Fair warning- this is going to be a very lengthy and very emotional post. Liam’s birth and first few weeks of life were an absolute whirlwind with countless ups and downs so there’s a lot to share about his story. I love reading other people’s birth stories and I knew I wanted to write this down for myself but you guys said you wanted to read it as well so here you are.
Also, I should probably warn you that I tend to have really fast and really easy labors so if you’ve never had a baby, my experience isn’t your typical labor haha. I’ve made the mistake of telling first time moms my labor stories and how it truly wasn’t that bad and then they proceeded to have much longer or much more painful experiences. So just know that everyone’s labor story and experience is completely different but this is mine :-).
On Tuesday, November 7, I went to the OB for my 37 week appointment. My first baby came on his own at 37 weeks 4 days so I had no idea what to expect this time around. At my appointment, I was still only 1 cm dilated and 70% effaced but Liam had dropped even lower than he already was. My OB said she’d be surprised if I made it through the weekend without going into labor and I was definitely hoping she was right. Not only was I just ready to meet this sweet little babe but my husband works almost an hour away, works nights and carpools to work so I knew if I went into labor on the weekend we wouldn’t have to stress about how I’d get to the hospital.
After my appointment, I grabbed lunch and headed back home. Shortly after I got home I started having some pretty uncomfortable contractions that were getting more and more regular. My first labor was only 6 hours long so rather than waiting for contractions to be 5 minutes apart lasting for an hour I was told to head into the hospital when they were 10 minutes apart lasting for 30 minutes (literally 3 contractions haha. Better safe than sorry, right?). My contractions were just under 1o minutes and getting a little closer together so I called the doctor and headed into the office. She checked me out and I hadn’t progressed at all but was still contracting so I was sent over to labor & delivery to be monitored. After walking the halls for awhile I still hadn’t progressed at all and my contractions ended up stopping so we went home for the night.
I felt pretty good the next few days, other than being anxious about when I’d go into labor, but we were still totally set on this baby coming over the weekend. On Saturday, the 11th, we went to the mall to attempt to walk the baby out. After a few hours we went home and I was completely & utterly exhausted. The next morning, we woke up early to head to my father-in-law’s for the Steelers game. My husband’s work week starts on Sunday night so we got back home around 3 pm feeling pretty bummed out that the baby didn’t come over the weekend. At 4:30 pm, about 10 minutes before my husband was leaving for work, I started having contractions. I was pretty sure this was the real deal but my husband couldn’t miss work for another false alarm so he headed into work. I started timing my contractions which were about 6-7 minutes apart at this point. At 5:30 pm I talked to my OB who told me to go ahead and come in. At this point I knew it was definitely not a false alarm so my mother-in-law came to pick me up and take me to the hospital (and watch Mason), my sister headed to Jack’s work to pick him up (he literally worked for like 10 minutes haha), and my parents headed to grab dinner for Mason to bring to the hospital.
We got to the hospital around 6 pm and by 6:30 I was 4 cm dilated and contractions were 2-3 minutes apart. Luckily for me, the labor & delivery floor was incredibly slow that night so they were totally on the ball for everything I needed. My husband made it to the hospital around 7 pm and at that point, my contractions were incredibly painful but still bearable. I was still able to talk and joke with Mason in between contractions but by 7:30 my water started to leak and I was in the worst pain. Around 8 pm I got an epidural and by 8:30 my OB had completely broken my water. At this point, I was only 5 cm dilated but was apparently having contractions every minute (I say apparently because I literally could not feel a thing–thank you modern medicine 😛 ). I was starting to get a little bit discouraged since I was only 5 cm and because I was no longer in pain, the exhaustion started to set in. Thankfully, an hour later I progressed to 8 cm and by 10:30 I was 9 cm. I was starting to feel my contractions more so I knew it wouldn’t be long before I met this sweet baby of ours! Shortly after 10:30, everyone but my husband left the room so they could start to sterilize and my nurse made sure that the OB was close by. Around 11 pm I was finally at 10 cm and ready to go. I pushed for what felt like a century but was actually only 15 minutes and at 11:15, Liam Daniel Bachman was born at 6lb 1oz. He was able to be placed on my chest immediately and my husband was able to cut the cord–two experiences we were not able to have with Mason. It was pure magic and every second of pain just melted away.
…until I noticed that he wasn’t crying.
I started to bawl and ask why my baby wasn’t crying but nobody gave me an answer. The doctors whisked him away to check him out and a team of pediatricians entered the room. Shortly after, I heard a quiet little cry which brought me to tears once again. A few moments later, the pediatrician brought him over for me to hold. While I held my perfect baby boy, I knew in the back of my mind that something was wrong. His cry should’ve been louder. The pediatrician explained that this soft cry, which they referred to as grunting, is usually a sign that there’s either a little bit of fluid left in the lungs or that the lungs are a little bit underdeveloped (which is not uncommon for a baby born at 37 weeks). I held my baby for about a minute before they took him to the nursery to give him oxygen.
*I just want to add a little disclosure here… A lot of medical terms were used in the days and weeks after Liam’s birth. I want to explain things as much as possible for you but I am in no way any type of medical professional so I’m sure that I’ll call something by the wrong name or explain something incorrectly at some point. Please forgive me 🙂
By the time that my epidural wore off and I was allowed to visit Liam in the nursery (a little bit after 1 AM), they had switched him from an oxygen support to CPAP, which uses air pressure to continuously push oxygen into his lungs. Around 2 or 3 am, another pediatrician came to talk to us and explain Liam’s condition. He suspected that his lungs were just slightly underdeveloped but that nothing else seemed to be wrong. He also wasn’t able to give us any type of time frame for when we would be able to bring Liam back to our room but our hopes were high that it would just be an overnight thing. Around 6 am I went back to the nursery expecting good news but Liam was doing pretty much the same. They had taken chest x-rays which showed that there was still some fluid in his lungs. He was given an IV and feeding tube and started on antibiotics in case there was any type of infection. Around 10 am we talked to the pediatrician again who told us that Liam was doing a little bit better but just improving slowly. Again, he said that the x-rays just looked like those of a premature baby’s lungs and nothing more serious. His “grunting” was getting less frequent and his oxygen levels were good. The doctor explained that if Liam started doing worse that they’d transfer him to another hospital with a level 3 NICU (the hospital I gave birth at only had a level 2 nursery–not a fully functional NICU) but he reassured us that he was completely comfortable with keeping our sweet boy right where he was at.
The next morning, I went to visit Liam in the nursery and his nurse told me that he had a rough night. She wasn’t able to give me much more information until the team of pediatricians did their rounds but I knew something was wrong. I went back to my room and just cried. It hit me that I would be discharged that day and have to go home without my baby. I cried on and off for the next few hours until another pediatrician came to talk to us around 10 am. Liam was in respiratory distress for most of the night and was needing more oxygen than before so they decided to go ahead and transfer him. I barely even remember the rest of our conversation because I was a total wreck. Thankfully, my nurses were absolutely amazing and processed my discharge right away so that I could leave right around the same time they took Liam. At about 11:30 he was flown to a different hospital near downtown Pittsburgh with a fully functional level 3 NICU. I’ve heard nothing but amazing things about the NICU at this hospital so while I was completely heartbroken about Liam’s condition, I was also at peace knowing that he was receiving the absolute best care.
Around 1 pm I spoke to one of his neonatologists who explained that he was still doing pretty much the same. His x-rays still looked the same and he was going into distress pretty much any time the doctors were touching him. He was on 30% oxygen up until the previous night then they bumped him up to 37% (room air is 21% oxygen). The plan was to monitor him throughout the day to decide a plan of action and as long as he didn’t go above 40% they wouldn’t intervene with any medication into his lungs. His platelet count was also on the lower end of normal so there was a slight chance that he’d need a platelet or blood transfusion but thankfully when they checked again it was normal.
The next day his oxygen was at 45% but it was bumped up because baby boy kept pulling the CPAP out of his nose. Since he was still struggling to breathe, the doctors tried giving him a dose of surfactant (which is what allows the air sacs in the lungs to remain open and filled with air). He responded a little bit to it but not as much as they would’ve liked. He received a second dose and again, didn’t respond how they hoped. Basically, if premature lungs were the only issue, the doses of surfactant should’ve worked so that just meant that there was something else going on. His blood work that morning showed an elevated white blood count which suggests infection so they’d need to continue the antibiotics for 7 days. They also planned to do an echo the following morning to hopefully rule out any heart issues and they’d also keep an eye on his bilirubin levels which were a little bit high. Liam was started on breastmilk, though, which was a huge positive and while I wasn’t able to hold him yet, I got to change his diaper and take his temperature. I never thought I’d be so excited about changing a dirty diaper! 😉
Liam’s oxygen was around 40% (it was bumped as high as 80-90% the previous day). His bilirubin levels increased so he was placed under the phototherapy lights and they diagnosed our sweet boy with pneumonia. I obviously did not want my 4 day old baby having pneumonia but I was glad that he finally had a diagnosis and a solid plan of action. His echo did show a small murmur but that wasn’t affecting his condition at all and would likely close on its own. We were told that basically once the pneumonia clears up, he should start doing significantly better and that all he needs is a little bit of time. He was also doing really well with breast milk (still through his feeding tube) and started to take a binky which was one step closer to bottle feeding!
We went to visit Liam around 5pm and his oxygen was at 26% (!!!!!!!!). We were also finally able to hold our baby and I cried all the happy tears.
Liam’s oxygen was at 21%. You guys. TWENTY ONE PERCENT. That’s what room air is at! His neonatologist was amazed at how well he was doing and they were planning to take him off of CPAP but would likely give him a smaller nose cannula for oxygen support if needed. Once the CPAP was out he’d be able to start bottle feeding and since he was doing so well with breast milk they were beginning to taper him off of IV fluids (but he would still need his IV in until he finished his antibiotics).
Liam was taken off of CPAP and didn’t need a nasal cannula for oxygen–he was breathing room air for the first time! He only had one day left of his antibiotics and then his IV would be removed and his bilirubin was back down to 9.4 so they were able to stop with the phototherapy lights. They tried to start bottle feeding him but he didn’t want to stay awake long enough to eat. Since he was a little older than a lot of other NICU babies, they would be a bit more aggressive with getting him to eat by mouth and try for at least 10-15 minutes every 3 hours.
Overnight, Liam took one full 50 ml feeding by mouth but only took 10 ml of another and 20 ml at another feeding. They put clothes on him for the first time and swaddled him so that they could start to lower the temperature in his isolette and around 8 pm he would be moved to an open crib. All around he was doing pretty well– still breathing great on his own, bilirubin was down to 8.6 and he received his last dose of antibiotics so he got his IV out!
Liam was unfortunately moved back into an isolette. While he was able to maintain his temperature enough to be in an open crib, he was using all of his energy on that and was too tired to eat by mouth. He was only eating 10-15 ml before falling asleep at each feeding while he was in an open crib but as soon as he went back into the heated isolette he started taking the full 50 ml at each feeding. They decided to keep him in the isolette for the rest of the day while he got his feeding under control then they would take him back out of the isolette and push him a little more to maintain his temperature while still feeding by mouth.
Baby boy had taken all of his feedings overnight and throughout the day by mouth. Now he just needed to maintain his temperature while still eating!
Liam was still taking his full feedings by mouth and his isolette was lowered half a degree overnight and another half that morning. If by 11 pm that night his temperature was still good, they would turn off the isolette. Once the isolette is turned off he would just need to maintain his temperature for 24-36 hours before coming home.
While I was completely crushed that Liam wouldn’t be home for Thanksgiving, I still have to say that this was the best Thanksgiving ever… we officially got word that as long as Liam kept his temperature up overnight, he would be discharged the next day!
Around 12 pm, our sweet Liam Daniel was discharged from the NICU. Twelve painfully long days later and our baby boy was finally coming home. God is so good.
Since coming home, Liam has been an absolute dream. Medically, he’s been doing amazing. He hasn’t had any issues what so ever and his murmur has already closed. He hasn’t had any issues with his breathing, temperature or feeding by mouth. In fact, little man loves to eat… he’s one month old and has already gained 3 lbs since birth! He is the perfect addition to our little family and I truly can’t imagine our life without him.
Liam’s time spent in the NICU was the hardest twelve days of my life but I am so insanely thankful for all of the amazing doctors and nurses that cared for him. I’m also so thankful for the wonderful hospitals we stayed at–we were actually able to watch Liam 24/7 on a livestream from the NICU and the hospital also had an incredible playroom to keep Mason busy while we spent everyday in the hospital for nearly two weeks. While this is a situation I wish we never had to go through, I am very thankful for all of the wonderful people that made it bearable.
I also couldn’t write this post without mentioning again how thankful I am for all of you. The amount of people that took time out of their day to message, comment, email, pray, or send positive thoughts brings me to tears. I’ve had people from half way across the globe reaching out to me and sending prayers for our sweet boy. I’ve had people that I’ve never met, and probably will never meet, messaging me every single day to send prayers and positive vibes. I absolutely believe in the power of prayer and know that the love and prayers sent our way helped heal our sweet baby. I am so touched by the outpouring of love and support for my family and I can never thank you all enough. You guys are what helped me get through some of the hardest days of my entire life. THANK YOU!