What a rollercoaster it has been! If you haven’t already read Redfield’s birth story, you can find it here. Things have been a bit crazy since bringing Red home from the hospital, to say the least. There hasn’t been much time to process everything, until now. Today Red is four weeks old! We are home enjoying the sunny Spring weather. But it took a lot to get to this day. Allow me to get you caught up.
A couple days after bringing Red home from the hospital we experienced our first night at home with a newborn. I was thinking to myself, “I got this”, until 1am hit. He was screaming unconsolably, and we had no idea what we were doing. I was very overwhelmed, head in hands suddenly thinking, “I can’t do this.” A feeling not so foreign to any new parent, I can imagine. Why did he seem so calm in the hospital at night? Get them home, and wow. Overwhelming to say the least. Thank goodness for my mother! She came in and helped us throughout the night. But, as it turns out, that was the least of our worries.
Over the next day or so I worked diligently with Red on breastfeeding and lots of snuggles. Both my mother and my sister-in-law had flown to Italy to help us transition into new parenthood. We got concerned that Red wasn’t producing enough diapers. So we eventually took him in to the ER to make sure that he was doing okay. As soon as we sat down in the waiting room, he had a MAJOR diaper blow out. Of course! Welcome to parenthood. Haha. Despite our concerns being put to rest, the doctors and nurses still wanted to check him out, since we were there. They checked all of his vital signs and noted that his temperature was a bit low at 95.1. Protocol wouldn’t allow us to leave until his temp went back up.
Armed with warming blankets and little patience we were kept in the ER for hours. The nurses kept coming in and removing the blankets and checking his temperature, but it wasn’t leveling out. Finally, the doctor came in and said that they were admitting him because not being able to self regulate his own body temperature was a sign of infection. The doctors wanted to check his blood, urine and spinal fluid.
Red was only six days old. I didn’t understand. How could he have an infection? Where did he get it from? He seemed happy and healthy at home with the exception of the diapers, but that was remedied a few hours ago… They went on to explain that they needed to draw blood, use a catheter to get a urine sample and lastly, and most invasively, do a spinal tap. We were immediately opposed to the spinal tap! He was six days old for crying out loud! The areas between his vertebrae are tiny! One mistake and he could be paralyzed… Every worst case scenario kept running through my mind. Our frustration kept mounting.
The head pediatrician didn’t help much in that department. She gave us every worst case scenario… possible meningitis, brain damage, paralyzation, etc. Thank’s doc. Way to calm a new mother who is already scared. Eventually we agreed to all of it, what choice did we have? The nurses weren’t prepared with the catheter at first, and being a boy, Red peed as soon as his diaper was removed with no nurse ready to collect his donation. Now we had to wait longer. An anesthesiologist had to be brought in to do the blood work because his veins are so small, the nurses couldn’t get an IV in. The Pediatrician did the Spinal Tap three times, finally getting clear fluid [Read: no blood] that was necessary. For this, I sat out in the hallway crying while my husband, impressively and graciously, stayed with Red. I don’t know what I would do without his strength for both Red and myself. I felt helpless and raw. All I could hear was my son screaming and all of the nurses at work joking around in their break room while my world felt like it was crashing down.
Finally we were admitted and were told we had to stay in the hospital for at least a week. The urine, blood and spinal fluid cultures would all take 48 hours to see if any bacteria grew in them. From there we would know if there was some kind of infection in any one, or all of these areas, but general antibiotics needed to be started via IV and continued for at least a week. Exhausted and frustrated we waited. My mother and sister-in-law were at home. They came all of this way, for us to spend the remainder of their time in the hospital. What luck. They did eventually join us. Thankfully our hospital doesn’t do specific visiting hours and there were extra beds for them to stay in. We hunkered down, giving Red all of our love and support.
After 48 hours we were informed that he had a UTI and that they had identified the bacteria. They knew which antibiotics to use, but said we may need to be transferred out to an Italian hospital if specific dosages were needed because this hospital is so small and they don’t provide those services. We were absolutely NOT okay with this, and not simply because the hospitals, language and practices are foreign to us, but the Italian NICU only allows for two hours of visiting a day! TWO. So I am supposed to leave my week old son, who I am breastfeeding, in a completely foreign place? We fought and fought hard to stay where we were as long as they had alternative methods to providing the medicine he needed. My sole focus, and only thing I could control is giving Red all of my energy, love and nourishment. He still showed no symptoms of being sick.
Eventually we were convinced that he needed a longer IV, and that the Italian NICU was very experienced in putting those in, so we needed to take him there. The doctor told us we didn’t need to stay, just that they were willing to help us. So, this very stressed and exhausted mama got in the ambulance with my son strapped down in a warming box and headed that way. But not before this doctor reminded me that there are risks of transporting him. Did you know, that we could get in a fatal car accident on the way? Gee, thanks Doc, once again for reminding me of that! What the hell?
Emotionally at our breaking points, with Red screaming we arrived at the NICU. Italians crowded around his transport box to see him. No privacy there, I wanted to scream at everyone to get away, but knowing their intentions were good, I didn’t. The nurses took Red, we weren’t allowed to go with him, to try to place this IV. But of course, he was so new, and so small they were unsuccessful. Meanwhile, our doctor called to tell us she recommends that we simply admit him and leave him there… to me, this felt like her intention all along. I was furious. Andrew spoke with her and asked, since his current IV was still functioning, if we could bring him back to our hospital (where we can all stay together) until it didn’t work any more. Once that happened, we could try to place a new IV, if that didn’t work, we would transfer him. She agreed and said she was comfortable with that. So back in the ambulance we went.
When we returned, we were informed that bacteria was found in his blood culture, but they didn’t know whether or not it was a pathogen. Until they could identify it, Red was hooked up to more monitors and watched very carefully. The news just kept getting worse. I dreaded the doctors visits to the room because every time she came in, something new came up. I worried for my son’s life. Dramatic? Maybe, but emotions were high already and keep in mind I only had this baby a week ago, hormones were all over the place.
The following day, we were informed that what was found in the blood wasn’t a pathogen, but some sort of cross contamination. In other words, it wasn’t an infection or anything to worry about. Finally the good news started coming in. Redfield was responding well to the antibiotics and after much consultation between pediatricians here and in the states, they all were comfortable with keeping us for the seven days, as long as we could place new IV’s as they were needed. And if we could, then they would send us home with oral medicine for the last three days of the necessary dosage. FINALLY! Finally, there was light at the end of the tunnel. We eventually had to have one put in his head, simply because it was the best vein available. It lasted just long enough to get us through day 7, thankfully!
All of this time, my husband was on, and used all of his paternity leave. He was also going to and from our house, which is around 40 minutes away, to get necessary items, take our guests where they needed to be and eventually went back to work. We were exhausted, but so thankful that everything had worked out.
We brought Red home on a Friday, and took a deep breath. We made it home, just us. It was now time to find our new normal. To enjoy our new baby and find our rhythm. After all of this, after the first two weeks of birth and new motherhood, it was hard to set aside the worry. Hard not to constantly take his temperature every day, to make sure he was regulating it well. Mentally and emotionally, we were exhausted. But Red, ever the amazing little man, was happy, healthy and functioning on every level, poop included.
Despite all of the frustration, this was a blessing in disguise, had we not taken him to the ER, we wouldn’t have known of an infection until he showed signs, and by then, it could have been more dangerous. And although the doctor was not my biggest fan, nor I hers, she worked tirelessly for Redfield and only wanted the best. For all of that I am grateful and made sure I told her so.
Since then, it has been about two weeks, I am happy to say we are doing well. Tomorrow we have an ultrasound to make sure that his kidneys are functioning properly, and that this wasn’t the reason for the infection. I am trying not to worry about this. But Red shows no signs of slowing down. He is growing like a weed! He coo’s and now is starting to smile at us. He is often a good sleeper, but we definitely have those nights of restlessness. I secretly like those. Not the waking up part, but the quiet moments, just him and I looking at each other with complete contentment.
I don’t write this to complain. I write it out for family and friends, but more so to process my own thoughts. Thankful for all of the lessons, we continue on each day. Dad misses him like crazy while at work, and I do my best to juggle the everyday mundane, yet important tasks of motherhood while giving as much of myself as possible, physically and emotionally. I have to say however, he keeps me in the present and humbles me. I am reminded that truly all we need is nourishment, shelter and love. Eventually I will have some more processing to do regarding all that has happened. For now, writing it out is personally helpful and hopefully helpful to others. It just takes a bit longer to do with a little one in tow. 😉 Motherhood is exhaustingly incredible. As always I try to remind myself that things aren’t happening TO me, but FOR me. Every experience is an opportunity to grow and learn. Redfield is my new adventure and I am his forever home. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
To all of the mom’s out there, you are amazing and strong. All my love and respect.