I’m not sure that I ever truly documented Grey’s birth (sorry G!) but I feel like I need to with Nixon’s because the first few weeks of his life were such a different, exhausting and emotional experience.
I love birth. It’s my favorite. I think it’s so beautiful and powerful and just amazing. I love listening to people’s birth stories and I could literally talk about it all day. I had a fantastic labor and delivery with Greylen and I thought there was no way I could have another experience that was just as great. I was wrong! Nixon’s birth was so, so perfect. Unfortunately, what followed was a scary stay in the NICU (more on that later in the post).
I had been having contractions for WEEKS. And I noticed that I just felt really off the last month of my pregnancy…I felt like it truly could happen at any moment. I was progressing at each doctor’s appointment and was scheduled to be induced on a Monday (at just under 40 weeks). I was induced with Greylen and as mentioned, it was a great experience so I was happy to be induced again. However, on the Thursday before, I was at work (I work almost entirely from home and it’s very rare that I am in the office so this was kind of funny!) and a few things happened (I will spare you the details) that made me call my doctor. They told me to head to the hospital just to be safe. I totally took my time…showered, made our bed, packed some stuff…and headed to the hospital around 6pm. I definitely thought they were just going to send me home! Well, they hooked me up to the monitor and we realized I was having contractions pretty regularly so they ended up keeping me. It was a full moon and apparently many women go into labor during full moons (I had no idea!) so the birthing unit was pretty slammed. I waited in the triage for awhile until a birthing room became available. I still wasn’t having super painful contractions…just more tightness and discomfort like I had been having for the past few weeks.
We called our parents to come up and I was transferred to a birthing room. They broke my water and I got an epidural pretty much right away because I was already pretty far along. It was great and I barely felt a thing from then on out. I honestly never had a super painful contraction…just a lot of uncomfortable tightness. Things progressed fairly quickly and after a few hours, it was time to push. After 10 short minutes and about 9 pushes, there he was at 2:54am! I watched the whole thing with a mirror which was truly awesome (it sounds crazy but I swear it was cool!). The whole experience was exhausting but magical.
After he was born, he was placed on my chest. We noticed he was making a strange noise (now I know it’s called ‘grunting’). The nurse didn’t seem overly concerned so no one made a big deal of it. Well, long story short, when we were transferred to our mother/baby room, the nurse there noticed he was starting to turn blue and rushed him to the nursery. It turns out his oxygen levels kept dipping. After observation in the nursery for about 45 minutes, we were told he was going to be transferred to the NICU and we could go down and see him in an hour or so. I was crushed. It was truly one of the worst feelings ever to be separated from your baby so soon after giving birth. After the longest hour of my life, we went down to see our little man.
At this point, we really didn’t know what was going on which was a very scary feeling. For the first few days, we couldn’t hold him much and could only touch him through his incubator. This was so tough. All I wanted to do was hold my baby! I started pumping regularly in order to feed him which caused a major oversupply and of course, a case of mastitis. I was so happy that after a few days he was put in a regular bassinet so we could hold and snuggle him.
After 3 days, I was discharged from the hospital. This put me in a tough position because I really wanted to be there to breastfeed but you can’t sleep in the NICU. I ended up spending a few nights in the Ronald McDonald Family Room (an awesome program!) so I could be there every two hours throughout the night. It was exhausting but I’m really happy I was able to be there with him. The last couple of days, I ended up going home to sleep for a few hours here and there and to see Greylen. It was so hard being away from her and I knew she needed some sense of normalcy.
For 7 days, Nixon had all kinds of tests to rule out any major issues. Watching them set up each test and waiting for the results was very tough and made the days feel extremely long. The definition of an emotional roller coaster. Nixon handled everything like a champ – barely crying even when things were painful/uncomfortable and sleeping and eating well. Luckily, everything came back normal and it was determined that he just needed some time to get his breathing on the right track. We started (and failed) a few spell countdowns (basically the baby has to have no “spells” or dips for 5 days before going home) and each time we failed, it was heartbreaking. On our 8th day, Nixon had been spell free for 5 days. We were told we could go home!
I was nervous to take Nixon home but was SO excited for Greylen to finally meet him. She had waited what seemed like FOREVER. I will never forget their first encounter. She was immediately in love. The look on her face made everything okay!
I realize that we are extremely lucky that our NICU stay was only 8 days. Many babies are in there for weeks or months and I have a whole new respect for their parents. We are so thankful for the amazing doctors and nurses that took care of baby Nixon (and me!) during our stay. It’s truly hard to say where we would be without them.
All in all, this experience has given me a new outlook on our family’s health and life in general. I feel so fortunate that our family is relatively healthy and feel extremely blessed to have had all of the support we did while we were in the hospital. I didn’t have to think about anything but Nixon during our stay – our family and friends took care of everything from watching Greylen to delivering clothes and meals. So many people reached out with words of encouragement and positive thoughts. I will never forget it!
Oh! And, one of my favorite parts of the story – a good friend and I were due about 3 weeks apart and always joked that we’d give birth on the same day never thinking it would actually happen. Welp, it turns out we did! She went late, I went early and the stars aligned. We were even put in rooms next to each other on the mother/baby floor. This made a stressful experience a little more positive. Her amazing husband even snapped some of the pics in this post for us!