After Logan was born, I found myself wandering the hospital halls every three hours. Every one hundred and eighty minutes, like clockwork, I took an elevator down from my room and took baby steps (because I just pushed out a 10 pound baby) over to feed him; this is how I spent Logan’s first week of life in the NICU.
They say third kids can be wildcards, and my third baby certainly threw us all for a loop. He was born pretty much on time—just two days early—but my labor was really fast and interesting. When I got there, my contractions were one on top of the other; 1-2 minutes apart, and they were painful, but I was only around 5 cm dilated.
After breaking my water, and giving him an internal monitor, because they couldn’t get a good reading on him, the doctor flat out said he didn’t have high hopes of me delivering vaginally and started prepping me (mentally) for a possible c-section.
A c-section was not in my birth plan, but obviously I’d do whatever was safest for my baby. Long story short, less than two hours after I arrived, with no time to ask for an epidural (I waffled too much, and then my window to get one was gone), I pushed out a 10lb, 4 ounce baby. (Read his birth story here)
Yeah, that’s not a typo; he was huge. Yes, I did have gestational diabetes, but I also kept it all very diet and exercise controlled; I also just make big babies (my other two kids—without GD—were over 9 pounds).
They immediately put my new squishy baby on my chest, but he was having a hard time breathing. He also had a fever…then they discovered I had a fever, too.
Thankfully, they gave us that golden hour to spend together, hoping our fevers would improve with skin-to-skin.
That hour was glorious. Despite the getting-stitched-up part, of course.
My mom ended up arriving just a few minutes after I had him, and we just snuggled, nursed, and bonded during that time. She brought a photo of my dad to show Logan who he was named after. The two missed meeting each other in person by 8 months. Stupid cancer.
Once our hour was up, the nurses came in to check us. Unfortunately, our fevers remained.
I didn’t know this then—or maybe I did, but I was in that euphoric, just-gave-birth haze—but his official diagnosis was that he was septic, which is not good. That means there’s an infection in the blood, and for new babies, that can literally be deadly.
Life in the NICU
They immediately sent him down to the NICU (my husband went with him, and my mom stayed with me), and started us both on antibiotics: two rounds for me, and a whopping seven days for him.
That meant that my brand new little boy had to spend his first week of life in the NICU hooked up to wires, surrounded by constant beeping, and in the hospital instead of at home with his family.
Thankfully, the antibiotics worked, and he kicked his infection quickly; I’m so thankful for the quick action from the staff and nurses, and for the care we received. I know not all NICU patients are as lucky.
Staying at the hospital
When they said he’d have to stay after I was discharged I almost panicked. The nurses could see the look on my face and potential breakdown into a puddle of tears, and quickly followed up with the fact that they actually offer complimentary rooms on a different floor so postpartum moms have a place to stay literally in the hospital while their little one is admitted downstairs.
This offer was amazing, and I really did cry tears of gratitude. My girls were both breastfed until they were a year and a half, and I know how crucial those first few weeks are, not just for establishing a supply, but for bonding, postpartum recovery, antibodies for the baby, and laying down nursing roots with the baby.
The NICU staff was wonderful and new about my intentions to nurse; they were also extremely non-judgemental and compassionate when they’d mention options for formula feeding him if I needed extra sleep. Thankfully, they also let me use one of their pumps, so a few nights during that week-long stint, I pumped enough to get a few extra hours of sleep.
Logan hit all of their check marks, indicating that the antibiotics were knocking out his infection, and we found ourselves counting down to graduating from the NICU and going home.
I’m so thankful my mom was in town, and that the military gives 10 days of paternity leave so they could stay with the girls. My mom would stay with the girls and Kenny would hang out with us at the hospital, or he’d stay with the girls, and she’d come over and hang out with her grandson.
It was a relief on my end to have someone there with me.
I started getting cabin (hospital) fever, and needed to leave for a little bit. Of course, I felt totally guilty, but the nurses reminded me that I needed to take care of myself. I also missed the girls, so it was nice to hang out with them.
We all went out for a little bit, in between feedings, to a bookstore nearby. It was wonderful to not be surrounded by all the beeping and machines that come with hospital life.
The girls meet their brother
Since it was RSV season, Julia and Maddie couldn’t come inside the NICU to meet their brother. They sent him pictures and drawings, and constantly asked us to give him hugs and kisses. The bond these three shared, even before they all met, was overwhelming.
Thankfully, one day Logan had a wonderful nurse who suggested the kids see each other through the little glass section of the door. One of the nurses even made them little wrist bands just like the grown ups had to wear. It was the little things that really made our day.
They were beyond thrilled. If waiting nine months to meet their little brother was hard, then that week was like an eternity to them.
Finally Going Home
Day after day, Logan kicked his infection to the point where we were just waiting for him to take that last dose. He finally did, and they gave us the a-okay to go home.
I’m so thankful for the nurses, doctors, and staff who work in the NICU. It can be a very scary and overwhelming place, but they handle things with ease, grace, and patience. I know babies often have to stay much, much, much longer than Logan stayed, and so I’m very thankful for his short-lived stint in the NICU.