This month we share another two time NICU mom’s story of two completely unexpected term NICU experiences with her boys. Often when the NICU is mentioned, people assume that the baby was born prematurely and while that is the case for a staggering number of NICU babies, it is not always prematurity that lands a baby in the NICU and those term baby NICU stays, though typically shorter, can be a big emotional hit to the family because they didn’t have any idea going into the birth that their baby would need to be whisked away shortly after birth.
We, unfortunately, experienced a double dose of NICU life. Neither of our boys were spared from this. Our first experience started June 15, 2015 I went in for a routine doctors appointment but due to lack of movement on the monitors they sent me over to the hospital. I was 38 weeks 5 days and after some monitoring they decided to induce. I had battled gestational diabetes throughout my pregnancy so my blood sugar was dropping rapidly the longer I wasn’t allowed to eat. After 18 hours of labor and 3 hours of pushing they decided to do an emergency c-section. All of this together proved to be hard on my boy which resulted in him being born with a blood sugar of 2!! He was pumped full of sugar water and formula and sent to the NICU. Once he got to NICU and his sugars began to normalize they discovered a hole in his heart that required additional monitoring. The combination of his irregular blood sugars and heart caused him to have high blood pressure also. Relative to others, our stay was short but for us, as new parents, 14 days was agonizing. We couldn’t hold him for 2 whole days. He was being tube fed so I couldn’t nurse for 10 days. He had so many tests run, so many cords and wires attached to his small body, it was soul crushing. He is now about to be 4 years old next month and you would never know he started life so rough. He has completely healed of all issues!
Fast forward to May 12, 2018, pregnant with another sweet boy, I thought I was having Braxton Hicks. Due to being induced with my first, I didn’t really know what going into labor naturally felt like. I had a repeat c-section scheduled for the 18th. I was up from 1am-5:30am and nothing was helping me to get comfortable. At 5:30am I went to the bathroom and my water broke. We called the on call doctor and started making arrangements for someone to come stay with Big Brother so we could head to the hospital. It all happened so quickly that by 10:17 am baby boy #2 had arrived! And then I heard them say his sugars were crashing and he had aspirated on meconium. Again, we couldn’t hold our baby boy and he was whisked off to NICU. Again, many tests were run and our baby boy was hooked up to machines and wires. Again, we couldn’t hold our boy, couldn’t nurse him and had to wait for answers. It all felt like a nightmare. I couldn’t understand why we were going through this again. He had developed TTN (Transient Tachypnea of the Newborn) which was causing extremely labored breathing. He was put on the breathing machines to help ease things for him. It took 16 days for him to regulate his breathing to a point he no longer needed help. He just turned ONE a few days ago and is a wonderfully happy and healthy boy with no long term affects from any of his beginning days.
The emotions one feels during this process are all over the place. Not being able to hold your baby right away is heart breaking. Watching them work so hard to get where they need to be to make it home is awful. I would have traded places with either of them in a heartbeat if I could have taken that pain from them. It almost feels like you are going through the stages of grief in a way. Sadness, anger, guilt…but then you see them turn the corner. You see them smile, open their eyes, they hold onto your finger while you reach into their incubator or you just watch them sleep peacefully for the first time because they aren’t laboring to breath as much. You feel pride in yourself and them for working so hard. And pure joy when you walk out those NICU doors with your baby in their carrier heading to the car Daddy has pulled up front. And when you FINALLY walk through the doors at home with your sweet baby you think you may never let them go because their snuggles, their smell and their presence is magical.
A big thank you to momma, Jessicca Fletcher, for sharing her stories with us and shedding some light on the feelings and emotions that come along with a NICU stay after a term birth.