Our week long journey in the NICU...
No book...no words... nothing can prepare you for the emotional pain you experience when you have a child(ren) in the NICU. The pain is individual, unimaginable, and draining. Not being able to talk to, touch, or hold A & S with the exception of the few seconds after birth, was absolutely heart wrenching. When your child cries out and wiggles around the radiant warmer and/or incubator and you can't comfort them, your heart will break every.single.time.
The first day, I didn't get to see them until around 8 o'clock that evening. Up until then, we had many visitors who came to see us and A & S, so I spent several hours trying to recover from surgery and visit with everyone. It was hard knowing everyone else was getting to see my sweet babies before I was but I was so appreciative of all the support and words of encouragement from close friends and family.
Once I saw A & S attached to all the machines and IV's it hit me like a ton of bricks. "Why, oh why, do our sweet innocent babies have to go through this? Why do we as a family have to go through this?" Many thoughts and questions ran through my mind.
Our handsome S with his blonde/red hair and blue eyes started crying and I broke down in tears. I couldn't hold my baby, I couldn't touch him, I couldn't even talk to him and he needed me more than ever. Looking back, maybe I needed him more than ever.
A was sleeping which was such a a sense of relief. It was so nice to see her content and happy. She looked like a little angel who was absolutely perfect, her dark brown hair and blue eyes took our breath away!
They were both on CPAP machines, feeding tubes, several IV's and in radiant warmers. For some reason the whole IV in the head thing really freaked me out, it just seemed like it would be so painful, but I now know it's much more convenient than the hands and feet which just get irritated after so much movement. Silas was also jaundice for several days and was under the bili-light but thankfully that only lasted a few days.
For the first few days it seemed like something was always setting us back, whether it was one of them not keeping their feedings down, not having bowel movements, not maintaining their body temperature, not being able to breathe well without the CPAP, or Silas' billirubin levels not lowering. It was an emotional roller coaster.
We were so ready for everything to level out and for them to be healthy enough to go home with us. We were absolutely dreading leaving the hospital without them. When my OBGYN came to check on me, I remember her asking if I wanted to go home that day or stay another day, as insurance would paid for it. I immediately told her i wanted to stay as long as insurance would pay for it. I did not want to leave my babies for any longer than I had to.
That night, Andrew and I got back to the room and got ready for bed. I couldn't go to sleep knowing we would be leaving the next day without our sweet babies. I cried and cried and cried. Andrew crawled up in the hospital bed with me and did all that he could to comfort me. Nothing he said or did would allow A & S to come home any earlier but his words of encouragement made it much more bearable.
Then, I felt so selfish for all the feelings I had been experiencing about the situation. Most of the other babies in the NICU were born much more prematurely and/or had significant health problems. I remember a set of grandparents coming in asking the nurse why their grand baby was or wasn't doing something and her reply was "Well, you know he is really sick". How devastating... we never heard anything like that with A & S and we were still heartbroken and emotionally drained.
I spent the next several days traveling to and from the hospital to spend the days with A & S. During shift change, I would wait in the NICU waiting room, and do crossword puzzles to pass the time. Andrew would meet me up there when he got off work and we would go back in to the NICU to feed and love on A & S.
The NICU nurses were truly wonderful. They made the adjustment to leaving A & S every night much easier by showing how much they truly cared for each and every baby. Every night we left, regardless of how tough it was, we knew A & S were going to get the second best thing to us... the loving NICU nurses.
When your child(ren) is in the NICU, they don't tell you when they may get to go home, as they don't want to disappoint families when things change. The unknown is always scary and frustrating but it was amazing when I had just been at the hospital that Thursday, left while they did shift change and came back to find our sweet babies in a normal bed with NO tubes, NO oxygen and NO IV's! Being told we would likely be rooming in the next night and then being discharged was one of the best days of our lives! It was such a nice surprise.
Luckily, our prayers had been answered and Friday night we were able to room in and get educated on the care of a preemie. It was interesting being with our babies overnight for the first time with all eyes on us but it didn't phase us, as we were so excited! That was the first of many sleepless nights to come...
When we were leaving the hospital and about to load everything into the car the next morning the nurse looked at S and decided we needed to go back to the NICU because he wasn't getting enough oxygen, which was apparent by his mouth turning blue. This was really scary and disappointing as we were so excited they seemed to be doing so well and we were going home.
Luckily, we ended up just having to adjust the car seats differently so that his airway was able to stay open properly. This made for a very nerve-wrecking experience but the nurses didn't seem too concerned. Regardless, we were nervous the whole ride home. The hospital was only about 25 minutes away from our home but 1.) it is scary driving with your baby for the first time. I can almost guarantee you will never drive as cautiously as you do when you take your baby home for the first time. 2.) We were so worried S was going to quit breathing at any moment that we ended up pulling over halfway home to check on them both.
We arrived home to my mom who had been deep cleaning our house for the arrival of sweet A & S. This was just the beginning of our village of family and friends helping and supporting our journey into parenthood.
The days, weeks, and months since then have been one big adventure and I can't wait to share it all with you...