Our daughter was born 19 days early. That doesn’t seem like much. There are babies born much sooner than that. She should be fine, right?!?!
For some reason, I knew that wasn’t going to be the case. And, sadly, I was right.
When our last son was born, his APGAR scores looked good right after birth. They handed him to my husband to walk over to me as they were finishing my surgery. I was able to see him, but saw he wasn’t breathing. They rushed him into the NICU.
Our daughter, well, they never handed her to my husband. I never heard her cry. I didn’t know what was happening. I knew she was early, but what now?
Please God, just tell me that she will be okay! Please!
As I was wheeled into the post-anesthesia room to go through my usual ritual of shaking & vomiting (I know it’s gross, but if you are like me, you want to know others have the same response to the anesthesia. It’s seriously the worst feeling as it wears off!), they started working on our little girl.
The good news was that we were at a hospital with a very well known and highly regarded NICU. All the babies had their own rooms. Yep, you heard that right – their own rooms. So, unlike my previous experience with a bunch of babies all around one room with no privacy, our little girl had her own room. Plus, there was a couch / bed in the back, so I could stay in there as long as I wanted. There was a TV, Internet Access… If I had to be down there, they made it as comfortable as it could be.
Here’s the thing, she was born with premature lungs. Pretty much the same diagnosis as our little guy. So, at least I understood much of what they were talking about when they discussed her situation. The difference was that with our little guy, they vented him early, put surfactant in his lungs and started to taper off of medicine and support. This different hospital had a different protocol. They wanted to do the least amount possible to see if the little ones could overcome it themselves. So, they started her on very little support and then had to dial up.
Two very different experiences.
The first – we are doing everything and he is responding. We are slowing reducing the support he needs.
The second – she is still not getting enough oxygen, we need to increase our support.
If you have to go through both of those situations, I pray you receive them in the opposite order!
Here was the other shocker – she needed to be on “Low Stimulation” – meaning, low lights, no talking in the room, and quiet in the hallway outside of the room. They only changed her diaper when it “needed” to be changed. Any stimulation would drop her oxygen saturation to uncomfortably low levels.
Did I mention our oldest has a BOOMING VOICE?? We have a nearly 4 year old and a 16+ month old at home. Both who do not understand inside voices.
What will we do? How can we bring her home? The boys are so excited, can we tell them they always need to be quiet? How do we make this work?
The doctors kept telling me that it would likely reverse, but to a hormonal, emotional woman who just gave birth to her second child needing to be in the NICU, that did not compute.
To add to the story – when our oldest came to the hospital, he didn’t understand why he couldn’t meet his little sister – the one he had known was a sister and was praying for over the past few months. And, why is mommy in a wheel chair? Why can’t she get up and hug me?
Plus, when it’s baby #3, it’s hard to find someone to watch 1 & 2 while mommy & daddy are spending time with #3. And, since #3 was in the NICU, she was being taken care of 24/7, so daddy was able to go home. Which left mommy alone a lot.
I do need to note that both of our parents were a great help during this time. My parents jumped in the car and drove 2 hours on Sunday night so that we could go to the hospital and took off the next couple of days to help with the boys. Then, my husband’s parents took over and spent the next few days. I’m not sure how people do it who don’t have family close. I am still so very thankful that they dropped everything so that we didn’t need to think of anything other than praying our little girl to health!
So, I did what I had to do. Within 12 hours of surgery, I was up and out of bed. I was in the wheel chair down in the NICU. Within 24 hours of surgery, I would walk myself (holding onto a wheelchair) down to the NICU to be with our little girl. Within 48 hours of surgery, I no longer needed the wheelchair (although, when they caught me walking without it, they wheeled it back to me).
After the first 3 days of hearing about her needing “additional support”, I started making suggestions.
See – I’ve done this once before. I know this is your job and you do this multiple times each day. I’ve only experienced this one time with one other baby. But, I’m an emotional and hormonal mom who thinks she knows everything about this little girl who just came out and I see her struggling to breathe, and I just want you to fix it…NOW. So, with all that said, please just vent her, give her the surfactant and let her little body rest. Please! Help Her!
Yes. Sounds pretty silly when you put it that way. But, don’t forget the emotional / hormonal part. And, add in that it’s your little baby – I would move mountains if I could to take that struggling away.
By day 4, she turned the corner. I have heard that God only give you what you can handle. I believe, on day 3, He saw that it was all that I could handle. And, I relied on Him a great deal. I could never have made it through on my strength alone.
She was born on December 12th. I was able to stay at the hospital until December 16th, but then I needed to go home. It was a difficult time. How do you explain to your 4 year old that his baby sister, who was just born, needs more time with the doctors. Oh yeah, and your mommy is crying all the time and going back and forth to the hospital because… Well, just because..
The good news was that we did start to see her turn the corner before I came home. So, it made coming home without her a little easier. Not easy, just easier. And, the doctor was right about:
1 – she never needed to go on the vent – she was a fighter and figured it out on her own,
2 – as she was able to breathe better, the stimulation didn’t drop her oxygenation, so
3 – we would be able to bring her home in the house of craziness and not worry about her breathing!
My prayer was that she would be healthy enough to spend Christmas with us at home. And, on December 20th, our prayers were answered. We were able to bring our baby girl home. Hooray!! I would do cartwheels if I could! Seriously, let’s throw a parade! Our baby girl is home. And, we get to celebrate Christmas with our new, full family!!
Looking back, what I love about that time (which sounds crazy, but there is a part that I loved) was the quiet time. Again, I spent a great deal of time in her room while she was on low stimulation. So, during that time, I sat there thinking, praying, reading the Bible. Just being. I listened to a great deal of monitors beeping – which became soothing. There, I didn’t need to be anything to anyone. I didn’t need to have my hair and make-up done, I could wear anything, I didn’t need to have any of the answers (although from my previous paragraph – I thought I knew many of them), I didn’t have to perform. All I needed to be was present. I needed to be there, in the moment, with our little girl and with God.
People who knew me before and after having our daughter say that she has changed me. I would agree to that in part. I do believe that the experience changed me. It brought me closer to my faith. I didn’t make it through that on my own. It was only by the strength of God that I was able to lift my head. And, He promises this all throughout the Bible. Here is a good verse from Matthew…
Matthew 11:28-30 (GNB): Jesus is speaking… “Come to me, all of you who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke and put it on you, and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit; and you will find rest. For the yoke I will give you is easy, and the load I will put on you is light.”
God won’t give us more than we can handle because He is there to lighten our load. Our challenge (or at least my challenge) is that we want to do it all. We say, “I can handle it. I will do it – myself.” When we do it that way, it can feel like it’s more than we can handle, so much more than we can bear. And, when we do it alone, it might be. And, just because we rely on Jesus’ strength does not mean that it becomes easy…just easier than doing it alone.