors came in for rounds. I counted 6 doctors. I cannot remember the main one’s name. He had been diagnosed with Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of a Newborn (PPHN). Basically his little body wanted to stick with circulating what it needed via the umbilical cord. It is much more complicated than that but I think that is easier to comprehend. Well, once a baby is born, the nutrients and everything the baby needs no longer is funneled through that cord. Justin couldn’t receive the oxygenated blood in his body the way he should have. He also has club feet. We were told that he needed to be weaned from oxygen gradually. This would cause his body to heal and figure out how to oxygenate his blood correctly and breathe right. We were told that it normally took 3-4 full days of this weaning before he would improve significantly. If he didn’t improve, we would be looking at bypass surgery.

We expected to stay in the hospital. While the rooms are nice, they are not quite set up for a mother who just gave birth to sleep well :) But, there are family rooms (3) available on a lower level. One was available and we headed there. While nice and necessary, we quickly learned it wasn’t quite what we envisioned. A mix between a dorm room and a very small hotel room, it had a full size bed, a television, a dresser, side table, a lamp (that didn’t work) and a chair as well as a toilet and a sink. It was perfect for the night and we slept like champs. Having to check out by 10 a.m., we got our things packed. The shower was across the hall and we had to get another key to get in. Our bedroom door locked whenever closed so we had to carry the key around. We only locked ourselves out once!