Devon’s First Adventure

My son, Devon, was born last Friday, July 23, 2010 at 12:51 AM.  He was born 8 pounds, 6 ounces, and was 20.5 inches long.  He currently has dark brown hair and blue eyes.  His mother was amazing during the delivery and didn’t use an epidural or have any pain killers in her system when he was delivered.  She’s a superhero.

Devon was born with Maconium Aspiration Syndrome, breathing in a tiny amount of fetal feces during the very long, very difficult birthing process. Because of this, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit nurses were on-hand for his birth, and performed his evaluation.  Although he received a 9 and 9 for his APGAR, the one point he missed was for gaspy, grunty breathing, and with the aspirated maconium, that made them worry.

His mother was able to hold him during the evaluation, but I wasn’t able to get more than a few photographs and touch his arms, head and chest. Immediately following, they took him out of her arms, and rushed him down to the NICU.  I went with him, intending to hold him before they started work, but it wasn’t allowed.  They separated him from me before I had a chance to get near him, and when I had scrubbed up and saw him again, he was already attached to machines.

The main machine at the time was a CPAP. It wasn’t giving him oxygen, it was just forcing the air in the room into his lungs when he breathed.  An x-ray confirmed the maconium in his lungs, and also revealed that his heart was on the wrong side.  They forced me out of the room to move my wife out of her Labor & Delivery room and into her Postpartum Recovery room.

The next morning my mother came to visit him while my wife was still recovering. We came down to the NICU to discover he was now in an oxygen tent.  I put my hand into it to stroke his back, and he rolled over onto it.  It was the closest I’d come to holding my son at this point.

Devon’s mummy finally got to visit him later that day, and it was heart-shatteringly sad. The nurses weren’t relaying information from his doctors, his doctors weren’t telling us half of what they thought they were, and we were mostly in the dark regarding his care. We’d been told he’d require at least a 3-day or 7-day  course of antibiotics, but not if those would have to be administered on an in-patient basis, if he could leave immediately after that, or what tests were being done alongside this.  Direct questions asking about these were brushed off by both the nurses and doctors.

After 3 days, Devon’s doctor was finally ill, and couldn’t come into the hospital.  Her backup was on duty, and the backup finally answered our questions.  Devon would have to have three consecutive days of negative cultures before they could take him off of his IV, and once he was taken off of the IV they couldn’t send him home until they had proof that he was gaining weight by being fed.  We could start trying to feed him then to get ready for it.

My wife (and I) wanted to exclusively breast feed Devon, but that seemed to offend everybody in the NICU, since it was an inconvenience to them. They knew and agreed that breast milk was best, but only wanted it pumped and fed by a bottle.  They allowed her to breast feed, but they made it very difficult.  When she couldn’t get into the NICU at the feeding times they’d decided on (and didn’t bother to tell her) they practically yelled at her and stopped just short of calling her a bad mother.  (Later on, there was a nurse who basically did call her a bad mother for leaving the room for literally 40 minutes.  I threw her out of the room and reported her to the Charge Nurse.  We didn’t see her again after that.)  We were camping at the hospital at this point, sleeping on chairs in the lobby, and spending every moment we could scrubbing up or with our son.

One of the better nurses spent a few hours on the phone fighting for space for Devon in a different NICU (NICU 4) where mothers were allowed to room-in with their babies to make breastfeeding a plausible opportunity.

Things were much, much better in NICU 4.  We got to spend as much time with our son as we wanted without being made to feel unwelcome, we got to change his diapers, dress him, give him baths, and hold him any time we wanted without asking permission from the nurses.

We finally felt like a family. It was such a relief.

Meanwhile, he was finally gaining weight on the breastfeeding, though we had to switch to bottle-feeding breast milk for a day to prove to his actual doctor that he was eating enough.  Thankfully, she was out the next day, and her backup stepped in again and released him!

I’ve skipped a million parts of this story, good and bad.  He was in there for only five days, but it feels like at least half a year’s worth of experiences.

Currently, he has no infection, his lungs look good.  His heart was shifted to the right side only due to the birthing process and has now shifted back.  There was a PDA discovered in his heart, a specific valve not closing, but that appears to have sealed.  Devon still needs to see a cardiologist, though, due to an enlarged heart.  We’ll see how that goes, but I suspect all will be fine with that, as well.

Our boy is safe, home, and healthy. We love him more than words can say, and it turns out we’re better parents than I’d have suspected.  Which means I’ll have to really step up my bad parenting.

One thought on “Devon’s First Adventure

  1. Why hallo thar! Was wondering if you’d ever get around to fixing the 404 issue!

    I don’t think there is such a thing as an uneventful birth, but Devon certainly isn’t anywhere near that possibility. Glad things worked out – and judging from FB continue to be so – and I’m so thrilled you guys finally got him home.

    I’m still very astounded by the NICU and their lack of enthusiasm at having Gemma breastfeed. Just seems so odd.

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