Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Life in the NICU

At 28 weeks along a routine ultrasound revealed that Hudson had Spina bifida.  The final ten weeks of pregnancy were quite a whirlwind with lots of medical appointments in preparation for his arrival.  We wanted to ensure the very best care for our boy and we were very fortunate to be connected with the medical professionals at TCH.  We knew ahead of time that Hudson would spend some time in the NICU.  We ended up staying for two weeks.  He spent the first week in the north tower level 4.  Lita, Big Daddy and Uncle Joseph were able to meet our little man very shortly after his birth.  We were all so bummed that Emma and Owen were not allowed into the NICU because it was flu season :(  Hudson was not allowed to eat the first day because of his impending surgery.  Conveniently there is a sky bridge connecting TCH to the Women's Pavilion. 

Because I was very weak and ended up having a blood transfusion I was unable to visit him that first day.  Looking back I can't believe I was so calm about it but I suppose I was quite exhausted and medicated!  Jarrod kept busy going back and forth between my hospital room and the NICU and was able to hold Hudson around midnight.

I was able to visit him the next morning.  He was hooked up to several wires including heart rate, oxygen level and blood pressure.  I wasn't allowed to hold him in order to protect his open wound.   He was so tiny and handsome!

He underwent spinal closure surgery at just over 24 hours of age.  On Tuesday, March 10th his surgery began at 2:45pm and lasted approximately three hours.  On the way to the OR a sweet NICU nurse made special arrangements for his crib to be wheeled right by Emma and Owen so that they could see him for the very first time.  Their visit was brief but memorable. 

We were relieved when we received word that the surgery was complete.  Dr Whitehead, his neurosurgeon, came out to speak directly with us afterward.  He said that everything went well and that he was recovering nicely.  They ended up keeping Hudson intubated overnight. 

Here is our brave boy's incision.  We are thankful for skilled hands and wisdom of the physicians and pray that he continues to heal nicely.

I was finally able to hold him for the first time on Wednesday afternoon, March 11th.  I had waited long enough and really enjoyed that precious moment!  I held him for hours.

On Thursday Big Daddy and Lita took the big kids to Waco.  Before they left our nurse worked her magic and got the manager to agree to allow Emma and Owen in the NICU for a five minute visit.  Oh how thankful I was for those few moments in time.  They are in love :) 

On Friday, March 13th I was able to nurse him for the first time.  He did well but it was a learning  process!  I pumped a lot and ended up feeding him by bottle some.  Dr Whitehead made rounds and informed us that the incision was possibly leaking cerebral spinal fluid but suspected it was due to a certain type of stitch used.  He added a new one with a special thread and it has been great ever since.

All of the NICU doctors, nurses, managers and staff were beyond AMAZING!!!  They all went above and beyond to make us comfortable.  His neonatologists were Dr Welty and Dr Bonaparte.  The doctors made rounds every morning and were great about keeping us informed and making us feel like part of the team caring for our tiny patient.  In level 4 each nurse was responsible for two babies.  Pictured here is sweet nurse Linh.  She was one of our very favorites!  Some of our other favs were Jima, Gwen, Claire, April and Tina.  We knew he was always in great hands!

That weekend it was clear that Hudson was regulating his own body temperature well.  This was one thing that was required to go home.  Upon making rounds the staff suspected he might be a bit jaundice.  However, his levels tested fine!  His calcium level was low and he began a multivitamin.  

Tuesday, March 17th {St Patrick's Day!} was a good day!  His NG tube was removed and his head ultrasound was stable.  He also moved {"graduated" as the staff said} to NICU level 2 down the hall, which is where he was for the remainder of our stay.  The nurse just so happened to dress him in a green shirt for St Patrick's Day :)

On Friday, March 20th Hudson was given an echocardiogram as well as a few different urology tests to track bladder control and kidney reflux.  These are things we will continue to track.
Hudson's weight dropped significantly so he was put on a strict feeding schedule every 3 hours around the clock.  He is a rather slow eater so it often felt like he ate ALL the time!  He very rarely opened his eyes. One particular evening at bedtime he seemed especially interested in whatever his daddy had to say :)

Most of our time was spent hanging out while Hudson healed.  We learned how to catheterize him and how to read the monitors he was attached to.  We washed and sanitized our hands over and over again.  We were utterly exhausted.  We got used to the beeps and buzzes.  We joked that Hudson would never be able to sleep as well at home without the sounds of the NICU!  We witnessed the good and the bad.  We found ourselves praying for other families going through their own medical circumstances.

We were blessed to be granted a room at the on site Ronald McDonald House every night we needed it.  It was on the same floor as the NICU and allowed us to stay close to our little guy around the clock.  The NICU nurses would often encourage us to get some rest and to take a break!  We took their advice and even explored the area.  It seemed like we ate continuously!  McDonalds, Chick fil A and Starbucks were in the hospital.

The last few of our NICU days were spent trying to get Hudson to gain weight.  The doctor suggested we add in some high calorie formula to his diet to help him gain weight faster.  By the end of our NICU stay catheterization was no longer necessary.

 On Sunday, March 22nd we finally received the green light to go HOME!!  The big kids had spent the night before with us in a hotel so it worked out well that they were present for the big moment!   

THANK YOU so much to those who came to visit us at the hospital.  It was so comforting to see familiar faces and it was a joy to introduce you to Hudson during his first few days.  Thanks to Big Daddy, Lita, Grandpa and Grandma for coming to the rescue and caring for big sister and brother so that we were able to focus on baby Hudson!  Please keep our little guy in your prayers!

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