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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Part III - Brecken's Birth Story

I, now,  call it my trilogy.  Part one and part two and now part three of Brecken's "birth" story.  I cannot believe how many people have emailed me and texted me comments and really nice thoughts about them.  I also am surprised at how many people say I remember so much.  Apparently, I expect to remember more than most people do.  Such as exact quotes.  Such as exact times.  I want it all.  I don't want to forget a thing.

For part two I sent the rough draft to Mark and Molly and wanted them to fill in any details I forgot.  Neither had just about anything to add and both said they couldn't believe how much I remembered.

Well, that's until now.

I will pick up from Molly and Brian leaving, but it's like I was drugged and given a bottle of Vodka.  That's how I remember the details.  For the record I have never been drugged (that I know of) and I've never drank a bottle of Vodka (in one night or day).

He was in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit from about 2pm on Sunday until about 5pm on Tuesday.

Since it was such a longer span of time and I was on percocet for some of it for my pain, really my memories are more like bullet points.

Therefore, I will relay my memories in bullet points.  These will most likely not even be in order.  If I wait for me to put them in order, he may have his first birthday by then.

* I don't remember him getting set up in his room.  But I do remember when the first nurse left she shut the sliding glass doors to his room.  It was just like Grey's Anatomy.  But not at all as cool.

* I remember dragging my feet to the bathroom.  Sliding my socked feet down the hall.  I was in so much pain.

He's hooked up to tons of things. :(

* I remember after everything we had been through.... when they took him for an EKG they found out he also had a bicuspid valve.  This gave us a whole new set of worries.  Two parts of his heart are fused together.  Eventually, he will need a procedure.  Sometime in his life.  We're hoping in this thirties.  At this time (7 mo) he has a healthy heart.

* I remember only one of us were allowed to sleep overnight at the hospital.  Mark went home each night for the big kids and I stayed with the baby.  I went home on Sunday at about 4pm and went with Mark to pick the kids up from Auntie Sandy's.  Can you imagine your mom drops you off at 3 on Saturday, nine months pregnant, then shows up the very next day at 4pm in the same clothes and kinda smiles and says, "I had your baby brother.  Can you tell?"  They were happy and hugging me and ask to see him and I start (slightly crying) hugging them saying, "Not now he's in a special hospital to make sure he's healthy."

* I soaked in the tub, at home, on Sunday, the same day I gave birth, thinking that just the day before I sat in that exact same tub with my belly so hard and I had a baby in there and I was so so happy.  Now just a day later I was in the tub with a super floppy jelly belly and so sad I cried so many tears the water level went up a bit.  I was so sad for so many reasons.  It was the first time I was actually alone and I realized I was so damn sad I couldn't even believe it.

* I remember I got dressed and went straight to my bedroom and laid on my bed with wet hair and called Liv.  I recently asked her what I said and how our conversation went.  I do remember she listened and then she said, "What can I do, Kel?"  I believe I cried, "Nothing.  Nobody can do anything."  That's exactly how I felt.  Not even I could do anything.

* Very soon after that phone call, Mark's mom came over to watch the big kids and brought me beautiful flowers with a gorgeous card that had a prayer on the front.  I remember being so grateful.  (It's odd as I type this, this is the most emotional I've been since typing out any of these stories.  These moments are not ones I've relived in my memory.) I remember her hugging me when we left.  She still had her coat on.

* Mark drove us back to the hospital.  It was like a bad dream.  He had to drop me off at the ER doors because I couldn't walk from the ramp as I had just did less than 10 hours before.

* I remember him asking a hundred times if I was going to be ok with him leaving.  I reassured him over and over I would be fine and he'd be back as soon as he dropped the big kids off at school at 9 the next morning.  But after he left it was so hard.  I stood at Brecken's little incubator - ish thing and I touched him and talked to him.  The nurses were in there constantly and I talked to them a lot.  I asked a ton of questions.

* I texted my long term sub she needed to work for me on Monday.  But I didn't tell her I had the baby.

* I cannot tell you how absolutely EXHAUSTED I was when I laid down on that plastic pull out couch that night.  I gave birth at 3am...everything that happened - happened - and now I was finally laying down.  At first I wondered how I was going to sleep.  Next thing I knew it was 2am and a nurse was giving my baby medicine.  I sat up and tried to stand, and once again, I realized I was really hurt.  I could not get my right leg off the bed.  I remember I grabbed my sleeping pants with my right hand and drug my leg off the bed.  I stood up.  I wanted to be there for my baby.  I wasn't the lazy mom who's sleeping while someone else is caring for her baby.  I stood there the entire time she checked whatever with him.  She said I could lay down.  There was no way in hell I was going to lay there while someone else did anything with him.  When she left and he was sleeping I fell asleep again for about two hours.

* Monday morning: Only a small handful of people even knew Brecken had been born.  We are very blessed because we have many many family and friends who are super caring and loving and would do anything for us.  That means if word got out that he had been born and things weren't looking so good we would have received emails, texts, visits that were forbidden (flu season), God knows what else.  We had no answers.  I didn't want to talk to anybody.  I mean anybody.  I was dealing with some serious shit and wanted to be left alone.  I didn't even tell my good girlfriends. (For the record, I did call Laura, but she didn't answer.)

* When I sat up at about 6:30 am on Monday I started thinking about how sad I was.  I was in a semi-dark NICU room.  I could see my little baby through the plastic sides of his incubator thing.  I was sad for me.  I thought this was the time my friends would be there gushing over my baby and me.  Smiles and pictures and laughter.  Instead I was alone with this poor baby I that I had no idea how his future would turn out.  I was sad for Victoria and Christian.  They took the hospital tour.  When Mommy has the baby there's no reason to be scared, it will be a happy time! - the nurse told them.  Happy my ass.

Suddenly I realized, Holy crap, the kids knew I had the baby and they were about to go to school!  What the hell will everyone think that I didn't tell any of them?  I completely forgot, until that moment, that V and I go to the same school.  I dialed Laura's number from my cell phone at about 7:15am.
This is my recollection of that call:
Laura: Hey Girl!  What's up?! (super chipper for a Monday morning)
Me: (I immediately felt a little better hearing her voice) Are you driving to school?
L: Yeah, what's up?
M:  I had the baby (not a nanosecond passed)
L: OH MY GOD!!!!!  YAY!!!!  WHAT DID YOU HAVE?!?!?
M: It's a boy. (Then I started sobbing.)  I think she said she was going to pull over.

I told her as much of the story as I could.  Laura's first born was premature and also spent time in the NICU and she was the most perfect person I could have talked to.  I told her to tell people at school but to tell everyone I did not want one congratulations or one questions.  Specifically, leave me alone.  Tell "the girls" the details but that's it.  

About an hour later I went to the family waiting room and called Victoria's teacher - my friend Jennifer.  I was so worried about Victoria worrying about me and her brand new baby brother.  I remember when J answered the phone and heard my voice she said, "Oh my God, it's her!"  Turns out all my friends were in her room talking about us.  I sobbed through the entire conversation.  I told her to be extra loving towards V, which I knew I didn't have to say, but as a mom, I did have to say.

She said Amanda wants to talk to you.  She got on the phone and sounded so very sad and said, "Hi Sweetie......"  That's all I remember.  Suddenly everyone was so sad for me.  For nine months I thought this would be the time they would have been so happy for me.  I think that moment was the saddest I've ever been.  Within a couple minutes I was off the phone.

I walked down the halls dragging my feet in such pain, it was embarrassing.  I slid open Brecken's door.  I stood next to him and I listened to the machines beeping and looked at his chubby cheeks and couldn't believe how much I loved him.  After feeling so sad the love swept over me.  For a bit, I was at peace.

* Mark came back and brought me something to eat.  McDonald's perhaps?  We laid down and both fell asleep.

* When the doctors made rounds that day I was trying to nurse and I let them talk to me with just a blanket over my top half.

*I pumped more than an hour total that day and did not got one single drop.

* I called in the lactation consultant.  She assured me this was normal.

* I still didn't have milk on Tuesday morning.  She assured me it was from stress and when I got home my milk would come in.  My worrying about it continued.  This was not normal.  Any and every MAMMAL gets milk before then.

* The NICU policy about letting people in is typically tight, for good reason.  But since it was the height of the flu season NOBODY was allowed beside parents.  We asked a couple nurses if the kids could come for a quick visit.  Two said no.  But the nice one, she said yes.  She said they would have to bathe after school and wear completely clean clothes.

It was not the way I imagined it.  I'm certain they were both scared, especially Victoria.  I could tell by her face, she knew something was wrong before she even stepped into the room.  But Christian, I could feel that boy's love for his new brother 10 feet away.  He walked right up to him and wanted to touch him.  Victoria had a more difficult time.  She had some tears.  Within a couple minutes she was comfortable and asking questions and loving him more and more by the second.

This is the very second they ever touched Brecken.

Could they be any more precious?

He could not stop kissing him.
He still hasn't 7 months later.

He wanted "One last look" so he wouldn't forget.

Finally in his 'Coming home' outfit, even though he wasn't quite ready to come home.

* On Monday, Brecken's calcium was really high.  Really really high.  It could have been because of his liver or this, that or the other thing.  Or it could have been because he had been given so many fluids but not actually eating.  My milk was not in so the, very impatient, doctor wanted to give him fluids.  Neither V or C EVER had formula.  It's my thing.  I feed my babies.  That's it.  The lady was laying a guilt trip on me about did I want him to have all these tests just because I wouldn't allow formula.  She also said she doesn't believe in nipple confusion, for the record neither do I.  But I needed a minute.  I needed her to say what she had to say and walk out and then I could have made a peaceful decision.  Instead she and all her little doctor friends stood there and literally stared at me.  I remember I started shaking and looked at Mark.  I whispered, "What do you think?"  He said out loud, "That's your department."  I wish he would have told them we needed a minute.  Because that's really all I needed.  But instead, not only did I 'cave' (in my mind) but I wasn't happy but still rational.  I agreed he could be given one ounce of formula.  She opened the cupboard and started putting a nipple on this little pre-made bottle and was literally going to stick it in his mouth until I yelled, "I'M GOING TO DO IT AT LEAST!"  And I did.  And I cried.  I thought my chance of him nursing was over.  I thought my body producing milk for him was not going to happen.  I fed him his first meal and my tears fell all over his face.  And I didn't care.  After all I had been through, this was just one more thing 'they' took away from me.  They took his blood two hours later and it was normal.  The formula was a good thing.

* I remember one of my favorite nurses slipping him into our Take Him Home Outfit while I was in the bathroom on Monday.  I was so happy.  I looked so much cuter and healthier.

*The overnight nurse on Monday night was young.  Early 20's.  She was about to give him his usual HUGE dose of Tylenol and I said, "What do you think about waiting and seeing if he REALLY needs that?  When will we know he's not actually feeling pain if we keep giving that too him?"  "You're the mom.  It's totally your decision."

She was THE first person that made me feel like I had a say in ANYTHING since I walked in Regions to give birth.  Finally, I could feel myself being me again.  "Ok.  Let's wait a bit and see if he needs it."

He never took Tylenol again there.  Soon after that, he seemed to be more coherent and awake much more, for a newborn.  That was the first time I felt hopeful for us.

Our favorite nurse.
It's sad I don't remember her name.
I know it starts with a J.
I made her  a card with that picture and I tucked it away while I looked for the address and still have never sent it.  And now I don't even know the lady's name.
But she was funny.
On our last few hours there she changed Brecken's diaper and she said,
"You are the biggest baby in the NICU right now.  These diapers fit you like Speedos!"
I almost peed my pants.  Ok, maybe I did a little (I just had a baby for crying out loud!!!) 
She was so funny!

In the last couple hours we were there Mark was getting up from the rocking chair and got stuck half way up saying, "Ow, ow, ow......." til he got straightened out. (If you know Mark, he's had some serious back trouble in the last couple years.  This was at the height of it.)

He stood up and this nurse looked at him.  Then looked at me and said, "He's kidding?  Right?"  
Yep, peed myself.  I drug my feet right to the bathroom.
When I got back I was still smiling and she didn't miss a beat:
"He knows you just had a baby right?"
Lucky I just emptied my bladder.
It was the first time I really laughed in several days and I needed it.
She, Mark and I all cracked up.
Mark and I complained (jokingly - kinda) about the chairs and she, "Jesus, those chairs are brand new because everyone bitched about the last ones.  You two, get out of here."  Yes, direct quote, I know because it was the most hilarious thing I ever heard!!!!  She was the sweetest little nurse too nervous to put a catheter in to such a little baby without pain meds since he went through what he did, but now she's swearing at us.  I found it the best stress relief ever.

I texted this pic to a couple people.
Liv said, "You look exhausted."
She was right.

* At about 2pm on Tuesday the doctors finally made their rounds and the doctor said, "I see no medical reason for keeping him.  Take him home!"  We were shocked!!!  We were told Thursday at the earliest!  We didn't even have the carseat there!  It took Mark a couple hours to go home and get the carseat and get the kids to his parents' house so they could be watched while we packed up our brand new baby!!

First time ever in his carseat.
Seven months later, he still dislikes it.

* When we "checked out" the nurse literally cleaned the drawers out for us.  She gave us everything!  It was fabulous.  We couldn't have been happier to be taking hime home!!

We were on our way home!!!  

Monday, October 21, 2013

After He Was Born

Mark had realized something was wrong with Brecken's testicle as soon as he was born.  He mentioned it to me several times.  With my total exhaustion and faith in the medical staff I chalked it up to him being over anxious.  He mentioned it to each and every nurse.  Two of them looked and said they'd send in a doctor.  It didn't happen.  Finally a pediatrician came in at 8:05 and looked and sent Brecken down for an ultrasound.  I told Mark to go with him.  This is where my memories begin getting foggy.  They came back and Mark said something like, "It isn't good."  I still thought he was being dramatic and didn't think much of it.  I took a bath and Molly and Brian came, as I stated in a previous post.  We had less than half an hour of loving our Little Miracle when the pediatrician came in.

I will (or hope) never forget that moment.  She came in and sat right down and asked our guests to leave.  I immediately said, "They are the Godparents, they can stay to hear anything you have to say."  "Are you sure?" she asked me.

Not a single one of us in that room was in any way prepared to hear what she was about it say.

Basically she said, "Your baby's testicle twisted when it was descending from his body and died.  We're afraid the other one is also in jeopardy.  I have ordered the ambulance.  He needs to have emergency surgery at Children's Hospital as soon as possible."

I remember feeling shocked.  People throw the word 'shocked' around all the time.  However, I was actually shocked.  Speechless and soon unconsolable.  We're at REGIONS!  How can YOU not help him?!  I remember clearly, she moved from across the room right to my bedside and said, "I wouldn't let them do this surgery on my baby here and you wouldn't either."

And so it was. Mark and I immediately were handed a form on a clipboard and we both signed.  I guarantee neither of us read a word through our tear filled eyes.

She asked if I wanted to be a checked in as a patient at United or if I'd like to discharge myself as a parent.  I felt like it was a trick question.  I gave birth about six hours ago and am fully aware I can't lift my right leg.  I said, "I definitely need to be a patient."  Even though all my thoughts were about my baby I knew I needed to be a patient myself.

Mark, Molly, Brian and I started packing stuff asking each other what should go here, there, etc.  Less than five minutes later the pediatrician came back in to let me know ACTUALLY my options were to stay at Regions (BY MYSELF) or AMA discharge myself and go with my baby.

This is when shit got really interesting.  I just about lost it.  My memories aren't that clear.  Between the adrenaline, lack of sleep and stress, I was one mess.  I was saying, "I can't believe it. I can't believe this is happening to us," over and over.

My memories of the next 10 minutes are very random. Molly left the room to speak medical with the nurses/doctor.  Brian was extremely, What can I do to help?  And he was really helpful.  I was dancing a fine line between psycho and trying to stick with reality.  I remember telling him to grab this, that, this that.  He did everything we asked.  I put my maternity clothes back on from the night before.

Of course I pretty much said, "I'm outta here!" and signed the form.  Although I was actually thinking, I don't get it. I'm just supposed to leave?  Nobody walks very much 6 hours after having a baby and now they're making me leave?!  I knew I'd do whatever it took, but in the back of my mind I was saying You've GOT to be kidding me!

Not minutes later - everything happened so so very fast - a group of four people showed up with an incubator and tons of wire on wheels.

They rolled in and my heart sank.  They started hooking my little baby up to tons of wires and lifting him into this machine.  And putting 'seat' belts around him.  This I remember clearly:  I said I wanted to go in the ambulance and they said I couldn't.  I said, "THEN HE IS".  They denied us both and I was beyond defeated.  No tears.  No words.  They won.  I lost.  After all of this, strangers were taking my baby away from me.  I fought it a bit.  Maybe I knew it was best.  Maybe I was delirious.  For a strange moment I thought it was them against us.  This baby who I'd only seen for a few short hours was now being taken away.  I really didn't even know what he looked like.  I was actually nervous we weren't going to get the same baby back.  (Mark later pointed out - we'd have to get the baby with the "bad ball.")

They wouldn't let me have a wheel chair since I was AMA. So I started walking down the hall very slowly.  I kept telling Molly and Brian and Mark we had to go faster because I wanted to be at the hospital when he got there so he wasn't alone.  Even though I was the slow one I kept telling them we had to go faster.  We finally got to the minivan.  If I wanted to pretend something wasn't wrong with me this far, this was the final moment I realized, Oh my God, I am hurt.  I literally could not for the life of me, get my right leg to lift.  Mark had to come around and actually lift it in for me to get in the minivan.

Mark was trying to figure out how to get to Children's Hospital and I was going through Kleenex after Kleenex sobbing.  He would ask me a question and I would respond, "I think so."  Because I didn't have a clue.

My baby.  My poor little brand new baby.  Surgery?  Putting him under?  He's brand new!  How can this be happening to us?  What if our little baby doesn't make it?  How will I survive?  I was in my thoughts and it was dangerous.

Mark got us there in about seven minutes.  We are blessed to have one of the best Children's Hospitals in the WORLD in our city.  I swear, that's why God made us have the baby at Regions rather than St. John's so we'd be closer.

I couldn't even get out of the car, even though that's all I wanted to do.  We walked to the elevator, down the hall, to the next hall.  I started leaning against the walls.  I was trying to get to my infant.  My newborn who had just come out of me.  There was nothing more than I wanted to get to him...but my body was shutting down.  The pain was one thing, but I literally could not make my right leg move.  Mark ended up 'stealing' a wheel chair and we were suddenly racing down the hall.

Next thing I knew we were in the same waiting room we were in when Christian had his tonsils removed less than two months earlier.  However, this time, it was a Sunday and nobody was around.  We were quickly moved back to Brecken to say good-bye.  They even let Molly and Brian back with us.  I remember being embarrassed about being in a wheel chair.  I remember my lips touching his face.  I remember my tears streaming down my face.  I remember looking up at Mark as he wheeled me out and even though he had tears in his eyes, he said, "He'll be fine. Trust me.  He'll be fine.  Ok?"  I just cried.

Molly and Brian some how (miraculously) got us Jimmy John's in the middle of all this.  I still don't know how.  They got a variety and let us both pick first.  I kept saying I wasn't hungry and they all kept saying I had to eat.  I picked one and a nurse walked by and whispered, "Good friends bring food."  I will never forget that.  Because that was the best thing they could have possibly have done for us at that time.  We spent that time eating, talking about how cute and precious Brecken is and even a couple laughs.

I remember I had to go to the bathroom and could barely walk from the wheelchair to the toilet. Even though I just had to get out of the wheelchair and back in, I was a mess.

One nurse wheeled a bed out for me.  I laid down.  Molly pulled over a little table and laid out some magazines for me.  She pulled her chair right up to the side of the bed.  I remember looking at her showing me something in a magazine (doing her best to take my mind off everything that was happening) and I actually thought, "Thank God she is here."

Less than an hour later he was out of surgery.  The surgeon pulled a chair right up to my bedside.  He said, "This is a travesty.  Just a travesty."  ...... He removed the dead testicle and put a couple stitches in the other to hold it still, but it also had twisted and there was the possibility it, too, would die.  He went over what that would mean in his future.

I stared into his eyes..I was thinking.... I didn't drink caffeine...I got sleep....I took my prenatals... I ate my  why?  is this happening to me?!?!  I wanted to sit up and scream.  But I pretended to listen.. but really knew Molly was listening.

Molly and Brian were allowed in to say good-bye before he was taken to the NICU.  We quickly said thank you to Molly and Brian as they left.  But I remember thinking they will NEVER know how thankful we really are to them.

Then Brecken was off to the NICU.