It’s hard. The NICU is not a place you ever want to be. It’s a place that is amazing, because of what they can do for each of God’s smallest creations. But, it’s definitely not somewhere you would want to end up.
Pregnancy is supposed to be a beautiful adventure. But what happens when that adventure ends too soon? Sometimes, shortly after you are finally showing, feeling all those kicks and turns, and just beginning the nursery? It’s a crazy abrupt turn in a direction you never thought was possible. It’s downright scary. The machines, the tubes, the constant beeping, the medical words and explanations, the ups and downs. Unless you’ve experienced it yourself, you never know the hard life of a NICU mom. It’s both physical and emotional. You are tugged in every direction and the roller coaster ride is unimaginable.
This is our second time in the NICU. Mister Man was born at 31 weeks and while we spent a month in the NICU, I have to admit my body and mind were on overdrive. I really did not experience his time in the NICU. It was more of just doing what needed to be done and hoping for the best. Unfortunately, I don’t remember much of that month at all. I almost think I was numb.
So this time around I have made a point to take notes, journal and be more aware of what is going on. This has been great, except I feel much more emotional, scared and worried. Sometimes knowing more than you did before will make things harder. I know that at certain weeks gestation we can start doing certain things like suckling, breastfeeding, moving to an open crib, etc.. This makes it even more difficult because those weeks come and go many times and you are hoping for those moments.
To say the least, it’s been very difficult already and I think we are maybe halfway through. The machines don’t intimidate me like they did with Mister Man, but the side effects of the treatments, especially the steroids and intubation, do. It’s a new experience and while we thought Mister Man had issues with breathing, we had no idea how easy we had it. Sugar Plum is doing great, but can’t seem to get past the breathing tube. We’re hopeful it will be soon, but it’s a sit and wait issue and completely out of our hands.
This is the hardest part, knowing you have no control. You can only hold your sweet baby for 2 hours a day. You are pumping non-stop, but you can’t actually take your baby to your breast because they are not ready. It’s a hard job to be a mom looking in at your baby through a plastic box, trusting others with your baby’s well-being.
One of the hardest things is watching them cry. Being intubated means they cannot make a sound because there is a tube stuck down their throat. They make a sad, crying face, but it’s like a silent film. You cannot cuddle them like you would a full-term baby, instead you can do containment holding to try to calm them. Unfortunately, even this doesn’t always work and it still doesn’t fulfill that need to comfort them. It. Is. Excruciating.
In all honesty, it’s been hard not to blame myself for the fight our little angel is undertaking. While I know there was nothing I could have done to change the early delivery, it was still my body that kicked them out too soon, twice. And this is something I have to fight with everyday. It’s a struggle.
My patience and faith are growing. Knowing God is in control is comforting, but it’s still hard to watch and be positive every minute, of every hour, of every day. We hope, pray, trust and struggle with every up and down. It’s a long, hard experience, but somehow we make it through another day and watch with hope for tomorrow.