NICU Nurse To NICU Mom
September 24, 2018
4lbs 12 oz
I remember getting the email from Lauren that we had to cancel her maternity session. At first, my initial thought was because they just decided not to do it anymore, but once I opened up her email my heart just sank. There are many ups and downs of being a photographer. We always want to leave people feeling happy and full of joy, but when I got called to go to the NICU to replace a newborn birth session in place of maternity, all I could think about was, “How can I give her the best experience of me in a super crappy situation?” Once I got there, all I wanted to do was cuddle him right along with her. She told me his whole story and I KNEW his story was meant to shine a light to the world. Her story as his mommy is going to help so many other moms in these situations.
“I’ve never written a blog post before and don’t know exactly where to start. We originally found out Quaid had Gastroschesis (a birth defect of the abdominal wall. The baby’s intestines, stomach and liver are found outside of the baby’s body, exiting through a hole beside the belly button.) when I had my 18 week sonogram. This was the same appointment the gender was discovered, but we were having a gender-reveal party so the answer was placed in an envelope. After the sonogram we were sent back out into the lobby to wait to see my doctor. I remember finally allowing myself to be excited about being pregnant and sending pictures of my sonogram to friends and family. We went back to see the doctor and both of us were smiling and happy. Then shortly after the doctor came into the exam room, she gave us the bad news. I just remember being dumbfounded. The feeling of being so high and then so low in such a short amount of time was numbing. Then the NICU nurse in me took over, and I told my doctor the surgeon here wasn’t going to touch my baby. We would have to come up with another plan. After the doctor stepped out, I told Landon things like this make or break couples. I had seen it more than once at work. He just hugged me and said everything was going to be okay. A few days later at the reveal we found out we were going to have a little boy.
During the next months leading up to Quaid’s birth, I was referred to a Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist in Lubbock. The plan was to get me as far along as possible and deliver at University Medical Center. I continued to see my regular doctor in Amarillo for weekly checkups. At my 30 week checkup with the specialist in Lubbock, another complication became evident. My amniotic fluid was reaching a critically low level, and it could cause the baby to have to come sooner than we were hoping for if it didn’t improve. He instructed me to drink 3 quarts of water a day. I stopped all strenuous activity. My doctor in Amarillo ordered for me to receive steroid shots to help the baby’s lungs be ready if he had to come early. I was seen twice a week for non-stress tests on top of my regular sonograms. When my fluid didn’t improve, I began drinking an average of 2 gallons of water a day. My fluid didn’t get better, but it seemed my efforts were keeping it at bay. I worried all the time, especially when I couldn’t remember how long it had been since I had felt him move.
On Friday, September 21st we went back to the specialist for a four week checkup. He had told me at the previous appointment to pack a bag before we came. The appointment didn’t go well. My fluid was extremely low, the baby was measuring an estimated tiny 3 pounds, and he was breach. I was immediately admitted to the hospital to be monitored over the weekend, with a scheduled c-section planned for Monday morning if the baby remained stable. I just remember looking at Landon in shock, and I’m sure my eyes were as wide with fear as his. The weekend in the hospital both crept and flew by at the same time.
Monday, September 24th, 2018 is a day I will never forget. The plan from the previous evening was for the surgery to be at 11:30 am. I had just stepped out of the shower at 9:00 when my nurse came in to tell me I had been moved up, and the team would be by shortly to take me to pre-op. Landon was downstairs getting coffee. I called him with the news, and the next 45 minutes was a whirlwind. Before I new it, I was on the table in the OR getting a spinal block. I could hear my baby’s heartbeat on the monitor. They laid me down on the table and placed a blue drape in front of me. I remember feeling relief when Landon came around the corner of the drape and took my hand. I could feel the doctors working on me, but I couldn’t feel any pain. It was the most out of body experience I have ever felt. I kept waiting for the nurse to say, “baby out.” When the time came, I didn’t hear any cries. That is the bad part about being a NICU nurse in this instance, I knew too much. I held my breath for what seemed like minutes. And then I heard him. I could breathe…. I knew it was all going to be okay.
The next few days were full of ups and downs. Quaid was intubated and placed on a ventilator almost as soon as he was admitted to the NICU. He underwent his first surgery soon after, and they were able to put all but a small amount of bowel into his abdomen. Landon pushed me in a wheelchair down to see him about 10 pm that evening. He was a lot bigger than they had estimated at 4 pounds 12 ounces, and he was beautiful. For three days the surgeon came by one to two times a day to reduce a small amount of bowel into his abdomen. I was grateful for the nurses’ diligence in keeping on top of his pain medication during this time. On Thursday, September 27th, Quaid underwent his second surgery to reduce the remaining bowel and close his abdomen. It was also our fourth wedding anniversary. Surgery went very well, and we all breathed a sigh of relief. It was the best gift I could have asked for, and all I wanted. Quaid showed great improvement and was able to be extubated the following day. He required supplemental oxygen through a nasal cannula, but he was doing all the work on his own.
I had gone back home to Amarillo the evening after Quaid’s second surgery to do laundry and regroup. When I returned on Saturday afternoon, I could tell he had improved immensely in my absence. The swelling from surgery had gone down, and I was able to see what he truly looked like for the first time. I stayed for shift change, and his night nurse asked if I would like to hold him. Quaid was five days old now. I remember feeling like a mom for the first time. When he looked at me, I felt a mixture of emotions. I was elated and deeply saddened at the same time. I couldn’t believe something so perfect could be mine, but I also knew he had a long difficult road ahead. It seemed too much for something so fragile. But I would do absolutely everything in my power to get him through it.
Quaid spent a total of 32 days in intensive care. I cannot sing the praises of the UMC staff enough. I can say without doubt the quality of care he received is a huge reason why he did so well and was able to come home sooner than we expected. This has been the biggest journey of my life, and I still have so many things to learn from this tiny human. He has my whole heart.”