Monday, November 12, 2012

The Adventures of Link Hamilton

I have posted plenty of this on Facebook, but I thought I'd give a few more details & pictures on the blog: the adventures of our 4th-born child, 1st son, Linkin Dallin Hamilton.

I woke up a little after midnight on November 7th (I was 39 weeks). Gosh, I sure seemed wet. I really doubted that my water had broken - it usually never breaks until RIGHT before the baby is born. However, while I knew that my bladder control had weakened since delivering 3 other babies, I didn't think it was quite that bad. And then I stood up and - GUSH - my doubts were quickly dissipating that that this was anything other than amniotic fluid. I called (& finally YELLED) to my sweet husband to get outta bed & we talked things over. This was quite unexpected. We called my friend Diane (ANGEL ON EARTH) who came to the house to be with the girls & I drove over by myself just to make SURE this was what we thought it was (as if there was any doubt as I left a trail of water walking to labor & delivery). I arrived in L&D about 1:15am or so. Jason arrived about a half-hour later. 

And then... it was a L O N G night and following day. 

I was only a 1+ when I got there & they gave me 3 doses of cytotech over about an 8 hour period before I was dilated enough for pitocin. Did I get an epidural? You better believe it - by that time I was so exhausted. And I was so thankful that I did get the epidural. The epidural was light enough that I could move my legs & feet. In fact, my midwife had me do some hands & knees positions & I could hold my own. I could feel the pressure, but not really the pain. And I'm pretty sure I would have felt some pain given that he was posterior & was up there, turning him as he came. Link didn't arrive until 6:40 PM(!!!)  He came with the cord around his neck & was pretty purple, but the purple quickly subsided to pinkish/red and was fine. I held my precious baby boy for the first time and just COULD NOT believe he was here. 

And that he was that huge. 

I knew he was a big boy from the moment I saw those huge cheeks. And then when they put him in my arms - WOW - so much different from the girls (7 lbs 11 oz sizes).  He ended up being 9 lbs, 6 oz! He was so adorable, though, and I was instantly in love.  I cherished that skin-to-skin time with him before they took him away. Little did I know that would be the last time I would hold him for a while without him being attached to some sort of machine. When they found out he had low blood sugar, they kept him in the nursery in Cedar & gave him some glucose & were hoping that things would improve. I would come into the nursery & feed him & we were told maybe it might be another couple days till he could go home. I wasn't quite prepared for the phone call from our doctor telling us that he had been working with the NICU doctor in St. George & with his blood sugar levels being so erratic and low, he felt they needed to transfer him to the NICU in St. George. He said the ambulance would be there in an hour & a half. I hung up the phone in disbelief. Everything was kind of a blur after that. Rushed check-out, paper-signing, gathering our things, watching as the emergency crew surgically inserted a line through Link's umbilical cord stump and loaded him into the waiting ambulance. I was kind of a wreck. A long, draining labor, minimal sleep, and all the post-pregnancy hormones were definitely displaying themselves as sobs and prayers and tears. 

So - here we are - day 5 of Link's life, and day 4 in the St. George NICU. We are staying in a boarding room one floor above the NICU, so we are able to be close to Link. The hardest part of this whole thing for me has been that I haven't been able to breastfeed him. They are worried that he is using more energy (glucose) breastfeeding than he's getting from the breastfeeding. I'm hoping that will soon change. For now I'm pumping every 3 hours. Waking up to feed your sweet baby in the middle of the night can be hard, but waking up in the middle of the night to a machine pump is just downright depressing.

So - do we know why his body is low in blood sugar? Well, Link is acting like a baby who's mother had gestational diabetes. I've been asked by numerous doctors if I was diagnosed & I tell them all no! My 28 week test came back totally fine. My weekly samples came back well in the normal range. What they are telling me is that even if I didn't have gestational diabetes, it is probably a matter of genetics. We do have some family history of diabetes. And Jason has some on his side as well. So... the poor kid gets to deal with bad genes. The GOOD news, though, is this isn't something he should have to deal with in the long term. Once his body learns to maintain its blood sugar levels, he will be fine & it doesn't mean he'll have diabetes or anything. 

So - what's his treatment plan & timeline? Well, they are giving him glucose and hydrocortisone. They are trying to SLOWLY wean him off the glucose. I say slowly because every time they try and push the weaning, his blood sugar levels drop & they have to up the glucose levels again. He's shown us that he's not going to just let them crank down the glucose & he'll adjust. He really needs time for his pancreas to stop shooting out that insulin. So - they are slowly weaning him off the glucose. Then they will be weaning him of the hydrocortisone steriod. Then they need to make sure he's going to be stable for a couple of days. So - right NOW that translates to about another week here - if he cooperates 100%. 

So - that's the scoop. It's been rough, but we have SO much to be thankful for. And in this season of thanksgiving, I want to count my many blessings & list them so I can remember how much I have to be grateful for!

1. I am SO thankful that my baby is HERE! There are not enough underlines, bold, italics, etc to express how grateful I am that my baby boy is here - on the earth, in my arms, and in our family. SO GRATEFUL!

2. I am so very, very thankful for my amazing, wonderful husband. For the 4th time, he was the force that grounded me in my labor. He was SO wonderful - multiple nurses and doctors marveled over how helpful he was & they kept saying they were going to hire him :) Not only has he seen me through the labor & delivery, but he has helped me work through it & keep it together through this whole NICU experience. There is a tiny baby girl in the room with Link & her mom is so sweet & is going through a divorce right now. I can't even imagine trying to go through something like this without your best friend & husband by your side. 

3. Our family & friend support system is unbelievable! Friends that have watched our girls whenever we have needed it. My mom & his mom - coming to watch the girls and staying to help. Our amazing family here in St. George (Hamilton's) - feeding us, watching the girls, helping us in every way. Prayers to heaven offered by SO very many family & friends. Messages from so many people asking what they can do to help. I am overwhelmed by the love, support & sacrifice of so many people. 

4. Both at the Cedar City Hospital & here in St. George... SO many wonderful, amazing nurses & doctors. Understanding, helpful, informative. They have been awesome. 

5. So thankful for this boarding room - and for the INCREDIBLE view of the St. George Temple from our window. Talk about helping us keep an eternal vision:

6. Insurance. We're still going to have some hefty medical bills, I am sure, but I am SO thankful for health insurance. It might be tight, but we should be fine. 

7. My girls. They are SO VERY excited to have their baby brother here. It's sad to have them only touch him through the isolette or hold him with all the wires, but they LOVE to kiss him & hold his hand and sing him songs. Can't wait to get him home & let them really get to love on him.

7. The weather. Still wish I was in Cedar, but I have to admit the weather here in St. George has been chilly, but just about right for me! 

8. Gospel perspective. I've had a few reminders lately through song or scripture that have reminded me that I chose to come here to have trials and see if I will choose faith instead of fear & doubt. I still have a way to go, but I  am going to choose to trust in God & His will for us. 

So - keep the prayers coming. We are certainly playing it by prayer. And waiting for the day we will have our "wireless Link" ;)

Some more pics :)


Ryan and Shannan Hoffman said...

What an experience. I know first hand how hard it is to worry about your baby, so I have had you guys in my prayers daily. Praying that all is well soon and that you guys will be able to take him home. love you guys!

Chelsea said...

Thanks for filling us in. I know I was wondering about the blood sugar levels. You guys are awesome and I am praying for you. Link is a big, strong boy, so hopefully that will help him come home soon. Much love

Tiff Meister said...

Heidi, I sure love you guys! Your post was awesome especially considering the lack of sleep and challenges you're faced with. Link is such a handsome baby and we can't wait to meet him.

Lena Baron said...

Ahhh the beauty and peace that the Atonement brings as we struggle through these journeys. I know you didn't specifically mention the atonement. But the feeling and memories flooded back to me as I read this post. It is the atonement that carries us. Our Savior knows us so personally. Somehow He lightens the load just enough for us to find the peace through the storm.

I am so glad to hear that Link is stable enough for you to hold him and snuggle. Hold him as much as they will allow you to... for those of us who weren't able to hold our little NICU babies. There is therapy in just being able to hold your baby.

I so remember the pumping nightmare. I feel for you!! Keep up the Love, you won't regret it for a second!!

I've been away from my computer today. But I've been thinking about you and anxious to hear how you're all doing. I'm thrilled to find that Link is coming along and you are all in good hands!

Love You!

Colby~Megan~Hayden said...

You have such an amazing perspective on things and I am very impressed with your understanding of the pathophysiology of what's going on! Many many parents can't digest why everything is happening. I keep hoping that I will get sent to NICU to work so that I can meet the little guy and see you but they haven't needed me:-( They are all really great there! We have been and will continue to pray for you guys! please let us know if we can do anything for you guys!!