In the NICU (not part of the plan)

By Published On: May 4th, 2011

Written by: Mindy May 03 2011 In the end, everything […]

Written by: Mindy

In the end, everything turned out okay. We brought home a beautiful, healthy girl.

But we certainly got stalled along the wayside.

Monday, I wrote about Chloe’s super-quick, highly exciting birth. We had her at a birthing center since I was low-risk and we loved the calm, inviting atmosphere. We chose a birthing center over a home birth since they had in-house medical equipment in conjunction with all the comforts of home. Seemed a bit safer.

It was a wise choice, as it turned out. After Chloe was born, we had about six hours of bonding bliss. My parents and sister came to meet her, as did a handful of our closest friends.

After all the visiting, I decided to take a little nap with her. I curled my arm around her and had just dozed off to sleep. She was already there.

I awoke only minutes later to find our nurse trying to shift her around so she could listen to Chloe’s heart rate.

It followed that the nurse didn’t like the little grunting sounds Chloe was making. (I thought they were adorable kitten-like mews.) She also didn’t like the way her nostrils slightly flared, or the way her chest pulled in when she breathed.

Our midwife showed similar concern. They first suctioned Chloe’s nose to make sure she didn’t have nasal congestion clogging her breathing. Then they put a tiny oxygen nozzle up to her nose.

With the oxygen in place, Chloe’s breathing slowed and her oxygen saturation level returned to normal (they’d put a pulse oximeter on her toes by this point). She was fine, but when the oxygen was removed, her levels dropped back down again.

The head doctor for the birthing center arrived after that. Hubby and I were relieved, thinking, “Excellent. The doctor will take care of her.” Unfortunately, though he was as sugar-kind as possible, he told us Chloe needed to be taken to the hospital.

We were a little shocked, a little devastated, and entirely confused. How could our perfect baby need to go to the hospital? We’d planned to be back home in our own bed that night. We’d looked forward to just how “normal” everything would be for our son.

Instead, we found ourselves riding in an ambulance to the hospital we’d tried to avoid entirely.

The ride was peaceful—no blaring sirens or running red lights. We would have liked to have driven ourselves, but it was birthing-center-transport-protocol to use an ambulance. Chloe got to ride in her car seat, but it was strapped to a gurney, which kind of sucked. Made it all look worse than it really was, you know?

Before we knew it, we were in the NICU. Chloe got strapped to three different beeping monitors and had an oxygen tube taped to her nose. Our nurse, who was lovely, thankfully, told us she’d be undergoing some tests and a chest X-ray to determine what—if anything—was wrong. She said sometimes newborns just need a little jumpstart, so there was nothing to worry about.

And then, we were asked to leave. The NICU closes every evening for an hour so they can do their staff changeover.

It was all very surreal to have given birth in such a commanding, empowering way, and then to be asked to just leave my baby on a brightly lit table so she could get poked and prodded. (The picture I’m including is proof of just how much she was poked — and just how tough she is!)

I remained in shock the rest of the evening. The news we got was nothing we ever could have anticipated … I’ll be back Monday to explain more.