It’s been an eventful two weeks – in so many ways! With the appearance of the Corona virus, my teacher husband and son are now home from school for the next month and we are adjusting to our temporary new normal. At home. As a family of 6. Yes, you read that right. As of today, I officially have a 2 week old.
In unexpectedly surprising news, our son decided to make his appearance a month earlier than expected! Caleb Joshua was born Thursday, March 5, at 5:53 pm,weighing 6lbs, 5oz and measuring 19 inches long. I’ve never been more thankful that I had big babies!
It was truly a surprise to all of us! All my other 3 babies had been full term, which made early labor unlikely. I was still working my way through my to do list as best I could when Caleb upset all those plans!
Some of you have been following our story through Instagram or Facebook. If you missed the update, or wanted to know the full story, I’m sharing it here today. (You can also visit my Instagram page to view the updates with pictures, as they happened.)
When I went to bed on Wednesday (the 4th), I was feeling a bit queasy. What I thought were Braxton Hicks contractions, were becoming more frequent and required me to breathe through them. I decided to sleep then off, and eventually got some sleep…as much as I could get when a restless Lily joined us in bed that night.
Thursday morning, the contractions were still there. They were not really painful, but I was definitely having more than four an hour. Of course, my doctor’s office was closed until 8:30 am. I sent Nathan and Andy off to school as normal, and texted my friend, Andrea, asking if she could watch the girls if I needed to go into get checked out.
I finally got hold of two different phone nurses – and my doctor’s nurse – who all agreed that given my rate of contractions, I should come get monitored at the hospital. We really all thought it was just a precaution. I didn’t have my hospital bag packed but quickly threw my toiletries into a bag (that I left at home on the counter, just in case) before heading out with the girls. I drove them over to Andrea’s, and the girls were very excited to play with their friends. Then, just like with Lily, I drove myself to the hospital. Thankfully, our hospital is less than 5 minutes from our house and my doctor was already at the hospital in surgery.
I got to the hospital around 9:30 and they took me to labor and delivery triage to be observed. My nurse quickly hooked up to monitors and agree I was definitely having contractions.
She started me on fluids and checked me before calling my doctor. We all thought the fluids would stop the contractions. They slowed a bit but not really. We waited and watched for awhile. Another call to my doctor resulted in more fluids, steroids (for me) to stop the contractions and steroids (for the baby) to help develop his lungs. Oh my goodness! My nurse warned me the steroids would cause my heart to race and I would feel jittery (which it definitely did!) – but if I was in false labor, it definitely would stop the contractions. We waited and watched again but spoiler alert? They slowed for a little bit but then picked right back up to every two to three minutes.
I wasn’t dilating and I wasn’t in pain – just uncomfortable. I felt the same way with my contractions for Lily so I don’t know if that means I have a high pain tolerance or what. I didn’t really want to live with contractions for the next 3 to 4 weeks, but I also didn’t want to have a baby at 35 weeks. All these thoughts rushed through my head as I wrote custom books in triage, watched my contractions and waited to see what would happen.
I truly thought I would be home by lunch. Thankfully, my mother-in-law got off work at the hospital early that day and picked up the girls from Andrea. Andy and I were texting back and forth as I kept him up to date on the developments and we tossed around ideas for a name. We had decided on Caleb a week or two prior but still didn’t have a middle name decided.
After the steroids didn’t work, my nurse put in another call to my doctor. She was puzzled as to why nothing was working and so was my doctor. She sent him a screen shot of my contractions and when he saw they were every 2 to 3 minutes, he grew more concerned about the possibility of me rupturing and wanted to move ahead with a c-section within the hour. This made me a bit emotional because even though I was expecting a c-section – I wasn’t expecting it this early! I wasn’t ready!
My doctor called me right away and talked to me on the phone, to answer my questions and explain his reasoning. He thought the risks of my uterus thinning out and complicating the surgery outweighed the benefits of waiting another 24 hours for steroids. By this point, it was after 3 o’clock and he wanted to do the c-section at 4:30 – or as soon as the OR became available. I trust my doctor completely and agreed that it was time to meet our baby boy.
Once again, just like with Lily, I quickly texted Andy and asked how quickly he could get to the hospital. He was standing in line at Chick-fil-a picking up dinner for the kids (and we thought, us!) when he got my text. I told him to finish ordering, drop the food off at home and meet me at the hospital.
Once we agreed to the c-section, things started happening quickly. I got prepped for surgery as I cried a few tears and processed with my amazing nurse. I was blessed with so many good nurses this time around! Trish, in triage, was the mom of 8 – the last two being twins born at 34 weeks. She understood all my fears and let me get emotional while still encouraging and calming me down.
Andy arrived shortly before my doctor. Dr. Esguerra sat with me and asked again if we had any questions. He watched the monitor and confirmed (again) that I was definitely in active labor. It was time to meet our baby boy.
Since this was my fourth c-section, I wasn’t really nervous. I knew what to expect and I knew how this went. I walked myself back into surgery. The anesthesiologist had a bit of trouble getting my spinal in place, but once that happened, everything went quickly and smoothly. Before we knew it, we were meeting our Caleb Joshua!
We had decided on Joshua right before the c-section. We’ve always liked that name, and it seemed particularly fitting since the Bible verse that was running through my head was Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
With Caleb being born at 35 weeks and 4 days, he was classified as late preterm. He was a good size (again, so thankful that I always have big babies!) but NICU was there to assess him right away. Caleb cried right away but had some trouble with his rate of respiration, so they took Caleb up to the NICU before I was even moved to recovery.
My recovery was smooth and I actually feel the best I have ever felt at 2 weeks postpartum. It’s probably due to all the time I sat sitting and rocking in the NICU. I spent my time alternating between my room and Caleb’s upstairs in the NICU. He had a private NICU room where I could spend as much time as I wanted. Caleb and I both had wonderful nurses who took good care of us. Caleb was born on Thursday night, and I was discharged Monday evening. Caleb came home the following Saturday evening.
There is SO much I could say about his NICU stay. It was an emotional time, but always a time that reminded us how God is always in control. I’ll try to give the highlights here.
Caleb spent 10 days in the NICU.
Caleb’s lungs were clear on x-rays (which was the initial concern) and he avoided needing a breathing tube. That was very good news that he could breathe on his own!
Caleb was on a CPAP machine (for the first 2 days) that was trying to help him regulate his rapid breathing. He could hold him after he came off the CPAP.
Caleb was on low levels of oxygen but he was off all oxygen within the first 48 hours. He could start beginning to eat once he was off the oxygen flow, which took another 3 days.
Caleb was on a feeding tube for the first 5 days and then we successfully transitioned to nursing with bottle supplements. By the time he came home, he was nursing completely. He actually took to nursing quicker than some of my other kids!
Nathan spent 5 days in the NICU when he was born, due to respiratory issues. The difference was that Nathan was full term and had some complications at birth. It was interesting to compare the two experiences of our two boys. I was so thankful that I had previous NICU experience. I was much calmer this time around.
Due to the corona virus, visitors were quickly restricted. I was only allowed 2 visitors (due to the flu) so Andy’s mom and my mom (who happened to be visiting from Texas with cousins) came to visit me. They both got to see Caleb once before he was 24 hours old – and visitors were then limited only to Mom and Dad. Of course, Andy had a bit of a cold so stayed away from the NICU too.
Andy’s mom graciously watched the girls during the week, and dropped me at the NICU every morning so I could spend my days with Caleb. Andy and Nathan had a typical week of school – although little did we know that it would be our last typical week for awhile.
It was hard to leave Caleb every night, but thankfully, he had wonderful nurses who took excellent care of him! Still, we were very thankful to bring him home – and his three big siblings were very excited to meet him!
We brought Caleb home just as everything started shutting down. We knew that our Lutheran schools (like all the public schools in Indiana) would be closing for a month, through Spring Break, returning after Easter. Then, this week, that was extended until May 1 and will be reevaluated later. I always hole up when I have a newborn but this time, I am really content to stay home. The only time we have gone out with the kids is for their well visit doctor’s appointments and for Caleb’s baptism. We ended up having a private baptism at our church on Friday morning, the 20th, due to all the uncertainties of this time. It was just us and our Pastor. Not what I planned but he is baptized and that was important to us. We didn’t want to delay it any longer. Andy has done all the shopping for groceries and our fridge, freezer and pantry are well stocked.
We don’t know what will be happening in the weeks to come, but we are taking it one day at a time. That is all any of us can do! We realize now that Caleb’s early arrival was really a gift – to allow us all to be home together during this time. I am choosing to be thankful for this time at home with all our kids – and my husband!
We are working on settling into a bit of a routine that involves some school work every morning for the kids (and Daddy), as well something fun every day too. Of course, we’re doing lots of reading. We want this time to bring back good memories for our kids so are attempting to shield them from the bad news and talk about the positives. They know there are a lot of germs out there right now and that is why we are home together. Nathan is pretty excited to have Mom and Dad at home. Plus, it is a good time for me to pull out all my favorite Kindergarten activities!
There you have it! That is an update on our life at the moment. How are YOU doing? I hadn’t planned on posting much in these newborn weeks but I have been thinking about how this COVID-19 is affecting all of us right now. Is there anything you would like me to share in this time? Know that I am praying for you and your families as we are all impacted in a variety of ways in the days and weeks to come.
And thank you for rejoicing with us as we welcome Caleb Joshua to our family!