My memory is useless at the best of times, never mind during times of extreme stress! So I’m going to rely on text messages and Facebook posts to cobble together a brief summary of the last week. I may muddle a few things up and/or miss a few things out but I’ll try my best.
Arlo’s first night was relatively peaceful. I think shock had kicked in sufficiently to protect us from just how scary the situation truly was. He’d been whisked off so quickly from the delivery room and intubated at 8 minutes old so we didn’t really get to see him until a few hours later when we were taken down to the NICU.
Looking at him for the first time, I was mostly amazed at just how small he was. I knew he’d be small, obviously, but he was like a toy. I remember thinking that he looked more like a skinned rabbit than a baby. The Doctors came to see us and told us, as kindly as they could, that he had around a 60% chance of survival. I don’t think that sank in probably until the next day. I do remember wondering what I was supposed to be doing with my face though. We had a newborn baby, I was happy, but he was also on a ventilator and a Dr was talking about brain bleeds and respiratory problems and telling me there was a 40% chance he’d die. Was I supposed to be crying or happy to meet my son for the first time!? I just couldn’t work out how I was supposed to feel, I couldn’t even work out how I actually felt.
Shock was still going strong on the morning of day 2. Its mostly a blur but I know I attempted to hand express some drops of colostrum into a sringe (painstakingly slow progress there this time around but I’ll moan about that another time), and then went up to see him. I was struck again by just how small he was. They told us they were going to try extubating him later in the day. Postnatal were discharging me so we went back upstairs at some point to get my things and take them to the room we were given on the neonatal unit. When we walked back in to the NICU Arlo had been put under phototherapy lamps to bring down his bilirubin levels. The blue lights made his tiny body look more fragile than ever. Unfortunately that’s when shock and it’s lovely protective numbness decided to desert me and fear took its place. I somehow made it back out into the corridor before I began sobbing and shaking. I just couldn’t see how a baby so so tiny and delicate could survive. The reality of our situation had finally hit me, full force, and it was utterly terrifying.
Arlo was indeed extubated later that day. Onto bipap at a rate of 12/8 (I have no idea what that means, I just remember them saying it for some reason!) and needing around 50-60% oxygen. The Doctors seemed pleased. He was off to a good start.
Today there were two big milestones. Firstly, after a ridiculous amount of trouble finding the office, we registered him. He is officially Arlo River Watson. Secondly, he met his biggest brother for the first time today. Reuben lasted about 4 minutes before he decided he wanted to go for the McDonalds he’d been promised! He did ask if he could hold ‘it’ first and he loves numbers so he was very impressed with all of the numbers on the monitors!
The day after our first cuddle things started to go downhill. The nurses told us its normal for premature babies to have desaturations or ‘desats’ (when the oxygen levels in their blood drops) and bradycardias (when the heart rate drops below a certain number of beats per minute) and as long as they don’t last too long and they bring their numbers back up again themselves it’s not really a worry. Arlo was starting to struggle though and we weren’t sure why. One of the Doctors had mentioned having thought she’d heard a ‘slight murmur’ when listening to his heart the day before so it was decided he’d need a echocardiogram the next day.