Birth Story Part 3: Recovery and the NICU

The next 24 hours on “the mag” were a complete blur. I remember bits and pieces but I have had Mike and other family members fill in a lot of details. The nurses gave me some anxiety and anti-nausea medications. I did a lot of vomiting and heaving post-surgery.  I remember being really hot again and dunking my hands into ice cold water.  Nurse Pam was back and took care of me through those first 12 hours. I remember seeing our families after surgery before they went home to rest after being up all night. They came back sometime in the afternoon but I was not in a good way.

Mike’s family came back to the hospital around 2 p.m. and he took his Mom down to see the babies. I thought he was gone for hours–it was 20 minutes. I laid there coming in and out of consciousness stewing with anger that he left me for all this time. When he came back from the NICU he brought cloth hearts for me to wear to put in the babies isolates. Since I couldn’t be with them, it would give them comfort to smell my scent. I did not understand why he was trying to shove these under my hospital gown. They were for the babies, he said. To be honest, I had no thoughts of being a Mom at this point. I was confused and even a bit angry. “The Mag” has this affect. I was still hooked up to the blood pressure monitor going off every 15 minutes. They had also put these devices on my feet that made my legs jump occasionally. I believe its to prevent blood clots. Somehow I believe I slept through a lot of this craziness. Thank you, Ativan! The moments I was awake, I don’t really remember except that I was often heaving.

It’s interesting to hear from other friends and family that were on the outside of the situation for those 24 hours. People assume you are in normal recovery. My boss tried to come see me and luckily Mike caught him in the hall because I was not conscious let alone ready for visitors. My brother lives in Richmond and was upset that their weren’t regular updates. My Mom sent him a picture of me asleep in bed because there were no updates to share. I wasn’t awake or talking and the babies were down in the NICU. I didn’t even know my family was in the room. I don’t remember any part of the evening. I don’t remember Pam’s shift ending or when they turned off “the mag.” I do remember the move to my post-partum room. It was now Monday morning. I had been a parent for 24 hours and I had not met my children. This was nothing like the typical recovery of a new mother.

Mike had given the NICU tour to our family members several times at this point. Our kids were in three separate rooms or “pods” and he had to escort one person to each bedside.  He signed all the consent forms. He went to “rounds” and got the updates about the status of our kids. He filled out all their information for birth certificates and social security cards. It was the start of his role as Super Dad. I was terrified to go down to the NICU. I didn’t feel well and was worried I would faint. I knew they would be small and that they would have IVs and be on oxygen but I was still unsure of what to expect. Sometime on Monday, Mike wheeled me down to the NICU. I told one of the nurses, who became my kids’ primary nurse and now one of my best friends, that I didn’t want to know any medical details. I just wanted to know if they were doing OK. Ava and Owen were progressing nicely and would soon be off of IV nutrition. Amelia was taking a little longer and her weight would drop from 3lbs 12oz to 3lbs 3oz- but she would be right behind them.

 

 

It was not the meeting I had envisioned. I was only there briefly because I still didn’t feel great. I didn’t hold them. It didn’t feel like the normal special bonding moment when you meet your children for the first time. Mike would hold Ava for the first time later that evening. I focused on getting myself feeling better so I could visit longer and more often. Recovering from a c-section was no joke plus it was taking longer than I expected for my blood pressure to come down. I felt like I could tell exactly where Dr. Hoyson pulled each baby from. My stomach ached. Lactation came to visit and  I started to pump. Mike would take my colostrum down to the NICU. Once they started to eat they would get donor milk as well.

 

The next few days would get better. I was more comfortable being in the NICU. I started to get use to the wires and the beeping. I held each of them, but Owen was the first. I was discharged on Wednesday and we spent the majority of that day moving from pod to pod to see our kids. It was amazing how well they progressed even in those first few days. We would cheer each new milestone–even the smallest ones. It was the start of the next part of our roller coaster journey as NICU parents.

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