Life in the NICU

I want to thank Chrissy for sharing her NICU experience with us. Nothing can prepare you for having your child in the NICU. Those of you who have dealt with this; You are STRONG, You are COURAGEOUS, You are AMAZING.

You would see it on tv. Or read it in a parenting magazine. But never do you think it will happen to you. The NICU experience.

It was a normal day. My husband and I had gone out to eat with my parents. Afterwards, I did a little shopping and went home to prop my feet up because I was pretty swollen. My husband and I decided to call the on-call doctor to see if I should come in to be checked. The midwife said to come in and they would monitor me. And that’s when our lives were forever changed.

On July 4, 2007 I became a NICU parent. Our daughter, Elizabeth, was born at 28 weeks gestation and weighed 2 pounds 1 ounce. She was born via emergency c-section and came out kicking and screaming. They wrapped her up and brought her over to me to see before taking her down to the NICU. She was just perfect. My husband got to go along with her. It would be a whole 24 hours until I got to see her.

The next day they got me out of bed and wheeled me down to the NICU. I remember being so scared to see her. I scrubbed up and went down to her little pod room. She was hooked up to all these tubes and wires. She looked like a frail baby bird that had just been hatched. The nurses would come and talk to us and explain what everything was for. It’s all a blur. We weren’t allowed to hold her because she had been placed on the vent for precautionary measures. The staff explained to us that NICU is much like a roller coaster. Many ups and downs. One step forward and three steps back.

Once I was able to drive again, I’d go into sit with Elizabeth during the day. I still wasn’t able to hold her. But I could open her little doors on the isolett and talk to her and read to her.

On July 15, Elizabeth came off the vent and was placed on CPAP. She looked like a little elephant. We were told early on that she had something called a PDA. A PDA is abnormal blood flow occurs between two of the major arteries connected to the heart. They said they would try to correct it with ibuprofen. But if that didn’t work they would have to do surgery. Thankfully the ibuprofen worked!

I’m not sure why, but Patrick and I got extremely lucky with our NICU stay. Elizabeth never really had bad days. She just kept growing and reaching new milestones. I remember Patrick and I were so excited when we would go in and the nurses would tell us they upped her feeds another cc. It was so exciting!

I finally got to hold her about two-ish weeks after she was born. It was the BEST feeling in the world!!

About 2 days before we were told we could take our baby home, she had desated. It happened right after I had left from her afternoon feed. When Patrick and I went in later that, they had told us the news. I was heartbroken. Devastated. I couldn’t move. I felt like all the wind had been knocked out of me. I left her room and went and sat in the waiting room and sobbed. I ended up leaving the hospital that night not even seeing her. About 2am I went back because all I wanted to do was hold her. It wasn’t her fault that I was so upset. I stayed until about 7am which was shift change.

After a 61 day NICU stay, we finally got to bring our Sweet Pea home. She came home on Labor Day (how fitting) September 3rd weighing a whopping 5lbs 2oz.

Today, Elizabeth is 9 years old and is a Junior in Girl Scouts and is involved in dance.

Being the parent of a NICU baby is the most terrifying and, in some weird way, rewarding. I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Do you have a NICU story to share? We would love to hear it an honor your experience.

 

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