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The Hospital Stay (Olivia’s Birth Story, Part 3)

If you haven’t read part 1 and part 2 of her birth story you can read them here.

Some of the events of the hospital stay are hard to remember. Especially those first two days. There are some things I remember in detail quite vividly, but just don’t want to relive them again. Here is a break down of the days, six in total. That’s a long stay.

Wednesday Nov. 18th

As I said in the previous post, I was put on a magnesium drip for 24 hours to prevent seizures due to the preeclampsia. I had a score of nurses in and out of my room all day, constantly checking my blood pressure. Olivia was experiencing low blood sugars on account of her slight prematurity and had to have foot sticks every four hours. Anytime her sugars dipped too low, they had to call in lab for a blood draw. All this meant she had to supplement. Luckily my hospital recently started offering donor milk that we could use if we had a medical issue, verses using formula. It was hard for me, because I was so concerned with being able to breastfeed successfully and I was worried her being given bottles right away would tamper with that. The first day we were able to use a little syringe and Chris fed her the milk after I nursed her. It was hard hearing her cries for every poke they gave her, even though I knew it was necessary.

My parents came for a short visit that evening. It sucked because I was so out of it and foggy from the mag drip and emotional and basically that visit was kind of a blur.

That first night I think Chris got a few hours of sleep, but I got none. We parked her bassinet as close to my bed as possible, but every time she cried, I could do nothing but put my hand in there after awkwardly maneuvering around the IV in my wrist and the pain from my incision. Every time I nursed her, I had to call for Chris to come get her for me. It was frustrating. Plus, every little noise she made kept me up. (Newborns are noisy.) Breastfeeding that first day was a bit rough. She was a floppy baby and I felt completely inept even though I had done so much research to try and prepare. Plus the day shift nurse was new or something and couldn’t help me at all which led to frustrated tears from me.

Thursday Nov. 19th

My bp was still acting up and the nurses told me I may not get to stop the mag in the morning. I ended up being on it until 11:30 am, but had to wait until the effects wore off to be able to get out of bed. Around 3:00 I started feeling better, not as fuzzy as I was, but still not back to normal. I got to stand up for a bit. Someone warned me (thanks E!) that when I stood, it would feel like my insides were going to fall out. That’s exactly what it felt it. Ugh. Not a good feeling. Later in the evening, I got my catheter out and was allowed to walk with two nurses to the bathroom. Again, besides for my insides trying to fall out, it felt really good to be able to get out of bed.

Olive continued to get her feet poked and had to be examined by the pediatrician. She wasn’t thrilled. But she did get her first bath which was amusing for us.

Our second night was rough. We didn’t sleep again and she was crying most of the night unless I was nursing her or she was on my chest. Anytime I tried to fall asleep, my body would jerk and I would startle. Our night nurse was super helpful with breastfeeding support, unlike the previous nurses. She informed us the second night is always the worst with cluster feeding. She gave us some good tips and I started feeling better about breastfeeding.

Friday Nov. 20th

We were informed Olive had lost 11% of her weight. She was 7lb 5 oz at birth and weighed 6 lb 8 oz when she went to the nursery for her newborn tests and car seat test. They told us we had to start supplementing now for the weight loss. Again, we could use donor milk, but still, it was a blow to me.

Luckily, the nurse set me up with my own pump and agreed I could pump the colostrum to give her after every feeding. So every three hours I nursed her and then pumped and Chris gave her first the colostrum and then whatever donor milk she would drink. She finally had controlled blood sugars so we could stop the pokes.

I was told I could take a shower, until they checked my bp again and found it to be really high despite being on 800mg of Labetalol (I was normally managed on 200) and was told to go back to bed. They decided to bring in an internist to manage the blood pressure issue. This happened while my mom was with me as Chris had gone home to change and shower. The rest of the evening is hard to talk about. It was by far the worst night. It involved me having a complete meltdown from not sleeping for over 60 hours now, and Olive going to the nursery for the night. What I will say, is I could not have had a better evening nurse. She was wonderful. She advocated for me, and spent a lot of time in my room supporting me. Long story short, I accepted a sleeping pill and slept about 7 hours completely uninterrupted.

Saturday Nov. 21st

I was reunited with Olive at 6:30 in the morning. I still remember the power of my emotions during all that.

My bp was high again (big surprise) and that led to a morning of constant monitoring and IV meds to bring it down. The internist saw me and put me on a second bp med. My bp went down, but I wasn’t allowed to get out of bed. I had a second amazing nurse, Chris, that got me through that day (first time being subjected to a bed pan) with grace, respect and laughter. She was incredible. I continued to pump colostrum as we supplemented. That night, I decided reluctantly to send her to the nursery again after her last feed at midnight to try to get some sleep. I figured if I was going to get out of there, I needed sleep and maybe that would help my bp from the stress of being in the hospital. However, my bp decided not to cooperate and I was up until 3:30 in the morning because the night nurse (same as the night before) had to follow a protocol of bp checks every ten minutes and IV meds.

Sunday Nov. 22nd

I slept for a total of maybe an hour until 5:30am when lab came to draw my blood and thus began the barrage of more monitoring. Olive came back from the nursery early in the morning and gave me immediate relief to have her back. We were informed that she was back up to an 8% loss, and was 6 lb 12 oz. We could stop supplementing. My milk was starting to come in finally.

I was with my favorite nursing assistant, Nayomie, who was going to help me shower, when I stood up and felt dizzy. Turns out my bp had tanked and the internist had to come cut back one of my meds. I finally stabilized and was able to shower. It was wonderful. I felt like a new person. We were hoping to be discharged tomorrow, but the staff kept saying, IF. IF your bp cooperates you can probably go home.

I decided again to send Olive to the nursery in hopes of trying to get some sleep.

The good thing was I pumped enough milk to give to the nursery for a 3 am feeding, and then she would come back to us at 6 am. I had the same night nurse again who reassured me that when she has free time on her shift she goes to the nursery and holds her babies. So I knew Olive would be in good hands.

Monday Nov. 23rd

I was awakened at 3am for a bp check. It was high. Like 197/117. She had to call the on-call internist who told her to “follow the protocol” which was two IV doses of Labetalol and IV hydralazine if those didn’t work. Accompanied by very frequent bp monitoring. I was in for another sleepless night.

“Fuck the protocol,” I told her. Chris and I were so fed up. I told her that if this IV Labetalol didn’t work, they were going to find something else. It seemed like every dose of IV meds just brought my bp up higher. So she agreed and said this protocol was stupid. She came back 20 minutes later and my bp was even higher. So I told her enough was enough and she could call him back and say I refused the second Labetalol dose. I told her I wanted to go to the IV hydralazine. She called and came back and said the doctor agreed with me and she gave me the hydralazine and every bp reading for the next hour started dropping. I stabilized for the next few hours and by 10 am, the internist rounded again and said I could be discharged.

Elated is putting it lightly. There was no way, absolutely no way I could spend another night there. We finally were able to pack up and left at 12:30pm.

You guys, I know this was long and probably kind of boring. But it was awful. Every day caused me to cry over something and several of those were complete meltdowns. I talked to hardly anyone outside of the hospital. The only visitors we had were my parents, but that was only until day 3 and then none were allowed after that. I’ve been out for about 2 weeks now and thinking about my stay is a little easier, but there are things I just don’t want to talk about with anyone. It sucked. Chris was wonderful. Olive kept me from completely losing my sanity. The staff for the most part was wonderful. But it was, in some ways, traumatizing.

And now this is really long and baby needs to eat again so I am calling it a night. I promise the next post will be more uplifting. Because, Olivia. She’s pretty awesome.

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7 Comments on "The Hospital Stay (Olivia’s Birth Story, Part 3)"

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ToMyself
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I was in the hospital for a week after my daughter's birth. For every kind nurse there was an awful one. She was slightly preemie so would not latch. My tah tah's were pulled this way and that and every nurse had a different stratagem. No sleep led to a hallucinating dream which was quite awful. I felt unsupported (which is ironic)… it gets better.

jAllen
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I thought you might like to take a look at this: Someone else had an experience very similiar to yours

http://www.skepticalob.com/2012/12/a-cardiologists-experience-with-a-baby-friendly-hospital.html

Cristy
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Yeah, that would be traumatizing. I'm both glad you advocated for yourself AND that you are all home. So many women don't and I think it can be a big source of anxiety when remembering their birth experience. Hopefully being home has allowed for a routine to develop and you're feeling more confident with breastfeeding. It takes a while to get into the groove with it, so please be patient with yourself.

Amie
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Oh wow that sounds terrible :(. Reading about your sleepless nights in the hospital took me right back to those as well. Granted my stay was no where near like yours, the no sleep was tough. Who am I kidding I'm still not sleeping much but it is getting better now at 4 weeks. Hoping everything is going very well for you at home now 🙂 Can't wait to hear more since our little ones are only a couple days apart.

belovedburnttoast
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Oh Risa, what a time! I had a similar experience after Molly – extended hospital stay due to her weight loss (only 10%, but since she started out so small they were worried) and low blood sugar reads that they had to keep re-checking. Plus epic emotional meltdowns from being so hormonal and just wanting to go the hell home. It's pretty awesome that your hospital allowed you to supplement with breastmilk – we had to use formula, which really annoyed me, but it didn't screw up breastfeeding in the long run. Hope all is still going ok with you… Read more »
Amber
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Oh Risa, it is so totally normal to have those emotional breakdowns after giving birth. Not only were your hormones sky rocketing and out of sack, but you had to deal with the awful pre-e and mag bag. I had so many breakdowns after my babies were born! And I was completely out of it the days prior to their birth, due to the magnesium. Please don't feel bad about that! I promise those memories will soon be in the distant past. Olive is absolutely a beautiful baby! Seriously adorable. I'm so glad you are both home and doing well… Read more »
Anonymous
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Risa, I'm sorry to hear there were so many frustrating moments during your stay. I'm so grateful you found the time and emotional energy to share the full birth story though. Congratulations to your family on Olivia! She is beautiful and you all look amazing. I told you this once before, but your blog has been such a godsend on my own infertility journey. Very happy to report that I'm now nearing the end of my first trimester and recently found out that it's a boy! Thank you for everything and best wishes to you and your incredible family! Eve
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