Monday, January 31, 2011


Campbell's brain bleed was considered Grade 1, which is the lowest on the scale.  I was still scared out of my mind, but my nurse explained that many full term babies probably have grade 1 brain bleeds as a result of labor and delivery, but no one can be sure because they don't routinely do head ultrasounds on them, like they do preemies.  That made me feel a little better.  Our neo explained that they would watch it, and probably no intervention would be needed.

I finally got to kangaroo Campbell when she was 7 days old.  It was different than holding her sister.  She was a little chunkier.  I know you are thinking:  A 3 pound baby is chunky?  Compared to her sister, yes!  She was less bird like.  A few ounces on a tiny baby makes quite a difference.  She was still on cpap, and that tube looked so uncomfortable anyway, so I was extra careful when I was cuddling her not to pull it or put any pressure on her little face.

From day one, I always felt that Campbell was suffering.  The pained expression on her face brought tears to my eyes every day.  And who could blame her?  She had been through so much in her little life already.

As we kangarooed, I felt her relax.  I think she had been wondering where the heck I was all this time.  Even though I had whispered encouragement and held her hand daily, there is nothing like cuddling with your mama. 

One of the saddest days in the NICU had nothing to do with our babies.

Campbell remained in Room 1, which was the most critical room.  She shared space with 7 other critical babies.  Babies this small and sick sometimes need surgery.  And when they need surgery, they don't go to an operating room like everyone else.  Transporting these babies can be very dangerous.  So as a result, their NICU room becomes the OR.  The surgeons perform surgery right at the bedside.  And in order to keep the field sterile, no extra people are allowed in the room.

Our nurse had approached us one night and told us that we would not be able to come and visit Campbell the next morning because one of her roommates would be having surgery. 

We came up the next morning for rounds, and spent some time with Lenay, who was now in Room 3.  After lunch, we checked to see if we could go in to see Campbell yet. 

Big, yellow caution tape formed an X in the doorway.  I asked at the nurses' station and was told it would be a little longer because several other emergency surgeries came up.

Yikes I thought.

Afternoon and early evening rolled around.

The big yellow X remained.

My mom was with me, and she and I paced the hallway.

We didn't want to seem impatient, but we went to the desk again. 

My mom asked politely, Excuse me ma'am.  Any idea when we'll be able to get in there?

The nurse looked up with tears in her eyes.

They are finishing up and you'll be able to go in soon.

She paused, and then said, Please count your blessings.

We were puzzled.  What did she mean?  Right then, the door opened, the X came down, and we filed in.  My eyes were focused on Campbell.  She was awake and kicking her little feet. 

At first I didn't notice.  But then I looked around. 

I counted the babies. 

One.  Two.  Three.  Four.  Five.  Six. 

Only six. 

Then I noticed the doctors and nurses.  They all had the same look on their faces.  Tears were being wiped away as they went about their work.  Of course confidentiality prevents them from sharing anything with us, but they didn't have to.

We knew.

A baby had died.

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