Friday, January 20, 2006

Birth story and recap of the past 3 1/2 months

Birth story
On October 6 (26 weeks, 2 days gestation age), I went to the perinatologist for a regular check-up. I found out that my cervix had shortened to about 1 centimeter (it should have been 4 centimeters). So, my doctor sent me straight to the hospital. They hooked me up to monitors and told me I would probably be on bed rest for the rest of my pregnancy. From the monitors, they found out I was in labor. They gave me some magnesium sulfate to stop my contractions. I also got steroid shots to speed up the development of Caleb's lungs.

On October 9, after 4 days of VERY strict bed rest, (I couldn't get out of bed for anything - no bathroom breaks, no showers, nothing) my labor started again. This time they couldn’t stop it. On October 10, at 3:31 p.m., Caleb was born. He was 2 pounds, 1 ounce, 27 weeks gestation age.

It wasn’t like you see on TV. Cary didn’t get to cut the umbilical cord. Caleb didn’t cry. The doctor didn’t put Caleb on my chest. It was very quiet when he was born. Caleb came out and the doctor passed him off to the NICU team. The NICU team gave him oxygen, cleaned him, weighed him, got his footprints, and did some other stuff. After they finished getting him ready for the NICU, they turned him to me quickly so I could get a peek of him. Then they whisked him away to the NICU. Cary went to the NICU with them to see where Caleb would be. He was not able to stay in the NICU. He had to leave so the NICU team could get Caleb situated.

After about 1 hour, Caleb was ready for us to visit him. The nurse wheeled me to the NICU with Cary. Caleb was tiny. He was in a closed isolette. He had wires all over the place. His eyes wore covered so he wouldn’t be over stimulated. We were not able to touch him. He was very small, extremely premature, and didn’t need any excitement. The nurses went into his isolette once every 4 hours to change his diaper and give him medicines. Other then that, everyone left him alone.

The sign on Caleb's isolette.

Caleb a few hours old.

The next day, my doctor discharged me. I was healthy and recovering great from the delivery and there was no need for me to be in the hospital. After 6 days in the hospital, I was ready to leave. Before I could be discharged I had to watch a video on how to care for my recovering and my new baby. But, I wasn’t taking my baby home. The video sucked. I hated it. It was awful to watch. Cary complained to the nurse, I cried. Then, we loaded up a cart with all of the stuff people had brought me and Cary wheeled me downstairs. Cary left me at the door while he pulled the car around and loaded it up. We went to see Caleb and we were finally able to touch him. Then we left, without Caleb.

We talked to one of Caleb’s doctors a few hours before we left. He told us Caleb was at risk for what seemed like a million things – learning disabilities, brain bleeds, blindness, deafness, infections, lung damage, liver damage, the list goes on. He also told us that he didn’t see any reason why Caleb wouldn’t live a good, full life. It was good to hear that.

Since then, Caleb’s had a ton of problems due to his prematurity. When Caleb was a few days old, the doctors discovered a brain bleed (IVH). There are 4 grades of IVH. Grades 1 and 2 can correct themselves. Grades 3 and 4 can cause brain damage, will need surgery, and grade 4 can be fatal. Caleb had a grade 2 on one side of his brain and a grade 3 on the other side. The doctors watched the bleeds for a few days to see if they would correct themselves. Around the same time, Cary started feeling very tired and called his doctor. After some test, we found out that Cary had endocarditis (bacterial infection in the arteries of his heart) and needed to go to the hospital. Cary was in the hospital for 5 days and on IV antibiotics for 5 weeks after that. When Cary got discharged from the hospital, I took him straight to the NICU to see Caleb.

A few days after Cary got out of the hospital, Caleb’s doctors told us Caleb would need surgery for his brain bleeds. A few days later (on October 31), Caleb was transferred to Scottish Rite for surgery. At Scottish Rite, Caleb had VAD put in. The VAD is a small device that is put under his skin so the doctors can “tap” it to drain some of the extra fluid off Caleb's brain. They tapped it daily to begin with, then as needed – usually about every 3-7 days. The VAD is used on small babies who are too small for a permanent shunt. Some babies never need the shunt after they have had a VAD, some babies still need a shunt. The last time I talked to Caleb’s doctors, it is looking like he will probably need a permanent shunt.

Caleb was at Scottish Rite for about 2 weeks, and then he went back to Gwinnett. He did great after he got back. The day after Thanksgiving, Caleb came off his respirator and went on CPAP. He did great on the CPAP. While he was back at Gwinnett, they found out his legs where fractured. His bones were so immature and fragile that something as simple as the pressure from his muscles could have caused the fractures. Preemies heal quickly, so they were just careful around his legs for a few weeks and they healed own their own. While back at Gwinnett, I was able to hold Caleb for the first time. He was 6 weeks and 1 day old. Cary was able to hold him a few days later.

The first time I was able to hold Caleb.

The first time Cary was able to hold Caleb.

2 days after we found out about the fractures, we found out that there was a blockage somewhere in his intestines. He was very sick. He had to be put back on the respirator. On November 30, he was transferred to Egleston for surgery to find the cause of the blockage and to correct it. The doctors found out that he had NEC – an infection in his intestines that causes a ton of damage to the intestines and can be fatal. They removed about 6 centimeters of his intestines. He had an ilestomy (like a colostomy, but in the small intestines) for 6 weeks. Caleb had a rough few days after the surgery. He did start to turn around after a few days. The day after Christmas, he went back off the respirator and was on CPAP and nasal cannula for 1 ½ weeks! On January 12, Caleb had another surgery to reconnect his intestines.

He has had feeding issues since birth, and is continuing to have issues. He does not have any signs of disabilities from the brain bleeds, yet. The doctors told us we might not know about disabilities until Caleb is about 5 or 6 years old.

He has been growing like a weed! On January 19, Caleb went back on CPAP again and is doing great. He is regulating his on body temperature. On Jan. 18, he was finally able to start wearing clothes! On Jan. 19, he was moved to a crib! He is now about 18 inches long and about 7 pounds, 4 ounces.

Caleb on January 21. (Some of the puffiness in his face is from the CPAP, but most of it is just his cute chubbiness.)

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