Where has the time gone? I fully intended to write this part of the story closer to his birth than 4 months. But, here we are.
So where did I leave off? Oh yes, so he was born in the hospital (not in the plan) and things were about to get even more off course.
Shortly after Elijah was delivered, I was hounded by several nurses for not getting the Strep B test while pregnant. Because they did not approve of that, they wanted to take Eli to the nursery to have him tested for it. Can I just say?, if you want to do anything even remotely different than protocol in the hospital, they treat you like a total crazy person. Oh well. That is why we chose a home birth in the first place. At first I said "no". But they wouldn't let up and since it was just a test and not an injection or vaccine of any kind, I figured it was harmless and finally relented, but only if Ben stayed by his side the entire time and he was returned to me immediately.
Oh, and he couldn't leave the room until he had successfully nursed.
I have no idea how long he and Ben had been gone for. I mean, adrenaline was running wild and so was the exhaustion. But I soon heard my husband's voice, yelling in the hallway. My reaction was obviously one of concern. The next thing I knew he was in our room, without my child, asking for the nurse who had originally convinced us to have Eli tested. And then he left.
I had no idea what was going on. Only that I didn't know where my baby was.
Ben returned to tell me the story (still, without the baby): While in the nursery, another nurse looked over at Eli and suspected his blood sugar was low and insisted that he should be tested for that as well. So they tested it and it was low. She then informed Ben that the only solution was to give him formula. Ben told her "absolutely not", especially not before he spoke to me about it. When he fought her on it, and because Ben can be forceful and intimidating (I love him, I love him, I love how protective he is of his family), she threatened to have security remove from the hospital and told him he needed to leave the nursery. I am not kidding. Instantly, I felt like we were going to be treated like those parents. The ones who, because they go against medical advice, have CPS called on them and their child taken away.
I still don't remember the order of everything that happened that morning. But it went something like: we tried to contact our pediatrician to have him check Eli before any decision was made. But the nurses insisted that because he didn't have privilege at that particular hospital, it was too bad so sad for us. They wouldn't listen to him (not to mention, everyone in LandD and the NICU knew who he was and his reputation preceded him and supposedly it was not a good one). We then had a conversation with the NICU doctor. We all came to the agreement that I would continue to breastfeed like normal and they could check his blood sugar levels in between. If things did not change, or got worse, he would need to be placed on an IV.
But before we were able to come to that decision, I had to fight for them to agree not to give him formula. And I mean fight.
I nursed him again, they checked his levels, and they were lower; getting dangerously low.
So they took my baby, and they checked him into the NICU, and they put him on an IV drip and they tried to feed him formula.
Oh, I was furious. I was outraged. I was pissed.
The nurse told me that the doctor (who I had just spoken to an hour or so before, who promised to my face that she would tell the nurses he is only to be offered the breast) had told her that they were to give him the bottle after he nursed because they didn't think he was getting enough to eat (all of this without any evidence what-so-ever). So, I had the nurse call the doctor over.
And we fought it out again. I made it plainly clear that he would not be given formula, under any circumstance. That I would be down to nurse him every 2 hours. She then insisted that I pump so they knew how much he was getting. My reply was simple: so long as I'm here to nurse him, there is no need to pump. And as long as he isn't losing too much weight and as long as he's pooping, he's getting enough. Period. End of story. (I understand that most mommas who's babies are in the NICU need to pump because their babies are not strong enough to nurse and are too small, but that was not the case with Eli. He was over 8 lbs and had shown to be perfectly capable of nursing at the breast). At one point, a nurse actually tried to tell me that until he got milk from me, he needed forumla so that he gets enough. Um, no. Go back and take a class on breastfeeding.
For the next 24 hours, Eli was connected to the monitors. The nurse thought I was crazy that he hadn't had a bath because I requested he not get one (yep. I'm that mom). And they had to move him because he was crying too loudly around all the little babies in the NICU. Ben went home to be with Isaac at night and I stayed in my room at the hospital. Every 2 hours, I woke up, walked down the hall (wearing my awesome "fall risk" wrist band), was buzzed into the NICU, washed my hands, found Eli's bed and breastfed that sweet little baby. I stripped him down and cuddled him to my own skin for close to an hour each time. I'm a firm believer that kangaroo care can heal just about anything.
Boy, was I exhausted. But I would do anything for that baby.
At the beginning of day two, Ben and I had a discussion with another doctor about what had to be done in order for us to leave, at the time, today. They were talking like he was going to be in there for days, weeks, who knows. But that was not okay with us. His blood sugar numbers had remained stable and they certainly were not going down. From what we had read and ascertained from other people who had worked in the field, he was actually maintaining at the low end of normal, but still normal. And yet, they insisted that he was not healthy.
Because as soon as we told them we didn't have the money for him to stay, they figured out a way to get him gone, that day.
They reduced his IV by 5 CC's every time his blood sugar level was above [whatever number they wanted it at, I cannot remember it now]. And that was every time they tested it. By the end of day 2, he was deemed healthy and suitable to leave.
And all without formula. Go figure!!
Around midnight on Sunday night, we packed up all of our belongings, put Eli in his carseat, signed a few papers at the LandD desk, they wheeled me out to the car (I hate that part), and we headed on our way.
In the end, we still don't know what caused it. The likeliest culprit was a 22 hour labor that included 3 hours of crowning on his part. I was tired. I'm sure he was too. It just took him a little time to recuperate. Nothing a little bit of mommy's milk and kangaroo care can't cure.
There are some things we got out of this whole situation:
1. It confirmed for me even more that I don't like hospital deliveries. Our stay with Isaac wasn't a pleasant one either, although not as bad. I feel like mothers don't get much of a voice in the hospital. It's all up to doctors and professionals. They know all. You know nothing. I know that isn't always the case, but I'm willing to say that a majority of the time, it is.
2. Did we want to deliver in the hospital? No, absolutely not. Did we end up there? Yes. Was God's hand over it all? I believe it absolutely was. Maybe Elijah's blood sugar would have rebounded solely with breastfeeding had we delivered at home. But maybe it wouldn't have. Blood sugar is not something that is routinely tested after delivery. Chances are that we wouldn't have tested his levels if he had been delivered at home. Maybe we ended up at the hospital so that a nurse would take notice and he could get treatment.
3. I can now (somewhat) understand what mothers who have babies in the NICU go through. Although Eli was not in there because he was premature, and he did not have to stay for weeks and weeks, I can now sympathize with any mother who has to leave her baby behind with a nurse instead of taking him home once he's born. No mother wants to go through that and no mother should have to. This experience has burdened me to pray for those mommas, and daddys. Be strong for your babies and do whatever it takes.
On Monday afternoon I took Eli to the pediatrician. His doctor was not the least bit concerned about his blood sugar. He looked and acted normal. He had only lost 2 ounces in the 3 days since he was born (Isaac lost 9!). He was eating often and pooping just as often. There was nothing to worry about. And today he is a thriving and healthy big boy. Everyday I am thankful that things were not worse and that the whole ordeal only lasted 2 days, even if it did seem like an eternity while we were in the midst of it!
[4 months old]