One Week at TMH (Birth Story Part 3)

Slowly but surely, I’m going to get this whole “series” written about Emerson’s birth. Actually, this might be the third and final post, if I can wrap everything up without the word-count for this post being 4 billion words…. So if you haven’t read PART 1 and PART 2 of my birth story, you should start there. I left off with Emerson being pulled out of my belly via c-section at 9:45 a.m. Sunday, July 9, 2017, at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital (TMH, for y’all non-Tally folks), and her being wrapped up like a burrito, and placed on my chest.

Then Emerson was whisked away from me, while I was kept in the operating room. Jeff went with Emmie while they got her cleaned up, and took all of her first measurements. She was 19 3/4″, and 7lbs 2oz of perfection. 

During pregnancy, my doctor found a uterine fibroid, on the upper left part of my uterus. I didn’t know prior to pregnancy that I had it, so that was a surprise, but they monitored/measured the size at every ultrasound, and weren’t concerned with it. So after my c-section was complete, they cut that off before stitching me back up. (I actually didn’t know that had happened until like, a month or so later.) Then it was finally my turn to see Emmie again, for real this time. So they took me to the recovery wing, and we got to do skin-to-skin, and try breastfeeding for the first time. And y’all, I was still just kind of whimpering and crying that whole time, because it was so sweet and special, and I was still drugged up from surgery! Haha! 

So with a “normal” birth, you’re expected to stay in the hospital for approximately two days. But with a c-section, they plan to keep you at least four days. So with Emmie being born early Sunday morning, we expected to go home Wednesday, but we ended up staying there for an entire week (Saturday to Saturday), due to issues and complications with both myself and with Emerson. So along with all of the regular issues you go through during c-section recovery, and adjusting to life with a brand new baby, here’s a few other things we dealt with during her first week of life…

We went through all the “normal” issues that go along with the first few days of life with a newborn, and did our best to make it through those long nights of cluster feeding. Then on Tuesday, the pediatric hospitalist came in for a check-up, and noticed something about Emerson’s heart. She told us she had a Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD). Basically, this means she was born with a hole in the wall of her heart, where it just didn’t quite form correctly. So she was referred to pediatric cardiologist. On Wednesday, Dr. Vining (the pediatric cardiologist) came to see her and listen to her heart. They also took her for an EKG & an echo-cardiogram (Jeff went with her), to get “photos” & vitals on her heart. It’s hard to remember everything now, but basically he said it was a relatively small hole, and he thought it wouldn’t cause her problems, and might eventually close up on it’s own, requiring no surgery down the road. We have continued (& will continue) check-up’s with Dr. Vining every few months, and he maintains hers is a small-to-medium-sized VSD, and shouldn’t ever slow her down or hold her back. So praise the Lord for that!

Another thing that we noticed during those first few days of Emerson’s life was a small, white thing on the right side of her neck. We had no idea what it was, so we asked a nurse. Without looking at it (just based on our description), she thought it was just baby acne, and said not to worry. But based on the way it felt I knew that wasn’t true. So we had the doctor look at it, and SHE had no idea what it was. So Tuesday evening, they brought an ultrasound machine into our room, and tried to get a closer look at it. It took 45 minutes to get a clear look (she was so tiny & squirmy, and that thing is not built for tiny, squirmy infants), and Emerson & Mommy were both crying the entire time. So they next day they had a few people look at the ultrasound, but they still didn’t know. So then she was referred to another specialist, an Ear, Nose & Throat (ENT) doctor. On Wednesday, Dr. Whitaker (from Tally ENT) came to look at it, but he wasn’t quite sure either. He suggested it could be something like a cyst or misplaced cartilage. So we have continued to see him every few months for an ultrasound as well. But since he doesn’t know what it is completely, he wants to be safe & plans to surgically remove it around her first birthday. That way, it won’t have the chance to grow bigger, potentially prohibit muscle growth, or become infected for any reason. 

Hard to really “get it” just from one photo since it’s so abnormal, but this at least gives you some frame of reference. It kind of feels like a dull fish hook under her skin, because you can push it back and forth and move it around, but it’s still kind of soft. If that makes any sense….

OK, another reason we were in the hospital for a full week, was because after surgery, I developed cellulitis all across my stomach. “Cellulitis is a bacterial infection of the skin & tissues beneath the skin, that appears as a red, swollen skin rash, that feels tender and hot.” (Got that from Dr. Google.) So because of this infection, I was put on very strong IV antibiotics for FOUR DAYS. Oh, let me back up about the whole IV experience. When I first entered the hospital that past Saturday morning after my water broke, it took 3 different nurses, 3 different attempts (with 1 blown vein, and good Lord that hurt!), to get the IV inserted properly for labor. So then when I was told I had to get a new IV on Wednesday around noon (the labor one had been removed Tuesday), I cried just hearing that. It once again took a couple of nurses a couple of tries to find a good vein, and get it inserted correctly. Even then, it was in an awkward spot on my hand, and made breastfeeding/holding baby very difficult and painful, and so I of course cried over that as well. Then around midnight my nurse came to administer the next round of antibiotics (they dripped for 30 minutes, given every 6 hours), I could feel the medicine stinging inside my vein. Well guess what? That was a sign my vein had had enough, and was worn down from all the meds. So they had to remove that IV, and input a new one, again. This time they called the special IV team to come to my room. They finally showed up around 5 a.m. Thursday morning, and two ladies worked for about 30 minutes back & forth on each arm, trying to find the right vein. It took ANOTHER three tries (and another blown vein), and I was crying the whole time. Because yes it hurt, but I was also just at the end of my rope, and it had been an extremely looooong stressful day. Eventually the redness & swelling on my skin (from the infection) started to recede, and I got my final round of antibiotics shortly before discharge Saturday morning. Then I threw myself a small party when the third IV was once again removed. And now I’ve learned I don’t have “good veins.”

(Oh, and since antibiotics give me a yeast infection literally every single time I take them, I got THE worst one of my life after all those IV antibiotics. I actually ended up back in the Women’s Pavillion triage that next Monday night {only 2 days after discharge} because of the pain, and other stuff. The infection was actually on my surgery incision, and everywhere “else” too. I was then given super strong meds for that, which I took for literally weeks afterwards… And I ate all the yogurt every day. And I went back to see Dr. McKinnie at NFWC for weekly incision checks for about a month. Sorry if this part was TMI…)

Next issue… Emerson’s bilirubin levels were slightly high. Long story short, I wasn’t producing enough breast milk, so she wasn’t eating enough, so she wasn’t pooping enough, so her bilirubin levels rose a little too high… So for a few days they were doing the heel stick blood test on her to monitor her levels. (She was always right under the level for needing to be under the lights, so they didn’t actually have to do anything about it, and she was almost normal by the time we finally left the hospital.) We also saw a lactation consultant that day help with breastfeeding, but since my breast milk wasn’t coming in, on Wednesday we started supplementing feeding her with formula provided by the hospital. (Haven’t decided if I will blog my breastfeeding journey or not yet, but feel free to message/text me if you want to talk about it, I like talking about it now actually, and us mama’s gotta share info!)

So did y’all notice all the stuff that happened just on Wednesday of that week? It was just too much… I’m pretty sure I spent that entire day crying. Nurses, doctors, family, hubby… all of them saw me crying (more like sobbing) at some point that day. 

OK, then one more “scare” happened really early Friday morning… since I had the cellulitis infection, they were doing blood draws on me every day to monitor all my levels & vitals & such. So they came in for a blood draw while I was getting an IV antibiotic drip. So when they sent that blood to the lab, the results came back CRAZY. Like the Doctor on call rushed in to check on me, because it was so off. But apparently they shouldn’t have done the blood draw at the same time, from the same arm, that the antibiotics were going into, and that caused an issue. But in the meantime, before we knew that, they made a huge deal out of what it might mean, and what we might have to do, and it was just scary. And I cried. But after the second round of results came back, everything was normal, and we all took a deep breath. 

Finally after 8 full days in the hospital (remember we checked in at 5 a.m. on Saturday, July 8th, and were kept through Saturday, July 15th), we were officially discharged Saturday morning around 11 a.m.! And we got to take our sweet baby girl home! And good grief weren’t we all so grateful for that. I hadn’t been outside that entire time, so I was glad to see blue skies & breathe fresh air again! And mostly I was just just so in awe of and in love with our perfect little creation! And so thankful we were finally on our way home!

3 thoughts on “One Week at TMH (Birth Story Part 3)”

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