Torgesen Family Times

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Alex’s Birth Story, part four

Part one, part two and part three here.


We left off with Lance taking (yet to be named) baby boy Torgesen up to the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) on the 4th floor.  I was being finished up in the OR, putting all my innards back in as well as the fabulous staples for probably another 10-20 minutes.   I felt like I had been run over by a semi-truck, literally. 


My Mom and Becky were waiting outside the OR for me and oh were they a site for sore eyes!  They came back with me to my room and just talked and took care of me.  I think Becky went and got something for Lance to eat and brought it up to him.  My  Mom stayed with me and when Becky came back, went up to see Lance and our baby.  She explained how he was sitting over him on a stool while he was laying in an clear plastic incubator, hooked up to all these wires.   By this point it was probably 10:00 at night.


Becky went home to her family and 3 kids, what a wonderful friend!


I wanted desperately to see my boy. 


The nurse told me that I would probably be able to see him in a “few hours”, but what I didn’t know is that my blood pressure was still very high, like 190/110 scary high.  The monitor was not facing me, so I wasn’t able to see it.  I had a blood pressure cuff taking my BP every minute or so, I had leg cuffs on that would prevent leg clots in my legs after a c-section, I still had massive doses of drugs in my system.  What I wrote down shortly after all this had happened, but have no recollection now is that they were still monitoring me constantly and they were giving me all sorts of drugs.  Finally by ~2AM they had me stabilized enough where I slept until about 4AM. 


I tried to stand up at this time and it was not happening.  The nurse coaches you to stand up all the way, the exact opposite of what you want to do when you have a c-section.  At that point you still have some pain meds in you, so it doesn’t exactly hurt, but you are very aware of your tummy and are sensitive about stretching it in any way.  I got pretty light headed when standing up and did not think I could make it a few steps.  The nurse was there right beside me the whole time, it wasn’t like I was standing up on my own, but still – I couldn’t do it. 


I feel asleep at this point until about 6 AM a this is when my Mom left.  I was doing better by that point and was ready to try again to see my boy. 


I felt bad about this later, but I had told Lance to stay with our baby no matter what.  But, he didn’t know if I was OK all night long.  He hadn’t seen me since the OR.  He stayed there all night, awake, wondering if I was OK or not.  Asking the nurses in the NICU if I was OK and them having no idea.  On the other hand, I had no idea what was going on with our baby boy, was he struggling?  Was he doing OK?  What was happening with him, I was given no information at all throughout the night. 


I was able to stand up at this point and get to the wheel chair.  The nurse wheeled me up to the 4th floor and into my new son’s room.  He was in a plastic clear isolator hooked up to all sorts of wires.  He was having trouble breathing and was using so much energy to take each breath.  His little tummy would suck in with each breath and it was just too much for me.  I was still in the wheel chair and felt like I was going to throw up.  I said so and the NICU nurse had no idea what to do, but my nurse found a garbage can (nothing in it) and put a cool towel over my eyes. 


It was exactly what I needed.  I was so overwhelmed by seeing him in this state it was just simply too much.  Inside I felt like I was dying.  To see you baby hooked up to all these things and to be having such a hard time breathing was just too much for me at that point.  After a few minutes, I was able to calm down and take a good look at him.  It had been almost 12 hours since he was born and this was my first chance to see him while not being operated on myself. 


He was rosy and pink, had blondish hair, had big feet and was so tiny.  I stayed for a while while Lance and I caught up.  He expressed how he was so scared about me and didn’t know what was happening and how he had watched over him all night long.  I told him how I tried to come up here, but I couldn’t stand up.  I was able to touch his skin and feel how absolutely smooth he was.  This part still gets me to this day, so be warned… but, I told him his Mama was here and that everything was going to be OK.  He was so limp and floppy from the Magnesium Sulfate and I was so worried about him.  I had obviously not expected this, and didn’t know anyone who had had a pre-mature baby let alone from pre-eclampsia. 


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I don’t really remember much of the next 12 hours (by this time it was Tuesday).  I made it back to my room, after staying with him about 20 minutes and had nurses all over me back in my room.  But, it was mostly quiet.  I was moved up to the 4th floor anti-partum unit for c-section mamas, but my baby was not with me like the other rooms.  I think Lance went back to our house and took care of necessary things like feeding the dogs, getting my bag and then came back to the hospital.   


I might have seen him again on Tuesday night for a short while, but I do not remember clearly. 


Wednesday I was feeling better.  I was off the magnesium sulfate and my brain was de-fogged.  I remember being in his room in the middle of the day and the doctor casually asking me to do a procedure on him.  He was still having a hard time breathing and was even on a bit of oxygen and using CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) to help him breathe easier.  But, he still wasn’t improving as much as they thought he would be by now, so the doctor asked if he could intubate him and put a surfactant in his lungs to help his breathing and his lungs mature.  I said yes.  I think I must have asked if I could be there during the procedure and they said they didn’t think it was best.  After I left they performed the procedure.  I’m surprised I just said OK to all of this, without talking to Lance, without being more determined, so I’m thinking I still had some meds in me making me surprised they even asked me for the OK in the first place. 


Alex with CPAP

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Lance told me that the first night he was watching over him, he knew he had some “spunk”.  I asked how did he know this – and he answered he just did.  I told him to watch out since that would likely become his nickname and sure enough – 5 years later when we either call Alex or Spunk/Spunky – he turns his head and answers.


After Wednesday, his surfactant treatment, his breathing did get dramatically better within the next day or so.  He was able to eventually get off the CPAP and oxygen and it was also the day I held him for the first time.  It was like no other moment in my entire life!  It was the best to be able to hold him!  The surfactant did it’s job and he was slowly getting better.  But, by this time, he was developing quite the jaundice.  He had to be under the bili-lights for so many hours a day, and as his numbers when up and up, the lights got stronger and stronger. 


Below are the instruments and machines that he was hooked up to as well as the isolator he called home for a while.  It was all new to me and every beep and alarm meant something.  Nurses would come rushing in and fix this monitor or that monitor.  I was still in the hospital myself at this point, I was discharged 4 days after Alex was born.  The normal time for a c-section was 2 days.  I still hadn’t taken a shower by Wednesday either, so I was feeling better, but not good enough yet to brave the shower.  Most of my time was in a wheel chair or sitting down. 


It looks like from this picture, we had also named him by this point.  When he was born, we hadn’t picked a name yet.  We imagined that he would be born, we would hold him and see him and then name him.  Well, that didn’t happen.  Until Wednesday – he was Boy Torgesen.  Lance expressed frustration and sadness that we hadn’t named him yet, and I felt so bad, but until Wednesday – I felt like I hadn’t seen him for enough time.  Tuesday was a blur and Monday I had seen him in the OR for less than one minute.


Finally, we named him.  He was such a strong and brave boy and we couldn’t think of a better name that expressed this than Alexander. 


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The jaundice was hard.  It meant I couldn’t hold him for very long since he had to be under the lights for so many hours a day.  It seemed like it went on forever, but really it was probably only that first 5-7 days.  The next week and a half were spent regulating his own body heat and gaining enough energy to be able to feed himself with a bottle or by nursing.  We were in the hospital for 2.5 weeks total.  When he was first born, his tummy was immature and couldn’t digest milk, so he was given IV nutrition.  Slowly they introduced breast milk to him, that I was pumping for him through the tube going this tummy at first, then by a syringe and then with a little tiny preemie bottle.  Finally after all of that, a wonderful lactation consultant helped me try breast feeding for the first time.  Part of the jaundice and part of the preemie, is that these babies get too tired to suck for very long and don’t end up taking the calories they need to grow or even maintain their weight.  The nurses would weigh him before he got any milk, then give him the milk through bottle or me, then weigh him again and subtract the amount he got.  Then, he would get the rest through the feeding tube.  He hated that thing after a while and would rip it out, only to have it placed back in there and taped to his delicate skin.  He was very spunky indeed. 


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The NICU was really REALLY hard.  It was so hard to watch your new baby struggle so much, it was hard to see his heel pricked every shift to check for jaundice levels, have all sorts of procedures, his tiny preemie cry, it was hard to see how uncomfortable he looked and it was so hard to not be able to hold him.  One of the hardest parts was when he was getting more and more ready to go, working his way up to 8 feedings a day by himself without the use of the feeding tube.  He would be hungry, and obviously so.  But, the nurses had to keep a “schedule” and he could only be fed every 3 hours because that is what their schedule said.  Well, if he was hungry at 2:15 minutes, then he had to wait.  It was excruciating to try to comfort your hungry preemie baby, when all you want to do is feed him (plus all the hormones on top of that).  It’s funny how this hospital/doctor thing makes you accept this, what a load of crap!  If I had to do this all over again (and thank god I didn’t) I would have told them where to shove their schedule and fed my baby!




I know this is getting really long, but to be continued…