It’s official…as of 9:45am this morning Isabella Grace is 1 week old. To us, its crazy. Not so much that she’s a week old, but more that we are parents for a week now. So far it’s been all everyone says it would be and probably more. It has been fun, crazy, scary, loving, tiring, inspiring, incredible, and so many other words that I can’t even think of right now.
Once again, before we get into our experiences so far, we have a few thank you’s to share. To both of our sets of parents, they’ve been extremely supportive and helpful through the first week. To my siblings and our friends, thank you so much for your support and caring. We know Isabella is loved beyond words. To the staff of PSU Hershey Medical Center, from the doctors, the nurses, our amazing speech therapist Lori, and everyone else, a heartfelt thank you. We had such an amazing experience even with some testing situations along the way. And finally, to Megan. Thank you again for coming out and taking photos of our journey. Every photo you see in this post, (and likely others to come after it) are courtesy of the amazing Megan Huppman. Check out all of the pics HERE.
So now for the 1-week recap…
Above you’ll see the final photo of Erin pre-baby. Obviously still looking amazing and barely showing that tummy off at all. Shortly after this she got her IV and then walked to the delivery room. They continued to prep Erin for the c-section as I stood and paced in my jumpsuit. That may have been the longest 33 minutes of my life.
Finally the nurse came and got me to make that same walk that Erin just made to the delivery room. I walked in and saw all of the people that would be participating in the procedure. And as soon as I was safely behind the curtain they began.
Things progressed but did take some time and I could tell that Isabella wasn’t going to come out without a fight. We later found out that she was transverse with her head to Erin’s left side, and her back facing outward. As the doctor said, “One of the hardest positions to deliver.” Of course she was. Why would we ever expect anything different?
About 11-12 minutes after they started I was told that if I wanted to stand up and look that it would be the time to do it. I did and while what was happening at first wasn’t exactly what I expected, a short time later I saw something that I’ll never be able to unsee. My beautiful daughter for the very first time. There she was. In living color, sound, and everything. It was intense to say the least. I looked down at Erin and said, “She’s here” and then immediately sat down. Not because of blood or anything surgical…but because when all you have is a small rolling stool to sit on and that emotional of a moment happens…you don’t want to miss when you do sit down. Not to mention…knives.
We immediately heard the cry. It was small. Almost a coo, but within a few seconds and with the assistance of the amazing nurses who suctioned all of the fluid out of her mouth she was crying like the best of them. I walked over and saw her up close for the first time and quickly took a photo on my phone so that Erin could see our daughter’s face.
That was intense too. Showing Erin her daughter while she’s still in the middle of a MAJOR surgery. But it didn’t matter. The curtain separated us from them. That other room was so far away. We had our little family space and soon Isabella would be ready to join us there…after being cleaned up and measured of course.
7lbs 8oz, and 19 inches long. That’s crazy for 37 weeks and from a girl who just about anyone who didn’t know her would have probably thought her due date was in July or later. But that was our girl.
Just before Erin’s procedure was finished Isabella and I made our way down the hall and back to Erin’s room. It was sort of surreal. I just walked out of the delivery room with my baby in a bassinet and that was that. NICU and the Pediatric teams all cleared her almost immediately. After a LONG procedure and additional fibroids needing to come out just to close her up Erin joined us in the room. Now Erin got to truly hold our baby for the first time.
Later in the day our parents all came in and met Isabella for the first time. We had several visitors throughout our time at the hospital and it truly showed just how loved Isabella is not only by us but by many.
Things got a little interesting later in the evening after everyone headed home. We were told that with a “normal” delivery much of the amnionic fluid is pushed out of the baby due to the birth canal. But with the c-section that doesn’t happen. Isabella, while in my arms, spit up some of that fluid and began to choke on it a bit and held her breath. The nurses immediately swooped in and helped remedy the situation. While extremely scary for a guy who’s been a “dad” for about 12 hours, the nurses said it was something they’ve seen before. We decided to send her to the newborn nursery that evening just because we knew that neither of us would sleep.
Apparently overnight she did it again and the NICU and Pediatric teams got together and decided that even though her oxygen levels dropped for only an instant both times and they couldn’t replicate what had happened that she would be heading to the NICU for observation.
Just seconds before we found out that Isabella was going to be heading upstairs for the NICU observation Erin was going to need two units of blood due to her levels. Luckily we were able to go with Isabella to the NICU so that we at least knew where she was exactly and then headed back to Erin’s room for blood and lunch. Well just lunch for me.
After a solid day in the NICU, Isabella was moved to the Continuing Care Unit (think, NICU light) for continued observation but she was looking good. Feeding her with a bottle was still a task, but we were getting there. By Saturday evening, Isabella was literally “kicked out” of the CCU because they needed the bed and she was stable and looking good. We were overjoyed. Isabella was back with us, and Erin was making the progress that she needed to get discharged as well. Easter Sunday was going to be our release from the hospital.
Megan came Sunday morning and took a ton of photos. If you haven’t already, please click that link above and check them all out. I don’t think we could have asked for more amazing photos of our journey. Our daughter was coming home.
We got in the car and started home. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more pressure while driving. We got home and were on our way as a cute little family.
Sunday was good, Isabella ate, and the dogs welcomed her home. Honestly, it was like they knew she was coming and were super happy to finally meet her. It was awesome to see. Chase still whines whenever Isabella cries. It’s like he’s trying to sooth her. (It doesn’t work.)
Since Sunday, we’ve had two doctor appointments, mostly just weight checks. No concerns, just trying to get her to totally rebound on weight and start packing the pounds back on. Feeding with a cleft lip/palate baby is tough. For now, it will only be Erin and I feeding her since there is such a learning curve not only for the person who has to hold the bottle, but also for Isabella to learn how that new person will be holding and aiming the bottle. It’s not like a typical baby. You can’t just hold them and keep the bottle in their mouth and have a conversation with someone else. You can’t watch TV. It’s a full time 100% concentration event. For any other cleft palate/lip parents…stick with it. It’s HARD. REALLY HARD. You’ll get there.
But to wrap up this whole crazy thing…She’s a week old. She’s been here for a week! Thanks again to everyone who has helped us in week 1. Here’s to a million more weeks!!!!