Category Archives: NHS

A little bump in the road… or two.

So, I’m still playing catch-up with my posts about little Jack. I’m almost done with the whole story and can move on with where we actually are today. I think, after reading this post, you will understand why I took a long time getting all this out. On second hand, this post is ridiculously, embarrassingly late and no excuse is good enough. *sigh* Anyhow, here goes…

Because I had a c-section the normal time spent in hospital in the UK is three to four days. Charles and I were enjoying getting to know our little guy and showing him off to all our friends who came to visit. On day two we noticed that Jack was very jittery and having little spasms in his arms. At first we thought it was just normal baby movements, but I started to get a little concerned when the jitters got worse. I decided to consult the authorities, Google, and ended up freaking myself out because everything I read about the symptoms he was exhibiting was not good. Charles was incredibly sweet and supportive and went and got the pediatrician to check Jack out. She didn’t seem too worried about him, but had a midwife do a blood sugar test just to make sure all was well. I’m sure you can guess where this is going… all was not well.

Jack’s blood sugar levels were dangerously low. The pediatrician said that we needed to get his levels up ASAP so we had to feed him a bottle of formula. The poor little guy must have been starving because he downed the whole bottle in about two minutes. After that we waited another hour or so and then the midwife did another blood sugar test. Blood sugar tests on babies are done by pricking the heel and squeezing a drop of blood on to a little test strip. I’m sure you can imagine that Jack didn’t really like having this done twice. Anyhow, the second test results were not good. His levels were still way too low so they had me try to feed him another bottle of formula. This time around Jack wasn’t having it. He was tired and lethargic and wouldn’t eat for me. After a few more hours and several attempts to get him to eat, plus another very low blood sugar level the decision was made to put a cannula (IV) into Jack’s arm and then move him up to the special care unit (NICU). Not good.

The decision to move Jack upstairs happened very early in the morning so Charles, once again, got woken up really early and was told to rush over to the hospital. When he got there we had to watch as Jack had a feeding tube fed down his nose and into his stomach, an IV drip hooked up and a blood oxygen and heart rate monitor hooked up to him. So many tubes and needles for such a little guy!

Later in the morning we were able to talk with Jack’s team of doctors who explained to us that Jack was not only suffering from very low blood sugar, but he was also very anemic and had lost more weight than they would have liked. So, the plan of action was to give him oral iron supplements, top him up with formula through the feeding tube after each breast feed and do a heel prick blood test right before each feed to test his blood sugar. The goal was for his blood sugar to rise to a healthy level and maintain that level for at least three feedings. The next three days were filled with up and down emotions as we would get two really good blood sugar tests and then the third one would drop too low and then the next would drop even lower and then it would jump back up. It was so frustrating.

Charles and I spent as much time as we could sitting with Jack. We took turns so that one of us could sleep while the other kept him company. Although Jack was getting excellent care, there was one nurse for every two babies, we just didn’t feel right if one of us wasn’t there with him.

For new parents, this whole experience was very scary and overwhelming and seemed much more dire then it actually was. Low blood sugar is one of the most common reasons babies are admitted to the NICU. The chances of any long term damage was so minimal, but, seeing your tiny little baby with cords and tubes poking out of him is not something you expect to see and not something you are prepared for. Considering the company Jack was keeping in the NICU we should have looked at his visit there as very minor and nothing to be too worried about. Of course, that is just about impossible to do when you are there.

On day three we finally got three good blood tests is a row and Jack was discharged from the NICU and sent back down to the post-natal ward to my room (I hadn’t been discharged yet). Jack still had the feeding tube in, but they took the cannula out of his arm and let me top him up with a bottle instead of through the tube. The doctors wanted him to have another three good tests in a row before they would discharge us both from the hospital. So, we spent one more night in the hospital and after a few more bad and then good blood tests we were released from the hospital the next afternoon. The doctors said that Jack should be fine and not suffer any long term damage. We just had to monitor him closely and continue with his iron supplements. Happy day!

We were SO excited to finally be taking our little guy home! Six days after he was born. I think we went a little over board with the amount of photos we took. Jack was clearly over being photographed.

We spent the next few days holed up at home enjoying our time as a family, getting to know each other. We only had about a week before Charles had to pack up and fly back to Melbourne to continue with his new job. A few days after we got home one of the midwives did a home visit to check on Jack and me. This is standard practice in the UK and it is such a huge help to have someone come to you and ask how you are doing, check on the baby and answer any questions that you might have. She did a blood sugar test to make sure Jack was still doing ok and checked his umbilical cord and checked his weight. He had lost a full pound from his birth weight which we weren’t concerned about because babies always lose weight after they are born. She scheduled another visit for a few days later and then left us to get on with learning how to be parents.

As I mentioned before, Charles had to leave Jack and I to get back to his job in Melbourne. Although I was not at all looking forward to our time apart I was looking forward to spending time with my parents who arrived just after Charles left. Having them around for over two weeks was such a blessing! I’m not sure I would have been able to cope without them there. Jack was well looked after with Gram and Gramps doting over him as much as they could. Unfortunately though, he was not gaining any weight and after another visit from the midwife and several visits to the children’s clinic Jack was admitted to the pediatric unit at St. Mary’s Hospital. Ugh! I was really beginning to hate that place.

The doctors ran a bunch of tests to try and nail down why Jack wasn’t gaining weight. One of those tests required a urine sample. Taking a urine sample from a 4 week old baby is NOT easy. It took my mom and I about 30 minutes, one of us holding Jack and the other hovering near by with a sample cup, to capture about three drops of pee. We got a little wet in the process.

I got to stay with Jack in his room during the four days he was in hospital. While there, I had to pump breast milk to measure how much I was producing. Turns out I’m not much good at the milk making process and after all the tests came back negative it was determined that Jack was not getting enough to eat via the boob. So, after a few days of formula top-ups with a bottle Jack had gained enough weight to be released from the hospital. Again, happy day!

After being released from the hospital we had orders to continue breast feeding Jack and then top him up with formula. He has continued to gain weight and is now doing great!

So, there you go. That’s the end of the story about Jack’s arrival into our lives. It was exciting and scary and exhausting and rewarding all at the same time. We couldn’t be happier with our little man. Of course, now there are many more stories to tell as Jack has grown so much over the last 4 months. I can’t wait to share more with you! Let’s just hope I can get my s*#t together enough in order to do that ;o)

Welcome to the World Jack Rudolph!

Yes, this post is about nine weeks late, but that old saying “better late than never” is my motto now-a-days. You understand, right?

I will start where I left off in order to have some continuity. And where I left off was the day little Jack was born. As some of you know, I had a complication with my pregnancy that necessitated the need for an elective c-section. It also caused me to spend about nine days in the hospital before Jack was born. The doctors were trying as long as possible to hold off delivering Jack in order to give him more time to develop, but the longer they waited the more dangerous it was for me. Obviously, Charles and I wanted to give Jack as much time as he needed inside the womb, but selfishly we were so anxious to meet him and I was really ready to get out of the hospital. The night before Jack was born the doctors came to give me the good news and explain the procedure and all the potential complications in great detail. I felt so well informed that I wasn’t the least bit nervous about the surgery and I think Charles felt pretty good about it too. We were both able to get a good night sleep before the big day.

The morning of the surgery I was hooked up to an IV drip to hydrate me because I hadn’t been able to eat or drink since the night before. Pretty standard for most surgeries I’m guessing.


At about 1:30pm one of my favorite midwives came to collect us and we walked over to the operating theatre. After spending so much time in the hospital I got to know several of the midwives and it was very nice to have a familiar face with us. As Charles was changing into scrubs I was getting prepped by the anesthesiologist. After several more cannulas (IV needles) were attached to my arms I was taken into the theatre and given an epidural. People had told me that epidurals during labor where amazing and I have to say I was loving mine! It relaxed my entire lower body and felt so good.

The operating theatre was a very busy place with about 19 people participating and observing. Everyone was very nice and cheerful and each and every thing that was done to me was explained right before it happened so that I felt totally comfortable. Charles got to sit right next to me holding my hand which was great. The atmosphere was so relaxed and happy.

When the surgery started everything happened so quickly. Before I knew it I could hear everybody squealing that his head was out. The anesthesiologist grabbed our camera from Charles and took a bunch of pictures of the doctor pulling Jack out and Charles got to stand up and watch. The look on his face when he first peered over the curtain was priceless. I can’t believe he looked because he does NOT like gory things and this was pretty graphic. In fact, so graphic that I didn’t feel like I should post the pictures on my blog. But, in an effort to keep things real and because I’ve shared everything else throughout my pregnancy I have posted the photos on flikr for those of you who want to see. Just remember, the are very graphic. You have been warned!

As soon as Jack was out the doctor held him up so that I could see him. Now, I know this is supposed to be one of those amazing moments where you instantly fall in love and start crying with joy at the sight of your newborn, but I think I was so overwhelmed with everything that my very first thought was “Wow, there really was a baby in there!” Duh! The dazed and overwhelmed feeling continued as Jack was taken over to the isolet with Charles and the doctors worked on putting me back together.

The surgery went much better than the doctors had anticipated and I only had to have a small amount of blood transfused. Jack needed a little bit of oxygen at the beginning and was a bit anemic because of my initial blood loss, but was breathing well and pinking up nicely after a few minutes. Charles, after a little coaxing from the nurses, did the dad thing and cut the cord. Love the face! Then the nurses sat him down in a corner of the operating theatre with Jack while they finished with me. You would never know by the way Charles was babbling away to Jack that that was the first baby he had ever held. He is a natural father.

When they brought Jack over for me to see up close I remember feeling so weird and not like I thought I should feel right after giving birth. Apparently, I was crying and blabbering about how beautiful he was, but I just remember feeling very disconnected from everything that was going on. All I could see and touch was his little head and I remember asking to see his whole body and that I wanted to hold him against my chest and really be able to feel him.

After the surgery we were taken to recovery where I was finally able to really see my baby and hold him close. I wanted to try breast feeding right away. Because I was hooked to so many wires and IV’s I needed a little help from Charles and my midwife (who basically grabbed my boob and stuffed it into the baby’s mouth). Like a champ, Jack started to breast feed right away, no problems.

Jack and I spent one night in recovery where I got very little sleep, what with all the machines I was hooked up to and figuring out how to care for a brand new little person. The next morning Jack and I both got a sponge bath from one of the midwives (it’s amazing how un-modest you become after having a baby) and then we were taken down to the post natal ward. Charles was with us by this point, having arrived with a life saving cup of StarBucks. I had, for the most part, been feeling pretty good because I was all doped up on morphine and other goodies. Unfortunately, as soon as they wheeled us into our room, that we were sharing with 3 other new moms and their babies, the pains meds started to wear off and I was in serious pain. I think the combination of pain and lots of crying babies and a bunch of doctors and nurses running around the room made me kind of lose it. I waddled over to the nurses station and basically demanded a private room. I felt like a mega-bitch, but it worked and a few minutes and an extra dose of morphine later Jack, Charles and I were all cozy in our own little room.

So, after nine long days sitting in hospital waiting for our little boy to arrive, he was finally here and we were all together as a family. I had some nice souvenirs in the form of bruises from my visit and got an awesome parting gift in the form of little Jack Jones Rudolph.

Trying to Catch Up

I’m guessing this is something that I will be trying to do for the next few months, maybe even the next few years. While having a baby has been one of the most awesome experiences of my life it has also been one of the most exhausting. I know all you other moms and dads out there can sympathize. Having said that, I am going to attempt to get back to a semi-regular blogging schedule.

So much has happened since Jack’s birth and I really want to share it all with you, but it may take some time so bear with me. In the meantime here are a few gratuitous baby pictures for you. We think he’s pretty awesome :o)