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Thursday, October 8, 2015

Ward: The First Week

Well, I have blinked and my littlest man is almost one month old.  How is that even possible?!  I say it with every child, but I honestly cannot fathom how almost a month has already passed.  Time, please slow down!  

The week that we brought our sweet baby boy home from the hospital was an eventful one, to say the least.  We were discharged from Rex on Sunday afternoon, and I was so, so happy to be home and be with all of my babies under the same roof!  While I used my hospital stay to stock up on rest, I really missed my older two.

Naked eating is totally normal, right?

One of the grandmothers sent this to me - I can't remember where they were going but I thought the photo was hilarious!
Ward had a doctor appointment first thing Tuesday morning, and it came at a perfect time because I wanted to talk about his coloring - he looked a little yellow to me, and although I am no medical expert, I was concerned.  Lilly was a little jaundiced right after she was born - enough that they re-checked her bilirubin levels before they would discharge us, but she ended up being absolutely fine - and Craft never had any issues.  Ward looked a little yellow in the hospital, but they re-checked his levels and determined that he was fine and we were good to go home.  By Monday, however, when we'd been home for a day, the yellow coloring looked worse to me.  

On our way to the doctor on Tuesday, 9/15
When I discussed it with the pediatrician, she did not seem concerned at all.  She checked his records from the hospital and agreed that his levels had been fine when he was discharged.  He was eating really well and looked great.  She said that a little yellowing is normal in babies, especially those with olive coloring like Ward's, and she didn't think there was cause for concern.  I need to state for the record here that I trust our doctors implicitly.  I have not seen a single doctor at our practice that I dislike; they are all wonderful.  With that said, though, something about this just didn't feel right.  I explained to the doctor that the reason I was concerned about Ward's coloring was two-fold: First, when we came home from the hospital it was just his face that looked yellow in color, but over the course of the next day and a half it spread all the way down his body into his legs and feet.  Second, and this one turned out to be the kicker - Ward was a meconium MACHINE when we were in the hospital.  From midnight to 12pm on the day we were discharged, homeboy had 6 or 6 meconium poops. After we were discharged and got home, he had plenty of wet diapers, but no more poops.  

SO, taking all of that into consideration, the pediatrician decided that we should check his levels just to be safe and make everyone feel better.  She got out this hard-to-understand chart and explained that a normal bilirubin level for a baby of Ward's size and age was 12ish.  She said that she expected to hear that his levels were 13 or maybe 14, because other than the coloring he truly was perfect, and that if anything we MAY consider getting a blanket shipped to our house for some at-home therapy, but she didn't anticipate anything worse than that.  Off we went to Rex for my poor buddy to have some blood drawn.  

Fast forward a couple of hours.  Dan called me and said he had Dr. B on the line.  Yet again at a very important time, my phone had chosen not to ring.  Ugh!  Anyway, Dan conferenced me in and Dr. B very calmly said, "Okay I don't want you guys to panic, but I need you to pack a bag and get to the hospital as soon as you possibly can."  Talk about conflicting (and panic-inducing) statements.  Apparently, Ward's biliruben levels were much higher than anyone anticipated - almost 20!  I am so, so thankful that I trusted my instincts on this matter.  I know that with Lilly and even with Craft I would not have been confident enough to question not re-checking levels.

I had done some googling while I was waiting to hear from the doctor and so I knew that jaundice and baby's bilirubin levels can affect liver function.  What I did not read and was told later is that if the bilirubin gets to a certain level (I think they told me 21 or 22 and up, maybe?), they start to worry about other effects like brain function.  Thank the Lord I didn't know that at the time of our conversation with the pediatrician, or I might have had a breakdown.  He told us that we should anticipate to have to stay 2-3 nights.  I flew upstairs and for the second time in two weeks I packed a bag that I to this day have NO IDEA what was inside.  I was thankful when I arrived at the hospital to discover that I'd thought to put my yoga pants and a pair of slippers in there, and that I'd remembered my nursing pillow and an iPad.  Little buddy was admitted to WakeMed around 48 hours after we were discharged from Rex for some baby suntan therapy.

Not sure how it's possible that he still managed to look cute under those lights?!?!?!

The calm before the storm...he was relaxed before he was "over it" with the lights!
To make a long story short, Ward rocked it and we only ended up having to stay one night.  Thank the LORD, because it was torture on both of us!  He didn't seem to mind being under the lights for the first little bit, but after a couple of hours the poor guy had had enough.  I think he was hot and sweaty and just generally uncomfortable with all of the machines.  They were having me nurse him every 1.5-2 hours to try to get him pooping again in order to help get the extra bilirubin out of his system, and about the time I'd get him settled down and back on the machine the nurses would be back in to poke at him and take his temperature or stick his foot to draw blood.  It was pitiful, and we both got far less sleep in the hospital than we were getting at home - which made me extra thankful that our stay was short-lived.

I have to give my mother-in-law a shout-out here, because she was so helpful during this whole process.  She made plans to stay with us the first week that we were back at home, which ended up being a huge blessing because she was able to be with our older two when we had to rush back to the hospital.  Lillian and Craft (Craft especially) were VERY confused when they woke up from their naps and I was gone again after just getting back home, and that was eating at me just as much as my worry about Ward, so it was nice that Susan was able to be here with us and help.  Dan stayed with Ward and I at the hospital for a little while, but at the end of the day there was really nothing he could do to help since I'm the milk machine, and it was much more important to us to try to keep things as normal as possible at home, so he came home to be with the older two while Ward and I were at the baby tanning spa.  I was ecstatic when we were finally able to return home and I once again had all of my babies under one roof, hopefully for good this time!

Lills and Craft were ALMOST as excited to see mama as they were to see their baby brother...almost.
We went back to the doctor on Thursday morning, and they confirmed that Ward was indeed a rockstar.  His bilirubin levels had rebounded a little, but they assured me that this is totally normal.  The doctors said that it would take several weeks for it to get out of his system entirely, so not to be alarmed if he still looked a little yellow.  To further make us feel better, the doctor made us a chart of his levels from his birth through day #5 to demonstrate his huge improvement from our one-night hospital stay:

9/15/15 @ 1:28pm 19.8 
9/15/15 @ 6:33pm 18.8 
9/16/15 @ 12:10 am 17.8
9/16/15 @ 6:38 am 13.8 
9/17/15 @ 9:42 am 14.6

Apparently the bilirubin rebound is safe if it is rising <0.2mg/dL/hour, and in the previous 27 hours Ward's was 0.8 mg up total or 0.03mg/dL/hour, which meant he was in the clear.  Hallelujah!

SO, that was our eventful first week at home (and the hospital).  Luckily, we haven't had anything else quite that exciting happen since our (second) hospital visit.  We're so glad that little man is okay, and have spent the weeks since our hospital stay(s) adjusting to our new "normal," which happens to be total chaos all.the.time!  :-)

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