Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Adventures of a NICU Mommy

Last week I wrote about how I never thought I could have a preterm birth. Here is what happened next.

One more push. You can do it, Erin. Just one more good one. Feel her head. It's right there. Just one more big push.

With that last push, Miss H came into the world and she was immediately surrounded with doctors and nurses. They examined her and found that while only 4lbs 13oz, she was in remarkably good shape.

Mr. Rose carried her over to me so that I could see her, but I was not allowed to hold her yet. The neonatologists whisked her out of my room to the NICU for further evaluation.

Once I was able to get out of bed, I walked with a nurse to the NICU. Mr. Rose was already there, not having left Miss H's side. I sat in a chair next to her little bed. There were monitors and wires attached to her. She looked so small. Just like a little peanut.

NICUmommy 

Over the course of the next day, we spoke to countless doctors and nurses. No one could tell us how long she would be there. She has to take all her feedings by mouth and be growing steadily, they said. Probably around three weeks.

I spent nearly every waking hour at her side for the next what seemed like forever. After I was discharged from the hospital, I was allowed to stay in an empty room on the Mother-Baby unit for a week, but I eventually checked out and went home to sleep. Mr. Rose went back to work so that he could take vacation when we brought her home.

I was pumping breast milk for her every three hours, which she was fed through a tube in her nose. Eventually, they started trying to give her the milk through a bottle the size of a pill container. Tiny.

tinybabytinybottle

Every day was Groundhog Day, the only difference was when Mr. Rose was with me on the weekend. Every three hours the routine was the same. Pump. Clean the pump parts. Store the milk. Head to her side. Prepare a bottle. Try to feed. Say hundreds of prayers for her to eat.

I became friends with the nurses. They worked 4 days on, 3 days off, so I got to know most of them. On my birthday, I brought them cupcakes that I had baked. One of the nurses who happened to be off that day, called up to the NICU to wish me a Happy Birthday. That was the day Miss H took her first full bottle and we did not have to put any milk through her tube - a huge victory!

The next day, she would take none. And I broke down leaving the hospital that day right in front of her doctor. He hugged me and told me, "She'll go home when she's ready. Just give it a few more days."

And that is how it goes in the NICU. The highs are really high, and the lows can be really low. I was fortunate that even though Miss H spent 25 long days in the NICU she was relatively healthy. She had some jaundice issues and trouble taking her first feedings, but she really did not have any serious medical problems.

readytogohome

Every time I left the hospital to get some food or take a break, I felt an excruciating pain in my heart. I would see families leaving several times a day with newborns in their little car seats and I was jealous. I would sit in my car and sob because my little one was not in my car with me.

To this day, I feel cheated. I did not get to have my baby in my hospital room with me. I did not get to take her home the day I went home. I had to be separated from her for what felt like eons even though it was only days. It breaks my heart still to think about her alone in the hospital when it was time for me to leave to go home to sleep.

homeatlast

Eventually, we did bring our sweet girl home. It was a rocky transition with a combination of nursing and bottle feeding, but that is a post for another day. In the end, Miss H grew to be a happy and healthy baby and little girl. I thank God every day for her and for the modern medicine that allowed her to be.

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Linking up with Shell from Things I Can't Say for Pour Your Heart Out.

14 comments:

tinyisland said...

she is soooo precious!!! even from the page I can tell how good she smells. Baby scent should be bottled.

blueviolet said...

What an experience! I can absolutely see how your heart would break upon having to leave her in the hospital each night. What a miracle that she had so few problems. God blessed you!

Liz said...

Oh my! I bet seeing others leave was sooooo hard. Thank goodness she had no bigger issues. And her first full bottle - what a perfect birthday present!

Brittney said...

awwww how cute! That must have been hard but glad shes home and well :)

Kmama said...

I can only imagine how hard it was having your little one in the hospital and going home. And then the transition after that...to being home??

I'm so glad she was healthy though. That is wonderful.

Lynn MacDonald said...

I can't imagine holding such a tiny baby. Mine was 6 15 and I was freaking out.

Glad she's ok and mom and baby are beautiful. I looked like shit!

Dolli-Mama said...

I know what you mean about feeling cheated.

I didn't get to see my baby girls for 12 hours after they were born. They were in the NICU for 7 days and spent most of their time under blue lights to help with their jaundice. I didn't get to hold Ky for 3 days.

This is such an honest piece, thank you for writting it.

Shell said...

I can't imagine how hard that must have been! Did you at least have an easier experience the second time around?

Adrienne said...

She's precious! I'm so glad you wrote this part 2, because I really wanted to know more. I'm so happy she made it home-happy and healthy! :)

KLZ said...

More than anything, I'm struck by how she looks and acts just like her right from the get go.

Nicole said...

Our girls were born at 28 weeks and we spent 11 weeks in the NICU. I can empathize with watching others go home as you stay. It looks like your daughter did pretty well though! We had breathing help almost to the very end in addition to working through the feedings. NICU life is not for the weak at heart - your a tough cookie! I don't know if you've read it yet, but if you go to my tab "Momo Twins" I have a post that is titled "You know you're a NICU mom if..." You'll get a kick out of it I bet. :-)

Melissa said...

I'm 27 now, but I was born a preemie too. I was born almost 12 weeks early because my mom got really sick. Luckily, like your daughter I had no major medical problems in the hospital. I can imagine the pain and frustration you must've felt seeing others leave while she had to stay.

To this day my mother is convinced that since the nurses played with me at night when they had their free time that it's why I can still stay up until 2:30-3:30am. (That part annoyed her when she finally got to bring me home. heh!) She also says she thinks that the alone time is what probably got me used to not needing to be entertained 24/7. Perhaps it's just a case of opposites, but my brother as a child always needed someone to play with, while I was happy off reading a book or drawing by myself. :) Best of luck with your baby girl.

Amanda @ It's Blogworthy said...

My heart breaks thinking about leaving my little one in the crib in the other room, much less in another place completely! Although I can't relate to the NICU, I know that those NICU nurses are very special people. They are amazing. I work in a hospital and see it first hand. She's just precious!

Erin said...

Erin,

My girls were in the NICU for 3 weeks and I related to every bit of this post. We had feeding & jaundice issues, too. In retrospect, while it was hard leaving them every night, I was grateful to have that time to recover from my c-section before we got them home...this time around I am honestly a little nervous about how I will handle the recovery on top of caring for a new baby. And I hope we won't have to go to the NICU for anything, but if we do? It's a fantastic place and all the nurses are so wonderful.

She is beautiful, and motherhood really suits you!

;-)