A friend of mine from college and his wife just had a brand new baby boy on Sunday! I haven't gotten to see Baby E. yet, but I'm sure he's beautiful. He came a little early (at 34 weeks), so he's going to stay in the hospital for a few more days before he comes home.
Reminds me of another baby that was born at 34 weeks.
This is Cheyenne.
Looking at her now, you would never know that she was a premie baby. She looks like any other 8 year-old little girl. She's healthy and happy and a pretty typical middle child.
But, she didn't start out that way. Cheyenne arrived in January of 2001 at a couple days shy of 35 weeks. Here is the not-so-short version of her story. (Don't say you weren't warned)
I went to bed Friday evening not feeling real great, but not feeling like I was in labor either. But at about 6 o'clock Saturday morning, it was confirmed that Cheyenne was on her way when my water broke. I woke everyone up, called Dakota's sitter to meet us at the hospital (I blame her for Cheyenne coming early because she said on Friday "if you have that baby tomorrow, call me and I'll watch Dakota for you-ha!), and got ready for the hospital. Since it was over a month early, we didn't have a suitcase packed or anything, so we just went without anything.
When we got there and were hooking me up to all the monitors, IV's, etc they were having a hard time keeping Cheyenne's heart on the monitor. I was pretty concerned and asked the nurse if that was a bad sign. She said " She's still small enough to have a lot of room to move around in there, so she just keeps changing position away from the monitor" (I laugh at that now). I was kind of reassured by that, and tried not to worry.
Anyway, I'll spare you all the details of labor, but in just over 6 hours from the time my water broke, Cheyenne arrived! I looked down and the first thing I said was "Oh, she's so tiny!" The doctor actually laughed at me! He said "This baby is HUGE!" And she was-8lbs 10 oz! (I had gestational diabetes, which contributed both to her being early and to her being big). I remember feeling like it took forever for her to cry. She finally did and she was breathing, but not well. The nurse brought her over for just a few seconds, and then she was off to the nursery.
I didn't get to see her again for about 5 hours. Everyone kept coming in and telling me how pretty she was and some of the things that were going on-I know they spared me some of the details, which was probably a good thing-but it wasn't the same. She was under the oxygen hood and was doing pretty well.
I can't remember how long she stayed in the nursery. I think until the next morning. She did finally get to come into my room, just like any other baby. She was connected to a pulse-ox monitor, but nothing else out of the ordinary. She stayed in my room that night and was doing well enough the next day that they moved us into a regular room.
On Monday evening, I was nursing her and her monitor started to alarm. The nurse came running in and snatched her up from me saying something about her coloring not being right, and ran her down to the nursery. I didn't know what to do or what to think. I was by myself because everyone else had gone to run various errands. Anyway, eventually, we were told that Cheyenne would be transferred to another hospital and would be in the NICU. The ambulance was already on it's way.
They got there and pulled the curtains in the nursery so we didn't really know what was going on. It took forever to get her ready to go because they had a terrible time getting an IV started. Finally, they brought her out for us to say goodbye. We were not allowed to ride in the ambulance with her. They told us that it would take some time for them to get to the hospital (it's an hour away) and get her set up, so we should go home and get some things together and take our time getting there (yeah right). We ran home, threw some things in the car, and took off. We didn't even think to grab the camera, so I don't have any pictures of her until we got home.
Being in the NICU was such a scary thing! The lights and monitors and wires and beeping and all the rows and rows of sick babies. It was heartbreaking. I will never forget the first few moments we were in there. The nurse walked us over to where they had Cheyenne and as we were walking, I noticed a mother a few beds down surrounded by several doctors/nurses. She was crying. One of the doctors said "What questions do you have?" She answered back "I just want to know if my baby is going to DIE!" That hit me really hard. I knew Cheyenne was very sick to be in the NICU. I knew that being a premie was not a good thing. But it had never really crossed my mind until that moment that she truly could die...that thought stayed with me the rest of the time we were in the NICU.
Those days in the NICU are kind of a blur. Daniel had just begun a new job and was taking classes at OSU that semester, so he had to go back home. He came up a time or two when we could, but his job was the graveyard shift, so it was really hard for him to find the time to go to work, go to class, drive an hour each way, and still SLEEP. My mom stayed a little, but mostly she went to her home and took care of Dakota. My dad was there the most. I remember trying to come up for every feeding, even though I had milk stored from the couple of days she wasn't allowed to eat. The nurses finally told me not to come up for the 3:00am feeding because I was going to need to be rested when she came home and they weren't there to help me. So I didn't go for the last couple of nights. I stayed a few nights at the Ronald McDonald House-what a wonderful place!
Poor Cheyenne had jaundice and had to be "under the lights" for a couple of days. Between that and keeping track of her blood sugar because of my diabetes, her little heels were stuck so many times I lost count. They were't able to keep an iv in her arm because she pulled it out, so she ended up with IV's in her head (a very scary sight if you are unprepared for it). In this picture, you can see where they gave her a "haircut" before they put the IV in and her little head is still kind of bruised.
Cheyenne was in the NICU for 7 days. (Nothing compared to what some people have to endure, but enough for me). We brought her home when she was ten days old. She had an apnea monitor that ensured us that she was breathing and her heart was beating. I was so nervous that I wouldn't hear it that I ended up sleeping on the couch for months while she slept in her car seat right next to me. Thankfully, I only remember it ever giving a true alarm once. All it took was to undress her a little and wake her up for everything to go back to normal She wore the monitor until she was 8 months old. If you look closely at this picture, you can see the leads from her monitor down by her left leg.Cheyenne has had no lasting effects, as far as we can tell, of being premature. The one exception is possibly her eyesight. She is extremely far-sighted. They say that's unusual for a child and it isn't common in our family. She's worn glasses since she was 4, but looking back, probably needed them long before that. Here she is the day she got her glasses.
I will always have so much respect and gratitude for all the doctors and (most of all) the nurses who work in the NICU. I'm sure that we wouldn't have Cheyenne here today if not for their hard work and wisdom in taking care of her. Thanks to them, we get to enjoy moments like these
And, what fun would our lives be without that smile?
If you would like to participate in Wednesday's walk or would like to what others have remembered today, go to Lynnette's blog and check it out.