Dear mom of multiple preemies…have you walked this road?
Dreading announcing to the world that you are having another Gift from God, because you know that you will be able to see them cringe at the thought of the extra burden your family is on the church and community, and then watching them try to act excited for you when you know they are thinking “will she be on bedrest again this time?”
Hearing the words “when is your due date?” and dreading repeating the long, drawn out answer, over and over again…and then having to tell another person why you go into labor so early.
Being asked if it is really safe for you to have another child…and inwardly cringing when you are told that maybe you should stop, because “who knows what could happen!?”, and thinking that you knew exactly Who Knows and that it is they who have gifted you with these children.
Being told how lucky you are not to have to get really big and be pregnant for so long…when you would be more than thankful to do just that, and carry the stretch marks to prove it.
Being told that you will be going on bed rest at 23 weeks and wondering how you are going to go on bed rest and look after 3 other children. Feeling panic.
Looking at the baby app on your phone, and breathing a sigh of relief for each week and growth milestone – because each one is so important to your growing baby who may emerge from the world desperately needing them.
Rejoicing in making it past week 29, and praying to make it to week 34, which is critical for lung development!
Sitting on pins and needles for each Braxton hicks…wondering “will it be tonight?” at week 24, and not being crazy – because it really could be.
Whirlwind visits to the hospital with your bags barely packed, because you didn’t have time. Lying on the bed watching the monitor and knowing that you have gone into labor too early – again – and that you are totally not ready for this – again.
Having 10 people in your labor and delivery room…no quiet lights, no peaceful music, but instead, panic. No walking around, because your baby needs to be monitored 24/7 – and no, they’re not being paranoid.
Not being able to hold your baby right away after delivery, or even see baby. Instead watching as two pediatricians and three nurses cluster around baby – and waiting to hear your baby cry longer than expected.
Holding your tiny, wee, fragile, precious bundle for the first time, being in awe of his perfect body. Desperately wanting to nurse him, but knowing that he needs to be monitored and watching as they take him away from you right away, down to the NICU. Again. And you die a little inside…but you are thankful that by God’s grace we live in a time when these small babies actually have a chance.
Having a shower, getting dressed, and walking down the looooong hallway to the NICU to go visit your baby. Again. Because this time is your fourth and you know this feeling, have done this journey far too many times.
Walking through the brightly painted Intensive Care Nursery doors – and being hit by a wave of familiar, overwhelming emotions. Feeling like a visitor to your own baby.
Walking up to the isolette. Meeting your nurse for the day. Listening, vaguely as she tells you how baby is doing. Staring in at the tiny body with all the wires and beeping. Knowing what this journey will be like but listening politely as she tells you.
Having to tear yourself away from your baby. Saying goodbye to your husband, as he is heading home to look after the children for the night and share photos of their baby brother with them since they cannot visit. Going back to your quiet room, without your baby and feeling like you are missing a part of you that was with you for so long. Sitting there alone.
Having to pump every 3 hours but not being able to feed your baby because they will give your baby formula until your milk comes in since your baby cannot afford to wait for your milk to come in. Feeling frustrated and helpless. Taking your little vial of colostrum down to the NICU at 3am because it’s all you can do.
Asking to be paged to feed your baby at 3 am and waking up at 6 am and realizing that no one came for you. Crying in your room alone. Determining to set your iPhone alarm next time. Drying your eyes and walking down to the NICU praying that you got there in time to feed your baby for the 6 am feed before someone else does.
Not being able to bring in visitors or even your own children to visit your baby because they keep passing around cold viruses. Listening to your small two year old ask where the baby is.
Sitting beside your baby’s bed watching the monitor constantly. Watching for A’s and B’s.
Tests. Bruised little baby feet from so many tests.
Skin to skin time. Sitting behind a curtain holding your tiny, precious bundle until the very last minute – but worrying that by holding your baby for so long you might wear them out and they might not feed so well next time.
First time breastfeeding. Gavage tube feeding’s.
Weigh-ins. Rejoicing in grams.
Being discharged from the hospital without your baby. Driving home in tears.
After being discharged, coordinating with your nurse each day which feeds you will come in for. Driving like crazy back and forth to make the feeds. Not being able to find a parking spot and worrying that you will miss feeding your baby. Never feeling so panicked about late eating in your life before! Resolving to put the NICU on speed dial and praying for a new parkade to be built.
9 am meetings with the Neonatal Team. Finding out about tests that were done on your baby that morning. Listening to them discuss your baby in pro’s and con’s. Talking about wether your baby had any A’s and B’s in the past day…talking about times during the day that your baby needed stimulation or oxygen. It never gets less scary with each time.
Counting the weeks and days that your baby has been in the NICU instead of the days and weeks old that they are. Measuring your baby’s age by corrected gestational.
Knowing what it means to coordinate “suck, swallow and breath” during feeding.
Tiny clothes that wouldn’t fit a doll. Having fun picking out outfits with your nurse for baby. Picking out little tiny outfits at Carter’s and being so excited to bring them in for your baby instead of them wearing the clothing from the NICU clothing drawer. Bringing your outfits in all washed and placing them under your baby’s cot…putting a sticker on the cot that says “I am wearing my own clothes, please save them” so that your nurses know to put them in the little bag hanging on the side for you to wash.
Your baby’s name and sign above their bed that a sweet nurse lovingly colored and made. Sticking up pictures drawn by your children for your baby, such sweet pictures, so full of love and hope for baby to come home.
First baby bath. Pre-warmed towels and clothing. Pretty much a spa bath. Your baby loses heat so fast though that it’s not just for comfort, instead it’s so that they won’t expend too much energy, and not gain weight or feed.
Knowing that your baby is close to going home, and feeling panic, because you won’t have the monitors to watch your baby anymore.
Taking the CPR test with your husband before baby goes home. Feeling panicked, praying that you will never have to use the techniques – but remembering the time that you did have to use it with your third preemie, and being thankful that you have been given the opportunity to refresh your memory. Promising yourself to paste the handout above your baby’s cot at home.
Being asked to bring your carseat in for the carseat test in preparation for going home. Worrying that baby will be too small to fit in the carseat. Worrying that he will not be able to breath properly in the carseat and fail the test like your second almost did.
Worrying about germs ALL the time. Germs from home. Germs from the shopping store. Worrying about RSV. Being warned about germs. Being told that your baby won’t be able to go home until everyone is healthy. Being upset and hurt that people are offended that you ask them to not come over with cold’s. Never mind the flu. Not not being able to send your family to church for weeks on end because you have been told that asking others to stay at home with a cold is an unnecessary burden on the church. Thankful for those that understand. Praying for your baby and for peace of mind.
Praying for patience for those that are insensitive – because you know they cannot understand.
Thankful for those that offer you help and support. Sad that you are too emotional to accept the help.
Coming home with your baby, taking going home photo’s in the NICU. Saying goodbye to your nurses. Feeling sad to leave. Promising to visit again. Feeling SO thankful that you have a healthy baby to take home, and an amazing hospital and care system, though not perfect, but doing the best that it can for your babies health.
Being so thankful for all the amazing, loving nurses that looked after your baby. They were your babies second mommies for so many weeks!
Sitting at home feeding your baby for the first time and feeling amazingly over protective of your time with your baby, because you never got this time before.
Watching your baby breath at night. Staring at them looking for the rise and fall of their chest. Putting your finger in front of their nose to feel the breath. Waking your baby up because you cannot see them breathing. Crying because they startle and start to breath heavily again.
Thanking God for this amazing, incredible, gift of LOVE that gave me my four beautiful, wonderful miracle boys. I will love and cherish each on of them.
Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!