Once they knew I was going to be sectioned they had called a hospital in Little Rock to let them know that they may be needed. So once the pediatrician made the call that she needed to go the helicopter was on its way.
Lonnie stayed with our sweet E the entire time. A few days after their birth I finally got a chance to talk details with him about what all happened when she was born. Even though he is a physician and has seen plenty of horrible things in his career, seeing his precious daughter being worked on the way they worked on her really traumatized him. I could tell because he didn't really want to talk much about it. But I made him because I wanted to know.
He stood back and watched the nursery nurses and the pediatrician do their jobs. Our good friend, Karl, who is an ER doctor was right there with him ready to jump in and help if needed. (I did not know this until much later)
Since her lungs were full of fluid they did chest compressions to help her try to expel some of it. I think that is the thing that really sticks in Lonnie's head. I know it sticks in mine and I didn't even see it happen. I tear up just thinking about it. They put her on oxygen immediately and started an IV although that took many attempts. She was stable but she needed surfactant and the hospital where I delivered does not keep it around. It is a very expensive drug and has the shelf life of milk. Since they don't deliver many preemies they don't keep it.
When I made Lonnie leave the babies for just a minute to talk to me, he told me that Em would probably be intubated when they brought her in to see me. I cried. He explained that they have to intubate them because that is how they give the surfactant. I hated that my girl was going to have to go through that but I just wanted her to be ok. When they wheeled her in to see me she was not intubated she was just on nasal cannula oxygen. The flight nurses explained that they would just do a quick intubation (in to give the meds and then right back out) once they got to Arkansas Children's Hospital.
I stroked her little foot because that is the only thing I could reach. Looking back I feel like I was in such a fog. I couldn't believe this was happening and it just didn't seem real. I mean a couple of hours prior I was feeling fine and thinking I could make it a couple of more weeks! You know how it is after you give birth...it almost doesn't seem real. Then at some point it hits you. And then you cry. Or I do anyway!
The helicopter took off with our daughter and Lonnie ran home to grab some clothes, talk to Blakely and then head straight to Little Rock to be with Emery. When he got home we Face Timed with Blakely. She didn't know that the babies had been born and I wanted to be the one to tell her. The first thing she said was, "OUT? The babies are out of your tummy?" She was excited and I told her I would send her pictures as soon as I could.
Lonnie left and went to be with Emery. When he got there they were about to give her the surfactant. Thankfully it made her breathe better almost immediately and they were able to extubate her quickly. She was on a c-pap for a couple of days (this forces oxygen into the nose).
Over the next couple of days the doctors said she was progressing as expected. She was having episodes of really rapid breathing and she was also having retractions. Just looking at her it looked like she was working to breathe. It is hard to explain but it looked like her chest was caving in a lot when she would try to breathe in. They said that was normal and would get better over time but it freaked me out a bit.
She rested much easier on her tummy
We also had a few FaceTime dates when Lonnie was still with her.
She moved from c-pap to nasal cannula on her 5th day of life and then quickly weaned off the nasal cannula after that, by the end of her first week. She had catheters in her umbilical artery and one in her umbilical vein. She also had an IV and they were giving her TPN through that. She had a tube from her mouth to her stomach and they started giving her my breast milk through that when she was 3 days old. They started with 5 mL and she did great with that so they slowly increased it over the next few days.
My girl was obviously hungry. She would root around and try to eat her hands. They gave her a pacifier while she was getting her feedings via the OG (orogastric) tube so she could associate sucking with a full tummy. Sometimes I would check the live feed and she would be screaming her head off all because she lost her pacifier. The nurse would come put it back and she would be fine.
On Friday (actually Thursday evening but I couldn't travel until Friday) I was released from the hospital and I couldn't wait to go see my girl. The logistics of trying to figure out how to make this happen were crazy. At this point, Benton was still in the hospital in Hot Springs. Since my goal was to exclusively breastfeed (both babies) I needed to leave enough milk for him to have one bottle. So I fed him at 8am (took 30 minutes), pumped (took 15 minutes and prayed it would be enough to leave for him to have a bottle), loaded up the milk I was taking to Emery and left (around 9am). I had to be back by the 2pm feeding. They wanted me to leave minimum 30 mL of milk for him at the 11am feeding. I had enough to leave him 34 mL and the rest was going to Emery. My milk was just starting to come in so literally every single drop counted. This was the second day Em was getting breast milk and they had enough at ACH to finish her 8am feeding that day and then they were out. I was taking more for her next feedings. The timing of everything was crucial and very stressful!
My mother in law drove me the hour to Little Rock since I couldn't drive. I cried a few times on the way there. I was nervous for some reason. I guess I just didn't know what to expect. They had removed her umbilical artery catheter earlier that day so I knew I may get to hold her. That is all I wanted. To hold her and stare at her.
And I did! It is pretty weird to see your daughter really for the first time when she is 3 days old. It was kind of a realization of, okay, I did have 2 babies! I cried some more. Theme? Yes. It was hard to see her face with all the tubes and such but I could tell immediately that she and her brother looked nothing alike. There was something about her that reminded me of Blakely but I wasn't sure what it was. I never wanted to let her go. It was so hard to leave her but I knew I had to get back to Benton. The nurses there are so wonderful so I felt like I was leaving her in good hands. I couldn't wait until I could get back to her.
Towards the end of her first week Lonnie and I were getting worried that her breathing was just staying the same and not really getting any better. Still with the episodes of rapid breathing and still having retractions. They assured us that she was getting better just slowly. She was doing GREAT with her feedings from her tube and they continued to increase the amount of breast milk until she was at a full feeding. They said it would just take time for her to mature. She was only 34 weeks 1 day when she was born.
So that was Emery's first week of life. It started off scary but she got the medication she needed and she was in the best hospital she could be in. She was making progress and was only on nasal cannula to room air for breathing (the minimum) and was tolerating her feedings well. All that we could ask for! I'll stop here and post about her 2nd week soon. Up next...Ben man's first week!