“It’s frustrating to have this start. We’re exhausted and angry, making for a stressful situation on top of a stressful situation.“
If I learned anything in my first NICU experience, it’s that you have to be an advocate for your child. There are times when you might actually know what’s better for your child than the nurse or doctor who gets paid to know what’s best – to make decisions about and care for your child.
So at 7:00pm on the 20th, almost 12 hours after he was born, when I was finally allowed to hold and feed my baby, I told the nurse I forbid bottles. Bottles make feeds easier on babies. I didn’t believe Win needed the easy route. He would eat, and he would eat from me. And if I wasn’t there because my own recovery required me to be in a different building, she would have to call me back. She would have to call me back at 7:00pm, at 10:00pm, at midnight, at 3:00am, at 6:30am. Oh, she would be seeing a lot of me.
I vowed to be the cog in the wheel. I was not along for the ride this time. We made it very clear that we did not feel our son needed to be in the NICU. We would not be playing their game.
Had Win’s initial blood sugar not been an issue, we would have skipped over the close monitoring that comes with the cords and sensors of NICU life. We would have never known he was slightly tachyneic. We would have never known his blood sugar was dipping into questionable territory and rising every few hours. His little heals would not have had to be poked. He would not have needed an IV, pumping him full of man-made “nutrients”. We could have held him skin-to-skin sooner. He could have relaxed with us instead of being on his own his first hours in this bright, cold, scary world. And his sister wouldn’t have had to go back to the very NICU she started in to meet her brother.
It’s not as though Oaklee would remember anything about the NICU, but I knew seeing her there again would be hard for me. We put off her visit the first 24 hours, hoping to be out of there before she met her brother, but it was starting to feel like she needed to come despite our location.
When Oaklee rounded the corner to lay eyes on her brother for the first time, I completely lost it. The height of this moment was everything: my “big” NICU grad meeting her brother for the very first time as a NICU patient himself. I was so happy to see her. I was sad to see her in the NICU. I was excited to show her new baby brother to her. I was flooded with emotions.
She leaned over and gave me the stuffed monkey I’d bought for her to bring to Win. She tickled his toes. She kissed his forehead. She was quiet and confused and observant.
And we were a family of four.
Hours later Win got the okay to be discharged. He teetered on the edge with his blood sugars, but I truly believe they saw our determination and knew that we knew he’d be fine. We exhaustedly waited for our escort back to the other building, and settled in by about 10:00pm for whatever sleep we could get.
We’d done it. We got him out of the NICU. We may not have come off as the most patient, the most understanding, the most gracious people. But we just wanted what everyone wants. We wanted to snuggle and love on and be with our newborn son. And we’d seen enough in the past to know that he could not only handle that, but probably benefit from it, too.
In the stats:
Gestational Age: 36 weeks, 5 days
Actual Age: 1 day