Part II: It's NICU time!!
When I left you yesterday, Maddie-the-Great had just been born! Her birth weight was One Pound, 14 ounces, and she was just 13 1/2 inches long! It was not an error. Unbelievable! We were both thrilled and shocked. So unbelievably small.
[I don't know why, but I never really understood how much danger Rachtlet was in from the Preeclampsia. It wasn't until the next day that I finally realized that she could have died!! Wow! How could I have missed that? It is my nature to be a worrier. In this situation my attention and worry were mostly for the baby. If I had realized the danger to both of them I would have fallen apart. Somehow, though, somewhere deep inside I was certain they would both be fine.]
Just a little alert, some of the details have gotten a bit fuzzy over time, so some of the sequence, etc. may not be exactly correct.
So the newborn preemie, M-t-G, after a very quick stop at mom's side in the delivery room, was whisked off to the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit), where she was placed in a crib with open access. A very large number of sensors were attached to her, each one a monitoring device of some sort: pulse rate, respirations, oxygen levels, and temperature are the ones that I remember most. They were all being monitored constantly and should any of those levels spike or drop or anything, loud emergency warnings would start up immediately. Let me tell you, that is one terrifying sound! Still, the NICU staff was closely in attendance and ready for anything. They inserted an IV line, just in case they needed to get medications to her in a hurry if it became necessary.
After several hours, we were finally allowed in to see her (after scrubbing), for the first time. It was heartbreaking. She was sooo tiny, there of course, was no extra tissue to fill out her little body yet. She was literally skin and bones. You could hardly see her with all the lines and tubes and sensors stuck to her. Her color was pretty much red. Still, she had a little light hair underneath the little cap, she was breathing on her own, and sleeping, all worn out from being yanked into the world so soon! I fell in love instantly. We all did.
Well, most of us did. My darling, Ratchlet, who had been part of every single scary moment, and the one who needed to be with her baby the most, didn't get to meet her daughter up close until the next day, as she was still recuperating from the C-Section! That was very hard on her. Of course, she was already in love with this tiny gift.
We were told that preemies, especially at this stage, cannot tell the difference between pleasure and pain, so none of us could hold her, or pick her up, or even touch her over-much. Truth be told, I think we were all a little afraid of causing this child any more trauma. She was not easy for us to look at, knowing how much struggle she had ahead of her. Nevertheless, nothing would have gotten me out of that nursery until they made us leave. It was enough that we could be with her for however long it was allowed.
Caption: Here she is with her Daddy's hand nearby. I've never seen a finger so tiny!!
As I said, she was breathing on her own (which was absolutely amazing to everyone!). When she was 8 hours old, they decided to put her on the respirator so that her little lungs didn't have to work so hard. A bit later they added blue light phototherapy, to head off any signs of jaundice, and I think it was the next day that the feeding tube went in. (The littlest preemies don't have much of a sucking instinct, so this is the only way to initially get nourishment into the baby so she could start to grow.)
The absolutely amazing thing to me both then and now, was that no one....no doctor, nurse, technician or caregiver....ever said anything to make us feel Maddie was in danger. There was no "make or break" moment. We never heard anything resembling a warning that she was at a critical point of any kind. There was no backward step, no crisis. Maddie the Great was going along exactly as she should, doing exactly what she needed to do.
She continued doing exactly that for the next 9 weeks!
Part III: Life in the NICU and Beyond
See you tomorrow!