My NICU Journey

My daughter recently turned 5 and, thanks to Facebook, I was flooded with pictures and memories of her birth.  So for the first time since it happened I’m going to talk about my experience with the birth of my daughter.

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I remember I was pouring milk for someone and suddenly the milk smelled so sweet and delicious.  So for the first time in years, I poured a glass.  There are no words to describe how wonderful that milk tasted.  In fact it was so good I had three more glasses!  Then I called my best friend and asked her “When is the last time you drank milk?!”

Long story short, she asked me when my period was due and I decided to buy a pregnancy test on my lunch break.

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So at my first appointment they gave me a due date of August 13th, based on my last period.  Fast forward to a future appointment and they give me a due date of July 24.  They said that based on her size I had to be further along.  My two previous deliveries were cesarean so I knew my daughter would be the same.  As my due date approaches they settle on delivering her two weeks ahead of her due date in order not to risk me going into labor on my own.  Problem was, which due date are we using?  So they decide to be safe they needed to test and see if her lungs were developed enough and that would determine when they would deliver her.

So the last week in June, on a Friday, they perform an amniocentesis test (They stick a needle into my belly and into baby’s sac to draw out fluid).  If her lungs are ready my     c-section will be scheduled for Monday, if they aren’t ready then they will wait two weeks and test it again. The test shows that her lungs are not ready.

We go home and prepare to celebrate the 4th of July weekend.  July 3rd I am sitting at my grandma’s house ready to go get a second plate when I have a contraction.  Nothing serious, braxton hicks I assume, except they are coming back to back.  The doctor had instructed at this point in my pregnancy, which was considered high risk, that if I have 7 contractions in an hour I need to come into labor and delivery.  I had had 11 in twenty minutes.

My husband insisted we go to the hospital, even though I assured him it was nothing because there was no pain.  We arrive to have the medical staff assure us that we are indeed in labor and because I had recently eaten we would need to wait 12 hours.

I deliver her with no problem, they bring her over to me and explain that she is having trouble breathing on her own.  That is all I remember before falling asleep.  Now when I wake up it is well after midnight and I am surprised to still find visitors in my room.  I honestly believe that my mind was trying to protect me because the events that followed do not make any sense.  I thanked my friends for staying so late and asked them if they had seen the baby.  I asked what her hair looked like, was it a lot or a little, straight or curly.  But not once did I ask to see her.

The next morning I wake up to see my husband and my mom in the room.  The nurses do their thing and then I tell my family I am ready to see the baby.  I get in my wheelchair and we head down the hall…and onto the elevator.  This is why I say my mind was trying to protect me.  WHY DIDN’T I PAGE FOR THE NURSES TO BRING THE BABY TO THE ROOM?!?!?!  It was like somewhere in the back of my mind I knew.  We arrived at the NICU, I showed my band, we did some password thing, and proceeded.  It was like dead man walking.  Everyone was behind me and the walls were filled with the photographic journey of previous NICU babies.  Then we arrive at a little room protected by a curtain.  A nurse opens it and greets me and I see this tiny baby sprawled out, with cords, tapes, wires, machines, and pumps; surrounded by more machines and noises and strangers…and then…she cried.  And I looked around at my family with their tears and swollen eyes and I am overwhelmed.  But I didn’t break until the nurse gave me permission to hold MY baby.

The nurses carefully moved her wires and equipment and helped me to loosen my gown so that we could do skin to skin.  The moment I held her against me she stopped crying.  The nurses explained to me that she had a c-pap machine, feeding tube, an IV in her scalp, and some other devices that helped to monitor and maintain her vitals.

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I was devastated.  I remember secretly telling my husband that I wasn’t being discharged without her and if that meant I had to hide in the hospital I would.  I stayed in her room all day everyday until my nurses began calling down for me because my body needed to be tended to.

Thankfully through it all I had lots of Love, support, and encouragement from my family and friends.  One day the sisterhood president from my church called to check on me.  I began to cry to her.  She told me not to see my daughter as she was but to picture how I wanted her to be.  That night I went to sleep with that thought on my mind.  I dreamed that I was holding my daughter in my room and I kissed her on her body and said “Thank you Jesus” I then passed her to my husband who was on the couch next to me and he kissed her and said “Thank you Jesus” and passed her back to me.  We did this over and over, kissing her in different places,  thanking God, and passing her back and forth.

I woke up still saying “Thank you Jesus”.  It was four something in the morning.  I called down to her room to ask her nurses how she was doing.  The nurse told me “Actually it’s funny you called.  She actually just knocked her feeding tube loose, but we are going to try and feed her and if she does well we will leave it off and see what else we can remove one by one.”  I can’t tell you the smile I fell asleep with on my face.  That next morning I went down to find her off of every machine and ready to nurse.  My baby was on the road to recovery and  doctors projected we could be discharged together, which we did.

I recognize that my NICU story may not be typical, but I just want to give hope to other mothers out there, that their happy ending is out there.

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