Adjusting to life in the NICU
The quiet is peaceful and the soft hum of the surrounding machines and monitors is almost relaxing, comforting. It takes me away from the beeps and dings of the fast paced, technology driven, social media filled world and drops me into a different kind of technology driven world, a world filled with medical technology that is keeping my baby alive. The world inside the NICU.
Most parents are lucky to never have to learn about this world, but for those who do, it is like a club you never wanted to join, but you sure are glad to have the support of. I was lucky enough to have three relatively “normal” pregnancies and births, and with my youngest being two, I thought I was home-free on ever having to deal with things like NICUs, birth defects, food allergies, or anything else you worry about during pregnancy and the first two years of a child’s life. I felt blessed. Then we decided to push our luck and have a fourth child, now here I sit, adjusting to life as a NICU parent.
This afternoon my son will turn 5 days old. He was born premature at 31 weeks. Over the past three weeks, my family and I have been on quite the roller coaster ride and had a lot to adjust to. During this time I was admitted to the hospital, put on bed rest, told I’d be there for five weeks only to learn I’d be lucky to make it through three weeks, and then to be told the baby would be taken in the morning. After the brith, we had to adjust to life in the NICU and all the ups and downs it brings. We had to learn quickly that things can change fast and that we really needed to take things hour by hour. We needed to learn how to split time between three kids at home and a tiny baby at the hospital. Here we are five days in though and I think we are finally getting the hang of things. That isn’t to say that things can’t and won’t change, it just means we are learning to roll with the punches and to forgive ourselves of any guilty we might feel for not being with any one child at any given time.
I almost feel fortunate now that I was in the hospital on bed rest for two weeks before I had my fourth son. This time made me miss my three boys at home so much that I couldn’t wait to get home to them so I could read them stories and tuck them into bed at night again. When I was discharges from the hospital, but had to leave my baby behind, it wasn’t as painful as I thought it would be. I was lucky enough to have three boys waiting for me at home that were in need of some major mommy time. Getting many, much missed, cuddles from them helped me to adjust to life back at home. This way I didn’t have to feel torn between caring for my newborn and lavishing attention on my older children who were feeling neglected. While at home, I am able to completely concentrate on my older boys and be with them. During the day, while I am at the NICU, I am able to focus on my baby and his care. I’m sure the fact that he seems to be doing well, is making progress, and is in the best care possible makes it easier for me to do this and elevates a lot of the guilt.
Of course, we are still taking things day by day and have a long road ahead of us, but I feel like we can handle this challenge. We have so much to look forward to, I haven’t even held my baby yet, and when this is all over and we bring him home, we will look back in disbelief that we ever even went through this. For right now, I feel like we’ve already cleared one of our biggest hurdles, adjusting to life in the NICU. From here we can handle whatever the future hands. We have so much to be thankful for.