Sunday, August 31, 2014

Kieran's Hospital Stay

As I mentioned in his birth post, Kieran had difficultly regulating his blood sugars when he was born. A few moments after birth, his blood sugar level was in the 40s, when it should have been in the 60s or higher. Another check five minutes later, and his level had dropped down to 33. Once a baby's blood sugar level drops down to 30 or below, they can have seizures, and since I wasn't able to breastfeed quite yet (still getting my abdomen stitched up and all,) Kieran was given an ounce of formula to bring his level up.

After I was stitched up and moved to my original labor and delivery room, Kieran was brought in for about 30 minutes so we could bond and try to breastfeed. We were able to breastfeed for about 10 minutes on each side. As I was moved to our postpartum room, Kieran was brought back to the nursery to get the Vitamin K shot and eye ointment. Around 2:30 or 3 in the morning, he was brought into our postpartum room and we were told that his blood sugar level was not as high as the pediatrician wanted, but it were high enough for him to room with us.

At 6 am, a nurse from the nursery came in to check his levels again via a pin prick to his heel. Unfortunately his level had dropped again, so he was taken to the nursery to get an IV placed so sugar water could be administered to keep his level up.

Unfortunately the nurses had a difficult time placing the IV, so Kieran had bruises in both hands, both feet, and his arms from them trying. As much as I wish I was there to comfort him, I'm glad they did the IV in the nursery because I don't know if I would have been able to handle his cries from them poking him over and over again. 

We were told that to keep his level up, we would have to feed him a bottle of formula every 3 hours (which was equal to 2 ounces,) as well as trying to nurse and letting him get any colostrum/milk from me he could. After nursing I was to pump to try and get my milk to come in quicker. Feeding him every 3 hours during the day wasn't too bad, but at night, he'd want to sleep through at least one feed, most of the time the one at 3 am. We'd un-swaddle him, tickle his feet, rub his back with cold hands, whatever we could do to keep him awake long enough to at least get him to drink the bottle. 

For the first two days we were in the hospital, I wasn't getting anything when I pumped, but eventually I was getting a milliliter or two of colostrum that we'd suck up into a syringe and feed him. 

I can't explain how ecstatic we were when I started getting colostrum. Finally my body was starting to produce something my baby needed, something that would eventually turn into milk so that I could keep my baby's level in check. 

When Kieran first got his IV, the machine was set to "16" (we're not sure what the number meant, it somehow corresponded to how much of the sugar water he was getting.) We were told that each time his sugar numbers came back at a 60 or higher, the number would get bumped down two points and once it was at "0," he would be able to be taken off the IV to see if his body could regulate itself. Once he was able to go a day with his body regulating his blood sugar correctly, he could go home. 

A nurse would come by every 6 hours to check his blood sugar levels with a pin prick in the heel (6 am, noon, 6 pm and midnight.) Some of the nurses were wonderful at pricking and squeezing his tiny heel quickly to get the blood and then allowing me to nurse him, but some nurses had a lot of difficulty getting any blood out which forced them to prick him all over again and made him wail. Eventually we learned that if his heel was heated up with a warm washcloth for a few minutes before the prick, his blood would flow easier. By the time we left the hospital, both heels were purple from being stuck so often. 

Our hospital stay was full of ups and downs when it came to his blood sugar levels. I remember feeling so defeated, especially when I wasn't producing anything to feed him. It felt like Kieran would be in the hospital for weeks and we started getting worried about what would happen if I was discharged before he was. Thankfully we learned that our hospital room would transfer to his name for insurance purposes, but we'd be able to all stay together until he was ready to go home. 

Eventually, his body began figuring things out and we slowly started bumping the numbers on his IV machine down. We did have a small bump in the road when his IV line became clogged so they had to take him back to the nursery and place it in his other foot. Saturday morning we finally bumped it down to "0" and he got unhooked from the IV machine. They kept the line in his foot just in case they needed to start the IV up again, but for the first time, we were able to move about our room freely with him. No more worrying about crimping the line when we swaddled him, or worrying about pulling it out when I was nursing. 

Sunday, we were given the ok to head home, all three of us. We were instructed to continue feeding him formula and breast milk every three hours until his follow up appointment at a week old. At that appointment, we were told to stop the formula and to only breastfeed. We were pretty excited when we heard that; we had run out of the premade bottles of formula the hospital had given us, and while we thankfully had a sample of the same formula at the house that had been sent to us, we were really hoping we wouldn't have to buy any.  

Even though I understand why we had to feed him so much, I do think it caused us a few problems once we came home and he was off the formula. I wasn't (and still am not) making as much as he was getting when he'd eat a 2 ounce bottle and then feed from me. For about a week, we had a very fussy, hungry baby because we'd basically taken half of his meals away. We had stretched his cherry sized stomach so much that it took a while for it to shrink down again to the size it should be at his age. Thankfully we have (mostly) moved past that, and it looks like I'm able to feed him enough to keep him satisfied....for a few hours at least. 

Just like the birth, our hospital stay was nothing like I had imagined it. I am so thankful that we had an amazing hospital staff who first of all realized that Kieran's blood sugar level was a problem, but also stuck with us to make sure we were able to go home together. We had some of the most compassionate nurses who really tried to cause the least amount of pain to Kieran, and a wonderful lactation consultant who helped us figure out breastfeeding when we could barely get him to wake up. We also had two great pediatricians who never made me feel like his condition was my fault, even though it technically was caused by my gestational diabetes. 

Our experience definitely made me have even more respect for families who have children in the NICU or in the hospital for any length of time. We were only confined by one IV line; I couldn't imagine trying to hold and care for your child when they're hooked up to so many machines. 


  1. Poor heels!! This sounds like such an ordeal. Maybe not compared to NICU stays, but certainly a lot of stress for you guys! I'm so glad everything resolved in time for you to all go home together fairly soon, and that things are doing okay now. I hope feeding only gets better and you all get some good rest :) Thinking of you, hon!

  2. You are all such troopers. I love that you were with it enough to snap some photos. I can see the pride and mama bear in your eyes when you are about to give Kieran some of your liquid gold. So thankful you were well cared for and able to be sent home without too much delay. I know nothing about infant blood sugars, so this was very informative. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Poor baby! Such a rough start, but I'm glad it resolved itself in the end. You're right, I can't imagine the more extreme cases where you can barely touch the baby for upsetting all the equipment.

  4. i am so glad all is well for that little trooper!