(You can catch up on G‘s story right here: A Third Baby, Fighting Panic, Connecticut to Oklahoma, You’ve Got the Job, The Birth Story, 95 Degrees, She struggles to breathe, I struggle to walk., The Liquid Diet)
I was SO excited that my precious newborn daughter was going to be able to room-in with me. It was really hard to spend the first night after her birth apart from her and I was ready to make up for lost time! I wasn’t the least bit concerned about having to wake up frequently to nurse her; that is what I wanted to be doing, more than anything.
My husband, again, ventured the 20 miles back to our house to tuck our older children in. I was alone in my hospital room when they brought me sweet little G. My arms had itched and ached to hold that precious little girl and I could feel my heart sigh a bit when they laid her in my arms.
The nurse asked if I needed anything– I did not– and wished me a good evening.
G. woke up, tiny little rosebud mouth working busily. I was so, so happy to be able to nurse her, rather than rely on the pump once again. There’s nothing at all wrong with pumping, and I’m actually a huge advocate thereof, but the simple truth is that, at least for me, it’s way harder than breastfeeding.
Because of her early issues with having some fluid in her lungs, G. had a pulsox on her toe to measure her oxygen saturation. They wanted to ensure that, during nursing or sleep, especially, she didn’t “de-sat”– that her oxygen levels didn’t drop too low, often determined as less than 95% for healthy individuals.
Again– a pulsox? Was nothing to me. C. had been through so very, very much that there was little “oxygen-wise” with which I wasn’t already familiar. I could not have cared less about that little thing hooked to her toe. The monitors and what-not were of no concern to me. I was simply too enthralled with my beautiful little girl.
She latched on and all was well.
Until the alarm sounded. I glanced at the monitor and saw her O2 saturation reading in the 70′s. I broke her away to see her face and, well, she looked fine. So I continued feeding her.
The alarm sounded again.
This time, the nurse came in, obviously concerned. She, too, looked at G’s face and mannerisms and decided she could continue feeding. But, she cautioned me, any time the machine beeped, I would have to break her away. They couldn’t risk her not getting enough oxygen.
And so began a frustrating pattern. She’d latch on, eat, set off the alarm, I’d break the latch. Now, I understood that she needed oxygen. I also understood that she was getting furiously red-faced mad at the constantly interrupted feeding session. I was getting kind of mad, too. Quite frankly, I didn’t believe her oxygen saturation was getting anywhere near as low as the machine was indicating. But, well, I didn’t have much choice but to do what they told me. I was so afraid they’d take her away from me if I didn’t comply with their instructions. (Have I mentioned a half dozen times yet that I am a to-the-bone rule follower???)
At 8pm, my husband wasn’t back yet. There was a shift change among the nurses. My new nurse was a middle-aged brunette who immediately chided me about the “gender neutral” sleeper our little girly was wearing. “I’m going to find her some pink!” she insisted. That made me giggle, but it wasn’t really anywhere on my list of concerns.
This nurse could sense my tension and frustration and she asked me if I was okay. I explained what was going on and she stayed with me while I attempted to get G. latched on once again. Within a minute, she was de-satting and the monitor was going nuts. I could feel the tears spring to my eyes and I said, “Look, I don’t want to act like some kind of know-it-all, but I don’t believe she’s in the 70′s. She’s pink. Look at her lips.”
The nurse smiled. “You’re right,” she said. “I think she just kicks her feet because she’s happy when she’s eating. I also think you know a lot about baby’s breathing and what warning signs to look for. I’m taking the pulsox off. When you want to go to sleep, let me know. I’ll put it back on then, just for reassurance.”
And that was that. She dimmed the lights, left me with a happily nursing baby, and went out in search of little pink garments.
For the first time since I had arrived at that hospital, I was truly content.