The first 72 hours of Rex’s life were a blur to me. After meeting him for the first time we were separated. Joe went to Whittington with him and slept on a couch in the parent’s room to be with him around the clock, while I stayed at Chels-West hospital with my mom at night. Eli was going to nursery in the morning, and my mom, sweet friend, Hannah, and my BIL, Ben, were helping keep Eli’s life as normal as possible.
Rex remained stable these first few days, but he was using the CPAP machine to help control his breathing. Although he was on room air, he needed the pressure from the machine to help him expand his lungs because his respiratory rate was too high. He was also receiving antibiotics until the blood came back to determine infection, was receiving fluids via IV, and he was also getting caffeine which is standard for preemies. He was sleeping 99.9% of the time, but my champ husband never left his side. He met every nurse, learned how to read every machine that he was hooked up to, was on top of all of his testing, met with the doctors, and stood beside Rex’s bed day and night without having any more contact than touching him through two tiny holes on his incubator.
On October 4, I discharged from the hospital early, and headed to see my baby. At 8:00 pm at night, my mom and I loaded up in a taxi and headed to be hospital to see him. We stayed for a few hours, I got updates on my baby, got to pat his little back, rub his tiny fingers and toes, then we headed back home for the night.
The next morning, October 5, my mom and I headed to Whittington for the day. Joe’s brother, Ben, surprised us and came into town, so today Joe, Ben, and Eli had a boys day together while my mom and I went to the hospital. Eli is starting to ask more about Rex, but he is more concerned thinking that the “doctor is keeping mommy”. Now that I am home, I’m hoping to be able to spend some morning or evenings with Eli too while Joe and I take turns going up to the hospital.
I got to hold Rex for the first time today which was amazing. He also got to get off his COAP machine today and get on Opti-flow instead. This was great news because he didn’t have to wear the goofy hat and instead just got oxygen through his nose. It took the nurse 10 minutes to prep him for me to just be able to hold him. She had to change his diaper, give him antibiotics, check all of his vitals, and then try to get all of the cords unwrapped enough for me to hold him without pulling out an IV, feeding tube, oxygen, or any of his many monitors to measure his oxygen level, heart rate, pulse, etc constantly. Once he was finally prepped, the nurse, Liz, handed him to me for the first real time I got to hold him.
This was a moment I took for granted with Eli. He was born and immediately placed on me before his cord was even cut. This time, Rex got whisked away so quickly and I only got to see him in a cot for a few minutes during the c-section and I couldn’t even get a good view of him because the nurse was holding a huge oxygen mask over his face.
Back to today, Liz handed me Rex for the first time, placed him on my skin, and that’s when it hit me that my baby is actually in the NICU. His head was close to mine and instead of smelling a new baby smell or a smell of my favorite lavender baby lotion that I was used to smelling on Eli, I smelt alcohol. My 3 day old baby smelt like the rubbing alcohol that nurses prep your skin with before giving you a shot. My heart just sank in that moment. Why were we here?