As I said in my previous post, Jay was taken to the NICU immediately to start the cooling protocol. I was so out of it and just plain exhausted that I slept through most of the first afternoon of him being up there. I remember being wheeled from the recovery room to my hospital room with empty arms, and being devastated that I didn’t have my baby with me. But at the same time, I was just so exhausted all I wanted to do was close my eyes and go to sleep.
My sister brought us some food because at this point it was 4:00 on Sunday afternoon and I hadn’t eaten since 12:00 on Saturday for lunch. When she showed up with food, I didn’t want anything, and I remember people telling me I had to eat. I choked down a few bites of food through tears and pushed the tray away and went to sleep. I didn’t care who was in the room or what they were doing, all I wanted to do was go to sleep because at least then I couldn’t feel the heartbreak.
I would wake up every so often and look around at who was in the room with us and then roll back over and go to sleep. Jamie’s mom and stepdad drove from Florence that afternoon to come see us and see Jay. My sister and brother were there and my mom and stepdad. My mom stayed with us in the hospital room that night.
Jamie went back and forth to the NICU all night long to check on Jay. My mom woke me up around midnight and told me I should go up there because Jay needed to hear my voice. I just didn’t have the strength, mentally or physically, to go up there yet. I went back to sleep and kept waking up every so often and just remembering how horrible the situation was. The nurse told me she would be back around 6 to help me get out of bed and get dressed. I was up and waiting on her around 5:30 and I was finally ready to go see my baby.
They all insisted on me sitting in a wheel chair, because I had just gone through major surgery. I appeased them and let Jamie push me up to the NICU. On our way up, he tried to prepare me on what to expect when I saw Jay. Nothing could have prepared me how it felt to finally see my baby and also to see him the way he was in that tiny little plastic box.
It was completely heartbreaking and I immediately began to cry. I vaguely remember his night nurse giving Jamie an update. I just stood there and sobbed. I couldn’t believe that was my poor baby laying there. I honestly didn’t know what to think. I just felt so sorry for him and I felt so scared of not knowing anything about his condition. We didn’t stay there very long because the nurses were about to change shifts, so we went back down to my room.
The reality of everything started to hit and I knew we would be getting bombarded with phone calls and texts from friends and family because no one really knew what had happened. Jamie and I decided it would be best to just post a quick update on facebook asking for our privacy because of the complications.
The nurse invited us to come to rounds with the doctors to get updates on Jay’s condition. She gave us a notebook to keep track of what the doctors said and to write down any questions. That first time in rounds was very overwhelming. There was so much medical talk and I felt like I was writing down every single thing they said to ask them what it meant. That day we learned that Jay’s condition was called Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy or HIE. That mean’s a lack of blood flow and oxygen to the brain. We were basically told that we wouldn’t have any answers until he was warmed up at the end of the 72 hours period. For the next few days there really wasn’t going to be much change in his condition.
As I said before, he was on the cooling blanket to basically induce hypothermia so that his brain would be getting most of the oxygen and blood flow. He was on morphine to keep him sedated and not in pain so he didn’t do anything but lay very still. He was getting all of his nutrition through his IV. He also had an IV in his belly button so that the nurses could easily draw blood to keep testing his levels.
After rounds, I met with a lactation consultant to get me started pumping. It went well, but when you start out pumping instead of nursing you truly produce nothing. By the end of the first day I was getting maybe one drop of colostrum. I would literally scoop up the one, tiny drop in a syringe and send it upstairs to the NICU. The nurse let me put a few of those drops on Jay’s lips, but because he was so sedated he didn’t have much of a reaction. I was pumping every 4 hours and hoping to get more each time.
Throughout the day, we had some visitors: My mom, sister, brother, stepdad, and Jamie’s dad. We didn’t want a lot of visitors and had decided we only wanted family going back to see Jay. Every time I would walk back to see him, I would just start crying. I tried so hard not to cry standing at his crib, but I couldn’t help it.
That night, after everyone left Jamie and I both just broke down crying in my hospital room. I remember asking Jamie if Jay was going to die. The question had been on my mind all day long and I was too afraid to ask it because I wasn’t sure I wanted to know the answer. Jamie said he didn’t think so, and that made me feel a little better. We went upstairs to see Jay one last time and then went to sleep.
The following two days, Tuesday and Wednesday, were filled with the same thing. We would visit Jay in the NICU, I would pump, and we went to rounds with the doctors. Again, they didn’t really have many updates because he was still on the cooling blankets.
Every Time I wanted to see my baby, I had to ring a bell, get buzzed in, only after identified myself as “Baby Hulon’s Mom”, and scrub my hands before I could go to his crib. No mother should ever have to go through that!! It honestly made me want to cry every. Single. Time.
On Tuesday, my dad and stepmom got in and stayed with us in the hospital room for a while. We also decided we would let some of our closest friends come visit us in the room, but told them we weren’t ready to let them see Jay. It was nice to have my best friends laying in the hospital bed with me, but still so sad at the same time. I kept thinking they should be coming to see and hold Jay for the first time.
At this point I was starting to dread leaving the hospital because I knew I would be leaving without my baby. I spoke with a case worker and she worked something out with our insurance to where we were able to stay for one more day. So, Thursday would be the day that I was being discharged from my room. I didn’t want Thursday to come!
On Wednesday afternoon, they started warming Jay back up. It took over 12 hours to warm him up completely because they would raise his temperature a fraction of a degree every hour. My mom stayed with us on Wednesday night, because that was a critical point for us. Jay had been hooked up to EEG probes the whole time, to monitor for any seizure activity. But, the doctors told us that one critical part of the warming process was that he could possibly start to have seizures. I was completely terrified the entire time he was getting warmed up. I didn’t want him to have any seizures. Jamie and I went to check on Jay every hour through Wednesday night and into Thursday morning. We finally got some good news, Jay had no seizures, he was warmed back up, and we felt a little bit of relief!