When he was born Camden had Hypoglycemia and spent 6 days in the NICU at Newton Wellesley Hospital. This type of level 2 NICU is actually called a Special Care Nursery. He was a full term baby so this was unexpected. As new parents we struggled to understand how necessary his stay was until a sit down with the Neonatologist on day two.
In comprehending his condition the biggest questions were - is this just trauma from birth (likely, as I pushed for two hours) or is there a real issue with regulating his blood sugars? Neonatologists are very cautious when readings are consistently low, as low blood sugar can significantly affect brain development. Camden's levels were low enough but not drastically low. He needed to remain on a glucose IV drip while he learned how to regulate them.
During Camden's stay his levels fluctuated quite a bit but eventually remained consistent. We didn't sit down to ponder the what ifs and never got to the point of needing more tests, thankfully. Once we had a better understanding of why he was being so closely monitored we were much more relaxed with the situation.
Our biggest challenge as parents of a patient in the SCN proved to be the fact that a new nurse is assigned every shift. Camden easily had over 10 different nurses who all have years of experience caring for newborn babies, but, each have their own feeding techniques to acustom you too.
So, here we are just learning how to breastfeed, bottle feed and change his diaper for the first time, plus bond with our adorable baby boy while he is hooked up to long wires and in a confined space. He'd get his heel pricked for the glucose test every 3 hours; his feedings were closely monitored and timed. Plus, the sweet little squish needed extra rest.
Family members visiting were limited to two at a time and they couldn't hold him at first. (This also seemed to depend on the nurse.) This was in his best interest and we knew he was recieving exceptional care. However, to elaborate on the small challenges, an example: when you are taught how to feed him one particular way, with a suggested nipple, precise bottle movements and more, and you adapt that technique, but the next shift nurse tells you you are doing it wrong, literally to not do the one thing you were just taught and to do it a different way, is incredibly frusterating. This did not happen once, it happened nearly every visit until we said something (that one nurse who got the frusterated Dad and teary eyed Mom...)
Despite the minor challenges and continued learning curves, there were a lot more smiles than tears, more tender moments than frusterating ones. We were ridiculously happy to have our baby boy with us.
Even though my colostrum and 4 days postpartum a small amount of milk coming in wasn't enough to sustain his blood sugars, I am thankful that at least breast feeding came relatively easy to Camden and I. The lactation consultant was kind, patient and encouraging. When we had a good thing going she respected that and offered helpful tips.
Side Note - I find it adorable that the shirt Bob is wearing in these photos is where Camden was concieved - Hanalei, Kaua'i!
At the end of the day I had so much perspective. This was not a dire situation. No one had to tell me that. The nurses don't sit you down and explain or compare your baby to the preemie in the next stall - they simply give the best care possible to your babe.
The awareness, calmness and positivity was on Bob and I.
A close friend recently had a baby in December at 24 weeks weighing less than a pound. Perspective: This babys due date was April 3rd, a month after Camden's. This means the baby is fighting for his life. A few other couples we know due around the same time gave birth to preemies with less drastic but still very early circumstances. When newborns cant breathe on their own and you can't hold your baby at all, these are hard. My situation was not this. Yes, I was discharged without my son, not knowing when he could come home, so that was sad! But we were fine, he was fine.The lighting in the SCN was tough for photos....but that didn't stop us from taking tons!
We settled into a nice routine when I was still in the hospital and once I was discharged. We'd be there for as many daytime feedings as we could and then the bedtime feeding at 6 or 9pm. For the most part, this time was peaceful and joyful! We both agreed, staring at him for hours on end, our son is the cutest with such a relaxed and sweet personality.
Staying overnight wasn't a necessity (for anyone with babies in there, really) so we were always encouraged to take advantage of the extra sleep. Truthfully, it was a little sad to be at home without him and so we went on extra date nights. On Saturday night after dinner we received a call from his nurse that his most recent evaluation with the Neonatologist was positive and he would be discharged the next day. He came home with us on his actual due date, Sunday, March 3rd!
Now two months old, Camden has been happy and healthy as ever!