The universe laughed in my face, people. My whole "nesting in" plan has so far been a big fat joke! Not only did I have to go back to my midwife on Sunday (3 days after Iris was born) but I have spent the last 3 days at the children's hospital with her.
This is very long, I am sorry if it's boring but in the end I feel as though all of this has been a miracle and I don't want to forget any of it.
Let me see if I can get my time line straight first, I'm SO tired and bleary brained...
Sunday morning before my mom and Dad left my mom mentioned that she thought Iris was looking a little bit yellow. I kind of thought so too... sort of... I guess... yeah, maybe a little. So as it happened to be a sunny day my mom moved Iris' bassinet in front of the slider door and we sewed a bit.
Sunday night my mother in law came over to visit and she also mentioned Iris looking rather yellow. I actually noticed it this time, she looked quite a bit more yellow than the few hours before.
Sunday night was horrible with the baby crying all night, acting starving but not wanting to nurse, she also started having a CRAZY amount of poopy diapers. I'm talking about 3-5 diapers an hour. I went through a WHOLE package of diapers from Sunday night to Monday night.
Monday morning and afternoon were just as rough because I was tired and worried and wondering if I was worried because I was tired and over reacting. About an hour after Jerry left for work Iris threw up. It was really forceful, but it wasn't curdled or anything so at first I thought it was spit up. She was even crankier and I spent most of the next few hours dancing with her around the house and trying my very hardest to love the other kids, something I'm not very good at when living on 2 hours of sleep. The baby thew up 3 or 4 more times and the last few times was such a large quantity that I suddenly began to worry about dehydration. I called our on call nurse and she told us to go into the walk in clinic in Tacoma (45 minutes away) I called Jerry home, we debated what to do about the kids then figured it would be in and out and they could fall asleep in the car... plus Jerry thought I was probably too tired to be driving in the dark so late (it was about 8:30-ish?) so we all went.
We got to the group health walk in clinic at 9:50, were called back at 10 and was barely through the vitals part when this very grouchy and rude doctor snapped at me that I needed to take her to the hospital across the street (Mary Bridge Children's Hosp.) I told him I had thought this would be faster than the ER and he said, 'She is more important than the time you'll be spending don't you think?" and at that point I almost cried because I was tired and was already having these huge conflicting emotions. I felt guilty Jerry had to leave work because I had convinced myself that I was over-reacting. I felt terrible we had brought the kids and terrible that I felt terrible and... slow decline from there. Basically I was killing myself with guilt.
We went over to Mary Bridge and were seen right away. The kids waited in the waiting room with Jerry while I went back. They were immediately concerned with how much she was pooping just when they were taking her temperature. She just kept pooping and pooping. One of the nurses decided to grab a sample since it was clear that there was something wrong.
We got into an actual exam room at 11:20pm, they took her temperature which was elevated (99.7) and they said any temperatures in newborns is a cause for concern. They drew blood to check her bilirubin and then decided to start an IV around 12:15. They said the IV would be done about the same time as the Bili test; an hour. I called Jerry back from the waiting room thinking this room had a door and that they were probably ready for a change of scenery. It was a good idea I guess because there was a crazy homeless lady in the lobby who kept carrying Molly around and taking the kids to get drinks from the water fountain. If any of you know Jerry you know strangers don't sit well with him. Especially people who are crazy and even look at our children. He is VERY over protective. lol. He doesn't' even like people who tell us we have cute kids in the grocery store. lol. I could tell he was stressed because he gets a little spot under his temple that turns bright red when he is anxious.
After about 20 minutes he decided to head to the car with the kids it was 12:45. The kids had been really great but were getting tired. Sam of course was getting stressed out, but lucky day there had been some sort of Phineas and Pherb (sorry, sp??) marathon and the kids were almost comatose at this point. Lucy wanted to lick the glass door and wave at the various passing people. So they were off.
We got the test back at 1:30 that her bilirubin was high; 18 and the ER doc. told me that around 20 they start worrying about brain damage. Thanks! They told me they would be admitting us. I called Jerry and sent him home with the promise that I better get a damned coffee in the morning when he came to get us.
We had to wait for a room and what not and didn't get upstairs until 3:25am.
The doctor that saw us was SO nice and very very funny. He told me about the various kinds of jaundice and said that copious amount of pooping in infants is a sign that their levels are high because their body is trying to get rid of it. He told me the most horrible things that can happen if jaundice is left untreated (again... thanks?) but that we didn't need to worry about any of that because we were here now and all was well. They set us up in a private room that had a chair (Holy Mother of God that thing was like a torture contraption, I am seriously going to see a chiropractor because of that thing!!), a crib, a television and a tiny shower and toilet. The crib held the bilirubin suitcase and I was instructed to put her in naked under the lights.
That night was really horrible. I kept telling myself, "It will be morning in a few more minutes, we can make it with no sleep. We will survive. We will go home and sleep until next week if need be, just get through the night."
First of all, her crazy pulse oxometor (again with the terrible spelling) couldn't keep a reading and then it would go off and I'd have to call the nurse back in to quiet the machine, then there was the stupid eye mask she had to wear to protect her eyes from the bulbs. They were attached to her face by little squares of tape that had velcro on the front. She kept ripping them off, tearing her skin off and screaming bloody murder and I'd have to call the nurse back in to put new ones on. I kept asking the nurse if she wanted me to do anything (honestly I can put a little sticker on my baby's face) because I felt ridiculous calling her back so many times, but she was SO nice and didn't make me feel bad one bit.
Another reason that first night was so hard was because Iris was very unhappy. She still was having terrible poop, developed a diaper rash even though I was changing her somewhere around every 20-30 minutes and she wanted to be swaddled. Not naked. They told me when I was going to nurse her that I needed to only let her eat on one side for 15 minutes then put her back in then wait about 30 minutes and go again. This did not suit her as her feedings had been 40 minutes all along (in her 3 days of life).
They did her vitals at 5:30 then a nurse change at 6:30, rounds at 7:00 and then the doctor and residents had rounds at 9:00... = no sleep.
Around 10 (I think, day 2 was even more blurry than day 1... which was really only about 6 hours) Jerry was there and we were hoping I'd be able to come home with the baby. The doctor came in and began to explain that the reason Iris was jaundice and why she was sick (vomiting and fever) was because her red blood cell count was very low. He told us that she was RH negative and while I still don't understand all of it (or really most of it) he said that my blood is O positive, Iris is O negative and that when a baby is born the mother's blood is in the baby for 90 days or so. Since our blood types are incompatible my blood (that is in her) created antibodies and began killing the "offending" red blood cells. He said to simplify it, it would be like a person getting a blood transfusion of the wrong type. Your body tries to fight off that blood and you end up getting really really sick. he commended me for getting her in right away and said, "mother's always know when something is wrong". I felt embarrassed that he said that since I didn't really know that something was wrong, I just wanted her to stop pooping and crying. :/ sorry Iris.
He told me it is actually a "miracle" she was able to come to full term, that the chances of her being still born or not at all were very very high. He mentioned it several times actually that he was impressed she was as healthy as she was, and that "that was quite something". He later asked if he could draw some of my blood to "play around with it" because he was just so surprised that my body hadn't naturally aborted her and he wanted to see what it was about my blood that was different than the norm. I said ,"yes, absolutely" because someone had carefully mentioned that might that have been the reason Elizabeth had been stillborn, something we do not know.
Her bilirubin level had come down to 13.5 from 18.1 and the doctor was happy with that but he said we needed to have another blood draw to check her red blood cells and then for sure we would need to stay another night so he could check them again in 24 hours. If they were too much lower tomorrow she would need a blood transfusion.
The blood work came back and her red blood cell count indeed were very low. They were concerned and wanted to watch her breathing, which is one of the first signs that she is getting very very ill, and they wanted to watch for any swelling. They came in to take her vitals every hour instead of every two hours and changed her saline drip to something else that had calories and vitamins. After about an hour of the drip she final calmed down and seemed to relax. Her pooping finally began to slow down and she actually seemed to enjoy the lights. She slept ALL day. Even through her many vitals she didn't even open her eyes. It was a little bit pitiful but I knew the rest was good for her. Of course there was the whole issue of breastfeeding, but the nurses were happy to get me a breast pump from the NICU. She only ended up nursing 3 times because she was just so tired, poor babe!
Last night was better, only she had slept so much during the day that she was awake all night and wasn't very interested in being left alone. She wanted me to hold her, which they said was fine since her billi level had dropped into a safe zone I only had to put her under the lights when I didn't want to hold her. And it wasn't that I didn't want to hold her, it was that I wanted to sleep!! So another night with no sleep but I did catch about 30 minutes of sleep around 9am before the doctor came in.
This morning (day 3) we just waited around for the doctor. He told us we would be able to come home but that this "Hemolytic Disease of the newborn" would have to be watched. He said there was a good chance she will be a bit jaundice for the next 3 months or so and that we would need to check her levels every few weeks. He said her red blood cell count was lower today than the first day but that it wasn't way lower so he felt comfortable that if we went in on Friday to have them taken again we could go home. He said this disease will last about 90 days or until she starts producing her own blood (or something - I'm sorry this part is the most blurry for me. I can't remember half of anything!) and we need to be very vigilant that she is eating frequently, pooping regularly and to bring her in immediately if she develops a cough, has trouble breathing, looks too yellow... so on and so forth.
I am exhausted, so is Jerry, so is Iris and so are all of the kids. I think because I am so amazingly tired that not all of this has set in, though I did sob over her very small diaper rash which is much better thanks to "Dr. Abdullah's Butt Cream". I am in awe that we took her in to the doctor which essentially may have saved her life and the fact that she is alive, when her chances were apparently so slim makes me just blink and wonder. She never did seem very sick, and I'm not sure if she was. Some doctors like to give you the absolute worst news, some doctors like to give you as little information as possible. This doctor was wonderful at giving us all the facts and being open to answering any questions, but he never did say, "she's going to be just fine, this is nothing at all" or "she is very very sick". All he said was he was amazed that she is alive.
We are home now, we several of us climbed into my bed and took a nap in a pile of bodies, we slept until 6pm then watched a movie as a family then had an "ice cream party" and Jerry made the kids kielbasas. I was able to remove Iris' velcro patches with lots of olive oil and then washed her face. I swear she was so dirty from spit and sticky tape and all of what I'm not even sure. But she's clean, in clothes and swaddled. I am so happy to be home, I missed the kids.
The last three days have felt like at least a week.
I'll leave it at that. My brain is fried. Thanks for letting me regurgitate all this, it is a little bit therapeutic for me. :)