Life After Birth - part 3
So here we are, Gabrielle back on oxygen and any progress we had made the past week in hospital, feeling completely undone. We had more issues with the hospital, a CPAP pipe melting on us and my milk being thrown out as the nursing staff didn’t relocate it when we moved wards. This was another devastation and this one also caught me off guard.
When I was told my milk had been in the fridge for 3 days and therefore needed to be discarded, I was disappointed but not yet heartbroken. As the reality sunk in even more over the next few hours, that’s when the tears flowed. All of those hours spent pumping to give my baby liquid gold and rather than freeze it (as they had been with all my other excess milk) this lot was forgotten about and then deemed unsafe. When I asked how much was thrown away, the response from the nurse was “you would rather not know!” I can only fathom it was a significant amount. The saddest part for me, was that my choice was taken away with regard to what happened to my milk due to oversight.
On a more positive note, thankfully after nearly a week, Gabrielle was improving again but with all the testing they were doing we still didn’t have any answers. No one could tell us what was wrong, how long we would be there and what they were able to do about it. Gabrielle’s tolerance astounded me and this gave me strength to keep fighting for her and for answers.
I want to mention here how absolutely grateful I was to have a partner who visited EVERY day, his parents who brought a home cooked meal EVERY night as well as an amazing friend who frequented often with supplies and healthy food to sustain me. I had other friends sending well wishes and visiting when they could, meals being organised and sent in, healings being conducted both remotely and internally. A chiro who visited so many nights (outside visiting hours) after she had worked all day and lived nearly an hour from the hospital. And how could I not mention my amazing midwife who was on speed dial and visited regularly and my homoeopath who was on holiday herself at the time but still answered my almost daily messages and offered help and advice from afar.
My support team was solid and for that I am eternally grateful. This meant I didn’t feel the need to step foot outside the hospital for over 2 weeks until my persistent partner felt I needed fresh air for sanity. I didn’t stay away long but it did feel good to be outside again. The best memory was when he brought my dog in to surprise me. This meant I got to take her for a walk. Putting her back into the car, still not knowing when I would be home to see her again was the hardest part. Yes there were more tears.
The days rolled into weeks and due the the lack of answers we were getting, I had to start working out how we could get out of the hospital. We had been downgraded and moved back into the special care unit and this time had our own room. Weekends would drag as the main doctors were off work, so no tests or results were generally conducted or discussed. I felt like we were in a holding pattern.
By this stage Gabrielle was said to have an “underdeveloped suck, swallow reflex” hence didn’t latch to feed and wouldn’t take a bottle. There wasn’t and still isn’t any formal diagnosis or prognosis. Instead she gets (still to this day) my milk via nasogastric tube. To go home this would mean I would need to be competent in not only administering her feeds, but also inserting a nasogastric tube.
To put this into perspective...there are doctors and nurses who are not confident or competent in this task and it’s certainly not for the faint hearted. On top of this she required regular suctioning. This involved inserting a catheter into her mouth or occasionally nose, to suck out any saliva or mucous that she couldn’t manage. It wasn’t pleasant, but at least it offered her some relief.
One month later, on Gabrielle’s one month birthday, we were given the news we had been waiting for...we could finally take her back home. The way the news was delivered was so casual and almost dismissive that at first I didn’t believe it to be true. We didn’t have to see anyone or sign anything, all we had to do was pull her cords off and leave. Having not been able to do this the entire time, it felt quite surreal and once in the car, I’m fairly certain I cried the majority of the 45 minute car ride home.
There had been a whole world existing outside those hospital walls for the month we were on the inside. I can only imagine what it would feel like to be a prisoner released, when you feel as though no one has even really noticed you haven’t been around. Life has existed as though everything has been ‘normal’ the entire time. When in reality it couldn’t have felt further from the truth.
Whilst our hospital stay had come to an end at last, getting home brought with it, its new set of challenges. But boy was I happy to be back in my own bed and able to use my own bathroom once again! What made me even more happy though, was that I could take my baby with me wherever I went.