Friday, November 28, 2008

Life with a premature baby in the NICU

The Little One is two weeks and three days old now. I think the first two weeks of her life I was running on pure adrenaline. I didn't have time to process anything that was happening. I was in "fight or flight" mode.

Now that she's been pretty stable, doing well and I'm getting used to my new routine, things have started to settle in more. I woke up today and thought, "Holy smokes! I'm a Mom! I've got a little daughter in my life now!" It's pretty surreal.

I can't describe the feeling I get whenever I see my precious little miracle. She is so sweet and so funny already. When she sleeps, she does her little calisthenics. She stretches her legs and her arms. She does this funny movement with her shoulders. It's really cute. The best part is when she does these facial expressions that remind me of my Dad. She looks like her grandpa when she sleeps!

Of course, there are all these wonderful moments I get to share with my daughter a lot sooner than I would have if she were born at term. There are also aspects of having a premature baby that aren't so easy to deal with.

I constantly worry about how her future and her health will turn out because she is premature. I think about "Will she be okay tomorrow?" or "Will she develop as she should?". I suppose all parents think about these things even when they have a term baby. With preemies though, there are a lot of things that are up in the air. They need a lot more time to develop and they have to work harder.

The Little One is doing great so far. She is breathing room air for much of the time and today she was on low flow again for two hours. She's gained another 10 g. She's now 1110 g! The doctors are happy with her and say all she needs now is to grow :)

I've been very fortunate to have a good support network. My friends and family have been wonderful. I have also been able to bond with some of the other parents (mostly moms since the dads tend to come after work or on weekends) and having people know exactly what I'm going through has helped a lot. They've been there and can sympathize and offer support and understanding.

I've had some people ask me questions that I have a hard time with...or make comments that really baffle me. I know that if one has never had a preemie, it would be hard to relate to. I totally understand that. I'm just venting here because I need to. I know people don't mean anything malicious by their questions and comments, but I just have problems understanding why they would even say the things they do.

It upsets me when:
1) People say things like "Do you really need to be at the hospital all day?"
Ummm...Hello, people! She is my daughter! Of course I have to be at the hospital all day! If you had a baby in the NICU, wouldn't you feel the need to be with your baby too?

2) People say things like "Well, what do you do there all day?"
Okay, are you serious?? I pump milk for my baby every two hours, I spend time with my baby, I sing to her, read to her, talk to her, hold her, change her diapers, pump again several times during the day, try to fit in a few minutes to eat something quick, talk to her nurses and doctors about her progress, etc. I barely have any time to breathe! Asking me what I do at the hospital all day just makes me feel like they really have noooooo idea what I'm going through.

People say "If you think you're tired now, wait until you have the baby home with you!" or "Right now you have it easy. You get to relax and rest while the nurses take care of your baby in the NICU!"
This by far is the worst for me. I feel like saying, "You're kidding me, right?!" I'm freaking tired. I just delivered a baby 12 weeks earlier than her due date. Everything happened so fast. She was taken away from me pretty much right away. I had to leave her at the hospital. We were separated and I don't get to hold her and be with her like one would be able to with a term baby. Sure, the nurses are with her 24-7 and I'm there for the morning, day and parts of the evening sometimes, but it doesn't mean I am "relaxing" or "resting". I'm not! If I were at home with her, yes I'd be tired, but I'd have her home with me. I'd be in my own house and in my own bed. With her in the NICU, I'm up at 5AM pumping, I leave at 6 something, I'm at the hospital at 7 something, I pump again, I'm in the NICU with her to do diaper change, I'm there when the doctors do their rounds, I'm at the hospital the entire day. Then I have to commute by subway, bus and walking. When I'm not with my baby, I'm thinking of her. I call the NICU at night to check up on her. Don't tell me I have it easy and that I am resting and relaxing, because it's quite the opposite.

Sorry for that rather long venting session there! I just needed to get some things off my chest.


Anonymous said...

C - it's true.. people are silly and they don't understand... not that I really do, but I get the idea. Like the people that don't have kids that ask you what you've done all day, besides look after your baby.

I am thoroughly loving reading your blog every day, and I can't wait until we can hang out some day!

I hope you have a fabulous time with hubby this weekend! You deserve it! So sorry to hear about your kitty, that breaks my heart!

take care!
-J from the Island :)

J at said...

People who ask these questions, I think that they don't have any child, talk about a preemie. Having a baby, any baby, is tiring. But to add the stress and fear of having a baby in the hospital is 10x worse.

Also, I think you're doing an awesome job of taking care of yourself and your baby. You can't take care of her if you're not strong and healthy, so you've been doing your best. I think some people want to encourage you to stay strong, to take care, to take some bit of time for yourself, and perhaps they do it clumsily.

Am I one of these people? With my mom, I know what helped me through it. I want you to stay strong and have some time for yourself, because I think it will help both you and your baby. But if I'm telling you what to do too much, please let me know. :)

Enjoy your weekend. Spend a ton of time with your baby, and maybe date night with hubby. You both need it right now.

merinz said...

Vent as much as you like Chrissy - we are here for you, to listen and support you!

Have a great weekend

Cherry said...

This is your place to vent away.

This is not the way any parents wants to start off this beautiful new beginning. You are being the wonderfully kind and loving mom you have been from probably before you even knew you were pregnant. You are doing all you can for her and you have adjusted so well to this not so traditional way of living with a newborn.
Newborns are never easy and you will probably never stop wondering if she is doing ok, you are a parent, it's part of the job description. But like you said, a preemie has even more struggling and extra hard work to do to catch up. She really is so strong and that is because of you and your presence and your love. (oh and those weeks of bed rest gave her a big boost!)
As a friend of parents, I know I have slipped up from time to time and questioned how they are parenting. It's never been out of malice, and usually out of sharing a story or out of concern for my friend. It wasn't my place and it's not theirs. You're the mama!

I know I've probably said to you a few too many times that you need to rest for her and for you. You know what you need to do, even if us nosey people keep butting in.

Enjoy your time with your precious baby and your Hubby. This is a very sweet reunion of the family.

C said...

Anonymous J:
:) Can't wait to be back on the Island with my baby! I'm thinking it may be Feb, but if all goes well, maybe Jan! I doubt Dec because Dec is almost here and she still has a lot of growing to do and needs to breathe completely on her own and master her "suck-swallow-breathe" reflexes.

So glad to you found me! It'll be nice to have a mommy friend on the Island!

C said...

J and Cherry:
Oh, of course it wasn't you guys who made me feel badly/upset :) Quite the opposite! You two have been a real source of comfort and support throughout the entire pregnancy (and TTC).

I do heed your advice and know you are right about needing to take some down time and having to take care of myself.

It's the comments some other people make that I mentioned in my post that upset me. It makes me think that some people just don't have a clue...then again, why should they if they've never had to go through anything like this. I know it's totally understandable. I'm probably just being very hormonal and overly sensitive. Maybe I'm just tired! LOL!

C said...

Thanks so much :) I don't usually like to vent, rant, or complain...but needed to unload! LOL!

Dina said...

it is amazing how insensitive people can be. They often speak without thinking (myself included at times!)

i think some people just don't know what to say so they speak rubbish to you. Just ignore it (as hard as it may be)

I enjoy hearing your vents and this is definitely the place to do them!

Veronica said...

Gah, anyone who says things like that obviously didn't think before speaking.

Or else they don't have children themselves?

[My friend who had a NICU baby, said she actually got more sleep once her son was home because she could relax knowing that he was right there next to her]

Sharon - Mom Generations said...

You have a little miracle to love and care for... it doesn't matter if she is home or in the hospital. She is your baby. If you slept in a tent in the hallway or on the front lawn of the hospital... that would be okay, too. People do say the most insensitive things...

You are a perfect Mommy. You are a perfect Mommy to your perfect Little One. Take in each moment of her... each breath and each movement. She is loving you and that is all that matters in the whole world.

C said...

True. Though I know the people who say these things probably don't mean any harm at all, it really shocks me that they don't seem to have a clue at all sometimes. I have gotten the "What do you mean you can't go out?" or "How about I meet you after work and we go out for a drink or something?" Usually I don't go out after being at the hospital all day because I'm just plain exhausted and I don't drink because...well, my baby drinks my milk and I am not going to be drinking alcohol while she does this! :)

Word verifucation: gangstere
LOL! Don't know why I find that funny.

C said...

Thank you for this comment :) You always seem to know just the right things to say at the right moment. Thank you for that. You are so right.

By the way, Hubby was with us at the hospital today and we enjoyed watching our little miracle all day. She is so amazing and she has quite the character already!

Rosie : ) said...

You are totally right about being upset. The funny part in all this is that it almost seems like you're a stay-at-home Mom by the questions they are asking.

1) By staying at the hospital all day with your daughter, you are giving her the most love and care you can possibly give her. You are showing her you are there for her and that she's not alone. That is worth more than any comment.

I know I'm always giving examples, so skip this is you aren't interested, but when our son was really sick as a baby and he was hospitalized for awhile after his seizure, I had a cot brought into his room to stay with him during his hospital time. Nurses were telling me:"You can go home, we'll take care of him." (I'm sure they meant well) but I told them it was ok, I would much rather stay with my son. They tried to reassure me by saying that other Moms went home and just visited once a day for a few hours when their kids were in the hospital. WHAT !?!? You would have had to pick me up, kicking and screaming to tear me away from my ill child. I understand to some degree why you need to be with her all the time. I've never been in your situation, but I do think I might react the same way. :)

2) This is a funny question. You should say:"I have my hair in curlers, I eat bonbons all day while watching soap operas... oh wait, I'm not a stay-at-home Mom yet." {eyeroll} I think some people might just want to make conversation. Who knows?

3) Wow. I think you are very tired. You aren't sleeping in your own bed, you are in a strange city, you have to commute to even see your baby...On top of everything else you mentioned, you have every right to be tired. I think at least at home with your baby, you can adapt to their routines and find the right time to wind down. Plus, you are super far from your hubby, your support system of friends and family. I think your tiredness is also a huge chunk of stress and uncertainty?

C, I am so sorry people are hurting you (whether they mean to or not) and I hope you can try to look past it, put it down to curiosity and conversation-making maybe. Think of it as if they are talking about the weather. :) Or maybe they just really care about you, and don't know how to show their worried thoughts?

We are thinking of you guys. :) xoxo

Eve said...

Argh! I feel for you girl.
My son was in the hospital for a month when he was three. He was very close to death. I had a 1 year old daughter at home with Grandma. When I was in the hospital I was worried about my daughter, when I was home I was worried about my son. It was a dark time in our lives. It's horrible to be away from home and family. It will be so nice when you can bring your sweet baby girl home. She is looking so healthy! I can't believe she was born at 28 weeks, just amazing. She's adorable and you are already an amazing mom. Good job.

pattimckenzie said...

Don't be sorry for feeling this way... Some people just don't have a clue. I haven't had a preemie, but I have a 6 year old son and I'm due Feb. 10, so I understand what you mean when you say that it bothers you when people ask things like what do you do all day. That to me is an insult because looking after children is not as easy as some people think and the added stress of having your baby stay in the hospital while you are discharged is exponentially worse!!
You're doing a great job and don't let anyone get you down.You're doing exactly what any loving parent would, And chances are, these people who are making these comments would be doing EXACTLY the same things you are doing now if they were in your shoes. Take care of yourself.

P. McKenzie

Karen MEG said...

What insensitive comments, but I don't think people are thinking when they say them.

Where else WOULD you be, if not with your baby as much as possible! That's where any newborn belongs, with mommy 24/7 most of the time, especially if you're nursing. Sheesh!

Karen MEG said...

What insensitive comments, but I don't think people are thinking when they say them.

Where else WOULD you be, if not with your baby as much as possible! That's where any newborn belongs, with mommy 24/7 most of the time, especially if you're nursing. Sheesh!

Don Mills Diva said...

I cannot believe that anyone would characterize what you re doing as easier than giving birth to a full-term baby and caring for it at home. Ummm, stress factor maybe?

People are idiots!

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City girl moves to the country, falls in love, and marries a farmer. She tries to incorporate her city ways with her new country lifestyle and blogs to keep in touch with friends, family & students who live far, far away :) Can this city girl go country? Watch as she learns all sorts of exciting things about life on the farm and in a small rural community. *UPDATE* We are now parents! Our baby girl was born on Nov. 11, 2008 (at 28 weeks gestation- 12 weeks premature, but she's quite the trooper)!!!
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