Saturday, June 6, 2009

Piglet - The Beginning

It's been a long time since I felt up to coming here. Toward the end of my pregnancy I was so miserable I barely felt up to simply being awake, with gestational diabetes and almost all the key symptoms of preeclampsia keeping me down. And that's without the constant fatigue that comes with being iron deficient. I was also HUGE! Not just "oh look she's going to have a baby soon" kind of huge ... the kind of huge that was so huge I was walking down the hall in the hospital one day and I actually heard someone say to their friend as they passed, "Oh dear, she's just about to pop isn't she? I wonder if she's late?"

I wasn't late. My due date was June first, but by early May my daughter was estimated to weigh about nine pounds, and between the baby and all the extra fluid I was carrying, I was so big that I could no longer lay down with any hope of getting comfortable. By the end of the pregnancy I was sleeping sitting up because it was actually painful to lay down with the weight of the pregnant belly. There was so much water that as the doctor made the incision for my c-section, I heard him exclaim: "Someone get the suction ... Wow, look at all that water!" Later on, a male nurse told me that it was like a fountain opened up on the table, and I believe it because here I am only two weeks later yet I am already forty pounds lighter.

My Piglet was born at 7:59 in the morning, weighing in at 9lb 6 oz, and she is beautiful in spite of the problems already thrown her way. She had a little trouble breathing, so they gave her oxygen for a few minutes, and then that was fine. But her blood sugars were a little off due to my gestational diabetes, so it took a few days to get that straight.

We also had something called an "ABO Setup" which occurs when a woman with a type O blood delivers a baby with basically any other type of blood. It is because these types are incompatible, and the blood types sort of fight each other within the baby's body, causing a dangerous breakdown of the blood. It can be very frightening in severe cases, and even deadly in rare cases. I was terrified we might be one of those kinds, as we did have a bit of breakdown in Piglet's blood during her first few days of life. She was watched very closely and they took a lot of blood from her throughout the days to run various tests on her, from the simple CBC and bilirubin check, right on down to the Coombs test (for the ABO setup/incompatibility) and who knows what else. Once the blood breakdown stopped she started turning a little yellow, and before long she was so yellow and her bilirubin levels were so high that they came and took her from me for a good long round of phototherapy, which is when they put jaundiced babies under UV lights to help their bodies break down the bilirubin which causes the jaundice.

Those hours were so heartbreaking. I was alone that night in the hospital ... I'd been sending Fiance home each night with Teenybop to try and maintain her schedule and her sense of security, but for the first two nights in the hospital my cousin was with me. That night she'd had to stay home, and I was alone with my little Piglet, feeding her a midnight "snack" when they came to tell me the results of her latest bilirubin check. It was 18.something, and they didn't even let me finish feeding her. I had to break her latch from the breast, turn her over to the nurse, and watch them take my baby from me while I was still unable to really move around and go to her. Unable to keep her with me, and unable to do anything to help her. They brought me a stupid pump and I remember being furious that they'd bring me a pump to pump milk for my daughter who was just down the hall, yet I was unable to hold her even long enough to feed her myself the way I ached to. All that night, the next day, and the following night they kept her from me, and while I was allowed to walk down the hall and see her, I couldn't pick her up so I only went to the nursery once. It was just too hard, and the one time I went to visit her I just stood there feeling helpless while I cried ...

I was discharged a full day before she was, and spent that last night in a compassion room down the hall that the hospital gave me free of charge so that I could still be there with my new daughter. The day they gave her back to me and let me take her home, I was in my room at the hospital, waiting for Fiance and Teenybop to arrive for the day, and I was on the phone updating Fiance's mother on Piglet's status ... I remember shrieking, "Oh, there's my baby! I have to go!" but I can't remember saying goodbye, or even hanging up the phone because I was in such a hurry to struggle out of my chair and get my arms around my daughter.

And even then it wasn't over ... we went into the hospital on Tuesday morning, May 19, and we left on Saturday, May 23. That day we got home, and the next day started the daily trips back to the doctor to have bilirubin bloodwork done on the baby. Throughout the past weeks, her bilirubin has gone up and down for no explainable reason ... her liver is fine, her other bloodwork is fine, her urine is fine ... but she is still yellow. Her bilirubin got all the way up to 22.5 one day and she was almost re-admitted to the hospital. The last check was Thursday, and it was 14.8, the third consecutive time that it has gone down ... a good sign, but still higher than the doctors like. So we go back again next week for more bloodwork, just to be sure it's still going down and that she is still healthy.

It has been a hard start for her, this little girl who is amazing and incredibly peaceful in spite of the hardships she has already faced. I feel like she has been fighting for a normal life since the moment she was conceived, with the Down's Syndrome scare and all the other pregnancy complications followed by all the other challenges that have come her way. But she is a fighter, strong and sturdy, and we shall see as her life goes on just how much she will have to prove that.