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