Nora's Birth Story: Part Two
This is the second half of the story of the whirlwind that was my daughter’s entrance into this world.
You can find part one here! Head’s up that this part may be wordy, so feel free to read or just scroll for the photos! Thanks again, Stephen, for making me pick up the camera to document this.
Our little girl arrived just shortly after midnight. So we spent the majority of her first “night” together awake. Measurements were taken, vitals were checked, a fresh baby was snuggled and fed and loved. We were eventually transferred to a room on the floor and settled in for a tiny bit of sleep. But our little girl had a bad habit of making a strange sound, gagging horribly, and spitting up a yellow/green substance. We were assured that it was probably just colostrum and that it should be ok, but they’ll keep an eye on her.
We were able to receive a few visitors later that morning and I was finally able to have my Jimmy Johns. But my sweet little man (Henry, who was just barely two at the time) was not allowed to come in the hospital due to the crazy amounts of flu going around at the time. The hospital was off limits for visitors under 12. I was heartbroken that I wouldn’t be having the “meet your new sister” moment I had dreamed about. But she was here! And I was feeling pretty good! Our doctors had even talked about sending us home early (which was exciting after the five day stay we had with our son)! I was so incredibly thankful for all of the details that God had met in her birth. I was definitely on a high.
The day wore on, but Nora’s breathing sounds weren’t improving and she had little interest in nursing. When she would nurse, she would gag badly and spit up yellow. She hadn’t been nursing enough for it to be colostrum anymore, so it was still slightly concerning, but nothing major. New babies sleep a lot and she seemed otherwise fine. I was feeling a little concerned, but peaceful. I knew that God had her in His hand. I can’t explain why, except that it was His peace granted for the journey that was waiting for us. That night, at her 24 hour of age mark, she still hadn’t had her first bowel movement either. Some babies are slower, but the nurses were starting to show some more concern. Now, details are fuzzy at this point a year out, but I remember they moved her to the nursery some time around that. I continued to pump round the clock, sleep when we could, and delivered colostrum to the nursery for Nora.
The next day there was still no bowel movement. Still gagging. Still spitting up junk. X-rays were taken and the Doctor told us that it looked to be what he thought to be intussusception. This is where the intestine telescopes up onto itself and can be a pretty bad deal. However, we live in a small area and we have no access to specialty child care. So, an air ambulance transport was called from the Children’s Hospital. My little darling was dehydrated and the nurses were having trouble finding a vein. She was pretty out of it and wasn’t fighting back much—a sign of her need for fluids. My fear was starting to rise. Everything was going wrong. This isn’t how my “go home early" “finally we got a normal birth story” was supposed to go! I was feeling woozy and weak and had to lay down in my room. I was given the choice by my doctor of whether I wanted to stay and recover another day or go with my baby. Of course, I chose to be discharged and follow my little girl…but I regret not having more time to heal.
We packed up our room. I felt like a zombie on remote control. Stopping to cry occasionally and then vocally proclaiming that “I’m fine. I really am! He’s got this. I trust Him. I’m just tired and I am scared”. I don’t know how many times I would stop and cry and then say those things over the course of the next week. Our amazing nurse was able to get an IV in Nora. She warned me beforehand that it may look gruesome, but often they have to go in through a head vein. We were able to meet our transport team, see our brand new baby one last time all wrapped up in a humongous contraption on wheels, and say our goodbyes for a few hours.
I felt numb most of the rest of that night. We had to go home, pack some bags and eat dinner. We had to arrange a hotel and gas up the car. I briefly got to hug my little man (I sobbed). We prayed with our pastor. What’s funny is that we later found out from our transport team that at the very time that we would’ve been praying, she finally passed a bowel movement en route. We believe that’s when God healed her.
My husband, my mom, my toddler, and myself all journeyed two hours away that night. I was sore, exhausted, leaking, numb, scared, and dizzy. We managed to check in, drop off the bags, kiss Henry goodnight, and then drive another 30 minutes to Children’s. There, we got badges made, wearily navigated the NICU to find our daughters room. The precious nugget that was just lying on my chest just 48 hours before was now in an isolette with tubes and wires and beeping machines. Her belly was swollen, and her sweet little head was caked with tape and dried blood. But it was such a relief to see her!
What followed were four of the longest days ever. But ultimately, everything turned out just fine. They drained a crazy amount of junk and air out of Nora’s stomach, replaced fluids, introduced breastmilk via tube at first and then worked on nursing, and finished a round of preventative and precautionary antibiotics. She had a pretty bad case of jaundice (that we’d later be readmitted at home to remedy). We spent our time going from hotel with our toddler to the hospital with our newborn. Being newly postpartum (and as we later discovered low on blood volume) took a major toll on me as I tried to wonder woman my way through it all. My mom and husband were God sends as they took care of me, made me eat, took care of my children when I’d collapse in exhaustion at the hotel. I look at these photos now and I see how pale I was! It should come as no surprise that I struggled with nearly passing out several times during our stay. But I’ve also never felt so carried by other’s prayers and the Holy Spirit as that week. Lots of the specifics are fuzzy, we spent a lot of hours on autopilot, relaying information as soon as we’d get it, surrounded by the smell of hospital hand soap and sanitizer, lost in the constant beeping of the NICU and becoming adept at what beeps were yours and how to fix them (her leads would never stay on and always lead to an alarm).
It’s certainly not the birth story I’d dreamed about or would even want again. But it IS our story. And because of that, I love it. I love that God was with us the whole week. I love that He healed her (the xrays from home vs. at Children’s were definitely before and afters of something different). I love that it gave us perspective all week walking into a building where families weren’t coming home with healthy babies. I don’t know that I’ve ever prayed like I was breathing as I did then. I loved every nurse that we met, even if I can’t remember they’re names. From delivery to NICU, the nurses were all amazing. Even Henry getting to meet Nora was better in it’s own way. Seeing his little heart burst with pride and joy over his little sister sent me into the biggest ugly cry of all time. Hearing him kiss her and giggle and say through tears “You awl bettew! You ok now, Bahby Ora! You not sick anymoy!” was better than gold.
I can remember just wishing away the days though. Praying that time would just pass quickly to warmer days and healed bodies and EASE. It didn’t fly by. I had to struggle with the weight and cares of a newborn. I had to rely on the Lord for strength to get through the day and night. In fact, it wasn’t until about six months that we really hit our stride and I was back to my full health. But now, I have a sassy slice of sunshine turning one. And I can’t imagine our story any other way. If you are in your own season of “not how I imagined”, please turn to the Lord and run into His arms. He is so kind in his love and his strength is bigger than any trial we will ever face. I pray that you will be carried by His peace. Because even if the details get fuzzy, knowing that He’s the one carrying us all will never fade from memory.