JEREMY'S BIRTH

by Melanie

Our baby boy Jeremy was born on July 8th 2019 at 3:17pm. The pregnancy and delivery were both smooth sailing. However, our first week with Jeremy was rough to say the least... Here's a detailed narrative of how I experienced my first childbirth, from pre-labour to learning how to become a mom. 

MY DUE DATE AT 40 WEEKS
 

I hit 40 weeks of pregnancy on July 3rd 2019, my official due date. 
 

40 weeks is considered full-term. 
 

40 weeks means the baby must be out in the next 10 days. 
 

Most people hear "40 weeks" and scratch their heads, wondering how long that is.

 

Is 40 weeks equivalent to 10 months? No... 
 

40 weeks is actually 9 months. 
 

Throughout my entire pregnancy, I got asked to "translate" my "pregnant lady counting" into "normal people counting" ALL. THE. TIME. Don't get me wrong, it's not annoying... I get it. I was also once a "normal person" who preferred to hear a simple number of months rather than a big number of weeks. Like, what does 40 weeks even mean? Converting weeks into months just seemed easier for the brain to conceptualize and measure time. So what do we do when we hear "40 weeks"? We automatically divide that number by 4 (because we're all taught that there are 4 weeks in a month) and we get 10, which is wrong. 
 

But what the heck. When people "correct" me and divide my number of weeks into 4, I just roll with it... I don't even bother telling them because it's too much of a hassle to do it and by that time, their hands are already all over my belly and we've moved on to the topic of: "Wow do you feel it moving?

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MEL ON A MELON, Chillin' like a villain

july 4th 2019

Here's a brief explanation as to why we pregnant ladies count in weeks (so the next time you ask your pregnant friend how far along she is, you can be content with her answer and a little less ignorant):
 

We tend to think that there are four weeks in a month, but if you look closely at your calendar, four weeks is really 28 days (4 x 7 days = 28 days). As we all know, a month has 30 or 31 days (with the exception of February). So, really, each month actually has 4.3 weeks. If you know basic math, you can now understand why 40 weeks is not equivalent to 10 months.
 

40 weeks is 40 weeks.
 

Don't try and convert it into months.
 

But if you must...
 

40 weeks is 9.3 months.

EARLY LABOUR
 

I was already in early labour at 37 weeks of pregnancy. I know... crazy, right? 
 

What is early labour and why so early? Early labour is when irregular contractions occur, which makes the cervix gradually open up. In pregnancy language, we call that dilation, which is when the cervix softens and eventually widens to 10cm, allowing the baby to pass through the birth canal. For those of you who have not paid enough attention in anatomy class (like me... hehe):
 

CERVIX:

The opening that connects the uterus and the vagina.
 

UTERUS:

The womb in which the baby has been marinating for the past 9.3 months. 
 

VAGINA:

Exit door, hallelujah!
 

And just so we're on the same page here (because I had to google it during my pregnancy):
 

CONTRACTIONS:

Pressure or pain that starts in the back and moves to the front of the lower abdomen. Some women say contractions feel like strong menstrual cramps.
 

During early labour, I wasn't having REAL contractions. They were "fake" contractions, also known as Braxton Hicks contractions. They were totally painless, just a bit uncomfortable. The very first time I experienced them, they freaked me out. But these contractions were mild, sporadic, random and irregular, which was totally normal. It was the body's way of practising and preparing for the real deal. 
 

At 37 weeks, my cervix was dilated at 1cm. At 40 weeks, it was at 2cm. During that time, I was still pretty active and waddling around like a chubby penguin, doing everything I wouldn't be able to do with a newborn baby (shopping, fine dining, going to the movies, getting massages, etc.)
 

It's important to note that not every pregnant woman will have the same experience as me. In fact, I was told that for a first-time mom, it was normal to have my cervix dilating slowly like this for weeks. Meanwhile, another woman could go from having a closed cervix to giving birth in a matter of hours! 

 

OVERDUE
 

After July 3rd passed, I was overdue and the whole world knew. Every day from that day on, we were receiving calls and text messages from relatives and friends, asking us if the baby was born yet. The answer was always no, no, NO. They would always follow-up with: "Gosh, it's taking so long! When will your baby arrive?" If only we knew...

 

We were also getting unsolicited advice to try and induce labour. For instance, we were told to have sex and eat spicy food. Totally just myths, they don't work! Some friends even joked about scaring me to get my water to break.
 

Eventually, everyone's anticipation made Olivier increasingly restless and impatient. He would caress my tummy at night and say to it: "I can't wait to meet you, little baby, please come out soon!" So cute right? NO. NOT CUTE. Why the rush? The baby will come when the baby will come!

 

At this point, I realized that my hormones were not helping and irritation soon evolved into stress. I started worrying that something was wrong with me. Was the baby actually medically late? Maybe the due date was inaccurately calculated? What if the baby is not finished growing and that's why he isn't ready to come out? What if he's actually ready and something is wrong with my body? I knew I was overthinking, so I did what I think was best for me and without being rude: I tuned everyone out. I understood that they were innocent and simply cared... a little too much. 
 

As time progressed, Olivier was starting to get more notifications on his phone, all of them inquiring about the baby. It drove us insane because people didn't take into account how we were in the same boat as them and just as anxious as them.

 

We mentally noted to ourselves that for my next pregnancy, we will tell people a fake due date. We also decided that for this time, we will not tell anybody when true labour will begin, not even our parents. 
 

TRUE LABOUR:

The stage of active labour. Contractions are intense, regular, and painful. This is when you head to the hospital!
 

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(SHAMELESS PLUG)

the last photo taken before my first real contraction

july 7th 2019


 

IT'S HAPPENING
 

It was around 5am on July 8th when I woke up from THE worst contraction yet. It felt like a sharp pain spread out all over my stomach. It was so intense that I stopped breathing, fearing that the pain would worsen each time I inhaled. The contraction made my entire belly tighten and upon touch, it was hard like rock. My face would scrunch up, my eyebrows would furrow so much that I was worried wrinkles would form and permanently stay. This was the fifth day past my due date.

 

Sorry to disappoint you, but it's not always like in the movies where the pregnant woman dramatically drops a puddle of water onto the floor. In fact, only 15% of women experience their water breaking before active labour even begins. 
 

WATER BREAKING:

Rupture of the amniotic sac, a fluid-filled membranous sac in which the baby is cushioned and surrounded. This typically happens at the beginning or during active labour. 
 

After two painful contractions, I decided to sit up and touch the bed sheets under me. They were dry. So I turned on the timer on my phone and started counting the duration of my contractions by applying the 511 Rule. 
 

511 Rule:

Head to the hospital when contractions

  • are 5 minutes apart

  • last for 1 minute each

  • continue in this pattern for 1 hour
     

At the end of a contraction, I would take a deep breath of relief, dreading the next one (if there was even going to be a next one). Lo and behold, the next one would arrive right on time, 5 minutes later, as painful as the one before.

 

I remembered reading about these real contractions on online forums. Many women shared their experiences and explained how real contractions were supposedly so painful, you shouldn't even be able to walk nor talk. Another woman described the beginning of her active labour and how she had an urgent sense of wanting to get out of the house immediately. With all this in mind, I had a feeling that this was it, but at the same time, I was secretly hoping it was a false alarm.

 

After 30 minutes, my breathing and loud whimpering woke up Olivier. Now if you must know, Oli is a deep sleeper. I know this because I've done a lot during his sleep. One time, I drew on his face with a marker and he didn't even twitch. Another time, I couldn't fall asleep, so I watched a funny video and accidentally laughed out loud. Oli just snored on. But this time, I guess I was making so much noise... because this time, he woke up.
 

"Are you ok?" he asked me in a sleepy, muffled voice.
 

"No, I think it's happening. It's been 30 minutes and my contractions are regular," I answered.
 

Silence.
 

"Oh my god," he said as he jumped out of bed. "Ok! Let's do this! Let's call the hospital!"
 

A nurse picked up the phone after two rings. He explained to her that I've been having regular 511 contractions for the past hour and you know what she said? This sweet, innocent nurse told us to wait ANOTHER FAAA-REAKIN' HOUR because two hours was the recommended time for a first pregnancy. UHHH... LAST TIME I CHECKED, IT WAS CALLED THE 511 RULE, NOT THE 512 RULE! Then, she told us to try taking a bath and that it may help with the pain and maybe stop the contractions. A BATH? I WAS IN NO MOOD TO TAKE A BATH!
 

Oli thanked her, hung up, and drew a bath for me. It took me a good minute to find the strength to get out of bed. I gripped Oli's arm tightly as I slowly made my way to the bathroom. 
 

"Do you feel better?" he asked me.
 

I curled up on my side and weakly lifted my index finger, signaling him to wait.
 

"Can't. Talk. During. Contraction," I managed to pant out.
 

The bath was soothing, but the contractions were still very intense. After maybe 20 minutes in the bathtub, I just wanted to get out of there. I somehow knew that the baby was coming in the next hours. 

 

"I can't stay a minute longer here," I said. 
 

We called the hospital again. A different nurse answered the phone. Upon hearing the situation, she told us to come in immediately.

 

AAAHHHHH!!!
 

We arrived at the hospital at around 6:45am. I was given a bed in a common area while my private room was being prepared. 

 

According to Oli, there were two or three other women in the beds next to mine, but we were all separated by curtains. Compared to them, it sounded like I was being tortured! I tried my best to suppress my cries but it was futile... I was screaming louder and louder with every new contraction. The entire floor could hear me for sure!

 

A nurse came to evaluate me and we listened to the steady heartbeat of the baby. "Everything is normal," she said. "It seems like your baby is sleeping right now." Really? How can he be sound asleep inside of me while I was yelling out here? 

"I hate this so much," I whispered to Oli. "I just want my own room. I want my own room so I can scream however I want."
 

Side note: Did you know that cats only give birth when they feel safe? When in labour, they would seek out a secluded, quiet area and hide in a dark place. This behavior can be explained by the natural instinct of wanting to protect her litter of kittens from potential dangers and threats in the wild.

 

Well, that's pretty much how I felt the whole morning. I did not feel good in my own bed; I wanted to be at the hospital. I certainly did not feel safe in that bathtub; I wanted nothing more than to be at the hospital. And don't even get me started with that excruciatingly slow car ride on our way to the hospital!

 

Now that I was at the hospital, it wasn't even good enough! I wanted to be in a cave. A dark cave where no one could hear me nor see me.

 

Olivier was such a champ! He handled everything so calmly and never once complained about my short temper. I remember some distinctive moments when I unwillingly snapped at him:

 

"Would you like me to massage you?" he would ask.

"No, don't touch me," I would reply. "Just get your hands off of me. Hands off!"

 

"Take deep breaths like this," he would say. Then he would breathe in and out annoyingly.

"Ok stop. Shut up. Not helping," I would bark out.

 

Sigh... I'm so sorry Oli! 😂

"Would you like to have an epidural?" asked a nurse.
 

I paused to think for a second. I wanted to have the most natural delivery possible, without the help of medication. 
 

EPIDURAL:

An epidural is a way to deliver an anesthetic so that it stops pain signals traveling from the spine to the brain. It involves injecting a small amount of anesthetic into the epidural space of the spine. The epidural space is filled with fluid and surrounds the spinal cord. Nerves that carry pain signals from the body to the brain connect to the spinal cord in certain places. The anesthetic numbs the spinal nerves, blocking the pain signals.
 

"Is it too early to get an epidural?" I asked her.

 

"Not at all," she replied. "You're 4cm dilated, so you're pretty much halfway there..."

If I was already howling in pain at 4cm, imagine the remaining 6cm to go!

"... at this point, I don't think I have much of a choice," I told her. 

 

ACTIVE LABOUR
 

The following 8 hours happened very fast. Thankfully, Olivier logged it all:

 

 

 

 

7:27 Still at 4cm. The baby is waking up. 

7:42 We are transferred to Room 134. 

7:50 I get prepared to receive an epidural. Our nurse is called Chantal. Sweet lady. She said she will be with us until her shift is over at 3:30pm and that most likely, she'll be able to greet our baby into the world by that time. 

8:05 I receive the epidural.

Oh. My. Goodness.
 

What a relief.
 

Everything from my stomach down to my feet became numb. I could still move my legs and somewhat sense them, but I couldn't feel the pain anymore. It was amazing. 

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ASKING MY FIANCÉ TO DO RIDICULOUS THINGS, LIKE BRAIDING MY HAIR

july 8th 2019

9:30 Oli posts a photo on Instagram to fool everyone that we're not giving birth. 😂 Meanwhile, I'm just casually replying to some messages concerning our upcoming wedding.
 

10:10 I wake up from a nap and feel wetness down there. Oli is also asleep by my side. I wake him up and he calls the nurse. Turns out my cervix has dilated to 9cm. 😱😱😱 My water didn't break yet. 

11:05 My cervix is completely dilated at 10cm. The membrane is still not ruptured. We are waiting for the doctor who is busy with a C-section surgery. 
 

12:15 My water finally breaks, but there's only a little bit of liquid. The nurse says I could technically deliver now, but she prefers waiting for the doctor. 
 

13:50 My contractions are not as strong as before. I receive Pitocin: a boost of oxytocin. Oxytocin is a hormone that helps increase contractions.

14:00 Chantal tells Oli to hold my left leg up while another nurse held up the other. We start pushing. 

It's not easy pushing when you don't feel anything down there. Because of the epidural, I didn't even have control with peeing (I had a urinary catheter to help empty out my bladder). Now imagine pooping, and someone telling you that they can see the tip of your poop coming out, so you have to keep pushing, but you don't feel sh*t (haha).
 

"We can see the head!" the nurses would say. "Very good Melanie, keep pushing!"
 

I felt nothing, but I kept pushing. At the end of each contraction, we had a small break to recuperate. This continued on for an hour. The whole time, I felt like we were making no progress, but each time I pushed, the baby's head was becoming more and more visible.

 

The nurses were amazing! Their words of encouragement were my only indication that I was doing this right. During one of the resting times, I turned to Oli and said: "Um... can you please... say something... and not just stand there in silence... please?"
 

"but... I don't know what to say..." he replied. "What do you want me to say?"

 

ANYTHING! SAY ANYTHING, HONEY! YOU MIGHT AS WELL NOT BE HERE IF YOU'RE GONNA STAY QUIET THE WHOLE TIME!

 

"Just... say something... anything," I answered.
 

Hahaha! The poor guy! 😂 I was telling him to shut up earlier on, and now I wanted him to speak up... 😂 But come on... It was almost like he wasn't even there! He was just spectating, and that was bothering me.
 

"Is it gross down there?" I asked him. "You don't have to look if you don't want to."
 

"No, I don't find it gross," he replied. "Don't worry, I find it fascinating. I'm not bothered by it at all."
 

The nurse offered me to see for myself with a mirror. I politely declined. I was so afraid to faint from looking! She then asked me if I wanted to place my hands down there and touch the baby's hair. Nope. Not interested. Thinking back, I probably should have said yes to both, because visually seeing it happen and touching the baby could have probably helped a lot with the pushing. Oh well. Next pregnancy, perhaps!

 

FINALLY MEETING JEREMY
 

At 3:17pm, the baby was out! He made no noise due to the fluid that was still in his mouth, but after they cleared that up, he took his first breath of air and he finally unleashed his first cries.
 

The room faded at that moment.

 

(I don't want to sound cliché, but this encounter was very cinematic...)

 

Everything around me blurred out. I didn't even hear what the doctor was saying to the nurses. I couldn't even sense Oli's presence by my side anymore. The baby was plopped onto my belly and, I swear, the whole world disappeared.

 

All I could see, hear, and feel, was him. He was a little slimy, but they were cleaning him up. Still, I could not even recall who was wiping him. My eyes were wide open, glued onto him. He was crying, wiggling around and seeking for my warmth.
 

I was suddenly so overwhelmed with this immense, foreign feeling. I was drowning in this feeling that was so powerful, it was pooling in and rushing in at full speed. It was like a million different emotions merging into one big ball that was spreading and taking over my whole body and mind. 

 

I started crying because I felt like I could no longer physically contain all these mixed emotions. 

 

This was all happening in a matter of 3 seconds, maybe. But to me, from the moment I first laid my eyes on the baby, it felt like an encounter that was happening in slow-motion.
 

I carefully grabbed him, my baby, this tiny little human being that was inside of me for over 40 weeks, and we cried together. 

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FIRST SKIN-TO-SKIN WITH DADDY (OLI CRIED THE WHOLE TIME HOLDING HIM)

july 8th 2019

Before announcing the news to our parents, we decided to spend the next two hours bonding as a family. It felt so precious and amazing to just live in the moment, just the three of us, absorbing every little detail of our baby. He had long lashes, big round eyes, cute little cheeks, the softest skin... We were already obsessed with him!

 

Our top favorite baby boy names were picked out already, but we decided to wait until we finally met him in person to make our final choice.

"Let's say a name on three," I told Oli.

"Ok," he answered.

One, two, three...

"Jeremy," we said in unison.

THE STORM AHEAD
 

We were discharged from the hospital on the third day. It was such an exciting afternoon for us! We buckled up baby Jeremy into the car seat and went straight home. 

 

The following evening, things took a turn for the worse...

 

Jeremy was only four days old when we noticed that his skin was very hot to the touch. His small lips were also slightly chapped. So we took his rectal temperature: 38.3 degrees Celcius.

 

We were told to go to The Children's Hospital immediately. 

 

Still exhausted from the lack of sleep, we arrived at the ER and got seen by a doctor fairly quickly. He told us that fevers in newborns must not be taken lightly because the fatality rate is extremely high if he was fighting off an illness or a viral infection. The doctor also noticed that Jeremy had jaundice, which was normal in newborns, but most likely not the cause of his fever.
 

We were placed in an observation room as they prepared Jeremy for blood tests, urine tests, an x-ray, a lumbar puncture, and an IV to receive fluids and antibiotics. We were very overwhelmed, but this was a mandatory procedure for all infants under three months of age with a fever over 38 degrees.
 

At this point, it was getting late. I told Oli to go home and come back tomorrow morning so that at least one of us could be well-rested. He didn't want to leave at first, but after some convincing, he finally took an Uber home. I stayed behind, still sore from giving birth just three days ago... and the nightmare began.
 

The nurses had to poke three veins to finally get an IV in. The sight of him thrashing around and crying out of pain crushed my heart. I was holding back tears, but they still came pouring straight out. His little arms were bruised from all the failed IV insertion attempts and he was whimpering, exhausted from all the struggling. 

Next, they inserted a catheter into his penis, and of course, Jeremy started crying once again because they had to apply a cold product all over his testicles. Result: there was no urine to extract. They did this two more times until they finally got a urine sample. 

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jeremy at the emergency with his first iv inserted

july 11th 2019

For the x-ray, I had to go to another section of the hospital. I could barely walk from my own pain... but that didn't even matter anymore. As long as I could still feel my two legs, the pain was worth it, just as long as my baby could get well again.

 

I was so tired that I had an out-of-body experience: I was watching myself slowly making my way down the empty hallways, the baby cradled tightly to my chest. I was crying silently, tears streaming down my face continuously. I felt like I was watching myself in a very depressing movie.

 

We all know x-rays are easy to take; just stay still and an image is taken. Well, that's not the case with babies. Because they move so much, babies have to be strapped down on a piece of board, from head to toe. Of course, he started crying again and all I was allowed to do was watch from afar through a small glass window. 
 

Finally, the lumbar puncture. A small needle had to be inserted into the spinal canal in order to collect cerebrospinal fluid. Just as the resident was about to begin, Jeremy's heart rate dropped to 73, which was an acceptable heart rate for adults, but way too low for a newborn. She walked out for a brief minute and came back to tell me we were moving to another room.

We switched to a bigger observation room and a swarm of doctors, residents, and nurses came rushing in. I sat down on a chair in the corner of the room and watched the scene unfold. Jeremy was being hooked to more machines and an IV drip. They ran more tests for his heart and by now, the boss lady doctor was here. 
 

More blood had to be drawn, but it refused to come out of the IV, so they had to poke him again with a new one. If you've ever had a blood test, you would know that an elastic band is tied around the arm in order to find a nice vein. Well, baby veins are the size of a hair, so it was not an easy task to get the IV to remain in place. Jeremy's arm was so red from being tightened over and over again, I wanted nothing more than to push everyone aside, grab him and run away.

 

DESPAIR
 

I stayed up all night at the ER... Zero sleep. Not even a blink. 

 

I asked the doctor if the baby's dad should be here. He answered: "I never know how to answer questions like that." Ok. Not the answer I wanted to hear. I started panicking. I texted Oli: "I don't know if Jeremy will make it tonight." It was probably not the best text message to wake up to, but at that time, I really thought Jeremy was going to die. I was sleep-deprived and high on emotions. Sitting there, not being able to comfort your own crying baby... I felt completely helpless. I felt like I failed him. I felt useless, incompetent and most of all, unworthy to be his mom. I felt like I brought him to this world only to have him suffer. 
 

It was 6am when Jeremy's jaundice was treated with phototherapy. In order to do this, we switched to a special type of bed that emitted heat and UV rays. I was then told that the baby had to be given more medicine to combat potential viruses, and a CT scan was ordered to make sure there was no infection in the brain. 
 

Eventually, we were moved to the PICU (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit). At the PICU, babies and children were monitored 24/7 and considered to be in critical condition.

 

Oli arrived just in time to see Jeremy off to his CT scan. 

"I hopped into an Uber as soon as I saw your text message," he said to me.

"I'm so scared Oli," I sniffled out. "What if something's wrong with his brain? His heart rate isn't normal either..."

"I'm scared too," he admitted. "I've never been this scared my entire life."

 

Waiting for the CT scan was possibly one of the worst moments of our lives. After all the tests I witnessed from midnight till morning, this was a big one to wait through. It was like giving him 100 to 200 x-rays. When you think about it, pregnant women aren't even allowed to have an x-ray! 

 

Oli held me tightly and I crashed my head into the nook of his neck as I just let myself cry it all out.

 

"Why are they giving him a CT scan?" asked Oli.

 

"His heart rate dropped too low so they didn't do the lumbar puncture," I replied. "The doctor told me that infections can spread all over a newborn's body, including the brain. They're taking all these extra steps to make sure his life isn't in danger."

THREE MORE GRUESOME NIGHTS
 

The PICU was an upgrade from the ER. While we waited for the test results to come in, I was finally able to lie down on a reclinable chair and get some rest. Two hours of sleep was all I needed until Jeremy would wake up crying out of hunger. As for ourselves, we were extremely lucky to have family and friends coming in to bring us food.

 

The lumbar puncture was finally administered. A neurosurgeon came to tell us that an MRI was also ordered because the CT scan showed tiny swelling of the brain... We totally freaked out upon hearing this news.

At this point, Jeremy's heart rate was always stable and his fever never came back. Unfortunately, later in the evening, they lost the IV again. His arms had no more good veins to poke in, so they had to try in the legs. Meanwhile, it was decided that Jeremy was no longer in critical condition, so we were moved to the ACU (Advanced Care Unit). We had our own private bathroom, shower, and TV.

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room 29 of the ACU (advanced care unit)

july 12th 2019

The nurses of the ACU struggled to put a new IV in. Jeremy absolutely hated being poked. He was crying very loudly and after everything he's been through, we were also tired of watching him being poked by needles. Eventually, two nurses from the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) came to the rescue. The NICU deals with premature babies all the time, so they were good at this. They successfully inserted two IVs (the extra one was for backup). Thank you NICU nurses! 

The next day, we were transferred to the General Pediatrics Unit. This was good. Every day, we were getting closer and closer to the exit door! The neurosurgeon came back to tell us that there was nothing alarming from the MRI and that the brain effusion was so minor, it was a common finding in babies due to something called head trauma during vaginal delivery. What a relief! Furthermore, the preliminary blood results came in and looked good, but we still had to wait for the final diagnostic.

 

You will probably think I'm starting to repeat myself at this point, but once again, we lost both IVs that were inserted the night before. The nurse explained to us that no matter how much protection they put around the IV, newborns have delicate veins that are extremely thin and fragile, making it easy for the IV to accidentally slip out. Send in the NICU nurses, please!

 

Truth be told, my instincts were telling me that Jeremy was perfectly fine. He was probably being medicated for no reason.

"I can't believe we lost both IVs," said Oli.

 

"Whatever," I nonchalantly said. "No IVs plugged in means no useless antibiotics pumped into him right now."

The search for a new vein began. Nurses and even doctors came to try. Each time a new person came in, we would both sternly tell them that someone attempted earlier on and failed. Our words meant nothing to them; they seemed determined to succeed. With each vein busting, a new person would come in and try.

Jeremy's cries were heart-wrenching for us to listen to. We were starting to distinguish his hungry cries from his diaper cries. But these cries... these cries were different. They were shrill and agonizing to listen to.

"He has no more poke-able veins!" Oli would worry out loud to me. "What if he really did have an infection? We wouldn't be able to give him the medication he actually needs! They should stop trying and just ask the NICU nurses to come again!"

Oli suddenly stood up. With tears in his eyes, he said to me: "I cannot handle this anymore," and left the room. I felt the urge to get up and go comfort him, but I didn't want to leave Jeremy. 

 

After a while, Oli came back and said to me: "I'm sorry I left." The look on his face was that of despair. It seemed like he was going through the same feelings that I went through on the first night at the ER.

"It's ok, don't be sorry, I know exactly how you feel," I answered him. "You're a dad now, you're hurting when your child is hurting."

"How are you not even phased by this?" he asked.

"I'm very upset," I replied. "I just don't let it get to me anymore. I try to focus on the future, and I'm hopeful. I tell myself that all this is just temporary."

"Wow," he said with a sad smile. "When you were a mess, I was all calm and composed. Now I'm the one who's a mess, and you're the one keeping it together."

I smiled back. "One of us always has to stay strong for the other," I said. "Imagine if we were both sobbing like little losers... Next time, it's my turn to cry!"

"You're right," he agreed. "I love him so much..."

"Me too..." I said.

 

At this point, the nurses and doctors left. The room grew quiet and only the slow and steady beeping of the monitor could be heard.

 

I grabbed Oli's hand and murmured: "You know what my mom used to say to me? She would say that I was a piece of flesh that was cut from her body. When I would hurt, she would hurt. I never really understood that metaphor until now."

"My mom said the same thing," he answered.

"Look at us now... we signed up for this!" I jokingly said.

"I knew parenthood was hard, but not THIS hard," he said with a grin.

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bottle-feeding jeremy with expressed breastmilk

july 13th 2019

Finally, people from the Department of Anesthesia arrived. The team was composed of four doctors, a resident, and a nurse. It took two pairs of hands to hold Jeremy down because he was so strong, he was kicking and throwing punches like a real little fighter. After an hour or so, they finally, FINALLY succeeded. How many IVs have we gone through now? Five? How many attempts? At least a dozen... I lost count.

I DARED TO ASK

The following day, a pediatrician evaluated Jeremy. "I'll be honest with you," he said. "I think what we have here is a normal, healthy baby boy. My guess is that he was overly bundled up at home and dehydrated from being overheated."

"What about his low heart rate?" asked Oli.

"We've only observed his heart rate drop when he's in deep sleep, and it does so in a progressive manner," explained the doctor. "I would be worried if it was a sudden drop, and if it remained in the 70s, which is not the case here. We will have him off all antibiotics once the final results come out later tonight."

I was tired of waiting for results. So I dared to ask: "Doctor, can we please just stop all medication and fluid intake... now?"

He looked at me and hesitated for a millisecond before answering: "Ok."

Small pause.

"Ok, yes," he resumed while nodding. "Yes, we'll take everything off now."

Oh my goodness. Yesss. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Oli and I looked at each other and smiled. "We're going home soon," he said.

OUT OF THE WOODS

The next day, on July 15th, Jeremy was finally discharged from the hospital. He was officially 7 days old. During this first week of life, he only spent 32 hours at home. It was an enormous relief to finally be able to go home.

 

I think one of the worst parts of this whole experience was not knowing what was going to happen. Waiting made us even more restless and on top of the little sleep we were having, we were also emotionally drained. 

 

The biggest difficulty was protecting that final IV that was inserted in his foot. We had to do all the things that new parents had to do, but with an added challenge. If this was a videogame, we gained valuable experience points and leveled up insanely fast. I am now a master at breastfeeding and Oli is proud to hold the record of 10 seconds at diaper changing!
 

Although all of this could have been avoided, it was better to be safe than sorry. We came out of the hospital extremely grateful that he's a healthy baby boy, with no further complications. It could have been worse, so we knew we were in no position to victimize ourselves. This journey was like an intense parenthood bootcamp...😅

Thank you to all the nurses and doctors who took care of Jeremy. 

Thank you to all our friends and family who took care of us.

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