We’re coming towards the end of TJ’s birth story. I promise.
We left off in Part Two where we were still in Special Care, waiting for the nod to go home. Word on the
street ward was that it would be the next day. And we got to take our baby back to our little flat that evening. The thought of it boththrilled and scared me.
Would he definitely be ok with just us to look after him?
Even after having two babies before this, I had very little confidence in myself as a mother when my baby had needed machines to keep him breathing. But it was one step closer to getting home and being a family of five. Eye on the prize and all that.
Later on in the afternoon Mr C and I went for a short rest at the flat before going to collect TJ and take him back with us for the night. I wish we hadn’t gone. When woke up and went back onto the ward everything had changed all over again.
In the short time we were away, the nurse in charge of TJ had noticed his colouring had changed. Although his bilirubin levels had been fine the day before, she wanted them checked again. Which is just as well because they had rocketed above the treatment line.
So when we had walked back into the room he was in, he was already wrapped in a phototherapy board and we were told he needed to be treated for 24 hours, have his bilirubin levels retested and then again after another 12 hours. They explained that although Jaundice in babies is quite common, when bilirubin levels are as high as TJ had, there was a risk of the bilirubin passing into the brain and causing brain damage. Treatment was non negotiable. A delayed discharge to go home was also now non negotiable.
So we settled down for an evening on the ward, knowing we weren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
I tell you what, it was some learning curve trying to breastfeed a tiny baby who was attached to a glowing board. It definitely made me appreciate how much easier it was when we were eventually able to get him out of the biliblanket. We hoped that would be the next evening, and the nurses were confident that the phototherapy would work, as it so often did, and they’d be sending us on our way the morning after that. They even started to get the paperwork ready so there’d be no delays once we had the final go ahead from the consultant in charge.
So we got through 24 hours with our little gloworm. He had to stay on the ward now instead of coming back to the flat with us, but that was just one of those things. 6pm came around and the Sister took blood from TJ’s already scabby foot to retest his bilirubin levels. We were having a nice chat with the staff on duty as we confidently waited for her to come back. Noone really considered anything other than us starting the process of heading home. But as soon as she walked in I knew. She shook her head and the other nurses groaned and verbalised all our surprise and frustration.
It hadn’t worked.
The Sister walked over to me and knelt down where I was sitting. She held my hands as I sobbed. She tried to sooth me with kind words as other nurses rallied around to encourage us that they’d get our baby all better very soon.
It was all to much for me and I was too tired to be strong anymore. None of this was fair.
The Sister promised me they were going to pull out all the stops to zap the bilirubin. They prepared an incubator with overhead phototherapy and kept TJ in his biliblanket. Double treatment, they called it.
The thing with the overhead phototherapy is that precautions have to be taken to protect the baby’s eyes. I guess like when you go on a sunbed. One way is to place a plastic visor over the babies head but TJ kept grabbing it and picking a fight with it.
So they had to put an eye mask on him. Our little gloworm was now Zorro. And he was not a fan.
When they put him in the incubator we heard him really cry for the very first time. Scratch that – he didn’t cry. He screamed. But wouldn’t you if you were blindfolded and put in a plastic box with bright lights shining on you?
The nurse on duty told us to go and have something to eat and she was sure he’d be settled when we came back. He wasn’t. He was still shrieking and it was horrific to stand by and not be able to sooth him. He needed to stay in there if we were ever going to get him home. I asked if there was anything else we could try to calm him down. So they got an apnea blanket and tried lying him on his tummy.
That did the trick. In fact he loved it.
And this time it worked! All that sunbathing brought the jaundice levels down to below treatment level and everyone breathed a sigh of relief. Just twelve hours without treatment to go, and if the levels stayed down, we were on our way home. We were promised it was very rare for levels to jump back high enough for TJ to need more treatment.
We went back to the flat to get some sleep until TJ decided he was hungry again and the nurse in charge would call me back in to feed him. That night as I plodded back and forth between the ward and the flat, I hoped to God that the next night I would be woken up in my own bed by our baby rather than the sound of Mr C’s phone.
And praise the Lord, my prayers were answered. My baby’s Jaundice levels had stayed down so we could take him home. Paperwork was completed and, with their best wishes, the staff of the Special Care Unit sent us home.
We were going home!
Now our adventures as a family of five could really begin.
Having my baby in hospital was not what I had wanted. I remember feeling so deflated as the ambulance zoomed along the country lanes to get me there. It was not in the plan.
But you know what? Sometimes our plans don’t work out – and it ends up so much for the better. So we often wonder why things have gone so wrong, why God has not answered a desperate prayer. But in reality, in a way beyond our own understanding, a better path is being paved before us.
I can’t put into words how glad I am now that my body started to protest again the labour. Because that forced us into circumstances that I wouldn’t have chosen myself – but actually meant that emergency medical help was available exactly when my baby really needed it. If I’d had it my way then we’d have been over an hour away from help.
I just shudder to think.
TJ will be two months old tomorrow. He’s doing so well and he captures the heart of everyone he meets. We’re quietly confident that his four month follow up at the hospital will confirm that his respiratory distress at birth has not had any long term implications on his health or development. I’ll be sure to let you know.
Until then I’ll keep on blogging about our life in the country, as I get to grips with being a momma of three and as I continue to learn how to be Mrs C.
Mrs C x