The first few weeks of Theo's life are a blur to me, but I'm left with the overall feeling of thankfulness. Thankful that he actually decided to come out on his own, thankful that my labor and delivery was amazing and practically perfect, and thankful that he was overall healthy. I didn't write down the details at the time but here's what I remember.
Late Monday night/early Tuesday morning when he was 3/4 days old, I noticed he was breathing very quickly. It concerned me enough to call our family practice doctor on Tuesday morning so he could have his newborn checkup. Ryan and I brought him in and the doctor immediately listened to his heart and heard a loud murmur, saying there was a very obvious "swishing" sound instead of the clear lub-dub rhythm that a heart should make. He was reassuring that we'd find an answer soon and immediately placed an order for an echo-cardiogram to find out the cause. The appointment was scheduled at the hospital the next day, but that's all we knew. Ryan and I went home very anxious and worried. My thoughts went to the darkest place, of course, because I had no education and no idea what any of this could mean- but I didn't want to spend time on Google either so we just spent that evening in prayer and concern.
The appointment the next day went well. The man who performed the scan was very kind but he couldn't diagnose anything, so he said he'd rush off the results to a cardiologist who could perform the diagnosis.
I think that afternoon we got a call from our family practice doctor who said Theo was diagnosed with a VSD- ventricular septal defect. He had a medium-sized hole in the wall separating the ventricles of his heart, and this caused the murmur as the un-oxygenated blood was pushed into the other side with the oxygen-rich blood, and was then carried to the rest of his body. His only symptom was heavy breathing due to the fact that his body needed more oxygen to make up for this- we were so happy that otherwise he was fine (his lips/limbs weren't blue, he was nursing fine, and he had already gained weight!). All of this meant we had to see a pediatric cardiologist ASAP- on Friday.
They squeezed us in on Thursday. He had an EKG test and was examined by the cardiologist, who was also very kind. At this point, Ryan and I realized that Theo was not in a life-threatening situation, but we had to mentally prepare for the fact that Theo might need surgery on his heart before too long. Theo was placed on Lasix, a daily medication that helps clear the extra fluid from his heart, thereby making it not need to work as hard. This brought his breathing back to normal. The medication will not heal his heart, but it will "buy us time," to allow his heart some extra time to heal itself and also allow Theo to grow bigger and stronger in case surgery is needed if it doesn't heal.
On Friday, a lump on my foot had gotten bigger and so swollen that I could barely walk. Fearing a blood clot, since it was on my "bad" leg, the doctor called us in for an exam. They couldn't diagnose anything so they sent us to the minor ER for an ultrasound. On Theo's one-week birthday, he spent it sleeping on my chest in the waiting room while I felt like a dummy for having such a stupid problem. Of course, nothing was wrong, and by the next day I was pretty much completely fine!
The next day was Saturday, and we had his newborn photos taken at our house. Ryan took the big kids to the baptism of our dear friend's son (Theo's future buddy), but I stayed home and took a 3-hour nap in bed with Theo. He and I needed some cuddle time together!
Sunday I noticed a rash on Theo, but we thought it was probably one of those weird skin newborn rashes that babies get. It looked funny to me though- white heads that came up in clusters on his arms, then his legs. At first I thought it might have been a reaction to the blood pressure cuffs that had been on his arms, as that's where the rash first started. But then it moved to his legs, so I (hesitantly) called the doctor. He said they don't want to take any chances on Theo, as the appearance of a bacterial infection could be too hard on his heart, so he said I need to bring him in. So we went. They took a culture of his rash and said they'll call us when the results were in.
That weekend was relaxing. We didn't have anything going on, etc. But I did notice the tip of his toe was red. Then there was pus underneath the nail. I thought it was ingrown so I left it alone. Of course it didn't get any better, so I hoped to text my doctor a photo of it but, of course, they insisted that we come in on Monday. At this point I was on the verge of losing it. I had a hard time keeping track of the number of doctor visits we'd had in his less-than-three short weeks, and emotionally I was so drained. I couldn't believe we had to go in yet again.
While we were there they received the results from the culture of the pimply rash. STAPH. My newborn baby, born safely at home, had staph. I lost it. I cried in the doctor's office room, holding my precious newborn and wrapped in the arms of my husband. I just couldn't hold it together anymore. The doctor was very compassionate and concerned with my emotional health, but reassured me that we couldn't take chances, and that Theo needed oral and topical antibiotics. The idea of giving my newborn oral antibiotics made me feel sick to my stomach, but I also didn't want to mess with staph. I got home and started googling natural alternatives to treat staph and got overwhelmed again. I finally submitted to, what I feel like was God giving me permission to just let someone else take care of us. I question everything, all the time, but there was a relief when I just gave in and said "yes" to the antibiotics. It sounds funny but in a way, it was a very spiritual experience to recognize that God had placed these doctors in our lives to take care of us, and that I just needed to let go of trying to be in control. I couldn't control this.
We gave him the antibiotics, twice a day- and boy, he didn't like it! But, his staph infection cleared up, and his toes slowly got better. Several days later my mom flew in, family came to town, and we got ready to baptize sweet Theo. I can't even express how relieved I was so have some live-in backup help, cheerful smiles from family, and of course our dear friends who had offered months before to host the party. It was God's plan, because there was no way I could have handled a baptism party at our house! Sometime in that first month was also Luke's birthday, a dentist appointment (in which I took all children by myself for dental cleanings!), and Halloween.
As time has passed, things have seemed more "normal," or at least it's our new normal. We're adjusting to three big kids, a toddler, and a baby who seems like one of our regular babies now. He sleeps, nurses, looks around, and then sleeps some more. He never cries- except in the car! Just this past week I feel like he's made his first real eye contact with me, giving me some giant, gummy smiles (instead of those sweet but accidental smiles). I think I'm still recovering from everything, emotionally and mentally. In retrospect, it's a blur. I can see that it was chaotic and kind of rough, but the time, we coped and went through the motions. I am incredibly thankful that this part is behind us and for the beautiful pictures and moments I've intentionally burned into my memory from his birth and first month.