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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Cassie's Story Part 2 of 2

I heard the people in the recovery room before I saw them.  My doctor come over and said everything had gone fine.  I had lost a lot of blood, but the baby was doing well and was in the NICU.   I obviously had not seen my daughter yet.   After I was sufficiently awake, they moved me to the cardiac ICU.  I still had the balloon devices in my legs and had various tubes all over.  Two catheters for my bladder, IV for fluids and pain medication, blood oxygen monitor, heart monitor,  blood pressure monitor and two squeezy things on my feet to keep the blood moving in my legs since I would be immobile for a while.   They took the balloon things out of my arteries and then my left leg started bleeding internally.    A host of doctors were called and they decided to monitor it hourly before doing surgery to fix it.  Luckily, it did not get worse, so they did not have to do surgery. 

Overnight I had a bad episode where I felt like I could not breath and my lips were numb, more tests and more doctors.   It was discovered I had a hematoma (basically a bruise) the size of a dinner plate in my abdomen and a big air pocket as well.   My doctor and I decided not to do surgery then for the bleeding and to just keep an eye on it. They gave me some relaxing drugs and put a tube down my throat to help with the air pocket somehow.   Again, luckily it did not get worse and I survived my first night in the ICU.  I had my own nurse who was constantly checking on me.  She turned her other patient over to someone else once I started having problems.  I will forever be grateful to her quick thinking and attention to detail. 
They had brought me polaroids of Cassie.  She looked perfect, even with the feeding tube in her nose and all the other wires.   She would not take a bottle yet, so they gave her formula for a couple of days through the feeding tube.  I started pumping breast milk the day after surgery, but due to my medication they would not give it to her yet.  It made my heart ache that I could not see her.  I spent one more night in the ICU that was thankfully uneventful .

Finally on Wednesday they said I could move to a regular room, so I went via wheel chair and on the way I visited Cassie for the first time.  It had been more than forty-eight hours since she was born.  It was tough to see her in the NICU.  I could not pick her up because she was sleeping, only hold her little hand.  She looked so vulnerable, but overall she was doing well.  She had only needed breathing support for the first day and she had weighed 5 pounds 8 ounces at birth (probably because I had started eating large bowls of ice cream every night once I found out she was going to be delivered early, I was trying to fatten her up and it seems like it worked!)  She had a minor heart murmur and was being looked at by a pediatric cardiologist, who said she had a VSD.   This is very common in preemies and luckily she outgrew it by the time she was two years old. 

I more or less recovered and was allowed to leave on Sunday, still with a catheter in my bladder and a bag I had to change. I was not allowed to urinate on my own because they did not want the bladder muscle to be stressed.   Leaving the hospital without Cassie was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do emotionally.   I was sobbing as I got in the car.   I came home and ate dinner and tried to act normal, but it just didn’t feel right without her at home.  I spent some time with Luke, who had come to see me in the hospital, but had not seen Cassie yet. It was difficult to play with him because I had a vertical incision, and the catheter, and I was in a lot of pain.  I could hardly stand up straight and walked very slowly.  During the night, I woke up and became extremely nauseous and then was violently ill.  My dad came downstairs and found me in the bathroom, which was a complete mess.  I had not made it to the toilet in time and there was vomit everywhere.   He helped me clean myself up and then I went back to bed while he cleaned the bathroom.   
The next morning I felt like I was dying.  I had vomited everything I could, I had chills and terrible dry heaves.  I have never been so miserable in my life.   We called the doctor and they sent Brad for some anti-nausea medication that did not help at all.  Finally, I took a shower and my Dad and I met Brad at my doctor’s office.  Brad had stormed his way in earlier insisting the doctor see me, which was unnecessary but typical of his style.   I saw the doctor and she sent us to the emergency room for some diagnostics and then probably to be re-admitted.
After a long, cold wait in the ER, they gave me some powerful anti-nausea medication through an IV and did an x-ray to check for a bowel obstruction.  They did not know what was wrong with me, so I was re-admitted – just over 24 hours from when I left – I even got the same room that someone had apparently been in one night because I found leftovers in the fridge.  Brad stayed through the admission as my dad, holding back tears, left to go get my son at school.  It was pretty horrible.   I was in the hospital for another week, but they never did figure out what was wrong.  I was slowly able to eat more food and went home again without Cassie.  She continued to do well, but still would not take a bottle.   I continued to pump breast milk and was freezing it and taking it for them to feed her, which they gladly did.  Especially with preemies they prefer to give breast milk if feasible.

Finally she took a bottle and eventually they let me try to breastfeed her.   They said it was too tiring for her though, so I could not do it very often, and it was not terribly successful.   I went to see her every day she was there after I left the second time.    Finally they said she was ready and I had to bring the car seat up for a test.  They put the babies in the car set for a couple of hours to make sure they don’t stop breathing or have heart problems in the sitting position.    She passed the test and then they had to give her a Synagis shot to help prevent RSV , since she was born in December.  Once all of that was done, they had one more check with the neonatologist.  Brad and I had planned to go to a movie that afternoon as we waited for the final tests.  They called earlier than we expected and said we could come get her, so we skipped the movie and went to pick her up.  So three and a half weeks after she was born, she came home.   Her actual due date was still weeks away.
They had told me to alternate bottle feeding breast milk with breastfeeding because it was too difficult for her to breastfeed.  Luckily she was my second, so I more or less knew what I was doing and after 24 hours of complete frustration with the alternating process I decided to drop the bottles and feed her myself exclusively.  I’m glad I did, it was difficult at first, but she eventually got the hang of it.   I was still pumping, though, because I had too much milk.  She was little and couldn’t each much, my body thought I had a much bigger baby by then.  

She fattened up nicely and was a little behind in her milestones like smiling, laughing, sitting and crawling.  But by eighteen months she was completely caught up, and she is a perfectly happy healthy almost five year old girl now.   She is the light of my life and we will always have a special bond.

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