Delivered and Delirious

Mom and Link

When I was blindsided during my pregnancy that my baby had a cerebellum brain bleed in utero, I was consumed by all of the emotions that come with receiving unexpected news….worry, anxiety, and guilt.  I spent the rest of my pregnancy battling these emotions.  I was so focused on this diagnosis that I never imagined anything else would go wrong. So when I developed severe preeclampsia (a complication from high blood pressure) at 35 weeks and was forced to deliver early, I was in for an eye-opening experience.  Although I’ve always worked in OB, nothing could prepare me for having a premature baby and life as a NICU parent.

It’s strange having someone else take care of your baby.  When I was finally able to go to the NICU, I never wanted to leave.  When I was away from him I felt so anxious thinking that he was lying there, wondering if I had abandoned him.  I was desperate to stay by him.  Any time I was forced to leave the only thing I could think about was getting back to my baby.  I lied through my teeth.  No, I didn’t hurt. No, I didn’t have a headache.  Yes, I’m getting plenty of sleep.  I would even lie completely lateral when they were taking my blood pressure so I would get a lower reading.  And as a nurse, I know this was not a smart, or a safe, thing to do.  But I felt like that baby had a part of my brain with him in the NICU.  All I could think about was that I needed to be there when the doctors made their rounds, so I wouldn’t miss anything.

There were so many people that impacted my entire stay as a NICU parent.  I frequently slept in a chair next to his warmer, holding him skin-to-skin.  When every single person was telling me that I needed to leave the baby and go back to my room to rest (including my husband!), one NICU nurse asked me how she could make me more comfortable.  I felt so much relief, because I knew she understood why I didn’t want to leave and that made me feel so much more comfortable when I wasn’t able to be at his bedside.

Another nurse silenced his alarm, and when I noticed it was flashing that his oxygen levels were too high, I asked her if they were aware that it was alarming and she snapped back that the doctor knew and was the only one that could decrease his oxygen levels.  I instantly started crying, trying to tell her between cries that something was already wrong with his brain and I didn’t want there to be something wrong with his eyesight (I’m not even sure if there is a correlation between oxygen levels and a baby’s eyes, but I thought I had remembered something from nursing school).  After this, I tried not to eat or drink so I would minimize my trips to the bathroom because I didn’t want to leave him alone for even a few minutes.

I came to work on a Friday, was admitted to have my baby, and did not step foot back into my house or into my own bed until 25 days later. My entire labor and delivery experience was a blur.  I remember the nurse that offered to make me more comfortable.  I remember the resident who calmed me down when I was told that I had to be restarted on a medication that restricted me to my room (no NICU!!!).  And I remember the nurse practitioner that said I could breastfeed for every feed, and I remember how it felt like that was the first time I was doing something to help my baby.

So for every person out there that interacts with our patients, know that we make a difference and we have the ability to change a patient’s entire day.  We are capable of making a patient feel hopeful or helpless, anxious or reassured, and what we do and say matters. We never know what our patients are thinking or going through, or what kind of struggles they had to endure to get in front of us.  And for anyone out there that experiences life a NICU parent, remember where you started from, and think about where you are going.  I hope you are surrounded by amazing people like I was, and find peace within yourself that you will get through your life as a NICU parent, and one day it will all be a fading memory.

It’s so hard to believe that six months ago we were worried if our baby would die before ever being born, if he would be born with no quality of life, of he would have another stroke inutero.  And although the doctor’s prognosis was pretty reassuring as my pregnancy advanced, I just could not find peace with what had happened. Since no one was certain what had caused the bleed, I spent every single day wondering if he was having another stroke and if our lives would be shattered all over again.   I struggled with the question of whether or not I could care for our baby if he had a disability.

This new year, I’m so very thankful that he smiles and he is growing so well.  I don’t know if he will have trouble walking or with his coordination, but I feel so much stronger now than I did six months ago, and every time he smiles I am grateful for where we are now.  Working for such an amazing hospital that deals with many complicated patients, I know that my baby and I got off “easy.”  He didn’t have to have surgery, he wasn’t in the NICU for months, and he has a great, and so far, normal, quality of life.  For that, I’m very very thankful.  For anyone out there that didn’t get off as “easy,” know that I am think of you.  And even though this doesn’t make anything better, or easier, I’m sorry that anything unexpected had to happen to you, to your family, or to your baby.

Categories: After Delivery, Before, During, and After Pregnancy, For Nurses..., For Patients..., Random

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18 replies

  1. Your words and experiences have given me comfort and reassurance.
    My first baby is about to be born at 27wk+4 and I’m petrified. Severe IUGR.
    I visited NICU at my hospital and found the nurses and parents supportive and almost like a family.

    Liked by 1 person

    • What hospital are you delivering at? It’s going to be scary, and I wish that you didn’t have to have this kind of experience, but when a baby is severely IUGR, the best place for the baby it outside of the uterus. Are you planning on pumping? That is the best thing you can do for your baby to give your baby the best chance. When you deliver, your baby will be taken quickly to the NICU. As soon as you are able to, start pumping! You may not get much, if anything, the first times you pump, but don’t give up! It will be like medicine for you baby. Keep me updated. I hope that your baby has the very best chance. xx


      • I’m at the mercy in Heidelberg.
        I’ve been in here for 4 days now. My aim is to get to 28 weeks which is Thursday. Then I will try for 30 weeks.
        I have preeclampsia with my blood elevated to 160/100 at the moment.
        Massive swelling but they are looking after me and I’m slowly stabilising. It’s so scary how it can happen so quickly.
        I have placenta and a cord restriction issue but everything else appears good with baby being on track and hitting milestones. She’s just hit 706g as well. I’m trying so hard to get her to 1kg!!!


      • I’m sure you’re in good hands. As hard as it might be, try to stay calm. And stay off your back! The weight of your uterus can compress this big vein in your back, called the vena cava, and that too can decrease oxygen to the placenta. Keep me updated! I’m going to check on you on Thursday lol ❤


    • How are you doing?!? How is your baby? I’ve been thinking about you.


  2. Well I made it to 28 weeks.
    Cord flows a bit more absent. Heading reverse. Not delivered today but another scan tomorrow will see how much more it deteriorates.
    If bubs has to come over the long weekend they may have to move me hospitals cos the NICU is really full at the moment. I don’t want to move.
    But doc said baby will def be born by early next week if not over weekend.


    • How’s it going today?? I can’t remember if I’ve already told you this, but make sure you ask for a breastpump. If they have lactation consultants there, ask to speak to one now, before you’ve delivered. You want to pump within the first 6 hours after delivery, but the sooner the better. You may not get anything the first day, but do it like clockwork while you’re awake. If you don’t want to wake up to pump, I understand, but then pump right before bed and as soon as you get up. You want to pump every 3 hours, for 15-20 minutes. If you follow this schedule, you should establish a good milk supply. And this will be like medicine for your baby. I am going to pray that you stay pregnant for as long as possible and that when you deliver, you have the shortest NICU stay possible!!!


  3. Thanks sweetie.
    My cord flow is now intermitant reverse.
    I think we will be delivered on sunday


  4. P.s- appointment with lactation consultant tomorrow. Thanks for the advice xx


    • I’m thinking about you. Try not to be too frightened. My last piece of advice lol …. make sure you have someone there that is taking a lot of pics (after delivery and in the NICU). Everything will be a blur in three months. If you are on magnesium sulfate they may not let you go to the NICU right away. XXX


  5. Little Alexis was born at 5:58pm 26/4.
    Weighing 652g and 28+2.
    She just started feeding on my milk today. Your advice regarding expressing has been a godsend with a freezer full of milk and cholostrum ready.
    She’s a little fighter and after a rocky start with an IV line causing infection we are well on the road to the 1kg club!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. My daughter’s birth story is almost identical to your son’s! We didn’t find out about the brain bleed until she was two weeks old. She was born at 34 weeks because of preeclampsia (my Bp was 210/108). She spent 21 days in the NICU and another 10 days in the PICU during which she had brain surgery to repair the damage. She’s seven months and doing much better than anyone predicted. Thanks for sharing your story! It’s nice to hear that we’re not alone.

    Liked by 1 person

    • A lot of times babies have the kind of bleed he had at delivery or shortly after delivery. They gave him a good prognosis because he had it so early in the pregnancy. They thought he would make collateral circulation and that the bleed would resolve on its own, which it did. I’m so glad your daughter is doing well! You can’t help it though—I’m sure you’re watching every single thing like I am. Keep me updated!


  7. Just coming across your blog and wanted to tell you how sorry I am for your L&D experience! I am 28w pregnant with our first child, after 2 years of infertility treatments and an eventual IVF cycle to conceive. We found out 8 weeks ago that I have a confirmed Vasa Previa and will have to be on hospital bedrest at 32w (if not sooner) with a scheduled Cs at 36w so I’m definitely going through some dealing and coping with of my own. I wanted to know if you had any experience with VP deliveries (those that are detected and monitored) or if you have written about any of these (or can!). There isn’t alot of information out there considering this happens in 1 and 3,000 pregnancies. So I was hoping you may have advice as to how to get through 4 weeks of hospital bedrest, what that’s like from a nurses point of view for a patient, as well as the delivery portion. Thank you for all you do! My sister, best friend and sister in law are all nurses (ER, NICU, PICU) and you are appreciated!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ll work on that! Vasa previas can be scary, but the main thing is to immediately go to the hospital if you start bleeding. I’m glad you’ll be in the hospital. It don’t think it will be like a massive strict bedrest. The main thing is that you are in a hospital setting so that if you do, they’ll be able to do something sooner.


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