Monday, June 24, 2024

Bowen’s NICU Journey

What a journey it was, holy smokes! If you haven’t read part 1 of his birth story, you can check it out here if you’re interested!

Right before he turned blue!

Alright, so he was brought into the NICU 12 hours after he was born for low blood sugar. We went in to see him shortly after this, and while I was holding him, he turned completely blue and stopped breathing. It was HORRIFIC! It was honestly so freakin scary. I was sleep deprived, so at first I wondered if I was going crazy. Thank goodness one of the nurses just happened to come in and check on us right while it was happening and he came out of it really quickly on his own (he didn’t need resuscitation or anything like that but still, scary stuff)

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The nurses made this for him

After this happened, the doc came in and said they were going to be putting him on a cpap machine to help with oxygen and breathing. Over the next few hours, Greg and I took turns going in to visit him (Because we weren’t allowed in at the same time… thanks Covid) He had a few more of these episodes they were calling ‘apnic spells where his oxygen level would drop and he would turn blue.

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Later that day, they put him on something called NIPPV which basically made sure his air pressure remained at a certain level and didn’t drop too low.

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This could not have been more different than our experience with Raeleigh when she was born. Wow~ From having a breech babe and a c-section, to having the little man in the NICU for what we thought was low blood sugar and ended up being a more serious issue. I quickly let go of the thought that we were going to be headed home the next day. It was a tough reality. I missed Raeleigh so much, and I couldn’t even hold and cuddle my newborn baby boy without the help of a nurse because of all the cords he was hooked up to.

The next few days were rough. There was a ton of bloodwork, heel pokes, X rays, tests and no real answers. Luckily, the way the NICU was set up in St Catharines, They set me up a cot right in his little room ( I was discharged from my own room after 48hrs), so I could be with him 24/7. After all, if I was going to be away from my hubs and my little mini me… at least I could be right with the little guy so he wasn’t alone. The NICU nurses are amazing, but they can’t be with every baby 100% of the time. So if he woke up crying.. I could rub his little tummy, give him a soother etc etc.

I think the hardest part was they couldn’t really pinpoint an issue. In some ways, this is good – all of his tests were coming back negative! But in other ways, it was harder because if they didn’t know what the issue was, they couldn’t correct it and I kept worrying it was going to continue happening. Every time I would leave his room and go for a walk/get a snack, I would have an anxious feeling coming back in, worried they were going to tell me that he had another spell. And a few of the times, he had.

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The St Catharines NICU was wonderful because it was about 20 mins from home, and they had individual rooms as I mentioned, so I had a cot right in there. Greg was able to come back and forth to visit with him, bring me food and bring Raeleigh to visit me.

The number of people we had helping us through this time was truly amazing! I had people delivering food, people picking me up to drive me home or to the store (I couldn’t drive because of the c section), people taking me to their house to let me have a nice shower and make me dinner, endless amounts of help from family with Raeleigh… it was wonderful. And my mom made me this shirt that I pretty much lived in!

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One of the thoughts thrown out at one point was that he was right on the cusp of being premature, and perhaps he just needed a bit of time to grow out of these breathing spells. Anyway, he was improving it seemed and hadn’t had a spell in a few days, so the docs decided they were going to take him off the NIPPV and see how he did off of that for a couple days. This meant he still had the cpap machine on, but the NIPPV was removed (if there happen to be any respiratory therapists reading this, they’re probably thinking my explanations don’t make sense, haha so please correct me and explain it better!)

He did fine until the end of the second day and then he had another spell. SO DEVASTATING!!! I thought we were on our way to getting his little Cpap machine off his face and one step closer to being home, but he had other plans. Guys, you have to keep in mind, the whole time we’d been in the nicu, he had this cpap machine on his face (that came with a little hat to help keep the machine in place), as well as a feeding tube in his nose that was taped on his face… so we really hadn’t gotten to get to know his little head or face much. Super sad.

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So the whole time we were in St Catharines they were consulting with Mcmaster NICU (which is in Hamilton, about 45 mins from us) because they are the neonatal docs/specialists there. So after Bowen had the last spell I mentioned above, they decided it was time to transfer him to Mac NICU (in hamilton) so they could check him out there and hopefully pinpoint the issue. They talked about doing this earlier in the week, but he was seemingly getting better, so it was taken off the table for a while.

Anyway, this was a really tough thing for me to wrap my head around. We had already been in the NICU for 8 days… so much longer than we ever thought we would. Now, he’s being transferred somewhere that’s further away, going to be so much harder for Greg to navigate visits/for me to see Raeleigh… and worst of all, at Mac they don’t have individual rooms… so I couldn’t be with Bowen the whole time. I would have to stay somewhere else and leave him by himself while I slept. So I’m away from my baby girl, away from my husband, and now, I was going to be away from my newborn baby boy as well. Awful.

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When the transfer team came to get him to bring him to Hamilton, I bawled. They wheeled him away in this scary looking vessel (I didn’t take pics because I wasn’t sure it was something I wanted to document). When we got to Mac, I cried some more. It was SO different than St Catharines. Way bigger, busier, ‘stuffier’ – I mean it makes sense… many of the babies there are much sicker.

My poor mom was with me at Mac ( she drove me since Greg was with Raeleigh and I couldn’t drive because of the C section) and when she left, she could hear me breaking down in my room. It was terrible. That felt like my rock bottom. Away from Greg, and Raeleigh, and not able to sleep in the same space as my little boy. It was a day I truly don’t care to remember, though things did get better from there (they had to!)

The next morning, I went in early to see him and meet his nurse for the day. She told me the docs would be doing their rounds soon and decide what the plan was for Bowen for the day. When they came around, they decided they were going to take him off everything! Stop his meds (he was on something for reflux, and on caffeine which can help expand the lungs and help with breathing), AND they took him off the cpap machine so we could FINALLY see his little head and face. OMG. It was amazing!

It was a weird thing not feeling like I knew what my babes face even looked like! So it was a huge step to get all this stuff off of him.

I was so lucky to have my brothers home about 20 mins from Mac, and he and his wife welcomed me (and Greg and Rae~) into their home for a couple nights AND drove me back and forth to the hospital every day (not to mention delivered food, too!)

Auntie Yan with the win!!!! Bubbles!!!!

The next few days were somewhat of a waiting game. Since they took him off everything, we weren’t sure how he would do. But our strong little man did AWESOME! He was taken off his Cpap on a Monday, and by Wednesday, we were orally feeding (no more feeding tube!)

I was joking with the docs telling them that my birthday was July 11th (the sunday coming up) and that I would LOVE to be home with the family by my birthday. On Thursday evening, they transferred us to a ‘care by parent’ room, which is just down the hall from the NICU (right in the hospital) and basically means Bowen got to come in the room with Greg and I, no more cords or tubes on him, not hooked up to anything, just us and him!! We had to check in with the nurse once during the night, but we were close to going home~!! I thought perhaps we might get to go on Saturday!

On the Friday morning, after our night in the Care by PArent room, the nurse came to check on us, checked Bowen’s weight gain over the last 24hr and said he had done so well, she was going to recommend us going home TODAY! (Friday, which was July 9th, 2 days before my birthday, and 3 days before his due date!)

What good news!!! Greg had left to go back to Niagara with Raeleigh and to get some work done, but I called to tell him we were coming home (and he had to come get us haha) and he was of course so excited, too. Our little man was 2 weeks old and we finally got to bring him home!

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You guys – the NICU is a really special place. Those nurses in particular are truly amazing humans. Wow! They’re dealing with families that are having a tough time. We were lucky in that though his issue was scary, it wasn’t life threatening… they just needed to sort it out so it wouldn’t happen at home.

I could have gone on for much longer about the amazing nurses and docs, the wonderful things people did to help us through this tough time, and the ups and downs I felt while I was at little mans bedside over his first couple weeks of life. But these are the main points, and if you’re still reading – thank you!! I love sharing his story with you and will post an update in a couple weeks! (Can’t believe he’ll be two months old soon!)


Andrea and Bowen

If you read my next post, you’ll read that little man has been partying all night lately! So I’m currently finishing off this post with him napping on my lap

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