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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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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