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Personal Stories ~ From Nichole
I was induced with Ryan at 37 weeks due to high blood pressure. Everyone asks if I was sure of my dates because after all 37 weeks is full term, he should have been fine. Ryan wasn't planned; we knew exactly when he was conceived and an ultrasound confirmed the date. I went to the hospital and was induced with the cervadil. Apparently Ryan knew better than anyone else because he refused to engage. Hours later he finally engaged, and they were able to break my water. After 14 hours of labor Ryan was born crying and appeared perfectly healthy.

My family came and saw him; my mother commented that he was grunting and I shrugged it off. My husband held him and I drifted off as the nurse bathed him. She woke me to tell me she was taking him to the nursery to get a few "good cries" out of him and pink him up. It was then that I wondered if those grunting noises I heard were serious. Finally a while later the nurse came in and told me they were calling in a pediatrician. She confirmed that Ryan was having Respiratory Distress and would need to be transferred to a large hospital with a NICU over an hour away. My son was breathing 120 times a minute. A healthy infant should breathe 20-40 times a minute. I hated to see my son have to work so hard to breathe. Thinking about how hard it was to watch them take my baby still brings tears to my eyes.

Twelve hours after I gave birth my doctor came and discharged me, and we drove to see my son. He was on a ventilator; they tried to get an arterial line in his belly button but couldn't, so he had an arterial line in his arm all bandaged up. He had IV's in his head. It sounds shallow, but I was so upset to see my baby boy's beautiful head of hair shaved for IV's. It killed me to see what he was going through but I knew he would be home soon and that we would get through this. I cried a lot. I hate to cry in front of people but I felt like I hadn't stopped crying from the time they told me they were taking him to the NICU to the time he left (and even now I cry when I think back).

While Ryan was in the hospital he went through several ordeals. The first was the ventilator. Once we got him off the ventilator he stayed in an oxygen hood for three days. It was SO frustrating because he only needed 1% more oxygen than room air, but as soon as the hood was removed, his oxygen levels plummeted. Soon after he came out of the hood the doctor heard a heart murmur. I was devastated. He had the echocardiogram, which showed that he had a PDA. A PDA is an open duct in the heart, that should have closed or has re-opened after birth. Ryan's was most likely due to the stress on his lungs from the respiratory distress syndrome. We couldn't believe that the next day the murmur was gone, and another echo confirmed the valve had closed on its own.

The next hurdle was Ryan's kidneys. Ryan was born with a 2-vessel umbilical cord. The condition itself doesn't affect the baby, but it can indicate other problems. Ryan was given a renal ultrasound to check his kidneys and the doctors discovered Hydronephrosis, or unexplained fluid on his kidneys. Ryan was sent for a VCUG. They inject barium into the bladder and x-ray the abdomen to make sure no fluid is backing up the ureters into the kidneys. Thankfully, Ryan was just giving us another scare and the test came back negative. The ultrasound technician told us that it's not uncommon for babies to have fluid on their kidneys that resolves before birth, and that Ryan's were probably premature.

Now that the VCUG was done we thought we were ready to go home once Ryan's breathing slowed down. He was still breathing about 80 times a minute. Once Ryan's breathing was regularly below 80 breaths per minute they allowed me to start nursing him, which didn't go well. He would latch on, suck, and latch off. Eventually the nurse talked me into bottle-feeding him the breast milk I had been pumping. Again we had a horrible time feeding him. We had to constantly wipe his face with a cloth and put pressure under his chin to get him to suck. The nurses decided the best thing would be a feeding tube. Anything we couldn't get down him with a bottle had to go through a tube from his nose to his stomach. I was so frustrated because all that time I figured our hurdle was to get his breathing to slow down. It was finally slow enough that he could go home, but he wouldn't eat. Suddenly Ryan got the hang of eating. I couldn't believe my little boy was taking two whole ounces at a time.

I wanted to hug the doctor when she told us we could take him home. After 12 long days of driving over an hour each way to see him (sometimes more than once a day) we could finally take him home. Ryan is doing wonderfully now. He will be turning 1 in a little over a week. He hasn't had any lasting side effects from his lung and kidney prematurity. He eats like a little pig and is walking and talking up a storm.

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