Erin found her way to EBF after she made the decision to visit our monthly peer led support group for NICU families. We are so glad she did! It is extra special to us when we are able to meet a momma (or daddy!) who is right in the middle of their NICU journey. We love having the opportunity to pray for sweet babies like Skylar and watch them overcome amazing obstacles. It’s also so rewarding to be able to walk through some of the tough emotions of the NICU stay with parents who may not have anyone else who understands. A big thank you to Erin Wytiaz and her beautiful family for sharing this special time with us and telling the raw story of her NICU experience even while she’s still in the middle of it! Read her story below:
For about a week before my delivery, I was feeling a bit off. I started to feel like I was living in a fog. That’s the best way I can describe it. My husband and I had just been out to eat with some friends when I started to feel a little “strange”. I was having a slight pain in my right side. Later that night, when the pain wouldn’t go away, I decided to go to the ER for what I thought was gallbladder issues. When I got to the ER, they sent me to labor and delivery because I was 29 weeks and 6 days pregnant.
When I got to labor and delivery, everything started happening so quickly. My blood pressure was 185/104, and they told me that they needed to start an IV as quickly as possible to prevent me from having a seizure or stroke. At this point, my vision was blurry, I had a splitting headache that wouldn’t go away, and I was having chest pains. They couldn’t get my blood pressure down with just medication, so they started me on a magnesium drip. If you have never experienced a mag drip, you DO NOT want to! My body felt like it was on fire, and I could no longer stand by myself. I asked my husband to help me to the bathroom. When I started back towards the bed, my left leg went numb, and he had to catch me before I hit the floor. Before I knew it, I was getting a steroid shot in my thigh to help my daughter’s lungs develop. The doctor came in and told me that I was showing signs of preeclampsia but that he could not diagnose me until a few more tests were ran. He also told me that the high risk doctor would be in to see me in the morning to do an ultrasound.
The high risk doctor arrived bright and early. He told me that my daughter scored 8/8 on her ultrasound but that she was measuring in less than the 10th percentile. She had stopped growing because my placenta wasn’t working correctly. In turn, my body responded the only way it knew how. It raised my blood pressure to allow my daughter more nutrients since my placenta could not do it. Then, the high risk doctor confirmed that I had preeclampsia. At this point, I was 30 weeks pregnant. He said that he would like for me to make it to 32 weeks, but he did not foresee that happening. They gave me a second steroid shot for her lungs.
On the third day (30 weeks 1 day pregnant), they still could not keep my blood pressure down. The doctors decided that it was safer for my daughter, and myself, for me to go ahead and deliver. I had an emergency c-section that night. Skylar was born on April 10th, 2018 at 10:02 pm. She weighed 2lbs 1oz and was 13 3/4 inches long.
She has been in the NICU for 4 weeks now, and she is doing great! The first week of her stay was very difficult. I had just had my first child, and she was not allowed to come home with me (and still is not). I knew that I was a mom, but I did not feel like one. I could not hold my baby unless a nurse told me that I could. She had so many tubes and wires that I could not really see much of her face, much less kiss it. I wondered if she even knew who I was when she heard my voice or felt my touch.
I remember the first time I left the hospital. I broke down. It hit me like a ton of bricks when I realized that I was farther away from her than I had ever been since conception. I did not know how to handle those emotions. I was scared and sad, but I was mostly angry. I was angry at my body for disappointing myself, my husband, and our daughter. I was angry at the nurses who would not let me hold my daughter. It took a lot of praying for me to let go of that anger.
When Skylar first got to the NICU, she was on the CPAP at 21% (which is just room air with some pressure behind it…no extra oxygen). She also had to be under the bilirubin lights because of jaundice, she had a feeding tube in her mouth, and she had an IV. After being here for a few weeks, Skylar was taken off of the CPAP and switched to a high flow nasal cannula. (The difference is the CPAP forces air, and the cannula is just a steady flow of air without the pressure.)
Now that Skylar is growing and getting stronger, I get to do a lot more to make me feel like an actual mom. She was able to start breastfeeding after being here for 3 weeks, and she just tried her first bottle today! She is no longer on the high flow nasal cannula (as of last night), and I can finally see her beautiful face. I do not think anything can take away the emptiness I feel when I still have to go home without her. I know that the doctors and nurses are keeping her here for her own well-being, but it is still so hard to feel like a “part-time” mom. I want to wake up in the middle of the night because my daughter is crying and wants to be fed, not because she’s not there. I just want to feel normal.
In the NICU, each week is harder and easier at the same time. I see my daughter progressing, but I get more and more anxious for her to come home. Some of her doctors will tell me that she should be home within two weeks while others tell me that she will still be here “for a long time”. Some days I want to scream, and other days I want to cry. With God’s guidance, I know it will get easier. I trust that Skylar will be home when she is ready.
I am so thankful for the Early Bird Foundation. Without them, I would not have known that it is okay to feel what I am feeling and that it is okay to need to cry. Being a NICU mommy is not ideal for anyone. You can never truly prepare yourself for it. It is an emotional rollercoaster that you feel like no one else has ever been on. Thanks to these ladies, I see that I am not alone in these feelings. They understand what it is like to not want to hear “everything will be okay” anymore. They understand what it is like to be in the same room as your child but still feel miles apart because you have yet to feel that true bonding moment. In this group, you can talk, laugh, cry, and pray together, and I will feel forever blessed for meeting these wonderful women.
As always, please join us in praying for the Wytiaz family as they continue their NICU journey! ay strength, peace and perseverance over Erin and Bryan and that sweet Skylar will continue to thrive and progress and that her NICU stay will come to an end quickly so she can get home with her family!