We had a consult with a neonatologist during labor. We knew when they were born, they were going to the NICU. On the way up, they stopped and were able to meet some family in the waiting room. The next day when I was flipping through pictures of that meeting, in the “live photos” I can hear my sister-in-law squealing “Oh my word!” May not sound like much to some, but there is nothing but pure love and joy in those 3 words. I can’t wait for them to hear their Aunt KT’s delight in meeting them for the first time. That picture and those words, now 6 months old, STILL make me cry.
Anyway I saw my babies for a grand total of like 3 minutes before they were whisked away. Which was fine, the NICU was the best place for them. Meanwhile I’m downstairs passing out and wondering if I’m dying or not. For about 2.5 hours I was in recovery and waiting to be able to head upstairs also. They wouldn’t initially let me go because if I were to pass out again, there was no one there to take care of me. It felt like an eternity before they finally let me go. But they did. And my precious angels were there waiting on me.
They were so tiny and I felt awful seeing them hooked up to all the monitors. I wanted to hold them and protect them from any bad thing on this earth. The fact that someone else was telling me all about my babies was difficult. Showing me how to hold them without pulling out cords. The next days were rough for that reason. I felt incomplete. I wasn’t pregnant anymore but my babies weren’t in the room with us. Something was missing.
I was also aware that something was very wrong with me. I wondered if I was struggling with some PPD or if I wasn’t cut out to be a mom, because I had no energy to hold them. Just simply walking to the NICU took every ounce of energy I had within me. I had never really thought of this, but it is so hard for your babies to be in the NICU. I felt so disconnected from them. On Sunday morning, 2 days after they were born, Dr. Clark came back in to check on me. They had done some blood work and my iron level was very low. They asked some questions, gave us some information, and advised us to do a blood transfusion. They left Jeremy and me alone to make the decision. It was kind of scary and weird to think about someone else’s blood coursing through my veins. But I needed it and the pros outweighed the cons. We did have to sign a waiver acknowledging the risks associated with a transfusion. In the end, I am so glad we did that. I felt a hundred times better. I finally had the energy to go love on my babies.
I was discharged the next day. Leaving that hospital without my babies was the hardest thing I have ever done. My daddy was heading back to Greenwood, so on the way home from the hospital we all went to eat at a local BBQ joint. I cried the entire time we were in there. Looking back, I feel so bad for Jeremy and my parents and every other person in that restaurant. What is wrong with this girl in here?! Leaving them was so hard in the moment, but it allowed me the time to recover from childbirth (and sleep through the night). The babies were getting the best care possible and as soon as I realized that, all was right in our world.
We had so many visitors during our hospital stay. Sadie and Spencer are so loved and have been since the day they were born. And even long before that. Mimi, Papa, Mawmaw, Aunt Linh, Mackenzie, Aunt KT, Uncle T, Corby, Charlie, Aunt Janice, Uncle Bobby, Aunt Sandra, Courtney, and Brandon. We loved seeing everyone and introducing our babies to their new family. Unfortunately because it was RSV season, children couldn’t come in the NICU. Corby, Charlie, and Mac couldn’t meet Sadie and Spencer until they were home. And even the other adults couldn’t hold the babies. Jeremy and I were the only ones who could.
There are 3 criteria that had to be met to be discharged from the NICU:
- Breathing room air
- Maintaining body temperature
- Be able to finish a bottle
My sweet babies were breathing room air from the moment they were born. Despite being 6 weeks early, there were never any problems with their lungs and no oxygen was ever needed. They did have problems maintaining body temp and eating the appropriate amount. It was a roller coaster of emotions. We’d have some good days and get so hopeful that a discharge was coming and then we’d backtrack. For every 2 steps forward, we went 3 steps back. In the NICU, they affectionately call white males “wimpy white boys.” Apparently they are the slowest to make progress. My mom never liked that phrase. She took exception to it. How dare they call her only grand son wimpy!?
Sadie was in the NICU for 7 days and Spencer 13 days. Weather in North Carolina is strange. We brought Sadie home on January 6 and it was snowing. Spencer came home 6 days later on January 12 and it was sunny and warm.
Perhaps the most difficult part of this whole experience was on the day Sadie came home: a blizzard had invaded North Carolina! We woke up that next day to 9″ of snow. As a teacher, I LOVE big snow storms. However as a brand new mom with a baby in the NICU, this was devastating. We couldn’t go see my precious Spencer. I’m completely aware that he didn’t know, but I remember feeling so guilty. I didn’t want him to wonder if we didn’t love him or why his parents weren’t coming to see him. Sigh. Mom guilt is so real. I still feel guilty thinking about that.
It was hard juggling a newborn at home and visiting her brother in the NICU. My sweet mom, who hadn’t left us since I gave birth, was such a Godsend. She stayed with Sadie while we would go visit Spencer. She cooked for us, grocery shopped for us, and made sure things around the house got done. Moms just have a way of making everything better. I hope that one day Sadie and Spencer look to me like my siblings and I do her.
While I’m so relieved those 13 days of the NICU are over, I am very grateful for the attention and care they got from those amazing nurses in that state of the art facility.