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)