The IVF we received in Warsaw, Poland, Europe was successful and my pregnancy was AMAZINGLY EASY. Like seriously easy. NO morning sickness, NO excessive weight gain, I felt GREAT! I felt better than I did when I wasn’t pregnant.
Until…..at week 29…..I was diagnosed with IUGR. If you Google it, you will see that it’s quite rare and quite dangerous. Intrauterine Growth Restriction is basically when a baby doesn’t get enough nutrients from the mommy to grow at a normal rate inside the womb. In my case it was just, most likely, caused by a combination of my age (c’mon I’m not THAT OLD) and IVF.
The doctor, who I adored, hospitalized me so they could keep me on monitoring until it was time to deliver. They were hoping to hold me there until week 35. But nature had other plans….. as nature often does.
Everyone at the hospital was super duper amazing and to be honest my month long stay there felt more like a vacation since I’ve been running at 100 MPH since I started this IVF journey in 2012. They served me food (I gained twice as much on bedrest than I did the entire pregnancy), told me to lay in bed all day and I got to catch up with the Kardashians.
With each passing day the baby was getting weaker, the doctor told me that he stopped growing somewhere around week 30 so they had to monitor him closely. With each passing day, ultrasound, contraction monitoring I would get worse and worse news – he’s not growing, his heart keeps stopping, he can’t breathe, he’s not getting any nutrients. It was such an emotional roller coaster.
For some reason I felt strong I felt capable like I had no choice but to grit my teeth and keep going for Oliver, for this miracle baby boy who I waited four years to conceive.
All the nurses around were amazed at my positivity and they all were so kind saying Oliver was going to have an amazing mommy. It really kept me going, that prize at the end of the tunnel.
Early morning on March 1st, 2017, week 33 day 1, my wonderful doctor came into the room and stated, “We’re going to have a baby today”. Silly me, I responded, “Yes, I heard a couple of women give birth overnight, so exciting.” She chuckled and said, “YOU’RE going to have your baby today. Oliver is coming!”
The world went silent, I grabbed my stomach and just breathed a huge breath and grinned at the doctor. “YES!”. Silence broken I screamed, “I have to call my husband!”. The doctor laughed and let me be alone to make the phone call to Brian who I got on the other line, groggily greeted me with a “Hi Hun”.
“Are you ready to be a daddy?”. That woke him up! “He’s coming today! Scheduled C-section around 11 or noon”. I heard the phone rustle and Brian’s grogginess cleared and his voice became clear and strong. “On my way!”
The next few hours were spent prepping me for the C-section. It’s quite a blur but there are 2 things I remember, the realtor of the seller of the house we were buying calling to negotiate with us and the Magnesium sulfate injection that was probably the worst pain I have ever felt. They told me you will feel a little warm but it was literally like walking on the sun. It also made me want to throw up like you wouldn’t believe. I didn’t throw up at all during my pregnancy and I wasn’t going to start now. Hold it in, hold it in. Without exaggerating it felt like my veins were going to balloon out of my body. It was horrific! Everything else, was a piece of cake after that ordeal.
They dressed me in a special thermal gown and my husband got dressed head to toe as well (I remember he put on the jumpsuit backwards, poor guy was so excited).
I got wheeled into the operating room, got my epidural and once I was numb they put up a curtain and went to work. My husband held my hand and feeling a slight pressure, feeling my body breathing a sigh of relief, this is finally over, we get to meet Oliver. It only took a few seconds, they only had a few seconds as they were expecting Oliver to be born unable to breathe on his own.
With a blink of an eye, Oliver’s screaming flooded my ears followed by gasps and awwwwws and applause. Oliver was officially breathing, starting his life! He was actually BREATHING. All that fear all that anxiety about his being born too weak to breathe went away and I knew he was going to be okay.
My husband’s eyes darted back and forth and before he could finish his sentence, “Should I stay with you or go…..”. I said, “Go Go Go with Oliver. GO!!!”
Oliver was whisked away to the NICU, at this point I didn’t even know what a NICU was or any details about it. In time I would learn what it was all about as Oliver spent a month there.
My only goal was to get out of the hospital after giving birth so three days after my c-section I was home. Well, not HOME, I was at my parents house as our new home wasn’t ready yet and our old home sold already. My parents being the amazing kind people they are, gave me and my husband their bed so I could be comfortable. My c-section recovery was horrific the first week or so. I was taking a lot of pain killers and I would get this awful burning sensation around my incision that would make me cry out in pain.
About a week later I was finally in the new house and could recover. We sold the old house fully furnished so I came home to a new, EMPTY house. We did have a bed…thankfully. So I spent most of my days in bed and waddling around unpacking.
Because of the pain killers and because I felt so awful after the c-section. My mom was tasked in driving me to the NICU every day. From Malibu the drive could take even two hours but we were there. On weekends my husband, who was working crazy long hours at that time, would visit and we would spend time as a family. We were making the drive to Ronald Reagan hospital at this point.
Oliver was THRIVING, even earning the nickname Mr President as he was bossing everyone around they said. Doctors, nurses and everyone who came in contact with him were commenting how wonderfully he was growing and thriving and he would get out “any day”. Any day turned to days, weeks and a month. His only fault was that he was super tiny but he was eating like a champ, maintaining his body temperature and growing like a loaf of baking bread. He was just hanging out, not hooked up to any special machines, aside from the ones that were monitoring his temperature and vitals. But after a while even those were taken away.
Finally a day was given for us to take Oliver home. Bring his diaper bag, install the car seat correctly, take a CPR class and ready your home because Oliver is going to be there soon.
We were so happy walking in the hospital that day. Like we owned the world, like our world would finally be complete.
We had a full house at Oliver’s bedside that day, everyone was giving us pointers, quizzing us, making us sign paperwork, it was a crazy day!
But before we could take him home he was crying so we decided to feed him some formula. My husband got Oliver comfortable and started feeding. We weren’t really paying attention, we were gabbing about having Oliver home and all the things we still needed to get done at the new house. All of a sudden, all sound went dead aside from a piercing alarm.
Before we realized what was happening, nurses were upon us yelling Oliver’s name and tugging at his hands and toes. My heart stopped but thankfully Oliver’s didn’t and he came to within just about 3 seconds. He lost consciousness while eating so the “Take Him Home” clock reset to 5 days. Fiver more days until we can TRY this again. The longest 5 days of my life.
We returned home that day broken, angry, sad, scared.
Five more days passed and for some reason those five days were harder than before because every time I looked at Oliver’s face I thought to myself that he should be home, we shouldn’t be going through this, driving all this way, seeing him there and even Oliver looked sadder, he was sleeping more and just kind of not responding as well. I was also so angry with my husband because he wasn’t paying attention while feeding. I know that wasn’t right but when I looked at Brian I would think, if only I fed him, this wouldn’t have happened. This definitely didn’t help the situation and I apologized quickly because I could tell Brian was blaming himself. It wasn’t anyones fault, it just happened, Oliver was tiny, he was still weak.
Finally day FIVE arrived. We went to pick him up more cautiously this time. We fed him cautiously, we held him cautiously, we were cautious like never before.
Time came to do the big Car Seat test, if we passed, we would be whisking him away from the hospital and into his ready nursery. His beautiful nursery by the ocean that we prepared, picking out each item with care.
For NICU parents the Car Seat Test is the FINAL step in taking your baby home. Basically the nurses set it up, put the baby in there for about an hour, or however long it takes you get home from the hospital. For us it was about an hour to two hours (if you live in LA you know why that range is so huge LOL).
We strapped him into the Combi Coccoro car seat and looked at each other. He looked so tiny, so frail, so confused and scared but the timer began. He cried a little bit, he squirmed but we comforted him. There was 10 more minutes left on the test, 9 minutes, 8, 7. That dreaded alarm beeped again. Oliver lost consciousness. Seemed the seatbelt that goes on his shoulder was suffocating him.
The car seat was recommended by another NICU mommy, it worked for her! But Oliver was just about half a pound too small for it. This carseat was very high quality, affordable and the ONLY ONE on the market for micro-preemies. I would highly recommend trying this if you are having trouble finding a small enough car seat for your little NICU preemie. The car seat got A LOT of attention in the NICU because it looked SO COOL, we got the lime green one and it was very eye catching. Wish it worked for little Oliver, we would still be using it now!
Since he failed the car seat test, the timer was reset to five more days. Another countdown began.
On the third day the doctor came down to sit with us and asked us. “You want to take Oliver home today?”. Wait what?! Today?! The ONLY day we came to the hospital in the tiny sports car that barely had a back seat? The only day that I didn’t bring the diaper bag? The only day that the entire back seat was filled with packages of baby stuff we needed to return to Amazon (because we overbought of course)? The only day that we were planning on spending less time at the NICU to get home faster to paint and put together his armoire? Yes, that day. The most inconvenient convenient day!
Something that day made me throw his car bed into the back, just in case. Yes, you read right, the car bed. Since he was so tiny and no car seat would accommodate him we purchased a car bed. This was our 3rd car riding gear that we bought.
The first one being something we purchased months before he was born, thinking he would be born full term, the second one being that gorgeous lime green Combo Coccoro and the last thing we purchased, being desperate to take Oliver home, was the car BED.
“YES!” I said. “We want Oliver home, we know he will thrive among family.” So Brian ran down to UPS to return all the packages, dug up the car bed, learned to install it in the valet parking area and we were all set. Car Seat test number two. Ahem, Car Bed test number two.
This one was so unnerving, I sat on the floor next to his car bed and waited, tick tock, tick tock. Brian was running errands and I just waited and waited. I whispered to Oliver, “Hang in there little man.” And he did! He passed the Car Seat test. When Brian got back we greeted him with the good news. This Cosco Dreamride SE Infant Bed was very hard to find, we got the idea from the discharge person and truly this car bed was a life saver, it allowed us to take our son home! If it wasn’t for the Cosco Dreamride, Oliver would have to spend 2-3 more WEEKS in the NICU which honestly we couldn’t handle. This infant bed / car seat is quite affordable and I will recommend it to any mom with a baby in the NICU.
We said goodbye to the wonderfully amazing people at Santa Monica Hospital NICU. Oliver also stayed at the amazing Ronald Reagan hospital that is where I gave birth and it was truly a great experience.
Brian drove so carefully with Oliver in the car, I think it took us 2 hours to get home! My parents were waiting for us. There was a lot of yelling and waving around and screaming as we got the baby in the house, watch your step, keep him out of the sun, hold his head, hold him close was all I heard from my mom and dad.
Finally little Oliver was placed on his mattress in his crib. And so it began. Can we do this? Are we ready? YES!
All items mentioned in this blog post were purchased at full price by me, any review is my own and honest and not swayed by freebies or discounts.