Because Everly was born via C-section, we needed to stay in the hospital for 48 hours standard, instead of just 24. And because she was born late on Tuesday evening, we wouldn’t be released until Friday morning.
Nurses went in and out – checking things less and less frequently as I went from almost totally immobile to gingerly up and around our suite covered in plastic. They ran some final tests and we prepped to leave Friday morning.
Thursday night, our nurse thought Everly was retracting with her breathing so she grabbed a NICU nurse to come look. Breathing looked fine, but she looked jaundice and thought another bilirubin test should be run. She had already had one that came back low risk, but the nurse was insistent and it was scheduled for 5am.
Everly’s levels had skyrocketed for her young life and tiny size. There would be another test in 12 hours and we might be staying under blue lights for another night in our plastic world. The test came back – her levels were still climbing, but we got to go home with strict instructions about feeding and an appointment the following day.
The first night home was rough. Feeding was hard. And exhausting. And frustrating. I couldn’t figure out our new breast pump. And I wasn’t sure Everly was getting enough food just from nursing. I texted my sister and she was so encouraging and helpful. She’d been there and she’d cried all the tears and felt all the inadequacy of not being able to feed your little one on your own.
At the pediatricians the next day I cried in a flood of frustration and confusion. How does this thing work? How can we get our girl enough food? Our doctor related. She had also had trouble breastfeeding and assured us that the prime concern is getting enough food for Everly and that we could do what we needed to in order to make it work.
That felt like sweet relief.
We went home confident and took on the next night in exhausting, but regular intervals. The early morning, though, we couldn’t get Everly to stay awake long enough to eat – something they said we needed to call about so after we had done all the things we thought we should – sun-bathing, indirect light, pumping and feeding – we called and were told to head back to the hospital and go to the ER. We got admitted to the NICU and had to watch our sweet girl get hooked up and put under lights where we couldn’t hold her or kiss her sweet forehead.
I couldn’t imagine spending any more time there past our one night stay for a relatively common issue. Other parents shuffled around the hall (so Tucker told me since I rarely left the room) and I thought of my sister and brother-in-law who spent 3 months watching their boy from a distance instead of in their arms.
Her levels weren’t looking great and we prepped ourselves to have to stay another night, but were pleasantly surprised to be sent home (again). Tonight, I get to write this in a semi-exhausted state with Tuck sleeping on one side, Kitty at his feet, and Everly in her bassinet a few feet away. We’re carefully tracking feeding, peeing, and pooping and our conversations revolve around latches and breast milk.
Today seemed better, but her tests results were the same or a bit higher than when we left the NICU. It feels a little crazy – like we’re doing all the things we are supposed to, but the bilirubin is beating us.
Tonight, Tuck said a sweet prayer – asking that God take care of our little girl and reminding us that we aren’t in control and that God always has been. We head for the night more tired than normal and as ready as we can be to wake up several more times between now and sunrise. Tomorrow is another test – the 9th in 9 days for our little girl – and all we can do is our best and trust that God has been managing all of this from the very beginning.