The days following Alexandra’s birth were the happiest and scariest of my life. It was a wild roller coaster of emotions.
We knew they were treating Alexandra as though she had an infection until they had the results. A pediatrician met with us later on Thursday and explained everything that was going on. They didn’t know what kind of infection my uterus had but they had my placenta and were doing tests on it to find out. They had me and Alexandra both on lots of antibiotics. The first day I was hooked up to an IV and a catheter. I was given a lot of drugs to control the pain. I had an ice bag over my incision that I couldn’t even feel. I felt groggy, but happy to have my baby. Later on in the day the nurse helped me get up and walk around the room a bit.
Alexandra was wonderful. We had some visitors and she mostly just slept.
That first night was awesome and scary. We opted to keep her in our room overnight since we had already spent so much time away from her. I woke her up every 2 to 3 hours to feed and she did quite well. It was a group effort though since I couldn’t really get out of bed on my own, Tim had to help with everything. I think I dozed off and got maybe 15-20 minutes of sleep at a time because I kept looking at her to make sure she was still breathing. Sometimes she was wide awake and would just stare at me, wide eyed and it brought tears to my eyes just thinking about how wonderful she is. I didn’t think anything on earth could be any cuter than she was when she looked at me with those big blue eyes and squirmed around kicking up her feet.
She hadn’t really cried a lot yet, so suddenly at 2 am when she started screaming it took Tim and I by surprise and we kind of looked at each other like “what do we do?” She had just been fed so I didn’t think she was hungry. We both seemed to realize at the same time that it could be her diaper. If there had been a camera in that room that night capturing what ensued it would have been hilarious! It was like the blind leading the blind. She hadn’t had a dirty diaper yet and we had no idea where the new diapers were or wipes or anything! We got it done, and I have to admit that we naively believed that we were navigating the challenges of parenthood quite well. HA!
The next day we received some mixed news. Alexandra’s white blood cells were showing some immature cells which typically is a sign of stress. The pediatrician explained that it could be just from the stressful birth, but it was definitely an abnormal result. I was still running a fever, but luckily her temperature was normal every time they checked. They wouldn’t have cultures until sometime on Saturday.
Alexandra was a great little baby though and seemed so healthy, which the doctors kept telling us was a great sign!
I will offer some advice for first time parents that I heard and wished I’d followed more. We had so many visitors, which was great, and we enjoyed having everyone there and seeing her. But they would bring me meals and if someone was there I felt impolite eating in front of them so I’d let the food sit and then by the time I could eat it, it had been out too long. Finally though I got past my guilt and just started eating in front of people. Don’t be shy either about kicking people out of the room to feed. Its so important to establish a schedule and your milk supply and the baby is too young to wake herself up and let you know its time to feed.
Saturday morning was awful. Shortly after my breakfast Tim headed over to our house for the first time since we left early Thursday morning. The nurse came in and said they needed Alexandra for a little bit to take more blood cultures and give her her antibiotics. She was scheduled to have pictures in an hour and the nurse said she’d be back by then. I figured it would give me time to get in a shower so I said ok. I got out of the shower, no baby. I got dressed and ready, no baby. The photographer came to the room and I had to tell her we weren’t ready yet. I waited and waited. I hadn’t left the room yet and even though I was off my IV now and could, Tim was still at home and I felt strange leaving all our stuff in our room with no one. I paced around the room and finally couldn’t stand it anymore and walked outside to the nursery.
What I saw I will unfortunately never forget. My 2 day old baby was on a table where a nurse was holding down her foot as she screamed, white in the face, fists in the air. There was blood on the blankets, her feet were wrapped in bloody bandages and her hands had big bruises. She had been gone for 2 and a half hours. I asked what was going on and they told me that she wouldn’t stop kicking so they had to hold her foot down while the IV went in. They also said her blood kept clotting in the tube so they had to keep poking and repoking her and taking more blood for the lab. I couldn’t help it. I broke down and started crying right there. I held onto her little hand and looked at her angry face and tried talking to her while they gave her the IV but when they had to poke her bruised hand again, I had to leave. I felt sick. I wanted to be there for her, but I just bawled. I can’t explain just how horrible it was to watch her in so much pain. She had been enduring that for 2 and a half hours!!! My heart broke for her. She was only 2 days old and it wasn’t fair that she had to go through this. I knew it was for her own good, but she didn’t. I felt horribly guilty too that it was my infection that caused all of this.
I called Tim so upset and told him that I needed him to be here. I was an emotional mess the rest of the day. Finally, we received some great news. All of her cultures came back negative! They wanted to keep me one more day due to my fever just going down, but we were ok to go home on Sunday! Of course I cried again, this time tears of joy. They had the results from my placenta back and had determined I had group B strep in my uterus. They test all pregnant women for this at 36 weeks and my test was negative, so how I had it undetected I guess I’ll never know. While the pediatrician assured us this was great news, he also told us that she could still develop the infection a week later. He told us we had to be very diligent about watching her for signs and fever and immediately take her in at the sign that anything was wrong. He also cautioned that there is a lot of nasty flu going around this year. He told us we should keep her away from public places, not let people touch her without washing their hands and not let anyone who is sick be around her at all. I asked how long and he looked at me with all seriousness and said “June.” That’s just what an over protective parent needs to hear, LOL!
So finally, on Sunday afternoon we wrapped up our little girl, put her in her car seat and took her to her new home! Best day ever!