Friday, February 12, 2016

I saw my baby die.

I saw my baby die. He had just come out of surgery the day before, and was moved from the NICU down to the surgery floor, which meant he was doing well. After a day of chaos, things felt like they were starting to settle down and maybe I could breathe again.

I had just laid my head down to sleep for the night when alarms started going off. I looked up at the monitor to see my baby’s heart rate and oxygen levels dropping. It didn’t take long before 2 nurses were in my room, and they were able to get his vitals back to normal.

His nurse and the charge nurse were standing guard over his crib debating what might have caused his vitals to drop when it happened again. Suddenly, my room was alive with activity. An emergency team was called to my son’s room to determine the cause for my baby’s feeble hold on life, and a young man was struggling to attach EKG leads onto my baby’s soft skin. After a third crash of his heart rate and oxygen level, the team determined that he was overly sensitive to his morphine. They turned off his pain killers and the NICU reclaimed custody of my baby boy again.

We had not been back to the NICU for 20 minutes when the alarms went off again. Unlike the Surgery floor, where parents have a bed to sleep near their little one, the NICU offers tiny rooms filled with large machines to keep the delicate babies alive. I was quickly pushed outside my son’s room while a team moved into action. His little body turned purple and went stiff as he conceded his grip on life. A respiratory therapist waved an oxygen mask in his face to try to “wake” him, but to my eyes he looked dead already. I had learned a little in the past few hours and could see that my baby’s oxygen level was down to 22%.
Skin to skin with Lil O inside my tank top.

I couldn’t do a damn thing. Except stand outside his doorway sobbing and pleading with God to bring my baby back. A nearby nurse held me and tried to explain what the team was doing to resuscitate him. I heard some of what she said.

Apparently when a little baby is in excruciating pain (because their morphine meds were turned off and they no longer have anything dulling the pain from recent surgery), the baby’s body bears down. His little body tightens up against the pain and forgets to do anything else… like, breathe or pump blood.

My son. My sweet, little baby. He didn’t even have a name yet, but this was that baby boy that I had been praying to God for years to please give me. Less than 48 hours prior, I had held my newborn son and, with a great sense of guilt, questioned whether I could ever love him as much I loved my older son, Jack. Now, my doubt was quickly erased. 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Owen took me on my first ambulance ride.

Life was a whirlwind when we arrived at Seattle Children’s. The doctor on call began explaining Owen’s birth defect to Brian & I while tests were being performed on our tiny baby. Not only did Owen have an “imperforate anus”, but there were several other anomalies related to this birth defect. Soon they were testing Owen’s heart and checking his kidneys. In very short order, Brian & I said goodbye to our little baby as he headed into surgery.

It was 11pm and I was exhausted. Only 36 hours before I had given birth and I’d only had 4 hours of sleep since then. I headed to the parent’s room where I was offered a small cot. I didn’t think I could possibly calm my mind enough to sleep, but exhaustion took over and I slept. Hard.
When the pager went off to alert me that Owen was out of surgery and we could return for an update on his status, I immediately noticed that the 3 hour surgery had taken closer to 5 hours. I was terrified that this meant horrible news for my baby.

It seemed like forever before Dr. Avansino met us to discuss the surgery. Our little baby was fine. The surgery had taken a little longer than expected because his intestines were so dilated, but Dr. Avansino thought everything looked good. I couldn’t wait to see my baby.

Owen stayed in the NICU for a couple days. The comfort of the NICU is that nurses only care for 1 or 2 babies at a time, which allows for intense monitoring of your baby’s vitals. The difficult part is that the delicate, NICU babies need their rest. After waiting 9 months to hold my son, I was being told to limit holding him so he could rest and recuperate. It was miserable so I would hold him for as long as the nurse would let me. Between being at Owen’s side and pumping milk for him every 3 hours, I was only getting about 4 hours of sleep a night… and that not even in one shot.

My mom was worried about me… As mothers are apt to do, and it didn’t help that my post-delivery body wasn’t loving my crazy schedule. My feet and legs were so painfully swollen I couldn’t wear shoes and could barely fit into my sandals.

But I couldn’t think about that when my little baby was hooked up to machines. All I wanted was to be at his side, even if I wasn’t allowed to hold him.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Thank you, Aunt Kirby!

I’d been having contractions for a couple weeks, and I’d gone to the hospital twice thinking I was in labor. The day before Owen was born, I was keeping track of my contractions, but they weren’t very consistent. I was getting ready for bed and I went pee, and just as I was about to stand up… I peed a little more. Now. There are tons of weird things that happen to your body when you’re pregnant…. And this felt weird. I don’t remember my water breaking with Jack’s birth, but I was pretty sure that’s what had happened.

When I called the hospital, they told me to come get checked out, and sure enough the test showed that my water broke.

Owen was born on February 12, 2015 weighing 7lbs 3oz. Right before he was born, his heart rate dropped and I heard my midwife calmly but assertively say that it was time to call the doctor to bring in the vacuum. This scared the $h!t out of me (side note: prior to Owen’s birth I had started to worry about this seemingly archaic concept).

When my midwife told me it was time to push again, I used every muscle in my body to get that sweet baby out; but he still didn’t come. When the midwife said I could stop pushing I refused. There was no way I wanted the doctor sucking my delicate baby out of me. Instead, I was going to push and push and push until the little baby was out.

In hindsight, I’m almost certain that calling for the doctor & vacuum is a secret code that labor & delivery teams use to scare moms into working harder. It certainly worked for me! Owen was out before the doctor arrived.

After some rest, I was ready to head home. But we were waiting for our new baby to have his first bowel movement. The doctor was surprised that after 24 hours, he had not yet made his first dirty diaper. However, he told the nurse to let nature take its course.

Kirby came to the hospital to pick me up and hung out while we waited for Owen to poop so we could head home. As the afternoon passed, it seemed like we would be staying another night. After Kirby left, I was changing Owen’s diaper when I remembered something my sister said. Kirby, who was in nursing school at the time, mentioned a case that she recently read. Apparently, a baby had been born without a hole in his bottom.

While changing Owen’s diaper, I decided to… check. I immediately realized that Owen wouldn’t be pooping anytime soon and called for the nurse. She quickly reassured me that babies just have small bodies and it just looked that way, but after looking at Owen… She called for the charge nurse. Then, the NICU nurse came to check out my baby’s booty.

The next thing I knew Owen was having an ultrasound of his torso and we were being prepped for a trip to Seattle Children’s Hospital.

If it hadn’t been for Kirby’s interest in nursing, for her studious nature and remembering one case study… it would have meant several more hours before the doctors discovered that something was wrong. By the time we reached SCH, Owen bowels were extremely dilated and his tummy so distended... I hate to think how much pain he would have been in if it had not been for his Aunt Kirby.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Owen James Furber

Owen James Furber
As Owen’s one year birthday draws near, my heart is very full. Part of me is amazed with what a beautiful, healthy and happy guy he has become. His current, fat little body is so different from the first few weeks of life that he almost seems like a different little person. Could this really be the same boy who had no interest in eating?

The socks to prevent Owen from pulling
out his "pipes" as Jack called them. 
I think Owen is making up for lost time because now if he sees someone eating he thinks it’s time for him to eat, as well. Even if he just ate. I think he’s more than made up for those weeks where he was force fed through a tube down his nose. I can’t believe this is the same baby that we counted every ounce of milk and even added powdered formula to his breast milk to give him additional calories. A mom could not be more proud of fat cheeks.