September is NICU Awareness Month. I’m fortunate to be blessed twice in my life by the NICU.
I was a NICU baby. I was one of the lucky ones, especially for the year 1988. Born 6 weeks early, all the doctors said I’d get sicker before I got better, but instead I only got better. By the grace of God and the skill of doctors at St. Joes, I spent just three days in the hospital.
This past May, I was medically induced into labor due to high blood pressure. I wasn’t really concerned about my baby being in the NICU. Everyone tells you 37 weeks is term, everything should be fine. Considering the nurses really weren’t concerned beforehand, I’m sure that is usually the case.
My son, Aiden, was born on May the 4th at around 6:30. I can’t recall the time because I was rushed in for a c section, petrified. I held him for a brief moment before they whisked him out of my arms. I’ve had three other children, and when I saw the amount of people surrounding my baby, I knew something was wrong.
Aiden’s lungs were underdeveloped and lacked surfactant, very similar to my condition 30 years ago. I was naive. I don’t think I truly understood how sick he really was until the next day. My thoughts were he’d only get better and we’d be out in a couple days.
I didn’t hold my baby again for two days.
He wasn’t nursed until he was 5 days old.
His dad didn’t hold him until he was 5 days old.
I was discharged without my baby.
He couldn’t come home till he was 11 days old.
The lowest point was walking into my sons’ room in the middle of the night on day 7 and hearing he had a de-sat that was significant. He had such a good day earlier and I hoped we’d get discharged soon. All I could do is cry and just say how I just should’ve waited. I shouldn’t have let them induce. I’ll never forget the night nurse who let me cry and reminded me that if I wasn’t induced, it could’ve been worse. It was NOT my fault.
There is mourning that comes with having a baby in a NICU. Even though Aiden was relatively ok, I still mourn the fact I didn’t get to have a labor and delivery like I did with my first three. I had an emergent c-section, didn’t get to bond with my baby or have him in my room. My kids suffered because they were without their mommy for quite a while. Not having all my children together was heartbreaking.
But then as any NICU parent will tell you, there are some truly amazing moments. The wonderful memories etched into my mind, include: the first time I fed my baby, that I nursed him, when he got off the c-pap, and finally taking him home.
I also had an amazing community of friends and family, that visited me at the hospital, brought food for my family and made sure my kids got to and from school.
Thankfully, Aiden is fine. I’m incredibly thankful to all the doctors and nurses that took care of us both. Know that if you’re a NICU mom it’s ok to not be ok. As hard as it is, try to take care of yourself and take the help that is offered. And hold on to your faith in whatever that may be.