Sunday, July 20, 2014

Levi Barely Survived His First Month of Life

So, Ryan had two weeks of paternity leave (plus 1 week of extra vacation) for the first time ever and we were just so excited.  We envisioned these quiet days while the big kids were in school during which we snuggled our new baby, I napped and Ryan got some projects around the house.

Basically none of that happened.

Because Levi was born so quickly, he was super bruised.  His nurse on day 1 came in and said, "That baby is so bruised that I promise he will be really jaundiced, so be prepared for an extra day in the hospital."  Her prediction came true.  I've blocked out all of his bilirubin numbers but he was too high on his second day of life, so he had to hang out under the blue lights all day.  Jaundice sucks for two reasons:  1) heel pricks 1-2 times daily during which your sweet newborn screams and 2) your dying-to-be-swaddled baby has to be naked and free all day to maximize light exposure.  He couldn't sleep, I couldn't sleep and it was miserable.  Ryan came in and sat with his hand resting on Levi to calm him for 2 hours so I could nap and I also just slept all night with him on my chest on a bili pad and the blue light streaming over us so we could get his numbers down and head home.

It didn't last long.  His numbers started climbing again despite 10 feedings a day (my milk hadn't come in, but that's another paragraph) and so we had to rent a billi pad and have him attached to it all day and all night. We had daily heel pricks at the hospital till he was 3 weeks old.  Crazy time drain and such a bummer.  We were glad Ryan was home to manage every one else in the house.

Without going into too much detail on the Internet,  I was losing a lot of blood.  By 10 days post-partum my midwife realized I had retained placenta and she prescribed me a medication that was supposed to cause the placenta piece to come out on its own, through INCREASED bleeding.  It didn't work and I was pale and hardly able to walk up the stairs from all of the blood loss.  And pretty much had my most embarrassing moment of my life at sacrament meeting that Sunday. When we met with the midwife at 2.5 weeks post-partum, she let me know I'd need a D&C.  We were so grateful that Ryan's mom was scheduled to fly into town.  She was able to stay with Levi and the other kids while I had the procedure and recovered.  I felt better as I walked out of the hospital.  I had no idea how draining that blood loss had been.

Due to the blood loss, D&C, retained placenta, and not nursing for a day--I pretty much had no milk.  I'm a determined girl, so I spent the next 6 weeks pumping, drinking mother's milk tea, doing the SNS system, gulping down fenugreek and blessed thistle, meeting weekly with lactation specialists.  I did get my milk supply to about 75% of what Levi needs and felt good about it, but I think I spent 20-30 hours a week on nursing related activities.

And then, at 4 weeks, we took our sweet baby for a walk.  I bundled him up in a hoodie snowsuit and when we came home, Jane pulled him out of his carseat.  She was 2 feet away from me as she tripped over a baby seat on the floor and fell to the wood floor...Levi in her arms, his head hitting the floor first.  I could tell he was hurt, and spent some time comforting him.  He calmed down and I thought he was okay...until I removed the hood from his head an hour later and he had a bump the size of a cue ball on his head.  I began to shriek for Ryan, called the after hours nurse who told me to go immediately to the pediatric ER downtown.

The next 6-8 hours were the most scared I've ever been for my child's health.  The cat scan showed a skull fracture and bleeding.  They did a full body scan for what seemed like hours (found out later that it was to check for child-abuse related fractures) while he screamed.  We had to wait 6 hours for a follow up CAT scan that would indicate whether the bleeding was worsening and whether he'd need surgery or whether we should be concerned about brain damage.  It was horrible.  Ryan had blessed him and felt like he'd be fine, but it was so hard to have faith in that blessing when we just kept getting bad news.

The second CAT scan was the best news.  The bleeding had gone DOWN (which is atypical) and things looked really good.  We ended up spending 3 days in the PICU because he was so young and they needed to watch him.  We got excellent care and all follow up visits have shown zero residual effects.  We are so grateful.

Two sweet events from the night.  For some crazy reason, Levi gave us his first REAL smile.  And the BYU basketball team was in town playing.  My good friend is the head coach's daughter and she hooked Levi up with quite the BYU gear:  a shirt signed by all the players.

You're wondering about Jane, aren't you?  Well, through a true tender mercy, she was completely unaware that she had caused the injury.  She thought that it had happened an hour later (when I found the hematoma and started freaking out), upstairs in my room.  We were so shocked that she wasn't acting upset AT ALL.  It wasn't till we came home and were reviewing Levi-care with the kids that she said "Wait?! HOW DID HE GET HURT??" (it had started to dawn on her as we discussed carrying, falling, etc.) and began to sob as we told her, that it was due to her fall.  We were so grateful that we were able to tell her that he was completely fine, that even though she did it, she didn't need to worry because he was going to be okay.  Heavenly Father is kind both to my baby as he was healed and safe and to my 10 year old as he protected her during a weekend that could have been miserable for her.

So yeah.  That was the first month of Levi's life.  Not much in the way of lazy snuggling and "enjoying the baby".  I still found time to take a billion pictures.  And we had plenty of time to fall in love with the best idea Heavenly Father ever had for our family.

(And in case you can't tell, here's a few from his photo shoot by our favorite, Randi Brunt):


Amy F. said...

I can't believe everything you had to go through for this baby, but boy is he worth it!!! He is so adorable. I love sitting behind you at church and smiling at him. He is so lucky to have such amazing, hard working parents!!

Lauren in GA said...

Such an intense if you didn't know that...but I always love how you are open and truthful and point out the tender mercies you have been blessed with.

I sincerely love how you called your sweet little Levi, "the best idea Heavenly Father ever had for our family."

Ohhhhh, the bruising, jaundice, bleeding, D&C, fracture, all of it so harrowing. You are incredible, Jessica. Truly.

Mandy said...

I almost started crying like ten times while reading this. You have such an amazing family. Levi is a doll and I can't wait to meet him.

missy said...

Oh my goodness! He is perfect and so beautiful! I'm sorry for your ordeal during his first month. Doesn't it make you just snuggle him a little closer to realize what a blessing he is? And it is amazing to me how we can fall head-over-heels in love with these little ones the moment we meet! How did you ever live without him? :)