Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Caleb J.'s Big Arrival . . .

Caleb's first picture. Our little NICU baby...except he's not that little.

One week ago today, Caleb Jones Rayhorn made his long awaited arrival into the world, and it was quite the adventure. He was born at 11:55pm on Tuesday November 16th, 2010. The 11th hour.  He weighed 7 pounds and 5 ounces and was 20 inches long. A very decent size for 36 and a half weeks. (Since he was just a few days shy of full term, Caleb is considered a preemie, even though he doesn't look like one. :)  Read on if you'd like all the details...but be warned that I mention things like blood, placenta, abdominal incisions, breast pumping, etc. :)

Afternoon before the c-section. Caleb after getting cleaned up and settled into the NICU. And the final picture is my fave...he's in his own little world, healing and resting with his cotton sunglasses, and earmuffs.

Okay. So, the first picture is super unflattering, but I want the record to show how swollen and awful I looked at the end of my pregnancy. And this was after 2 weeks on bed rest mostly in the hospital...(but I've already made good progress - 22 pounds gone...only 3 more to go! At least to get to pre-pregnancy weight . . .  :) This picture was taken the afternoon I found out I would be delivering Caleb that day. I was in the hospital for high blood pressure related issues. It was tricky to monitor - hence the hospital bed rest - because I developed pre-eclampsia on top of gestational hypertension around 34 weeks. Bed rest was...bleh, what you might expect. It wasn't fun, and some days were harder than other, but it could have been worse. I mean, I had my cell phone, a laptop and wireless, TV and movies, Melissa's Kindle...so pretty much a whole library at my fingertips, plenty of visitors (most importantly Anna and Benjamin got to come almost every day), and great nurses who began to feel like family. I was so grateful for all the help and support I received. I was especially grateful to my mom who took over caring for Benjamin and Anna for those two weeks. Wow, what a blessing! Seriously, how could I have handled all of this without my mama?! I missed my babies TONS during the hospitalized bed rest, but we made it through. Thank you to everyone who watched my kids, came to visit, and showed your love and support. It was so much appreciated!

Two days after the delivery. Mommy and Daddy bonding with Caleb J. 

With Ethan still being six hours south finishing up his semester, all of this was a little harder to handle. Everything is easier when my sweetie, lovey, extremely helpful husband is around. Even though I wasn't due until the end of his semester, we knew there was a good chance it would happen at a more inconvenient time (which is one of the reasons the kids and I moved back to Marquette this fall). Ethan and I were prepared to have to experience this separately, and again, had the support of so many family members and friends to step in. So because of the hospital bed rest, I was set to deliver at 37 weeks (full term), which was Friday the 19th. Then, some labs came back unfavorably, so they decided to do it Tuesday the 16th. Ethan had a presentation he had to give that evening, then drove up half way that night, and the rest of the way on Wednesday arriving at 10:30am. I was soooooo happy to see him and have him with me for the day, even though he had to drive back early Thursday morning. Melissa, my mom-in-law, was there to be my "Ethan" until he could arrive. I was thankful to have her at the hospital with me. She got to the hospital at 3pm-ish, and we were both under the impression I'd be going into surgery between 4-6pm. Of course that didn't happen, and we had a lot of time to relax and wait...until about 10:30pm when they started prepping me for the surgery. I was going to have a spinal, just like I did with Anna and Benjamin, which means I would be awake during the surgery, but the anesthesiologist couldn't get it to work. I ending up having a general anesthesia (asleep), which also meant Melissa couldn't be in the room with me. I felt bad for poor Grandma...after all her waiting...but in the end, it was probably for the best, as things got a little intense.

A shot of all the equipment that is used to care for and monitor little Caleb. Mommy and Daddy spending some quality time with their little man.
I had an anterior (frontal) placenta with this pregnancy, which ended up causing some complications during the c-section. The doctor had to cut through the placenta to get to the baby, causing myself and Caleb to loose a lot of blood. Caleb was also in a transverse position, which made it take a little longer to pull him out (not good when the placenta has already been cut)...and he came out bottom first. Because of this, he ended up breathing in some fluids/blood during the process. Again, not good. I woke up hyperventilating and my blood pressure soaring, and I took a while to calm down.  It took me about 10 minutes to realize I wasn't dieing, and to remember that I'd just had a baby, and asked about him.  I learned that little Caleb was in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, but I was kind of out of it, so I couldn't quite grasp the details. A few hours after the delivery (3 or 4 am), they wheeled my bed into the NICU and Melissa and I were able to meet the babe. Such a precious moment to finally see him! I wasn't quite grasping all the details because of all the medication, but could see by all his equipment that things were serious.  Melissa had been up this whole time, with one short power nap, and again, I was so grateful to have her there. I couldn't sleep after all the excitement, and called my dad at 4:30am to fill him in. He came over promptly to meet his newest grandson, and ended up staying with me until 6:30am, which was so nice (as Melissa had finally dozed off after a very long night).  I couldn't sleep.  I felt calm, but worried, but okay too.  I think I really just felt pretty out of it since I'd been put to sleep for this c-section. 
*Ethan got there Wednesday morning, and it was so good to see him! I was pretty much in a morphine/magnesium haze that whole day, and lacking a whole night's sleep, but I tried to stay awake. It helped that every time I started to doze off, my oxygen levels would drop because of the medicine in the IV, and a loud alarm would go off jolting me awake. Really though, that got old quickly. I was wheeled down a couple more times that first day to see Caleb, but again, my memory of that is blurry. Ethan had to return to school early Thursday morning and returned in the middle of the night Friday. That is a lot of driving in a few short days, poor guy. (After he got here Friday, Ethan is able to stay for the whole week of Thanksgiving, which has been great...and we still have five more days!) I feel like I again physically rebounded quickly with this c-section, which is such a blessing. I was a little worried because of being on bed rest leading up to the surgery, and having this be my third. But no worries; I feel so great just not being preggers anymore! I had to stay in the hospital an extra day for blood pressure monitoring, but that's all cleared up now. Ethan was able to bring me home Sunday morning, and it was such a good feeling leaving the hospital after such a long stay...but bittersweet since my baby had to stay. :(
Caleb was a few weeks early, and his lungs weren't quite finished developing yet. That wouldn't have been a big problem on it's own, but like I mentioned earlier, he also breathed in some fluids during the delivery. That turned into an infection in the lungs called aspiration pneumonia. He is receiving a 10 day antibiotic course, but it may need to be extended a little longer. He also needed a blood transfusion because of the loss of blood during the c-section, and may need another one. Because of IV's and the ventilator tube in his mouth, we haven't been able to hold him yet, but we still feel like we're bonding during our visits by singing to him, talking with him, holding his hand, etc. The most important thing is that he rest, and sleep, and stay calm, and heal. So, Caleb has been there for a week, and we haven't been given any definite time he will be ready to leave, but maybe a few more weeks?   
*The Final Stretch
Okay, just a little more info for anyone still reading. This has been quite the experience, as you may imagine. I am typically such a worrier, but have been able to remain pretty calm with everything. My dad and Chuck gave me a Priesthood blessing the day I delivered Caleb, and I know that helped to invite peace and comfort during a pretty stressful time. Yes, it is sad only being able to visit Caleb in the NICU, and not hold and snuggle him like I want to. It's so hard seeing all the poking and prodding that is necessary for his full recovery. It hasn't been fun going straight to breast pumping, and not being able to bond with him in that way. (I don't mind pumping normally, and did plenty of that with Anna and Benjamin. I just miss being able to connect in that natural way at the start. Oh, and since Caleb is receiving all he needs from an IV right now, I have quite the collection stored up waiting for him. :) After the ventilator comes out, he will use a feeding tube, then on to "normal" eating. Can't wait!) It's hard trying to bond, but being so limited in what we can do right now - and ultimately feeling like the nurses are "in charge" of little Caleb (and are certainly with him more).  It's hard being home and trying to balance everything, while trying to rest and recover from the surgery, and visit Caleb as much as possible, and try to get through my "to do" list before he comes home. Mostly it's the resting that gets pushed to the side. (Thank goodness Ethan is here, and is so incredibly helpful. He has to go back down state on Sunday for final exams for a week and a half, but then he will be here for the rest of December. Yay!)
However, there are so many blessings to recognize at this time too. Caleb may not have any lasting affects from these early problems, or perhaps just minimal affects. Which is comforting to think on, since he looks so sick right now!  :(  We are only a few blocks from the hospital, so it's relatively easy to visit him. (It has been a little challenging throwing Anna and Benjamin back into the mix since I've been home. They aren't allowed to visit the NICU, and probably don't completely understand the situation. All they know is that they are so excited to have Mommy home from the hospital, and Daddy here, and they want to be with us as much as possible. Aw, my poor little sweeties!) It puts things in persective when you meet other parents in the NICU with babies who have bigger struggles to overcome, or the parents who live 2 hours away, and can't visit as often.  (The NICU at Marquette General covers all of the Upper Peninsula.)  It's a blessing that Caleb is receiving such great care and help at a wonderful hospital. We have been given so much love, generosity and support from our family and friends here in Marquette. We are blessed, and we are grateful. There is so much to be thankful for, and we have been trying to focus on that. Well, I obviously need to cut myself off now, but will keep everyone updated when we know more. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday!


Amy E said...

I totally understand a lot of what you're dealing with! If you remember, both my girls were NICU babies, though neither nearly as large as your babe. :) We wish you the best and hope he can come home soon. If you need to vent, you know where to come. :)
Love ya! He's beautiful!!

The McCulloughs said...

Congratulations on little Caleb! I'm soo glad everything has turned out well for you and him and hope and pray he's home with you soon! What a sweet little family you have!!!

Becky said...

Wow what an experience! Congratulations and I will keep Caleb in my prayers for a speedy recovery so he can be home with his family and meet his cute siblings. :) :)

Hillary said...

I'm so glad your little guy is finally here. I love the name you picked! I hope he is well enough to come home soon.