Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Ingram's Birth Story part 4

Wow, this is turning into a very long story.

I am glad I am getting it all down, before I forget it all. I had to refer to emails that I wrote at the time for most of the facts regarding his actual birth, and I was shocked at how off my original version was. For instance, I was convinced I pushed for an hour, but according to the emails, it was only ten minutes. A very, very long ten minutes.

So Ike was in the NICU and they did not know why. He had
transient tachypnea of the newborn, (TTN), or "wet lungs." He also had an undeveloped sucking reflex. So you take a baby with fluid in his lungs and the inability to suck and try and nurse him and - the result is a very blue little baby.

The good thing about TTN is that it only lasts a couple of days. He was under the oxygen hood for a day or so, and then he was breathing fine on his own, thank God. When neonatologists don't know what is wrong with a baby they prophylactically treat for a variety of possibilities, especially infection. When all the labs came back, nothing showed. Why he had these problems was a mystery.

They said that he might come home with my Friday, then Saturday, then maybe on Easter. When that didn't happen, they said they had no idea, he would come home whenever he learned to suck. Until then, he was being fed via a tube in his nose. This was good news in that they no longer believed he was sick. It was just frustrating that my well baby had to stay in the NICU until he learned how to use his little mouth.

On Saturday, I went to see him at the hospital when one of the nurses began to talk quietly to me as we watched him sleeping in his little plastic box. "I want to ask you, are you sure he was born at 37 weeks? Is there any way your dates are off?"

"Um, YEAH," I answered. "My dates have always been different than the doctor's date. Why?" (remember at my first ultrasound when they said I was three and a half weeks more pregnant than I thought I was?)

"Because your baby acts exactly like a 34-weeker. I am just convinced that he is one."

My heart started pounding and I am sure my eyes were as big as saucers. "According to my dates, he is a 34 week baby."

"Ah, see. That's it. He was six weeks premature."

And then I said through very clenched teeth, "I want to see the doctor NOW!"

Mystery solved. We had induced a baby six weeks prematurely.

Uuuuh huh.

The doctor on duty was not Ingram's doctor, but when I told him my story, he responded with an "Ah ha. That explains everything." And he added that he was actually glad now to have a justification for my insurance company. "Well, the good news is," he added, "he is doing amazingly well for a 34 week baby. The bad news is, babies don't get their sucking reflex until 37 weeks, so now we know that he will probably be here another couple of weeks."

I didn't even know what to feel. My head was just spinning. I said to the doctor, "So we should have left him in there. We should have left him in there!"

And he answered, "Doctors make decisions based on the best information that they have. You had multiple ultrasounds, including Level IIs, and he measured at this date in every single one of them. And because of his umbilical cord, he was monitored so closely. It might be that you are right. But there was absolutely no way to know that. All we can do is go with the best information we have, and all the information your doctor had said that he was farther along than he was."

Sage words. But the best information I had said that he wasn't. And immediately I started to feel guilty, that I should have stuck by my guns, should have demanded that my dates were right. But then he reminded me of something else:

"And he was so big, that it might be that that cord couldn't have sustained him if he had gone any longer."

Ike was six pounds, twelve ounces. He was definitely the bruiser in the NICU, next to all the teeny tiny babies. I have seen 34 week babies since then and they are tiny! Four pounds! And this kid was almost seven pounds, bigger than some of my friends' babies who were post-term! I really believe that he needed to be out of me.

Everywhere I looked, I saw God's hand in it. For three pregnancies, I had chosen to drive 30-45 minutes to my old OB, and then I decided for him I wanted to be close to home. And his was the pregnancy that involved twice as many doctor's appointments, not to mention a NICU stay. Every time I drove the seven minutes to visit him, I thanked God that he was not in a hospital downtown. And the fact that Carol and Leah were in the room with me I knew without a doubt was a blessing from God. He had timed that so perfectly.

Babies with a single umbilical artery are always induced as soon as possible for fear that they will get too big for the cord. And had Ike was destined to be at least a ten pound baby.

I know that God had his eye on my sparrow. I know that he is sovereign, and that is what gave me comfort. It was a horrible, horrible experience. But possibly, God was protecting us all from something unimaginably worse.

Feeding by feeding, Ingram learned how to eat, then passed his "carseat test", and got his going home "spa bath" from the sweet nurses. Our precious baby came home on April 16, twelve long days after his birthday. Healthy and, even with his little old man preemie look, absolutely beautiful. God is so good.

We sent to everyone after he was home.

There were some silver linings to this story.

Number one, I got to sleep all night and recuperate for the first two weeks of his life. Moms, you know that's huge. I never minded getting up with him in the middle of the night, because I was so well rested! Of course I would rather have him home, but wow, that was a bonus.

AND, my baby came home on a perfect three hour schedule!! Those NICU nurses scheduled my baby for me. That's worth the co-pay right there, my friends.

The greatest bonus is that, as Paul said in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

At some point after they had taken Ingram away, when Carol and Leah were consoling me, one of them said, "You know what, Missy, this is just one more experience that God is going to have you use to be an encouragement to other moms." For a nanosecond, it was like I suspended my emotions, and said, "Really? You think I am encouraging? Because I have been praying for God to make me an encourager!" When they responded yes, I was elated to hear that God might be answering that prayer. It's funny but that is one of the most poignant memories I have of that blurry day.

Before I left a hospital without my child, I had no idea how hard it is to have a baby in the NICU. Even a baby whose life is not in imminent danger - thankfully, I still don't know what that's like. It's horrible either way. For a first time mom, there has to be some grief that she does not give the baby his first bath, etc. And she probably has no appreciation for the sleep silver lining, like I did. For moms with older children, it is hard because you can't be there as much. Every minute I was not with Ingram, I felt guilty. When I was home with the other kids, my mind was at the hospital. The whole ordeal just stinks. And I am thankful that, having experienced it, I might be in a better position to comfort other moms who find themselves there, and remind them whose eye is on their sparrow.

Thanks for reading the story of my precious baby boy.

If he weren't sound asleep right now, he'd say thank you too :)

Ingram's birth story part 1
Ingram's birth story part 2
Ingram's birth story part 3
Ingram's birth story part 4

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