This has been sitting in my drafts for over a year so I figured it was time to hit publish.
Oh the NICU. What a wonderful and terrible place.
While I was in the labor and delivery room, someone from the NICU came to talk to us. She told us all of the things that a 33 week old baby may struggle with and the things they would keep an eye on while he was in the NICU. There were three main things they mentioned he needed to do before he could go home: maintain his body temp, be able to eat on his own, and go 5 days without any large drops in his heart-rate. Of course there were many other little things they'd be keeping an eye on, but those were the big three. We were told to expect him to be in the NICU until his due date, January 31st.
After Seth arrived, I was able to hold him for a bit, but he was quickly whisked off to the NICU. He was put on a CPAP machine right away, so when I was finally able to get to the NICU, it was hard to see his little face. My niece Lucy was heartbroken that she wasn't able to come into the NICU to see him, so we Facetimed with her while she was on the other side of the doors and she squealed over and over again, "Oh he is so cuuuute!" I was sure glad she thought so, because from where I was sitting, I could only see a third of his face.
By the next morning, he was off the CPAP and on low flow oxygen. For the first few days, his temperature was a little low and his billirubin numbers started to be a concern. He was transferred into an isolette to go under the lights for his jaundice. He had an IV in that had to be moved to a new location often. Holding him was a juggle of tubing and wires and that's how we learned to nurse. Twas fun.
Actually, that whole part was really easy. Seth was a champion nurser. When he was awake. But he still slept through so many of his feed times, they continued to give him his full amount through a feeding tube.
It was hard being discharged from the hospital, and while they did have rooms available for parents of NICU babies, I could never sleep there. I wanted to be there as much as possible, so I'd be at the NICU from 8:30am to 10:30pm. We'd usually get home after 11. I'd pump at midnight, 3 AM, and 6 AM and then get ready to head back to the hospital.
He was in the NICU over Christmas and New Years. Christmas was really hard. It didn't really feel like Christmas at all. I just wanted to have my baby home with me. Though, New Years was a little better.
Even though they told me to plan on being there until his due date, he seemed to be making good progress. Twice I asked when he'd be able to go home. And both times, I got no indication that he'd be out of there any time soon. Finally after the holidays were over, I started to get a handle on the NICU. I had a good schedule. My hormones weren't playing funny tricks on me. I walked in to the hospital on January 2nd feeling good. And ready to enjoy my day sitting by Seth's hospital crib. During rounds that morning, our favorite nurse gave the doctor Seth's stats. He's handling all of his feeds, digesting well, gaining weight, and hasn't had a drop in his heart rate in over 5 days.
Everyone smiled. He was doing great.
"Well what's he even doing here," I joked.
"Yeah, he can go home today." the doctor joked? He was joking right?
One of the NPs interrupted, mentioning there was still a shot and a procedure he still needed.
"Tomorrow then," the doctor said.
The group made some notes and were set to move on to the next patient. But I was a little confused, and I wanted to be clear.
"I'm sorry, what's happening tomorrow?"
Was it the shot? Was is the procedure? Would they need to monitor him for a few more days?
"You can bring him home," the doctor chuckled. The nurses, NPs, and RTs all smiled.
Finally, someone had given me a date. Unfortunately, I wasn't quite ready.
So after quietly cheering and hugging Seth's nurse, I ran off to get the one thing that I needed other than the doctor's go ahead to bring him home. A carseat.