By: Jennifer Murray

Hudson Bradley’s Birth Story: Part 4

In case you need to catch up on Hudson’s ongoing Birth Story I’ve been chronicling here…

Hudson Bradley’s Birth Story: Part 1

Hudson Bradley’s Birth Story: Part 2

Hudson Bradley’s Birth Story: Part 3

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After attempting to get some sleep from Hudson’s much too eventful birth day (I was still too hyped from anesthesia meds to sleep), we headed up to the NICU to see our fifth born son. We chatted in the elevator about how we hoped he would graduate from the NICU and back into our room possibly that day, since we went to bed with his oxygen support being low and all signs showing he was improving.

We scrubbed up and Brad pushed my wheelchair to the middle area of the NICU where baby Hudson was stationed the night before. Immediately we noticed that there were several medical staff dressed in surgical attire surrounding the bedside. Our first thought was that they had moved Hudson. This happened with our boys in the NICU when they needed their spots for two more critical babies. Instead, we learned that it was our baby that they were hurriedly assessing, x-raying, and prepping. The neonatologist informed us that he hadn’t had a chance to come tell us due to his urgent need for intervention, Hudson had developed a pneumothorax.

We were in shock. We didn’t even know what a pneumothorax was, let alone know how serious it could be. Turns out, because of Hudson’s immature lungs his air sacs were more susceptible to rupture. If a baby is born with lung disease, some air sacs are open and others remain closed. Like a balloon being blown up, it is easier to put lots of air into an air sac that has been opened previously than it is to put a small amount of air into an air sac that has never been opened. Pneumothorax occurs when air is trapped inside the chest between the chest wall and the lung, due to the tear in the lung. {source}

We threw out about twenty questions in a row, but could sense the urgency surrounding his bedside. I don’t remember a lot of our questions we asked in those few moments, but I do remember us asking if this was life-threatening and hearing that yes, some babies do pass away from this condition, but many survive. We were asked to leave for the procedure which would attempt to release the air trapped in between his lungs and chest cavity.

We returned to my hospital room in disbelief. We prayed aloud, prayed silently, googled, and waited anxiously until the neonatologist entered our room letting us know that Hudson had tolerated the procedure and that a chest tube wasn’t needed at this time. He was able to draw out the air from his chest cavity with a catheter. However, the tear in his lungs would have to heal on its own in its own timing. They would be watching his lungs and Hudson’s condition very closely.

As we returned to the NICU later that morning, we found a different baby than we had left the night before. He was breathing rapidly and seemed uncomfortable. I was able to hold him skin to skin which often regulates breathing, but it was over an hour before he finally settled and calmed to sleep.

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Once he calmed and slept, we all crashed together for about an hour in our little pod area, Brad in a rocking chair, I in a recliner, and Hudson on my chest. As our nurse carefully returned Hudson to his bed, she let me know that we probably wouldn’t be able to hold him again until his condition improved. It took him too long to stabilize and his oxygen needs were increasing.

As we headed into the late afternoon, it became clear that C-Pap was not sufficient for Hudson’s lung issues. His blood gas levels weren’t looking good, and his breathing was even more labored. His respiratory rate was up to around 130-150 breaths per minute. It was so difficult to watch him struggle and fight, as his chest and abdomen rapidly rose and fell in uncoordinated rhythms.

My baby was very sick.

Thoughts and questions flooded our minds and conversations, one more constant being, “Would we be bring a baby home with us?” The Lord gives. The Lord takes.

We pleaded with God to GIVE.

We knew ventilation was the next intervention and as much as we didn’t want to have to see him intubated, we knew he desperately needed a break. The respiratory therapist and neonatologist allowed him a little more time for his levels to improve, but we all knew where it was headed.

I walked out of the NICU not able to hold back my distressed tears. I REALLY didn’t want to see my sweet new baby, who looked so big for his age, and perfect in every way on a ventilator, but I REALLY didn’t want to see him struggle this hard to survive. About an hour later, we learned through our neonatologist that Hudson was going to be intubated. She hugged me and teared up with me, but we all knew this was what was necessary. I felt a strange mixture of disappointment and relief.

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I could tell you many stories how God shown his faithfulness on us on Hudson’s second night of life. Although we struggled with fear, we didn’t feel alone. We were confident in Hudson’s care at St. Vincent’s NICU. We were assigned a doctor who specialized in his specific (and incredibly intuitive) vent. In addition, my c-section recovery was going remarkably well. I was able to walk the hallways and decided to not take any narcotics for pain. This helped my digestive system, my ability to walk and move around better, and allowed me to emotionally process what was happening better than being drugged. (For me personally, the side effects weren’t worth the pain relief.) 

My newborn son, on the other hand, had been given a concoction of drugs to help him tolerate the ventilator and to calm his body from fighting so hard. While it did seem to improve his respiration rate and agitation, his oxygen needs remained higher than expected, so he received a second dose of surfactant for his fighting lungs.

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This was my post on Facebook as we I settled back in my hospital room while Brad checked on Hudson one more time for the night:

Listening to babies cry in the rooms around me on the postpartum floor is so hard, when I would love a crying healthy baby in my own room, but reminded that I still have a living baby under the same roof tonight that God is holding in His hands. May his little struggling life bring Him glory!

The prayers, posts, texts, offers, are bringing us to many tears of gratitude for you all!

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My gratitude continues for these prayers that were prayed over Hudson by so many this day, and the days that followed…

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By: Jennifer Murray

Hudson Bradley’s Birth Story: Part 3

Catch up on Hudson’s Birth Story Here:

Hudson Bradley’s Birth Story: Part 1

Hudson Bradley’s Birth Story: Part 2

Sorry to keep you hanging – It’s been a little crazy adjusting to my new full-time job (nursing Hudson). He’s a champ, though and doing SO WELL! He turns 6 weeks on Wednesday and is already 10lbs!!!  Back to his Birth Day…

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So I was able to be wheeled back to my recovery room with Hudson in my arms. I cannot even begin to describe how good that felt, being able to be with him after birth. We transitioned to skin to skin right away, which was another thing I didn’t get to experience with the boys. Tears freely rolled down my face as I looked into his and felt his little body on mine.

He began making some grunting sounds instead of crying, that caused some alarm, but often breathing improves with skin to skin, so my nurse was willing to give him a little time to work it out. Since he was struggling with full breaths, we didn’t get to try nursing, but I was super content to just get to take him in and enjoy the moment.

The whole moment was surreal. We had a BABY! ONE Baby. 

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Brad was able to go get the boys who had just arrived and bring them back to my room to meet their baby brother. Their eyes were wide in amazement and their smiles couldn’t have been wider. My mama heart burst.

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About 10 minutes into having the boys back with us, things started to get more serious. The enthusiasm and excitement that had been present in the delivery room faded. Phone calls were being made to a neonatologist, respiratory therapist, and things started feeling rushed. Brad took the boys back to the waiting room, and they gave Hudson some oxygen as he laid on my chest.

The respiratory therapist assigned to Hudson was one of the same one we had with the boys. What a provision and comfort from God! It became clear that his breathing was becoming more concerning and his time in my arms was coming to a quick end.

The respiratory therapist looked at me with empathy and kindness and asked if I was okay as I handed him over to her care. As much as I hated to give him up, I was certain he would just need a little extra care for a few hours, as many 36 weekers need. Although I didn’t want him to spend any time away from us, I knew the continued care nursery would be close by and was thankful we wouldn’t be having a NICU experience this time.

They wheeled me to my regular room, and shortly after Brad went to check on Hudson’s transition. We learned then that the oxygen support the Continued Care Nursery could offer was not enough. He was in the NICU, and had actually stopped breathing twice on his way there.

It was a tough blow. We obviously felt anxious, not expecting him to struggle this much. On top of that we weren’t able to be with him for several hours while they tried to stabilize him.

It was hard to not have thoughts of “why”. Why was he struggling as a 36 weeker? Why did I go into spontaneous labor instead of make it to his scheduled c-section? Why did we have to do the NICU again? Why couldn’t this be a normal happy birth day?  Why was God putting us through another scary trial? 

They put him on C-Pap and gave him a dose of Surfactant to help his lungs inflate fully, which seemed to show immediate benefits. My first thought when I saw him on C-Pap, was, “This is no big deal. It’s just C-Pap. Thank goodness he’s not on a vent.”

By the evening his oxygen support on C-Pap was near room air, and we began believing our return to the NICU would just be for a quick visit. We were able to see our little guy again and introduce him to grandparents and aunts. Things were improving, and he was beginning to look like he just needed a little extra TLC to give his lungs a boost. We knew he was in great hands at the largest {and best} NICU in the state, St. Vincent Women’s.

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Our spirits were up as we considered it an unexpected set back. As much as we wanted Hudson in the room with us, we hadn’t slept since Monday night and it was now Wednesday night. We were emotionally and physically ready to get some rest with hopes that everything was looking up from here…

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By: Jennifer Murray

Hudson Bradley’s Birth Story: Part 2

As I said in Part 1 of Hudson’s Birth Story, it still feels a bit surreal to write this story even though we are starting the 4th week of Hudson’s little life. This week was supposed to be his due date, but God had other plans…

So the middle of the night drive to St.Vincent Women’s was very uncomfortable. I felt like I was constantly contracting and couldn’t feel when they ended or started, which made me think the contractions weren’t “real” and I was just experiencing a very irritable uterus.

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They sent me straight to triage and began some of the check-in process bedside. I was hooked up to the monitors as they tried to track my super active little guy. The resident came in to access me, and gave us the news that I was “already in active labor”. I was shocked because my pain level was not high, and I just didn’t expect going into spontaneous labor after making it 32 weeks (and measuring into the 50’s) with our quad pregnancy. However, as we looked at the monitor my contractions were in a very predictable pattern, sometimes as frequent as every 2 1/2 minutes!

They began IV fluids to try hydration as a means to try to slow the contractions and put off delivery. At around 5am my on-call doctor (My doctor happened to be on vacation out of the country) moved me to a labor and delivery room so that I could try and get some rest and hold me off until at least later that morning when there would be all hands on deck staff-wise.

Things seemed to calm down significantly once I was in my room. Have you ever tried to REST on a gurney? Impossible!  We had more space, quiet, and comfort. Brad was able to doze off for an hour or so, and my discomfort improved. By 6:30am my contractions had slowed to every 5 minutes, decreased in intensity, and there was even talk of going home.

At 8:45am two of the doctors on staff as well as 2 residents came in the door. I was expecting an either “let’s watch you until this afternoon” or “go home, take it easy, and come back if anything changes” message. Instead, Dr. Bivens, simply came in and said “9:30”. It took us both a few moments to realize he meant a c-section at 9:30 – in less than 45 minutes! He didn’t want to risk my uterus rupturing due to my transabdominal cerclage, and he felt strongly that my contractions were not going away. (He was right, they started right back in and increased intensity immediately after he made his rounds.)

Everything went into fast forward mode of surgery prep and calling/texting family (who had no idea we were even in the hospital). We really had no time to process it at all. There was no alone time between Brad and I to talk or emotionally prepare. (I’m sure many of you have felt similarly with an emergent c-section situation.)

I remember telling Brad that I just didn’t want to do it (have the surgery). I was dreading the anticipation of the preparation, the surgery itself, and the recovery to follow. I was scared about going early, even though we should have been in the clear at 36 weeks.

I remember walking down the OR hallway in our blue surgery attire, and stopping to pray with our God-send of a nurse before I went in to be prepped. Sadly, I don’t remember one word of Brad’s prayer, but I remember holding his hand, hugging and kissing him goodbye, and feeling peace that God was with us. I knew we were in incredible hands, and I resided to trusting God’s timing.

All of the doctors and nurses in my delivery room were phenomenal.  Everyone was in great spirits and full of encouragement. Brad was escorted in just as they started. I was so extremely thankful to be able to have him in the room with me.

Although Hudson had been head down at our last appointment, he had moved all over the place since then, and they had a little bit of difficulty getting him out. He was (and is) SUCH a mover! It was so good to hear his cry and know he was outside me.

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Brad went over to check him out and was able to hold him next to me. I could not contain my emotions.

Instant love. Relief. Joy. Healing. Intense Thankfulness.

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I got to look at him and take him in, unlike the boys’ delivery where they were rushed off to a resuscitation room. It was over 48 hours before I was able to meet them, due to my own health being so critical. So needless to say, I couldn’t have been happier to have him in the room with me, as they completed my surgery, and continued to look him over.

And when they had me all put back together, there was this moment.

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All 6 lbs and 15 ounces of him in my arms, where I wanted him to stay forever, but where he would be taken from shortly…

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