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Saying Goodbye to the NICU!

We are so very excited to be home before Christmas. If you had asked me just last week when I thought we were going home I would have told you it would probable be in early 2015. Well, our son turned a corner and made some rapid progress learning how to eat. We are going home with a feeding tube that goes from his nose to his stomach, but he only uses it at night– and if his progress keeps up we won’t even need that much longer! We are so excited.

I put together some small gift bags for the NICU. When I thought I was going to have the ‘normal’ pregnancy and childbirth experience I had planned on making thank-you bags for my labor and delivery nurses. I never got a chance to do that — though I did send a thank you card to one nurse in particular who was absolutely amazing, and who I will remember for the rest of my life. I wanted to do something to thank the wonderful staff at our NICU for their work. After spending 8 weeks in the NICU we made so many connections and friendships that it feels wrong to just part ways without expressing how much what they did meant to us.

I wanted to find some cute treat bags, but the holiday section at Target was demolished– So we settled for holiday zip-lock bags. When I was thinking about want to put into the bags I wanted to put things they could use: gum, chapstick, etc– Things I had thought of putting into my labor and delivery thank you bags. However, I was planning on making 40+ bags, and those things would get too pricy. So I opted for some others: Chocolate, hard candy, chewy candy, mints, and K-Cups. We heard countless times how the NICU had recently purchased a keurig coffee machine for the break room, but they did not supply the coffee, so the k-cups was our favorite part of the gift bags.

We grabbed a picture with our primary dayshift nurse, passed off the gift bags— and on December 21st walked out of the NICU with our son. I only took 200 pictures from the time we left the NICU until we got home. haha.

We’ve been home for 60 hours and so much has happen that it deserves it own post, but for now I’ll stop here. We’re home!

 

 

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In 37 days…

In the first 37 days of motherhood I have felt every emotion from A to Z. In the beginning most days I spent crying, some days I felt no emotion, but now most days I feel so much love and joy it brings me to tears. My baby boy is a month old (and has been for 5 days!), and what a month it has been.

He is still in the NICU and it has been the roller coaster we were warned about– one step forward, one and a half steps back, two steps forward, three steps back, etc. If you want a more ‘detailed’ explanation of what happened with his first month medically click here.

Things we’ve learned about our son:

  • Getting his diaper changed with a cold wipe is probably the worst thing ever. He cries every time!
  • When he’s awake he wants to look around and be nosy, but a sleepy baby loves to cuddle up close to your cheek.
  • When he’s sleeping and we’ve got to wake him up for whatever reason he makes the cutest baby grunt.
  • He smiles so much in his sleep. We’ve tried to catch it with the camera and have only been semi successful!
  • Getting undressed is second to having his diaper changed in the list of things he hates.
  • Apparently the taste of the gas drops is equivalent to the sweet nectar of the gods.
  • When we turn the light off over his bed it startles him and he gets the most hilarious expression. I laugh out loud every time!
  • He has started really enjoying looking at his mobile, mirror, and his black and white zebra toy. He’ll stare at them so intently… you might even sneak a diaper change in while he’s mesmerized and he won’t have a total baby meltdown.
  • He had a very mild touch of torticollis and plagiocephaly, but his wonderful physical therapist showed us some awesome exercises to help, and he’s had a lot of improvement.
  • He loves his infant massage! We give it to him after his bath and when he’s relaxing in our laps.
  • We’ve affectionately named his left thumb with hypo plastic bones… floppy thumb. Every time we dress him we’re half worried we’re gonna rip it off. He doesn’t seem to mind.
  • He has this episodes where he grunts and his whole face will go red for a second or two, and then like a flash he’s back. We call it ‘squid-ing out
  • Hiccups used to scare the crap out of him and he would cry every time they came around, now he get them and he looks ‘unamused’ by them– the only way I can describe it.
  • He loves having his bottom patted, and we think it’s because I constantly patted his butt while he was still hanging out in my uterus.
  • He loves being swaddled, and if he’s upset it’s usually a 2 second fix to calm him down.

It’s been an exciting month! Hopefully when we break free of the NICU I can do better monthly updates. I want to take his picture with his monthly stickers and have a little ‘questionnaire’ to keep track of his milestones. For now this will have to do.

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I’m human, and I need to vent…

Our first family picture taken on 10/27/14. I love our family, and can't wait to be holding my son in our next family picture. <3

Our first family picture taken on 10/27/14. I love our family, and can’t wait to be holding my son in our next family picture. ❤

I know that in some people’s eyes I am too young (at age 23) to be married, and really too young to have a child, but I did not rush this. I dated my now husband for 5 years before we got married. I graduated college and I am a registered nurse, so I’ve got a career that I even plan to further by obtaining my doctorate degree and be a midwife. My husband and I own our home, own our cars, and made the conscious effort to try to conceive a child.

So why is it that when we did everything ‘right’ (except our age apparently) that we have a sick baby we can’t help, and have to step back and let the slew of surgeons, neonatologists, nurses, and PA’s care for him?

I see babies in the NICU and hear their mother talking about how much she smoked while she was pregnant– and she is curious why her placenta was insufficient? I hear the babies addicted to drugs crying in the next nursery, and I hate their mothers for what they did to them. I know others who ‘accidentally’ got pregnant and they are given a perfectly healthy baby, and they complain constantly about how tired they are, and how fussy their baby is– they don’t know how lucky they are. All of this makes me embarrassingly bitter. All my husband and I can do is sit by his bedside, lay our hands next to him, and hope he feels our presence.

We waited till I was nearly done with school, were married, owned our home, were financially stable and ready, and our baby is so sick and there was nothing we could have done to prevent it or help him. I abstained from all caffeine, didn’t even take tylenol for my aches and pains, read all of the books, and took any advice someone would give– and my baby is on a ventilator with two chest tubes, and I’ve only got to hold him 3 times in his 5 days of life. No skin to skin, no late night diaper changes, no waking up in the middle of the night to nurse. Just a piece of advice: don’t tell a mother who has a baby in the NICU that she’s lucky, because she doesn’t have to get up every couple of hours with a crying baby. Are you kidding me!?

On top of all of this– I come to find out that I have IGT (insufficient glandular tissue) and I may be one of the women in the 5% of all women who physically can not breastfeed. Breastfeeding is something I feel so passionately about, even before I knew I was going to have a sick baby. It’s something that is even more important because it is what is best for babies, and he’s in the NICU– he could use anything possible to give him a boost and my body might not be able to do that for him? I can’t express in words the guilt I feel for this. I know that biologically speaking I did not give my baby his TE-Fistula, but that doesn’t mean I don’t feel guilt over it, but I’m a woman and I should be able to give him this part of me and I’m failing.

I’ve met with several lactation consultants, I’m pumping around the clock; every 2 hours during the day and every 3 hours at night, I’m taking fenugreek & blessed thistle (herbal supplements to increase milk supply), I’m drinking mothers milk tea, I’m using hand expression, warm compresses on my chest, and I’m looking at his pictures and thinking of him while I pump. I’m eating high fiber foods, drinking tons of water– and after all of this, and 5 days postpartum I’m producing drops– Drops that are so small I can’t even suck them into a syringe. I was told to keep trying for 10 days, and after 10 days if nothing changes that I should stop– because my body, my stupid broken body, can’t produce the only thing I can possibly give to my son in his time of need.

I feel so much guilt, and I get bitter when I think about all of this too much– but then I remember that my son is going to be okay. He isn’t going to resent my inability to breastfeed, he is going to leave the NICU one day, and I’ll get my skin to skin, late night diaper changes, and waking up in the middle of the night to nourish him (bottle or breast). I remember that his prognosis could have been so much worse, and he is truly lucky to be where he is now. We are lucky to have a  brilliant medical team watching him closely, and keeping him healthy through his recovery process. We have a beautiful son, a strong baby boy– and one day all of this misery will be a distant memory. For now– I’m only human and despite knowing that the negative emotions I feel aren’t helping anyone, they peek out every once in awhile. I’m getting better at realizing faster how useless they are.