James’ Story-77 Days in the NICU

James’ NICU stay is probably more of a blur than Isaac’s.  James had fewer issues, but he was smaller.  I had a 3 year old at home.  I had major surgery.  I hadnt emotionally recovered from Isaac’s birth yet.  I knew too much.

After James was born, thankfully he and I were in the same hospital.   However, we were on different floors, no room left on 2nd floor, and the recovery rooms there were prioritized for women who could actually have their babies in the room.  When your baby is a preemie, the mother doesnt matter too much, intentional or not.  I had a good breast pump in my room, and hubby and the Daddy across the hall (with twins in NICU) would meet about the same time every night for the bleary eyed milk delivery job.  The first couple days I was so sick I really didnt even feel like going to see him, the wheel chair ride made me sick.  After a day or so I started walking down, riding back.  Then I walked the whole way.  Then I was well enough to go home to the other half of my life.  I was now a mother of two, having to choose between my two sons that were 100 miles apart.  A three year old wondering where mommy was, and a my fragile newborn who I barely knew.

Leaving the hospital that day was hard…I was given instructions to not walk too much, dont travel too much, yet I had a baby in the hospital and a 3 year old at home.  I just nodded and was thankful for a prescription pain medication. Life had to go on, I had to manage, the mother didnt matter.   I was discharged (which meant they HAD to put me in the car).  We went and bought me a new breast pump, and I walked back into hospital I just left to tell James I was leaving.  When we stopped at WalMart to fill my prescription I ran into a friend who asked me “whens that baby due?”.  Um…November but he’s 4 days old….yes, it happened again…no, I’m not sure why.  Yes, he’s doing ok * fake smile and positive attitude* he’ll be home before we know it…

James’ NICU stay was pretty uneventful for a 2lb baby.  He had no brain bleeds thanks to the Magnesium Sulfate I was given.  One of his eyes was fused shut, just like a puppy, but it opened up fine,his retinopathy cleared up fine.  He had no surgeries in the NICU, but was sent home with a “follow up when he’s bigger” surgery appointment.  He had bilaterial inguinal hernias, which was quiet disturbing in appearance but were corrected without event when he was 6 months old.

The days blured together.  The travel got monotonous.  The exhaustion grew. I again,called a lot.  I cried.  This wasnt supposed to happen twice.  I must be the world’s worst mother for this to happen. I failed my children in the most basic need, I couldnt even keep them safe in the womb.  I hauled my coolers of milk to Little Rock in 100+ degree heat.

I didnt even bother trying to nurse, I  knew how. I nursed Isaac.  My sole goal was to get him home and quickly as possible and I knew a bottle would do that fastest.  I knew I could figure it out later.  He would take bottle better  from me than anyone else…so I again took the vow of not going home without him. I left work one afternoon telling my boss I was probably beginning my maternity leave and that I wasnt leaving without him.  I was told there wasnt a room in room so  I said I’d get a hotel and be there every 3 hours. Next shift nurse found us a room, telling me that this didnt mean we were going home…well he started taking those bottles.  We prayed hard.   We were told,ok maybe Wednesday.  Then the doctor rounded.  He said we knew what to do…we were heading home.

77 days. 11  weeks  August 1 to October 17. . we were taking our 6lb baby home.  All my children would  sleep under the same roof tonight.  We’d be a family of 4.  We had survived this ordeal again.  We made it.  James was taken outside for the  first time in his life and placed  in the backseat of our car.  We pulled out of the parking lot and no one was chasing us for “stealing” a baby.  We left Baptist Health NICU for the last time.

First Time Holding James..he was3 weeks old

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My 3 Boys

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First Outfit, which was also Isaac’s first outfit.

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Just a cute little guy, about 2 weeks shy of coming home.

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First few  moments home.  Life feels complete.

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