by Rumour Miller on January 13, 2011

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Times 3.

All three of our gorgeous girls spent their first few days of life (outside my body) in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the hospital where they were born.  I have never experienced the wonderful bliss of holding one of my babies as soon as they were born. Before Piper was born it never even dawned on me that she could be early and that she could spend any amount of time in the NICU.  Even when I went into labour at 36 weeks. It didn’t even cross my mind…. until the nurse started talking about it during my labour. By that point, I had other things to focus on.

I have talked about our experiences with the NICU here and there.  Just before Christmas, I was contacted by Rebecca over at Today’s Preemie via Twitter and she asked me if I would be interested in creating a post to share on her Facebook page about our experiences.

Everyone’s experience is different.  Each experience is unique and personal.  Some babies spend the first months of their lives in the NICU.  Two weeks was our longest, thankfully but even those two weeks felt like a lifetime.

By the time Quinn arrived, I felt quite prepared in the event of a NICU stay but I prayed and hoped it wouldn’t happen.

I just want to say that the NICU staff and nurses are awesome.  They care for our babies around the clock and they (depending on your baby’s situation) encourage and welcome your active participation during your baby’s stay in the NICU.  I am going to be honest and say that sometimes you get a nurse that knows his/her stuff and is a wonderful nurse, but isn’t all that great with the parents.  Don’t let that nurse intimidate you!  If you want to be with your baby… go and be with your baby.  Touch her and hold her (situation depending, of course).  Talk to her, sing to her.  I believe that your baby knows you and she knows that you are there.  Go to the NICU whenever you can and whenever you want to.  If it soothes your soul just to sit there, then do that.  It’s your baby and you want to be with her.

Take pictures.  Despite the rough start, you will look back at those photos and see just how far your little one has come.  You will want to remember what she looked like with that big green soother in her mouth.  The pictures are part of her story and although they are not photos that we focus on, I am so thankful that I have them.

When Piper was born, she was whisked away pretty fast and I was quite out of it and high on drugs because of the pain from my c-section.  Craig got to be with her and my Mom and Sister got to see her but no one got to hold her.  I saw her for a brief time a few hours after my c-section and I was able to reach into her little isolette and touch her soft head.

Then they wheeled me back to my room where I tried to get some rest and, of course, couldn’t.  I listened to Craig snoring and I dozed in and out of sleep and, when I could not take it anymore, I woke Craig up (which happened to be at about 4:00 a.m.) and told him to go and check on Piper.  What felt like an hour later (but was really only about 10 minutes) he reappeared in my room with a NICU nurse right behind him…. carrying Piper.  I finally got to hold her, but not for long.

Piper primarly struggled with fast breathing (at first) and feeding issues along with jaundice.  So, I wasn’t allowed to hold her very often and I wasn’t allowed to hold her for very long.  I had a sleepy 36 weeker who was fed with a tube for the first few days.  We tried breastfeeding but with my lack of supply and her lack of energy, we were not able to make it work.

I remember always wondering if I could hold her or touch her.  Ask!  And then do!  As often as you can.  After 12 days, Piper was discharged.  Those were exhausting days for me.  I was pulled to be at the NICU.  I was pumping every 3 hours around the clock.  I could hardly function.  I was incredibly sore from my c-section. I remember going home one evening, getting into bed and before I knew it Craig was waking me to pump and eat.

Those NICU days are exhausting but they are not forever.  Take the help when you can get it.  Rest.  Use the rooms that they have available for NICU Moms.  When your neighbour offers to bring dinner over, let her!  Say thank you and enjoy it.

Davilyn arrived the earliest at 34 weeks. We were much more prepared for the NICU experience this time, but it did not make it any easier.  Leaving my babies behind after I was discharged was always an emotional day for me.  Davilyn was my only baby that had to be intubated after birth because she had wet lungs.  She was a strong baby and after 9 days, Davilyn was discharged.  I was up and moving around (and moving around well) after my c-section with Davilyn.  I spent most of my time in the NICU with her.  I would wake in the middle of the night and want so badly to have her with me, that I would get up and go to the NICU.  She would be sleeping peacefully and I would sit beside her stroking her hand or her cheek.  I would often arrive in time to feed her.  I was in the NICU at all hours of the day and night only taking a break to rest or eat.

During my pregnancy with Quinn, I had hoped that we would avoid the NICU.  I wanted her with me right after delivery and I wanted her with me in my room.  This was my last chance.  She arrived at 35 weeks and had some issues with breathing too fast, so they took her to observation.  When her breathing did not settle down, like they had hoped it would, they admitted her to the NICU.  If I told you that I did not get my hopes up, I would be lying.  I was crushed but faced it head on.  She could still be discharged with me if everything went well.  So I focused on that.

Quinn’s primary issue was that she was not able to coordinate herself while she ate.  She would suck and swallow but would forget to take a break and breath.  This caused her O2 levels to drop and her heart rate to drop.  I was not able to spot her signs, unless I had her sleeper open so that I could see her chest rising and falling to the rhythm of her breath.  This scared me.  We met with the Neonatologist on our 4th day in the hospital and they wanted to discharge her.  They needed the bed.  We wanted her home.  So they set up a plan to monitor her and I (and Craig, because he was just as active in her stay in the NICU as I was.  As he was with all of our girls) while she was eating.  If we could pace her so she did not forget to breath and her stats did not drop for a 24 hour period, she would be discharged.

I was so thankful to finally be discharged and to leave the hospital and to look over in the seat next to me and to see Quinn.  She was discharged when I was and it was an awesome feeling.

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{ 1 comment }

Rebecca Herranen February 12, 2011 at 9:05 am

Such beautiful little girls, and thankfully they are all healthy and whole. No matter how much time they spend in the NICU, it can be tuff. I don’t think anyone who hasn’t been there can even begin to imagine what it is like to have your newborn taken away. But generally most seem to survive and now you can move on and enjoy the blessing that they are.

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