Despite our best efforts, the Husband and I are NICU parents again.
It’s not what we wanted, and I really believed that taking the progesterone shots again would help avoid the situation. Quite frankly, it sucks.
The kids aren’t allowed in the NICU, so they haven’t yet met their brother, and we don’t know how long it will be until he comes home. I keep telling myself that it’s only temporary.
Unfortunately, having been both a NICU Mom and a well-child mom, I know that I’m up for a whole different type of emotional turmoil and sleep deprivation than having a child in the well-baby nursery.
6 am – I’m in the NICU with my baby boy, trying to coax another feeding out of him. Sometimes he latches, sometimes he doesn’t. I can’t force the breast because I know that if he doesn’t gain weight and keep his glucose levels up he’ll stay in the NICU even longer. I get an update on the overall status of his night from the nurse before getting kicked out for shift change.
7 am – Back at the room, I begin pumping. The Husband passes out on that thing they call to pull-out bed. Before I’m done, the postpartum nurse has already stopped by to give me my latest dose of medication and the tech has come by to take my vitals. Next up is the OB, who checks my c-section incision. Does it hurt? Of course, it does, and so does all the swelling in my feet and the pain in my shoulders.
8 am – Call my mom to see how the kids are behaving for her. I started the day thinking I might actually get a shower before the 9 am feeding, but instead I get to wipe myself down with an adult version of baby wipes and add a few swipes of deodorant. Thank goodness for dry shampoo. Even though this was my third c section, I apparently brought the wrong clothes. I can barely lean over enough to put on my yoga pants and fresh gigantic hospital underwear. At exactly the moment I need to leave for the next feeding session, my breakfast is dropped off. It will have to wait until later.
9 am – Exit the postpartum ward. Ring the doorbell to the NICU and wait to be let in. Most visitors are required to scrub in before entering. That means no jewelry, and scrubbing your hands and arms with the equivalent of a sterilized brillo pad. Since I still have an IV in my arm, I get to skip straight to the hand sanitizer. I spend the next hour cuddling with and feeding the baby. The husband gets to give him a bottle after I’ve soaked up most of the time with attempted breastfeeding.
10:30 am – Back in the room. Breakfast is cold, and I’m too hungry to care. I scarf down the best parts, leaving most of the english muffin and the grapefruit juice. Lunch orders were taken while I was gone, so my next meal is a mystery. Time again to pump, clean up the pumping supplies and get my vitals taken. My mother and my older kids arrive with only fifteen minutes to spare before my next feeding at the NICU.
12:10 pm – I’m a little late getting to the feeding. My mother brought the Boppy, and it’s so much easier to nurse this way. Baby is far more secure and dozes off while he eats. I may also end up nodding off to a light sleep while he’s nursing. Next thing I know an hour has gone by and I need to quickly feed him his supplement while I meet up again in the room with my family.
1:30 pm – The hospital room is chaos as I manage my older girls, who are getting bored, coach the Husband on everything that needs to be done before the 6-year-old goes back for the first day of school tomorrow, and help figure out what everyone else will be eating for dinner tonight.
2:15 pm – The Husband and the kids leave for the night, leaving my mother and me to talk while I quickly pump and scarf down my lunch.
3 pm – My IV is now off, so I scrub in at the NICU for the next feeding with the surgical sponge and brush. This place takes no chances. I try not to fall asleep while nursing baby E.
4 pm – I head back to the room with my mother. A phone call from the Husband shows he’s already overwhelmed. I quickly pull together a week’s worth of menu items based on what’s in our house and what can be bought at the store, create a grocery list on the Wegmans app and email the list to my mother. I love technology. Realize when the nurse came in that I missed a dose of medication. No wonder I was getting so sore.
5 pm – I’m alone in my room for the first time in 3 days. Instead of pumping, I try to get some rest and check my email. Decide that my Bloglovin feed and email are too big to deal with right now, so I take a fifteen-minute nap before heading back to the NICU.
6 pm – NICU time. Never actually took that nap. Get a quick rundown of baby E’s status from the daytime NICU nurse and quickly feed and change the baby before getting kicked out for shift change.
7 pm – Back to my room. Eat my cold dinner quickly and pump while giving my father and stepmother an update. Get frustrated when asked, “When is a time we can call that you won’t be doing something else?” Meet the night shift nurse. Like everyone else, she marvels at my bruises. Finally, I met a nurse that is willing to adjust my medication and vital stats timing based on when I will actually be in the room.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Having a #baby is exhausting, especially in the #NICU ? via @PlayDatesParty” quote=”Having a #baby is exhausting, especially in the #NICU ?”]
8 pm – Attempt to get on the computer again. Still overwhelmed with the inbox and undone tasks. As I am swinging my swollen legs over the edge of the bed to make it to the NICU by 9 pm, the NICU night shift nurse calls and tells me the baby is ready to eat. Can I please get there quickly?
10 pm – Back in the room. Pump again and make sure that everything is clean for a long night of nursing and pumping. Get my night meds from the nurse. Call the husband and get updates on the kids’ nights before he goes to bed.
11:15 pm – Turn off the computer for a half hour snooze.
Midnight – Baby E is wide awake, but not really interested in eating. I try for over an hour while fighting a losing battle against my body’s need for sleep. I say a small prayer that his glucose levels stay up.
1:20 am – Back in the hospital room. The nurse comes by & gives me some Motrin while I pump. All I want to do is sleep. I finally get to do that at 1:40.
2:50 am – My alarm goes off. Time to head back to the NICU for another feeding.
4 am – Back at the room for yet another pumping session and check in with the nurse. This time, I’m shortening my pumping session so it only takes about 30 minutes from start to finish. Back to sleep at 4:45.
6 am – Back in the NICU for another day of nursing, pumping, poking, prodding, and trying to just keep it all together.
Tomorrow I will officially leave my baby boy at the hospital. I know that it could be so much worse, but my heart aches to know that we are in the same position we were in with T’s birthday 6 years ago.