The comfort of touch
Having a premature baby is so different from having a normal, healthy delivery. When I found out that I was going to have a preemie in the NICU, I tried to prepare myself as much as possible for what was going to happen. I reached out to other NICU parents to hear their stories, I began reading books about premature births, and my husband and I visited the NICU. One of the biggest things I had to prepare for though was that I probably wasn’t going to be able to hold and possibly might not even see my baby when he was born. My last and final pregnancy was going to come to an end early and I wouldn’t even be able to hold the little guy when he came out.
My baby is now five days old and I still haven’t held him. The idea of not holding him was unbearable at first and took a lot of mental preparing in the small amount of time I had to adjust. I was slightly comforted by the fact that my husband might at least get to hold him and have skin-to-skin time with him if he was stable. My instructions to my husband on delivery day were to stay with the baby and hold him as long as they’d let him. Unfortunately, the realities of that day did not allow for any of this. When they pulled my son out, I heard a few weak cries, which gave me huge relief because I was terrified that he would be still born after all the issues he seemed to have while being monitored the day before delivery. They immediately began working on him and as soon as they could, placed him inside the isolet. There was no time for my husband to hold him and in fact, my husband and I were lucky to get the briefest of peeks at him before they took him away. My husband did not go with the baby as planned because he would’ve been in the way and just ended up ushered to a waiting room away from the baby. So he remained with me, which I ended up being so thankful for, as they finished me up. I was sent to recovery once I was done and after about an hour of settling in and waiting, I sent my husband to the NICU to see what was going on. It was still another hour or more before he really knew anything and even then he didn’t really get to see the baby because they were still working on him. It wasn’t until later that night, after I’d settled into my new room and eaten some dinner, that I finally was able to get wheeled over to the NICU for about a five minute visit to see my baby.
When he was born they said he was 2 pounds, 12 ounces, but hearing that still hadn’t prepared me for just how small he was going to be. He was smaller than any of the baby dolls my older sons had at home and was hooked up to, what seemed like, a million tubes and wires, including a tube down his throat to breath. I could hardly see his tiny, fragile body under it all, but I knew that little being under there was mine and loved him immediately. I wasn’t allowed to touch him, which made my body ache, but I was so exhausted after all that had happened and full of drugs, I didn’t fight it. The next day I awoke early for blood pressure checks, medications, and everything else they do to you in the hospital. As soon as I could get someone to bring me a wheelchair, I was up visiting my son. I couldn’t wait to not only see him, but hopefully touch him.
When they told me I could reach in and touch him, I was so nervous and excited. He was so frail, I was afraid I would crush him with the slightest pressure from my finger. I reached my hands through the portholes and gently placed my hand on his foot and then cupped my other hand around his tiny head as the nurse had showed me. It was amazing to finally touch his small warm body; my eyes filled with tears. I was afraid to touch him for too long because I didn’t want to over stimulate him, so I left knowing that that brief touch would hold me until I could come back later that day for more.
Here I am now, several days later and I am no longer afraid to touch my baby. In fact, my touches have become longer in length. There is nothing either of us seems to enjoy more than for him to wrap is long slender hand around my finger while he sleeps. It seems to comfort him and it relaxes me. We are having our first moments of mother-son bonding. Now I am just eagerly craving the next step in our bonding, which will hopefully come any day now; finally holding my baby. Once that happens, they are going to have to pry my baby away from me. For now though, I am happy with our little touches and the time we have together.