It’s been almost a year since Ollie came so early. Strange things take me right back to that day, and I’m sure for a very long time, the Drifters version of “White Christmas” could make me cry. In the 11 months since his birth, we’ve been through a lot; I figger it’s time to write some of it down…..Here’s Ollie’s birth story:
So Christmas Day, after the rush-rush-rush of wrapping and unwrapping, eating and digesting, talking and hanging out, my mom asked if she could feel Li’l Baby Miller (“LBM” what we were calling him because we were Team Green) move when it does again. I responded with, “it’s kinda quiet in there right now, but it’ll perk up again.” I didn’t think much of it, because just that morning, I remarked to Matty, “boy, this kid’s kicking my ass this morning!”
After I realized that I haven’t been feeling LBM move so much, I started paying attention.
12/26/08 – moving, but not as much as he was. Started to worry, but I’m paranoid, so tried not to think too much about it.
12/27/08 – Ollie’s Birthday – After feeling “eh” most of the day, I threw up some Cheerios. I drank OJ and laid on my side and had caffeine and laid on my side, but LBM just wasn’t moving. A faint kick here and there would put me slightly at ease, but not enough to stop worrying, so I called the doctor.
They told me to go to L&D just to be checked out. After convincing Matty that Band of Brothers could wait, we leave and (White Christmas was on the radio, weird, ‘cuz it was after Christmas) arrived at the hospital around 3 or so. Hooked up to monitors and hear the heartbeat. (“Good, we can leave now, it’s still alive.”) Peed in a cup, BP taken, q&a with the nurse. She sends us to get another U/S and both of us thought separately how neat that was because we’d get to see LBM again. I had an ultrasound on October 12th, so we hadn’t “seen” him in over two months.
Have the u/s and are told that LBM was the size of a 25-weeker (I was 28W, 5D). Worse yet, his amniotic fluid was almost gone. It was at a 2%. I looked at the screen, and there he was, just laying there. Such a heartbreaking change from the previous u/s when he was doing baby acrobatics. It made me think of someone left behind in the desert. And this is when I started crying.
Get to a room in L&D, and they start trying to get an IV in me and the nurse comes in with paperwork for Matty to sign. She’s talking quietly to him and I see his face just….change. From hopeful and “it’s gonna be okay,” to “oh this is bad.” He tells me they’re taking LBM now; it’s better for him outside than it is inside, your blood pressure’s so high you may start having seizures, they’re going to do a c/s.
I wanted to delay it. I just kept saying, “He’s too little; it’s too early.” I wanted to talk to a neonatologist. I wanted my mom. and Oh, how I cried.
I was told there’s no time. We can’t wait for my parents. Luckily(?) they couldn’t find a vein for the IV so I needed a central line put in. We had to wait for someone to come do that, so in that delay, my parents were able to get there. A neonatologist came and “reassured” me that babies born at 28 weeks turn out fine, they have a Level 3 NICU and blah, blah, blah.
I was given a sedative and wheeled to the OR. Matty came in and sat next to me and we “chatted.” He was doing such a great job at reassuring me making me feel better. He made me pay attention to him, rather than letting me sink deeper in my thoughts.
Ollie was born at 6:42 pm. He was 1pound, 9ounces (711 grams). The OR was silent. no cries, just a token, “it’s a beautiful baby boy!” from the doctor. They wheeled his isolette next to my head, but I couldn’t see him because I took my contacts out and didn’t have my glasses. I saw a still brown shape the size of a shoe.
Four hours later, I got to see Oliver. Terrifying. We had him baptized his first night by the hospital chaplain. His head was the size of a tennis ball. He was on a ventilator, so most of his face was covered. His eyes were still fused closed. He had IVs in his belly button. He was on a sedative to keep him comfortable. Because his skin was not fully developed, he was red, like a terrible sunburn. His diaper was smaller than a tissue. I did notice, though, that he has my feet (my second toe is longer than my first) and told everyone, “he has my feet!”
His first week was full of bad news. We were told so many bad things. We were told many times that “he is a sick little boy.” He’s jaundiced and needs Bili lights. He has too much acid in his blood. He needs blood transfusions. His blood pressure is too low. We have to put him on a higher powered ventilator (it made him vibrate). The forced oxygen may leave him blind. He has a slight brain bleed. It’s possible he will have cerebral palsy.
After all the bad news, the news started getting better. Ollie was weaned off the high-powered vent after three days to a regular vent, then to CPAP after a day or so. He was breathing on his own by his 9th day (but with the oxygen til August). He was off his blood pressure meds and sedative by mid-January. His eyes also opened on his 9th day. I held him for the first time on his 7th day. He started on breast milk through a feeding tube on January 15.
I would list his accomplishments, but that gets long. I will say that he did develop ROP (leads to the blindness talked about above) – but it resolved on its own. He didn’t have any intestinal issues, which was awesome. He didn’t need any surgeries, except for hernias, but that was in May. He developed Apneas, where he’d stop breathing and his heart rate would go down. But grew out of those. Late February, I started relaxing about his chances and started enjoying my baby’s amazing and impressive feats.
Anyway….we brought him home at five pounds on March 20th, three days after his due date. It was neat because we “roomed in” at the hospital taking care of him on March 17 & 18, so I got to be in the hospital just like if he had been a full term baby. He came home on oxygen (just a tiny puff), an apnea/heart monitor, a diuretic, a visiting nurse who’d come once a week to check on us all.