At 6:08 am on Monday, September 24, my son, Greyson Patrick Stockton was born. As you know, this has been a long and sometimes difficult journey. That journey finally came to an end a couple of weeks ago, but not before throwing a few more surprises at us.
After Kristina was admitted to the hospital, we knew that she was on a short fuse in terms of an early delivery. Kristina’s headaches had intensified and her protein levels were rising rapidly. Virtually every nurse who took care of Kristina told her that there was no way she would make it to October 1st, the scheduled induction date. So last Sunday, when I spoke to Kristina on the phone after church and could hear the pain in her voice from her headaches, I suspected that delivery would not be too far away.
When I arrived at the hospital, Kristina told me that her blood pressure had spiked and her nurse was talking to the doctor. A few minutes later, the nurse opened the door with a wheelchair and we knew that we were headed to labor and delivery. Once in the delivery room, the nurse started to hook Kristina up to monitors and give her medicine to prevent seizures, called Magnesium. The nurse warned Kristina that the medicine would make her feel like she had the flu. However, I don’t think either of us were prepared for just how terrible it would make Kristina feel.
In addition to the Magnesium, the nurse gave Kristina some medicine to help her body prepare for labor. This medicine started very early contractions, but unfortunately, the Magnesium caused severe nausea and intense pains throughout her body. For six hours, she vomited and found it impossible to cope with constant pain. We hardly got any sleep at all and labor was not progressing. Then, we got some troubling news. Greyson’s heart rate started dipping right after contractions.
The dips were not serious, but the nurse began to watch Greyson much more closely and was in regular contact with the doctor. Around 5:00 am, the doctor arrived and gave us a choice: either try to wait out labor a little bit longer, or to go ahead with a c-section. It honestly wasn’t much of a choice. Greyson had not handled even the minor, early contractions well and it was not likely that he would handle full on labor. At the same time, Kristina was feeling so terrible from the Magnesium that she just didn’t feel like she could handle protracted labor. So we headed to the operating room and just after 6am, our son was born.
I honestly cannot describe the moment when I stood up and looked over the drape to see the doctor holding Greyson. Kristina and I had gotten no sleep that night, but through the exhaustion, I was filled with pure joy and was so grateful that Greyson was here and healthy.
The next few minutes were filled with activity as nursed checked out Greyson and the doctor finished up Kristina’s surgery. Next we moved back to a labor and delivery room so that the nurses could keep an eye on Kristina while she continued to be given Magnesium. Shortly after getting back to our room, Greyson’s nurse came in to speak with us. Premature babies can have some challenges. For babies born around 36 weeks, like Greyson, the primary concerns are low temperature, low blood sugar, and jaundice. Premature babies can also have trouble feeding.
When Greyson’s nurse arrived, she checked his temperature and his blood sugar and both were low. Because he needed to be warmed, and because it can be difficult to feed a late preterm baby, the nurse took Greyson to the nursery to get his temperature up and to feed him. For the next several hours, Kristina and I tried to get some sleep while Greyson was in the newborn nursery. We received periodic updates letting us know that his temperature had risen, but that his blood sugar was still dropping too low in between feedings. The nurse told us that if his blood sugar came back low again, he would have to go to the NICU.
Fortunately, after telling us this, Greyson’s blood sugar stabilized! The nurse finally was able to bring him back into the room with us and we were excited to start spending time with him. Eventually, we were moved into a postpartum room, after Kristina finished the prescribed Magnesium. There, we started trying to get into a routine with feeding Greyson and sleeping. Unfortunately, Kristina began having some issues. Her blood pressure had remained high and the nurses were watching her closely to ensure that she was not losing too much blood. This meant that a nurse came into the room every hour or so that first night after Greyson was born, so once again, we got very little sleep.
To make matters worse, Greyson’s night nurse let us know that his bilirubin levels were higher than they would like and the pediatrician decided to put him under bili lights, which are special lights used to treat jaundice. This meant that for the next 24 hours we would not be able to hold Greyson or spend time with him except for visits to the nursery and 30 minutes every 3 hours when we were able to feed him.
This 24 hours was extremely difficult. Kristina was still recovering from surgery and with the limited amount of time, it was important that Greyson eat, so I ended up feeding him almost every time. That meant Kristina got virtually no time with Greyson which made her feel both guilty because she felt she was putting everything on me, but also sad that she didn’t get to really spend time with Greyson. Fortunately, this was a temporary situation and we did get Greyson back.
However, once he was back with us, we noticed that he was vomiting and the nursery nurse thought his stomach looked distended. The pediatrician recommended that they do an x-ray to check for problems with his digestive system. While we were waiting for results, it felt like Greyson was just dealing with one problem after another. Fortunately, this issue also had a positive result. The x-ray showed nothing unusual, just a lot of gas. And sure enough, once we got the results, Greyson stopped vomiting and began eating more and more, keeping it all down.
Pretty soon, we were preparing to leave the hospital and head home. Kristina was rapidly improving and Greyson was looking great. On Thursday, September 27, we were discharged from the hospital and got to go home. After almost a week in the hospital, Kristina had a bit of cabin fever and I was so ready to be sleeping in a comfortable bed again.
But I want to give a huge shoutout to the nursing staff that we had while we were in the hospital. Rhonda, Jennifer, Kristina, and Nicole are all Labor and Delivery nurses who took care of Kristina either during her 6-day hospital stay, or the one night stay from earlier in the pregnancy, or both. These nurses were extraordinary. Rhonda, Kristina, and Nicole all took care of Kristina earlier in her pregnancy but remembered her and treated her like an old friend. Several of these nurses came to see Kristina, even when they weren’t assigned to her so that they could check on her. Nicole was Kristina’s night nurse and so was the nurse who was with Kristina through all of the pain and vomiting the night before Greyson was born, and she was the nurse who was in the operating room with us during the C-section. She was a rock for us as we struggled through the challenges Kristina was facing.
After Kristina was moved to a postpartum room, she got a new nurse, Cecilia who took care of her each night for the rest of her stay. Cecilia was exceptional as well. We felt so comfortable knowing that Cecilia was keeping an eye on Kristina. We were also blessed to have incredible nurses for Greyson. Both Misi and Courtney were so kind and caring and once again, we felt so comfortable and confident that Greyson was receiving fantastic care. For how difficult the journey was, the nursing staff at the hospital turned our stay into a positive experience.
We’ve been home now for almost two weeks with Greyson, and though we have had some challenges, we have started to hit our stride. We have a routine, and have loved watching Greyson grow. Today we went to his two-week doctor’s appointment and he has gained over a pound since we were discharged and is now 13 ounces above his birth weight. He’s having more and more alert time each day and today he started tummy time. It’s hard to believe it’s already been two weeks, but we are enjoying every moment with our son.
In the end, although the pregnancy and delivery were difficult, everything has been worth it now that we get to spend every day as Greyson’s parents.