By: Jennifer Murray

Hudson Bradley’s Birth Story: Part 7 (Final)

If you’re still around for this FINALE of Hudson’s Birth Story, I wish I had a medal for you, or at least a HUG! I’m seriously sooooo grateful you could celebrate Hudson’s recovery with us and how God healed his little lungs. We are beyond grateful that God chose to spare his life and these past two months we’ve been given to love on him. I can’t wait to finally wrap up this series on his birth so I can share more about our life with 5 boys! 

If you are still catching up, I don’t blame you. Here you go! 

Hudson Bradley’s Birth Story: Part 1

Hudson Bradley’s Birth Story: Part 2

Hudson Bradley’s Birth Story: Part 3

Hudson Bradley’s Birth Story: Part 4

Hudson Bradley’s Birth Story: Part 5

Hudson Bradley’s Birth Story: Part 6

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After celebrating Hudson’s major accomplishments on Tuesday of first bottle, open crib, and getting to visit his brothers, Wednesday felt like a hurry up and wait day. We knew Hudson was starting to flirt with the “H-O-M-E” word, that you don’t dare say out loud in the NICU for fear of setbacks. He went back on phototherapy for his jaundice, but this time was able to wear a blanket version, so we could continue to care for him and hold him.

Our little dude was figuring out the whole eating thing like a champ. Although he didn’t have nursing down just yet, he loved his bottles, finishing 7/8 feedings completely.

Can’t you visibly see the change in him through these pictures? We were loving this newborn look!

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With his vent and chest tube removed, we were able to be much more hands on parents, which was so nice, even though it made it harder to leave him when we had to return home.

Wednesday was our last day to have our favorite nurse, Erin, who I’ve gushed on already in these posts. It was an ugly cry goodbye for me, because I felt like she had truly fought for and loved on my son in such a personal way. {And yes, I’m still tearing up just writing this!}

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On Thursday Hudson got his face back! For the first time in over a week we were able to see his face without a feeding tube or a nasal cannula. And what a precious face to behold! 

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Things started moving on his “escape plan” and conversations started taking place between us and our team of neonatologists. Our neonatologist on duty was kind, conservative and cautious. He wanted us to be prepared for possible setbacks. However, we felt strongly that he was almost ready and were anxious to get him out of the NICU. As much as we loved the people there, we wanted him HOME so badly, and were tired of the back and forth tango. This also wasn’t our first NICU rodeo, so we knew he was never truly “safe” from infections this environment. We also felt prepared transitioning from NICU to home, having already survived it x4. We had our first successful nursing experience, which was a huge confidence builder for bring him home as well.

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Friday, you could feel the anxiousness in the car ride up to the hospital. Brad and I had had several conversations about when/if we would push for dismissal. At this point Hudson’s oxygen levels were perfect, and his lungs were no longer showing any signs of distress. He nursed all of his feedings when I was present like a pro, which typically doesn’t happen so easily when they are transitioning from a bottle. The only thing we were waiting on was his weight gain to be headed up – he had lost almost a pound with not being able to be fed the first few days, decreased feeds, plus the normal newborn fluid shed. All other indications were that he was ready to come home to us. I packed his going home outfit in the diaper bag to have ready for him when the time came.

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When our neonatologist, Dr. Jansen (who we had also had with our quadruplets) made his rounds for the morning, he stated that Hudson was on track for a Saturday dismissal as planned in his notes. Brad calmly asked him, “Any chance we could talk you into today?” Instead of a pushback, he quickly and confidently responded, “We could do that”.

We were ecstatic, relieved, and a little shocked. Things moved so quickly from there – paperwork, calling the boys to let them know (one of the best moments ever!), texting/calling family and friends, hugging fellow NICU parents who graciously came by to celebrate with us, calling our pediatrician to make follow up appointments, packing up things from his bedside, making trips back and forth to the van, grabbing a final lunch out, cleaning the van, etc. It was the happiest rush!

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After one last hospital feed, saying goodbyes, and signing some final paperwork, Hudson was ours for the taking. Our 11 day unexpected NICU journey was coming to a happy ending. We made one last walk out the locked down NICU doors, down the long hallway, into the elevator, and then out into the sunshine of that first day of July.

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Our hearts were grateful that God had given us this moment, knowing that there were no guarantees for a homecoming just a week prior.

After we had a little time to get adjusted, our friend Amy dropped off our boys. They came in running and could not wait to hold him.

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My four boys holding their little baby brother – I didn’t think my heart could handle it without bursting. 

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And that, My Friends, is Hudson Bradley’s birth story – from early labor, to uncertain NICU days, to home and healthy. Only God knows the number of his days, but we are so thankful He walked with us through his challenging first 11. He held Hudson when we couldn’t, and continues to shine His faithfulness through these past 12 weeks.

We are so thankful for these 5 miracle boys and the joy they bring to our lives! We are all adjusting extremely well. Thank you for continuing to allow us record our journey here. You’ve been incredibly kind to us over the years and we are looking forward to sharing this new chapter!

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Photo by: Rachel Vanoven 
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By: Jennifer Murray

Hudson Bradley’s Birth Story: Part 6

I promised you the good part – it’s here! If you have any catching up to do on the first few days of Hudson’s life you can do so here:

Hudson Bradley’s Birth Story: Part 1

Hudson Bradley’s Birth Story: Part 2

Hudson Bradley’s Birth Story: Part 3

Hudson Bradley’s Birth Story: Part 4

Hudson Bradley’s Birth Story: Part 5

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Sunday was my discharge day. Physically I felt ready to go, but emotionally it’s so hard to be separated from a little baby you expected to take home with you. I was ready to be home with the boys and to be back in my own bed, but I certainly felt torn.

However, we were able to spend the whole day at Hudson’s bedside before we headed back home. We arrived downstairs just in time to watch him be extubated, which was both exciting and nerve-wracking.  Would he be strong enough to breathe on his own? What support would he need to keep his O2 levels up? Would he regress and have to go back on the vent?

We watched and waited for a good hour or so before WE started exhaling sighs of relief. Hudson was doing well on a nasal cannula for a little extra support for his lungs. It was SO GOOD to see his face! In so many ways, we felt like we were meeting him for the first time. He looked so much more like a newborn, instead of a very sick preemie.

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The hours went by so quickly that Sunday morning into Sunday afternoon as we studied our beautiful baby boy, and allowed him to rest from his big day.

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Even hearing his first pitiful hoarse cry was beautiful. We were falling hard for this little man, and it was such a relief to just take him in as a whole, instead of seeing him as a critical patient.

I was so thankful to finally get a snuggle in after not being able to hold him for several long days. It made going home a tad easier on my heart. We headed home to our boys with high hopes that he WOULD be coming home, something we weren’t even able to speak out loud the days before…

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Monday began the hard days of splitting our time at home with our 4 boys who needed some normalcy and routine, and driving up to the NICU to be with our 5 day old baby. We knew these days would be numbered and we were thankful we were looking at weeks or less instead of months, like several friends we had met during our stay. We were blessed with families willing to help take on our boys during these summer days, and make it fun for them while we were at the hospital. Most nights Brad returned after dinner for the late night while I rested and spent time with the boys.

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Our NICU had webcams we could log on and take a peak at Hudson while we were away. This helped in so many ways to ease some of our fears, to help the boys bond, and to help me while I pumped at home.

By Monday afternoon, Hudson was able to have his chest tube removed, which was another big deal milestone for his recovery. Although his respiration rate remained too high, his little lungs were healing rapidly, and we were so grateful to God for strengthening him literally before our eyes.

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Some additional major checklist items happened on Tuesday. Hudson was moved to an open crib since he was maintaining his body temperature on his own. He also got to down his first bottle of my milk. The neonatologist prepared us for him to only be able to have the stamina for about 1/3 of the bottle, but Hudson chugged the entire thing!

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We were also able to put him in his first real clothes – a “Little Brother” sleeper I bought shortly after we found we were having a boy.

AND the most exciting part – The boys were able to come in the NICU to see their baby brother.

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As you can see in the picture from the nurses, it was quite the scene! And it didn’t hit me until later what a full-circle experience it was, to have these 4 boys in the NICU where they spent the first weeks of their lives, visiting their new brother. *goosebumps*

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For the first time in 6 days, we were all together again – all five of our boys. We couldn’t help but be full of anticipation for the day we could all go home together…

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By: Jennifer Murray

Hudson Bradley’s Birth Story: Part 5

Thanks so much for your patience as I write out Hudson’s journey. I didn’t intend for it to stretch out this long, and I apologize if it’s too wordy. I’m recording it for our memory in addition to sharing God’s tremendous work in his life with you all.  

We’re getting to the good part, PROMISE. Hang in there…

However, Day 3 of Hudson’s life started with another major setback. Hudson developed a second pneumothorax on the opposite side, and this time it required a chest tube to be surgically placed to constantly relieve the air build up. It was another hard blow to take, but our neonatologist on duty was so calm and reassuring that it helped our hearts tremendously to endure another large bump in the road.

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Understandably, the heaviness of Hudson’s condition combined with my postpartum hormones started taking a tole on my emotions that morning. Both the cleaning lady and the social worker made me cry with their encouraging words. Brad went into the bathroom and I was fine, and when he came out the housekeeper was bear hugging me while I sobbed, which gave us a good laugh later.

Nevertheless, we were in much better spirits that Friday morning. Sleep was a good reset, we were so encouraged by those praying, and we felt so assured by the care we were receiving.

As the day continued, Hudson’s oxygen requirements were higher than we were hoping after the chest tube placement, but our nurse reminded us that with his ventilator they had more room to increase support. He also needed to go under the phototherapy lights for his bilirubin levels, but that was one of the least of our worries.

Our prayers for the rest of Friday were for a stable day and no new lung tears or scares, which the Lord so graciously provided.

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Day 4 became a turning point for Hudson, as so often the 72 hour mark is for NICU babies. We arrived at Hudson’s bedside with this note on Hudson’s sweet little bum, written by one of the BEST nurses in the world, Erin.

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I still tear up when I think about how she loved and cared for little Hud so well. It’s so reassuring when you strike gold with a nurse who is there for them in a way you can’t be. We could tell it was personal for her, and she became one of Hudson’s greatest advocates. So incredibly grateful for her care for all of us and friendship along the way.

It was a GREAT day indeed. Instead of having something else go wrong, things began to finally stabilize and even improve.

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By lunch time, Hudson was able to receive a gavage feed via the tube in his nose. It felt so good to be providing some “mama milk medicine” for my little one, when I couldn’t do much else for him.

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I look back now at video from this day and see how sick he still was with the vent, chest tube, and watching how still his body was, but in the moment there was a visible shift of improvement.

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I remember going back to my room to pump and hearing Brad’s laugh for the first time in days. We were getting through this one day at a time.

Things continued to be steady into the evening and which had several highlights:

  1. We got to see our precious boy’s eyes both open for the first time.
  2. My recovery was going remarkably well. Having a baby in the NICU pushes your limits physically and leaves little time for rest, but my body responded incredibly well.
  3. We got a great visit in with our four first borns.

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It had been hard on them to be away from us when things were so unexpected and uncertain, and it was just good for all of us to be together. We were thankful that things were lighter than their previous visit two nights before, and it was so good to see them being more themselves.

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We continued to guard our hearts, knowing that things can change and deteriorate rapidly in the NICU, but things were finally looking up for our little Hudson…

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Read the previous Birth Story posts:

Hudson Bradley’s Birth Story: Part 1

Hudson Bradley’s Birth Story: Part 2

Hudson Bradley’s Birth Story: Part 3

Hudson Bradley’s Birth Story: Part 4

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