24 July 2017

Our NICU Stay


This post has been a long time coming, but I really have had a hard time putting into words everything that happened during our 48 hour stay in the NICU.

Yes, you heard me right...it was only 48 hours and I still feel like it completely changed my perspective on motherhood, on medicine, and on trusting my gut-mom instinct.


I should preface this by saying I am not all that crunchy when it comes to childbirth. I have complete trust in my doctor, i've been induced both times, and although I have educated myself on birth and the  medical decisions you make for your child in the hours after, my attitude really is one of trust for the medical professionals that care for both myself and my child.

That all almost went to shit after Isla's birth, to be honest with you. Shortly after she was born, she was laying on my chest, with our family oohing and aahing over her perfect newborn self. We were on cloud nine after her absolutely perfect birth story, and I was just elated with new mom hormones, when a nurse thought that her newborn coo's sounded more like breathing trouble.

It was all very quick, but before we knew it they were bringing in an x-ray machine to check out Isla's lungs. If you remember from her birth story, she came incredibly quickly-in less than 2 hours which tends to do a number on the little ones.


I wasn't really all that concerned. I knew that how quickly she came probably effected her breathing, but I expected that they would do a few tests, and she would be fine. A nurse came in to take blood from her foot, and as much as we expected her to scream her little head off, she slept right through it.

Unfortunately, newborns blood draws tend to clot extra quick, so the first sample clotted and they needed to draw her again. We expected screaming this time, but she continued to sleep right through it! When her blood sample came back, her white count was slightly elevated and that mixed with her extreme sleepiness led the doctor to believe something was wrong.


This is where her story turns south. Jake had left to go grab us some gatorades from the cafeteria, and next thing I know, the pediatrician on call (NOT our pediatrician, just a random one working at the hospital at the time) comes bursting into our room and tells me he is taking our baby to the NICU.  I was hormonal as heck and just burst into tears not understanding why, but whenever I asked him questions he basically blew me off, and ended it with "If you take your baby home she could DIE OF SEPSIS WITHIN 24 HOURS." Yeah. He was a real gem that one. He explained that they wanted to do a round of antibiotics for her "infection" although he couldn't tell me what the infection was.

I begged him to wait until Jake was back, tears streaming down my face, and when Jake finally arrived back the Dr. explained what was going on to him and then a nurse came and took our baby.

I was hysterical. I mean, the type of ugly Kim Kardashain cry only a mother can have after having her baby taken away from her at 4 hours old. Now, you don't mess with a brand new babies health, I totally accept that. If you have reason to believe that she is sick, I am not going to stand in your way of treating her. We didn't even question what was happening until much later.



Through that night, I set an alarm and went to nurse Isla in the NICU every 2 hours. She was nursing like a champ, having PLENTY of dirty diapers, and was maintaining her temperature perfectly. In other words, she seemed like a completely perfect, healthy, APGAR score of 10 (which she had!) newborn. Even still, Jake and I didn't know better to question her stay in the NICU, and she continued to be hooked up to monitors and IV fluids as well as her 2 different types of antibiotics.


The next morning, my OB came to visit us and the baby, and was incredibly confused when she found out Isla had gone to the NICU. No one had informed her, and what really bothered her was that Isla's APGAR was perfect. You see, when a baby has such a quick labor and comes that quickly, it's natural for their white blood cell count to be elevated. Generally, they do a second blood draw at 10 hours of life and you'll likely see the counts drop. A pediatrician wouldn't normally admit a baby into the NICU due to that first round blood draw.

We were a bit shocked to hear this, but my OB recommended we call our pediatrician to either transfer care, or just get a second opinion. She told us that the hospital pediatrician on call wasn't the most trusted or respected doctor, and that she would see if we could get our ped in. We really thought we would be leaving this day, so we didn't call, but rather trusted in the hospital pediatrician and waited.


Biggest.mistake.ever. Through Isla's multiple blood draws, and her culture's looking for infection, nothing ever popped up. She never showed sign of infection, every blood draw after her initial showed no elevated white blood cell, and we had the proof that she was really nursing/wetting like a champ! Because of this, we were ready to pack it on up and head home. Then, the Dr. came into our room and informed us he wanted to keep Isla an ADDITIONAL 48 HOURS FOR TESTING. I was livid. I just sat there bawling my eyes out, feeling all of my mom-alarms going off and having a gut feeling that something wasn't right. You see- at every positive test result we couldn't help but feel like that Doctor was disappointed. It felt like he wanted something to be wrong with our girl rather than rejoicing with us every time a test proved nothing was.

We immediately called our pediatrician. We explained all that had happened, asked his opinion on everything, and he had absolute and utter disbelief at why the hospital Dr. was unable to release us and give us a clean bill of health. We explained to our ped that we had every intention of leaving against medical advice if the hospital Dr. didn't release us.

He told us that legally he can't tell us to do anything, but he didn't understand why we would need to stay. He then asked us not to mention his name to the hospital pediatrician because he has already had multiple patients transfer to his care, and that this hospital ped is incredibly difficult and doesn't work well with other doctors.

This was the second medical professional that we completely trusted that told us the problems with the hospital pediatrician.


I was much too emotional to confront the hospital doctor, but Jake was furious so he confronted him and asked why we weren't able to leave immediately if everything looked clear. I told the nurses to stop all fluids and antibiotics on our girl, and it was then that miraculously the hospital pediatrician got on the phone with someone, received test results and told us we could be released that evening.

Essentially, it was a Saturday night, and he thought no one was going to be available to read out her healthy test results, so he wanted to keep us until Monday (continuing a course of incredibly tough antibiotics!) based on "someone not being available."

Absolutely.Ridiculous.


Our NICU nurses were angels on earth. They treated our family with such care and really stayed out of the way to let us care for our girl as much as possible. As we were waiting for the discharge paperwork, one of the nurses looked behind her, shut our door, and said to us, "not one of your nurses has understood why Isla is in here. She is an absolutely perfect newborn and we are just so sorry you had to be put through all of this for nothing."

Man, talk about a punch in the gut. I felt so angry with myself for not questioning things sooner, but it's like I said before, when it comes to my newborn baby, I wasn't in any position to question a doctor I believed I could trust.


It still breaks my heart into a million pieces when I think about the fact that my girl was in the NICU for 2 days, sleeping without us, hooked up to a million different tubes, for absolutely no reason at all. She had no infection, no trouble breathing, and no signs of distress, but because of a doctor who felt he needed to "prove something" we went through one of the most stressful 2 days of our life.

I am so grateful it was only 2 days, though. NICU life is a huge wakeup call. We were the lucky ones with a healthy baby, the ones who got to leave after just a few days. So many babies are in there suffering serious illness, their moms and dads heartbroken and helpless, and we got to leave quickly. I will never take for granted the health of my kids after experiencing that.

At my 6 week checkup, I went through all of the details with my OB and she was just heartbroken for us, and told us of all of her patients, any time that doctor was the one on call, babies seemed to be put into the NICU.

I'm happy to report that since then, that hospital pediatrician was let go, and is no longer employed in our area. Turns out, we aren't the only family to experience something like this.



I debated sharing this because truly, I believe whole heartedly in modern medicine and the medical degrees our doctors studied years to earn. I believe generally, all doctors have a passion for healing people and I have a trust in that passion.

With that said, always trust your mom gut. Never be afraid to ask extra questions, and FOR THE LOVE never EVER be afraid to consult a different doctor, one you genuinely trust. We took Isla into her pediatrician the very next day, and our Ped couldn't understand why she was in the NICU at all and gave her a perfect bill of health.

The instincts we have as mothers are worth their weight, so never be afraid to trust that intuition.

I'm happy to report our Isla Jane has been the happiest, most content, HEALTHIEST little girl since we brought her home from the hospital! We are blessed with these healthy babies and I cant tell you how many hours I spend thanking God for that.

Until Next Time,

26 comments:

  1. Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry you had to go through that awful experience! I feel like they should take that NICU stay off of your bill since it was for no reason at all, and I'm so glad the the doctor was let go!

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