After my baby was born I wasn’t immediately able to see her. There were lots of post-delivery actions they needed to take to not only make sure she was okay, but also that I was okay. But finally after some time, I was allowed to see her.
Oh my tiny baby! She was in a plastic box with a feeding tube and wires all around. I just wanted to hold her and tell her how much I loved her as I kissed her cheek, but I couldn’t. Her breathing was faster than it should be and her heart was still beating unpredictably.
All I could do was whisper through the small openings. I could only touch her through the hand holes. I felt I had to stay calm and just love her. I would walk the halls to reenergize, but found that only brought back all the fears from the years from the year before, so I sat by her side every waking minute. The Isolation only lasted a short time, but it felt like this precious fighter would never be in my arms.
When — finally — the day arrived that I could hold my girl, I cried as I held her tiny body.
I studied everything about her. I wanted this moment to be the best moment and it was. Made even better when my husband arrived a short time after they moved her to another observation room in the NICU. He held his delicate little girl with such love only as a father could.
I am sure he would have stayed forever with us, but we also had an almost-2-years-old to consider as well. I never wanted my baby to be without me so he was to hold down the fort.
When I was released from the hospital (the next day) my baby was not and I could not stay. My heart felt torn in two. On one hand, I needed to see my older little girl and check up on things at home that were making me feel stressed. We still had nothing for this new baby out so I wanted to be sure I was set up and ready. But on the other hand, I didn’t want to leave my struggling girl alone either.
I had to figure out what the best thing was for all of us. I was in control.
My husband had to go back to work and my mother-in-law was watching over my 2 year-old, but for me I desperately wanted to be in 2 places at once.
I made a plan. I would go to the hospital from 6am (just in time for her first feeding) until 6:30 at night (the last feeding I could get in) then I could be home in time to read, snuggle and put my big girl to bed.
It was one of the emotionally hardest experiences of my life, trying to be there for both my kids when they needed me the most. I was also trying to breastfeed. Having a preemie: breastfeeding Even when I was home in my own bed my emotions were fresh and raw and I couldn’t sleep.
When we finally had a good routine (or at least one where I wasn’t too burned out) I was blessed with a special room that I could sleep in with my newborn daughter. Although it’s better for me to get rest during the day and be there for my baby 24/7, it was very draining. I missed having my family all in one place and I was ready for my baby to come home.
In hind sight I feel like this would have been a good time for me to reach out to others going through the same journey and strengthen each other. I also wished in this moment I would have taken a bit of time for me to reenergize while the nurses were around to help my baby.
After being in the NICU for a week things were looking good. Breastfeeding was established and she was gaining weight. It felt like going home was right around the corner, but then there was still one small hiccup. She was jaundiced.
They wanted her to stay in for 3 more days to get light therapy. I didn’t really mind since we were able to sleep side-by-side and do almost everything normally (except leave the room), but I was just ready to go home.
When my family came to visit and the sisters finally met
it gave me the energy and love I needed to finish out her time at the NICU. After 10 days in the NICU we were able to go home. Some may say that this 10-day NICU stay was really not a long time, but the stress and emotional drain makes it feel like a lifetime.
This experience has taught me a lot about myself and what I can do. It also taught me that I need others in my struggles. Other preemie moms could have helped me. All babies are different, but we as mothers have the same feelings. We can join together, can love together and even complain and struggle together. If I knew then what I knew now I would listen to all of the other moms that have been where I was. I would have applied their advice and just enjoyed every moment. My own advice will be a whole blog of its own so don’t miss it.
For now all you other NICU moms out there, you are strong! You are loved and you can do it! Treasure these precious moments you have with a human being smaller than most others, you will never get them back.
Our NICU preemie baby is now a year old and thriving.
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