Finally! He was brought in.
I was stunned to see that his face appeared to be burned.
His little nose had a giant welt across the top of it. His upper lip was swollen, along with his eyelid and ear.
He looked like he took a digger head first across some gravel. What the heck happened to my baby?
“Dude, Kim! What’s wrong with his face?”
“Nothing, he looks perfect!”
“Come on! Look as his nose. He was a C-section! None of my other kids looked like this.”
“Sometimes newborn babies look a little haggard. He looks okay though. You can see a little bruising on the left side of his face.” She was being as gentle as she could be. But I saw it. We all did. I asked the nurse and she simply said it was probably from the delivery. It was nothing to be too worried about.
The nurses wanted Josiah to breastfeed but he wouldn’t stay awake long enough to latch on. The nurses started to show concern and decided it was best to take him back to the nursery. They said he’d most likely be back in two hours to try feeding again. I was okay with that. I’d catch a nap.
I woke two hours later and Josiah never came back. After three hours I paged the nurse to see where he was. She told me that he was hypoglycemic and needed to stay in the nursery. They were trying to feed him sugar water. Another couple of hours passed and he still wasn’t brought in to me. I was beginning to worry. The nurses finally came in to tell me they couldn’t get him to feed at all and they no choice but to place an NG tube through his nose and into his stomach. Every time they tried to feed him his respirations would slow and his oxygen levels would drop.
I was so scared and sad. He was just across the hall from my room and yet they wouldn’t let me into the nursery to see him. I’d only seen him for about 20 minutes since he’d been born. How sad that he was all by himself in this giant new world all alone.
The pediatrician came in early the next morning. He said that if he didn’t feed on his own in the next couple of hours, they would move him into the Neonatal intensive care unit. I didn’t want that at all. Please, Lord, let him eat. Let him be healthy.
My doctor finally gave me the thumbs up to get out of bed. Jim helped me swing my legs around and I gingerly slid off the bed. I was woozy. I wasn’t in as much pain as I anticipated, but still walked like a little old lady, all hunkered over, holding onto my gut in fear my intestines would fall out.
The minute I saw him I wanted to cry. He looked so tiny and delicate with all of the cords and tubes taped to his body. I was almost afraid to touch him. Even the tiny preemie diapers were too big for him. The nurse wrapped him up and gave him to me. We were tangled in a web of cords but I couldn’t help falling in love with my little red-headed baby. He was so fair in contrast to the girls. He looked like a typical little Swedish baby and our girls looked like Cherokee babies.
The plan was that the NG tube would be removed and Id attempt to breast feed. As long as his respirations stayed up and the oxygen levels stayed above 90, I could keep him with me.
I prayed constantly during the feeding. It was a success! He did a fantastic job and managed to stay awake for 25 minutes. I was relieved. The nurses said they would report his progress to the pediatrician and hopefully get the okay for him to be left in my room.
“Here comes Josiah! Just let me check our name tag, Mom, and he’s all yours!”
“Yay me! I can’t wait to hold him.” He looked so much better without all the cords attached to him. That in itself brought me some much needed relief.
“Oops, it smells like somebody is in need of a diaper change.” I know it sounds weird to say I was excited to change his diaper, but I was! This was a monumental moment, a rite of passage for both of us.
When I unswaddled him I noticed his left arm went completely limp. A little perplexed, I picked it up and there was very little resistance and his hand appeared to be flaccid, especially compared to his tight fist on his right hand. Did the doctors not notice this? Or did they just fail to tell me his arm wasn’t working? I asked the nurse and she said the pediatrician was still on the floor and he’d send him in.
Once he arrived, he explained that it was probably trauma from the delivery. This wasn’t uncommon to see in emergency situations as sometimes they are yanked with force and more than likely, his shoulder was under my pelvic bone. He’d keep an eye on it but expected it to improve dramatically in the next 72 hours. Next I asked about the marks and swelling on his face.
“It looks like a stork bite.”
“A stork bite?”
“Yes, it’s a very common birth mark.”
“Do birthmarks scab over like that?”
“I think it’s a combination of dry skin and a stork bite.”
I wasn’t buying it. I was going to watch it. Josiah’s little face looked burned to me. The skin was peeling over and looked raw, just like the burn I had from my glue gun. I decided I’d wait until tomorrow and bring it up again.
The good news was Josiah was eating great, pooping great and doing a good job with his respirations. He was having a little bit of a struggle keeping his body temperature up, which meant I got to snuggle with him on a constant basis. Oh, the sweet smell of a brand new baby!
It turned out that the pediatrician agreed the next day that those marks were indeed, burns. We’d put a little ointment on it and he’d be as good as new. Then our little guy started becoming jaundiced, no biggie.
He got to hang out under the bilirubin lights and get a suntan. The girls got a kick out of seeing Josiah stretched out with his super cool sunglasses on. I did not like going from 100% cuddle bug to only being able to hold him for a feeding, but I really wanted him to be able to come home. The other downer was that he was losing weight. We were supposed to go home in the next 36 hours, but were told that Josiah would be staying if he lost any more weight and his bilirubin count didn’t improve.
After the doctors told me this, I had my post-partum breakdown. You know the one they warn all the husbands about in the child preparation classes? It broke my heart just to think we might have to leave him here. Actually, I would probably never leave. I’d be by his bedside every moment until we could come home together.
Great news! Our favorite nurse announced that Josiah had sustained his 4 pound 2 ounce weight for twenty four hours and his bilirubin level had improved.
It looked like the little man was coming home! We just had to take him back daily for the bilirubin count and weight check. Once he hit his birth weight, we’d be on the regular well baby schedule. No problem. I could handle that. Praise the Lord!