Life in the NICU
Giving birth is life-changing. It’s without a doubt the most magical moment I’ve experienced. Sloan came two months early, and to say that I was unprepared for her early arrival would be an understatement. However, nothing could have prepared me for what was to come after her birth. Imagine leaving the hospital minus the little person you came with; especially when that little person made your belly their home for seven months. It was devastating. Sloan was only in the NICU for two weeks, but it definitely felt like an eternity. Hours seemed like days, and days seemed like weeks.
Imagine leaving the hospital minus the little person you came with; especially when that little person made your belly their home for seven months.
Recovering from a c-section and traveling to and from the hospital was exhausting. Although it was only fifteen minutes away, it added a lot of stress to my body during my recovery period. I would go and stay for hours at a time. I was never ready to leave, and the “see you laters” were always difficult when she wasn’t asleep.
I’m so thankful that I had an amazing support system during that time. I occupied myself by writing to her in a journal, checking in on her often, and looking at pictures and videos of her over and over again. I called at 12:00 am every day she was there to get an update on her weight and feedings. The nurses were very informative and gave a lot of pamphlets to educate us on Sloan’s stay in the NICU. My favorite way to bond was skin to skin, and she was always so calm.
I was never ready to leave, and the “see you laters” were always difficult when she wasn’t asleep.
It was such a scary experience. I never thought about the NICU. I never imagined anything going wrong with Sloan’s birth. Seeing your baby connected to so many tubes as if her life depended on it was heart-wrenching. The NICU was chaotic, yet peaceful; something like a safe haven. I never left with fear of how she would be treated. I can still hear her heart monitor as the beat was continuous. Every day the nurses would prick her fragile skin with needles. Slowly but surely the wires started to lessen (they had to keep her feeding tube taped to her nose once she learned she could pull it out). Can you imagine being fed through your nose? Probably not. It always took me at least ten minutes to change her diaper while trying not to disconnect any wires.
Everyone had to wash their hands, and nothing could touch the floor without being thrown away. Each time I went in for a visit, she would always have a new handmade piece from the sweet volunteers. Her nurses always commented on how feisty she was. She never wanted to lie down when she was awake, so they would sit her up comfortably so she could see her surroundings. The hardest part was always leaving. Always. I had to leave my baby and go home to my bed without her. I never left without bawling all the way home, but leaving was good for me. It was good to get away and give myself a break from the stressful reality at the time.
The NICU was chaotic, yet peaceful.
One of my happiest moments during her stay in the NICU was her move to the top floor. This indicated that she would come home soon. Initially, the nurses told us she wouldn’t be able to go home until her original birth date which was July 10. We all knew that couldn’t be. On her final night in, they invited us to spend the night so we could make sure we were comfortable with bringing her home. We read to her, fed her and listened to her little whimpers all throughout the night. I was so nervous about doing everything wrong but so excited that I was finally getting a chance to do everything alone.
My hat goes off to the parents whose babies have to stay for months at a time, but my heart cries for the parents whose babies never make it out. Although there are many tragedies in the NICU there are also many success stories. I know for sure that the nurses put up a big fight for the babies to make it home to their parents, and I’m quite certain the babies put up an even bigger fight to make it home to warm cribs.