Saturday, January 31, 2009

Rylan-our little fighter

On September 27th, 2008, I finally decided that the extremely tight belly I was toting around was not a figment of my imagination, that my pain was not me being bad at being pregnant, and my exhaustion was not me being a lazy-you know what. I was 31 weeks pregnant and in labor. A night in the hospital and 5 shots later (medicine to stop the labor and another to stregthen Rylan's lungs) I was told that I wouldn't be returning to work and to get to know my couch really well.

I proceeded to have contractions around the clock for the next seven weeks. At first they were a few an hour and mostly limited to getting up and down from the couch. At about 35 weeks, I started having contractions every 5 minutes, which earned us another hospital visit. At 37 weeks I was taken off the medication that was stopping labor from progressing. I started having contractions every 3 minutes. This earned another hospital visit. We found out then, that Rylan was wegded behind my pelvic bone which was why I was limping awfully funny. This is also the reason that, despite the frequent contractions, I never went into full on labor. I continued having contractions every 3 minutes for a full week at home. At 38 weeks I woke up to numb feet and legs. I had gained 10 pounds in 4 days. My feet wouldn't fit in any shoes. My blood pressure was getting higher. I had pre-eclampsia. I spent that 2 days with my feet as high in the air as I could get them, drinking 2 gallons of water a day to flush out the extra fluid, but I gained 4 more pounds instead. On November 15th I woke up to a horrible pain in my chest. I was vomiting and feeling crazy. It turns out, I had what is called HELLP syndrome.A syndrome featuring a combination of "H" for hemolysis (breakage of red blood cells), "EL" for elevated liver enzymes, and "LP" for low platelet count (an essential blood clotting element). The cure for HELLP is to give birth. So, I was induced. But, while they were placing the epidural, the baby's heart rate started dropping. We were rushed to a c-section, the baby's cord was wrapped around his belly. We both made it through the c-section with flying colors. Our baby that was almost a 31-week preemie was 8lbs on the dot and 21.5 inches long! He was pink and beautiful and mad at the world!!!

Our first 9 weeks with him flew by. He became my constant companion and I loved it. We'd already been through so much together. Being his mom and dad is easy. By the time he was 9 weeks old he'd been through two Christmases, a funeral, several lunches, a scrapbooking session, and 2 one-year birthday parties. He was a TRAVELING MACHINE.

His easy nature is why we were so baffled by his mood a few days after his shots. He just couldn't seem to shake the need to be held and fuss most of the day. He started getting a stuffy nose, then a cough and by Tuesday he didn't want to eat. Being the woman that Rylan had tried to turn into The Dairy Queen, I knew he was really sick. By the time I got to the doctor Rylan's chest was sinking in with each breath (retractions) and his color was blotchy. A simple cold was actually RSV, and a simple case of RSV turned into an ambulance ride and a 3 day hospitalization for our little man.

I spent the first five years of my career as a Pediatric Intensive Care Nurse. A bad case of RSV meant job security to me. The nurse in me knew that he just needed some extra oxygen and some better suctioning than what those stupid bulbs could do at home. The nurse in me knew he'd be good to go. I'd sent home hundreds of babies that looked far worse than Rylan. But, the new mommy in me had never experienced what it felt like to have your baby look at you with "help me" in his eyes. I had never known what oxygen tubing looked like in my own baby's nose. I never wanted to feel the helpless feeling I felt as multiple nurses stuck my poor dehydrated baby to get an IV.

After 24 hours of IV fluids, respiratory treatmens and a little help from some good ole' oxygen, Rylan made a huge turn for the better, and after 2 nights in the hospital they turned off the oxygen. After they were happy with his progress during the next 24 hours, he got to come home with us. He still has a lot of healing to do. Rob and I have rigged his cradle with a special pillow to make him sleep at an angle with his head up, a "miracle swaddling blanket", several suction bulbs and flushes and an apnea monitor. Eventually he'll get to move back to his big-boy jungle room, but for the time being, he's stuck in this mini-hospital Rob and I have created in our room.

I figure after getting squeezed by contractions for 2 months, a scary delivery, and now a hospitalization at 2 months of age, Rylan needs a break to just be a normal kid. And, if he wants siblings, his mom and dad need a break too. Cross your fingers.

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