Last Tuesday, after Abby’s ultrasound at 34 weeks, her doctor was concerned about the baby’s size, and sent us to the hospital for some additional tests. Indeed he was small (they told us 3 pounds, 1 ounce), and even though his heart beat well and he passed a sort of stress test that measured how he would respond to contractions, Abby was discharged with the expectation that she would deliver in two weeks by c-section or possibly by inducing labor.
She was discharged just in time for a wonderful baby shower on Saturday with my mom and her parents both in town.
Then on Wednesday, after another doctor’s appointment, the doctor told us again to go to the hospital. More drama – Abby’s fluid had dropped. Another ultrasound confirmed this finding — some measurement of amniotic fluid had dropped from 18 to 4. Fortunately, our triage doctor knew our ob-gyn personally, and when she called, he scheduled the C-section for 5pm on Thursday. He wasn’t even on call, but wanted to do the surgery himself.
So on Thursday, April 26, at 5:56pm in an operating room of Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Children, James William Gjertsen was born into this world.
2 pounds 14 ounces was the official birthweight. We were a little surprised it was less than 3 pounds, since the earlier ultrasounds had estimated him heavier. Abby barely got to see him at all before he was whisked off to the intensive care area, but I got a chance to snap a few photos.
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Abby is recovering a little slower than I had hoped, maybe, although making good progress. The foley cathether is out, the epidural is out, she’s on some pain medication on as as-needed basis. She’s still on “full liquid” diet, meaning she can eat cream of wheat, etc. When she’s able to pass gas she can move up to soft foods. Hopefully that’s today. She’s supposed to be pumping breastmilk every three hours, but I think yesterday she only had the energy to do it twice, and once the night after the surgery. The first two times she got a few drops of colostrum and the third time we got nothing.
Little James is down in the NICU, and we’ve gotten few details on his health. Mostly, though, we hear good things about his heart rate and blood pressure and respiratory system There are lots of little wires and tubes monitoring this and that and he likes to kind of pull at them with his long fingers; it’s cute. He has nice long fingers and feet, and he isn’t really all that short (16″) but he could use a little more muscle and fat on his bones.
So in addition to the triage doctor and the anesthesiologist and the delivery doctor and numerous other doctors and nurses, yesterday our army of caregivers increased by a couple more. We met a social worker who is here for our emotional support and we met our geneticist, who will be looking at James from the standpoint of different potential chromosomal abnormalities. There is some concern about his ears; one is misshapen and the other really doesn’t appear to have an ear canal at all. There is also some weakness in the muscles around his mouth so that’s something they’ll just be looking at and telling us more about in the days and weeks ahead.
So the social worker hooked us up with a free parking pass, and is helping us understand and cope with the implications that Abby may be discharged as early as tomorrow (somehow I’m thinking that Monday is more likely) but that James is going to be in NICU for maybe a month or more. She also told us that because we live in a different county from the hospital we actually qualify to stay at the Ronald McDonald House across the street if there is a room available. This is $15 a night, and it includes dinner. With Abby probably unable to drive herself around for a couple weeks, this seems like a good idea to us.
So this is going to be a long term ordeal. We praise God that James has passed many tests so far, and that through many trials of our own we have become parents. We feel the affirmation of our Father in heaven that we have somehow been faithful in small things, and now we have a big thing to be faithful in. This is one of those big things that comes in a small package!
God is good.Our Journey, Our Journey (chronological) | Comment (0)
Abby was upgraded overnight to a solid food diet! So she just had her first real breakfast as a mom, a biscuit with jelly and a bowl of Cheerios with OJ. She’s up and about more, although she walks slowly with less energy and some pain and discomfort.Our Journey, Our Journey (chronological) | Comment (0)
Sunday night I lost it temporarily. I was released from the hospital after the c-section and we had gotten a room at the Ronald McDonald House, so we went home to do laundry and re-pack for the next week (month?) away from home. After the bedrest and company there were a lot of things to do around the house on top of that. We decided we couldn’t make the 7:30 feeding with James and ordered pizza. My incision was aching from the unaccustomed exertion, but there was still so much to do.
As we started driving back to the hospital to make the 10:30 hands-on time with James, everything sort of hit me and I started crying. Being at home and seeing James’s nursery, the pack and play, all the clothes laundered for him, everything as I had left it when we went to the hospital…the contrast between the *idea* of James and the reality, between my expectations of having a baby and what life looked like now, the disappointment of things gone wrong–combined with the pain of not having him in my womb but not having him in my arms either–it was just overwhelming.
John said it reminded him of when I started crying as we drove away from our wedding reception–sort of a release of lots of stress, not tears of joy or sadness, but more like tears of change plus exhaustion.
I don’t want to say that I lost faith in God’s sovereign plan for James and us, but I did finally allow my mind to follow some of the recent events with James to their possible conclusions. What if he was deaf and we all had to learn sign language? What if he never got to go to regular school? What if he was mentally disabled? What if we spent his life in doctor’s offices? What if he couldn’t someday live independently? Seen in the cold light of day, none of these things are that bad, but somehow the shock that things hadn’t gone perfectly mixed with the fear of the future gripped me and I lost it, right there on the way to Publix to pick up milk and OJ. I had to stay in the car, sobbing, while John ran in before they closed. Fortunately they let him in.Our Journey, Our Journey (chronological) | Comments (4)
We just found out this morning that overnight James was determined to be blood type A+, and that his hematocrit level was still low. I’m giving a direct blood donation this morning since I’m also A+, but there are no doctors orders for a transfusion, yet, which we were thinking was imminent yesterday.
The main frustration with the NICU is that it’s very hard to get very much in the way of valuable, up-to-date information because there are so many different nurses and specialists who all have their own spin on things. As best we can tell, his blood is low, his blood sugar is still high, but he’s breathing completely on his own. He weighed in last night at just 1 ounce less than his birth weight, ~2lb. 13oz. He still has a lot of growing to do and the long-term issues with his ears and muscles around his mouth are still factors that we don’t know any more about.
The past two times we’ve seen him, he’s been a lot less fussy when the nurses have to take various diagnostic measurements — not as much pulling on tubes and crying, kicking his long legs out, etc. He seems content and settled into the routine, as Abby and I are getting used to our routine as well. The breast pumping is going very well; James has about 2 days of food stockpiled in the freezer for him.
We talk to him, as we are told he is able to recognize our voice (if he can hear), and if the light is dim enough he’ll open his eyes and stare out at us. A baby’s sense of smell is apparently super-duper advanced, so Abby and I have each slept with this little soft towel next to our chest, and we’ve put it in his isolette. Apparently that will make him feel secure and get to know us better. Still can’t hold him because of the line they have going into his belly button.
Don’t know if he can really see our faces, but he’s getting cuter every day. I read to him this morning from Ephesians 3. I figure if he’s going to get used to hearing daddy’s voice, he may as well start hearing from daddy’s Daddy, as well.Our Journey, Our Journey (chronological) | Comment (1)