This leg of our journey has been harder for me to write. Parts of it seem such a blur, but parts of it seem so vivd just like yesterday. Strange things have a way of triggering feeling and emotions….pressing 2 on an elevator, the hum of the automatic paper towel dispenser like at the scrub in sink, seeing the Baptist Hospital on the Little Rock skyline…funny how those things can give you a tug and a knot in the pit of your stomach.
Isaac was in the NICU for 63 days. 8 weeks. 2 months. July 29 – October 1. Summer into Fall. In the NICU…2 hours from home, 100 miles away….
I was discharged from the hospital just as soon as I could convice the doctor I was fine. During my short stay at the local hospital I made several phone calls. I called the insurance company and added my child…imagine their shock when they asked when he was born..I said “a few hours ago” and then they confirmed I was the mother?! Yes. My baby isnt here, what else am I going to do? It was the only way I felt in control…take care of stuff…be in charge…I’m the mother, why don’t I feel like it? It was pre-smart phone so I couldnt play online and I wasnt a big texter. Hubby went to take care of a few loose ends at his job so he could be away for a while. I didnt have a breast pump and no one bothered to talk to me about that, guess they thought there was no need. So I sat…alone…a childless mother, totally lost.
Once discharged, we took quick showers, packed quick bags, and headed to Little Rock. We had someone else drive us because we hadn’t slept any. We got to Little Rock, roughly 12 hours after he was born. During one of the only 2, 30 minute time periods you couldnt go into NICU…shift change. I had waited all day to see my baby, and he was on the other side of closed doors while I sat in waiting room…. We saw him. he was tiny. He was blue (bruised). And machines were breathing for him. He was beautiful. He had a cute upturned nose. He had a head full of dark hair with a double crown. He looked like me. We were told lots of information I’m not sure I heard. We left to go home, re-group, and come back to stay in town for a while. I was told to call any time I wanted…I called a lot. On the way home we stopped at Target and purchased a breastpump. The next morning we developed a love/hate relationship and I began the journey of nourishing my child…with milk he wouldnt receive for a few more weeks. But it was something that mothers did, and I was a mother…and one day I’d feel like it.
We spent first week in Little Rock. We learned lots of terms like: Intraventicular Hemorrhage, which is a brain bleed that presents on 4 levels…1 being minor, 4 being the worst..in the coming weeks we would learn he had a grade 2, then a grade3, then a grade 2, then it would be gone. Retinopathy of Prematurity, which is where babies retinas arent attached yet because they arent ready to be born, in the coming months he’d have regular check ups by the eye doctor, even after he came home. But we would later learn he had perfect vision and was normal. Patent Ductus Arteriosis, PDA…the valve in the heart that connects baby to mother, its supposed to close, when it doesnt they medicate, we medicated, our baby was sick, the meds werent working….then one day, about halfway to Little Rock for a visit we were told he needed surgery…he was weak and sick and the valved needed closing…surgery would be first thing in the morning. So after a visit we went to WalMart and bought toothbrushes and deoderant and clean clothes and spent the night in a small sleep room so we’d be there. The night before the nurse let us hold him…it was still pretty early for that but with surgery there is always a risk…and they like to let parents have the chance to hold their child…just in case. He was almost two weeks old. I removed my shirt and wore a gown. He snuggled on my chest for a few hours. It was one of the best moments in my life…I could smell his head, feel his cheek. He was mine. The world stopped…I was a mom….I was his mother….he was my child.
Surgery was uneventful, took less than 30 minutes and he began immediate improvement. His color got better. He was irritable. He started weaning off meds. He got milk. He started trying to take a bottle. He got to try to nurse. The trip became routine. The exhaustion grew. The impatience grew. I took him clothes and washed his clothes…it made me feel like I was really a mom. I called first thing every morning. I called at my lunch break ( I was back at work parttime). I called when I got off. I called when I went to bed. I called when I woke up in the middle of the night from a nightmare. I called when I pumped…and pumped..and pumped. Then one weekend I had had enough…I asked if we could room in and try nursing more often..we walked into the unit and he looked at us and yanked out hid feed tube…it never went back in….nursing didint go so great, doctors want numbers and schedules. So we tried bottles, I’d figure out how to nurse him when we got home…..and I had a talk with him…pleaded with him to show them he could do it and come home. I prayed really hard..and vowed to not leave the hospital without my baby. It took about a week but he started taking those bottles…I’d pray through every one….come on…40 oz in 30 minutes…dont spit up. I was on pins and needles every bottle. Then one night the nurses started pulling the equipment out of his room. The doctor came in the next morning , we had our bags packed. He asked us if we were going somewhere…I told him “home I hope”. He started the paperwork….
I held my breath through the hall…was this really happening? We got on the elevator..the doors closed…no one ran out and stopped us. We put him in the car…still no one chasing us yelling. We pulled out of the parking lot…I checked behind us… We got on Interstate…they were really letting us take this 6 1/2 pound baby home. Home. A family of 3.
A Family of Three (he’s a couple days old here)
First Time I Held Him (Almost 2 weeks old)
About a Month Old, his first taste of milk.
First Few Days at Home