One year later…

But wait, you say. Wasn’t Zachary’s birthday a few weeks ago? Yes, it was, but this is celebrating his coming home from the hospital, one year ago yesterday (Nov 3).

I think most of you know he spent 11 days in the NICU after he was born. In the grand scheme of things, that’s not a long time. Neither was his stay there life threatening. But it was probably the longest, hardest 11 days we’ve had since he was born.

On the day after he was born, right after lunch I think it was, the nurse came in and said they’d need to have Zachary examined by one of their (the hospital’s) doctors because our doctor hadn’t been able to make it in yet. I agreed because I didn’t really think anything was wrong.

But, then the “doctors”, two ladies (who turned out to be Nurse Practitioners) came in. They were wearing matching dark green scrubs with something stitched on them. (Basically, these weren’t those cutesy pastel nurse scrubs, no… these guys girls were no nonsense). I got a bad feeling at that point. Anyway, they did their exam, said he had a slight temp (which I guess he had had for the last few times it was taken, but no one ever told me), and was breathing rapidly – both clinical indicators of an infection. They said they would discuss with the resident or neonatologist, I don’t remember who, and let me know what they decided they needed to do. My nurse suggested I try some skin-to-skin to try and calm his breathing in the meanwhile. So I did.
NICUstay

They came back about 20 minutes later and said he’d need to be admitted to NICU for care and observation. I think I asked “right now?”, she gave me about a minute or two (I was still holding him), then she took him.

There’s something completely different about having someone take your child against your will. And even though I knew it wasn’t permanent or too serious, it ranks up there among the harder things I’ve had to do.

NICUstay-2

Our NICU stay was uneventful. As much as I didn’t care to be there, it is actually set up quite well. All the rooms are private and there’s a “couch” that’s at least big enough to sleep on (and there’s showers and family rooms, etc..) Ours also allows siblings to visit, which was so super nice.

So what’s the point of this post? To share our experience and maybe to offer some thoughts for other mamas/families that find themselves there.

NICUstay-6

Get to know the nurses. Ask questions.
We ended up having the same four or five nurses the entire time we were there which was really nice. I got to know them and they got to know me. Dare I say? It felt like we almost became friends. I have before really noticed/seen nurses “in action” before. I’ve never seen them be right there to hand you a box of Kleenex when you loose it after the doctor says “not today” (after indicating that it could be “today”). Or to advocate taking him off all the monitors to literally just observe him and see how he does (in hopes of getting him home a little quicker). Or to take a picture and give you a hug as you’re leaving. To be truly happy and excited that you’re going home. I’d never seen that before and it has greatly increased my respect for them and the job they do.

NICUstay-4

Bring the other kids to visit.
I thought the other kids wouldn’t be able to handle going to the hospital and seeing Z hooked up to everything with wires and needles here there and everywhere. But they really didn’t seem to mind. They kind of accepted that “this was how it was”. And once they figured out the family room (where they could color, watch the fish and read books) and cafeteria, they were all set. 🙂

Develop a routine that includes taking a break.
I know not everyone may be comfortable leaving the hospital while the baby is there, but honestly I think it’s super important to take a little break from the alarms and pages and constant in and out of…. everyone…
To me, it’s one of the harder things to do. To leave. We live close by (five minutes… maybe) so it wasn’t hard to get back and forth. But I found that I really needed to come home and be with the other kids for part of the day. Trust me, if they need your permission for something they’ll call, even in the middle of the night {that was with John, that freaked me out… and I was mad because all they wanted was to ask permission for something that most likely could have waited until morning… but I digress…}
My eventual routine, if interested went something like this: Eat breakfast with the kids; go to the hospital by 8:00 for rounds (important to be there for that!), feed Z one or two times depending on when he’d last eaten; come home for lunch and spend the afternoon/evening at home to take care of house things, give Jared a break and take a rest myself; get the kids ready for bed (if not in bed) and head back to the hospital in time to give Z his next feeding; spend until after his midnight feeding at the hospital; come home and sleep.

NICUstay-7

Ask for help (or accept help offered)
Its completely exhausting keeping up the kind of schedule listed above. Mostly I found it hard to get to the grocery store or prepare meals. Jared was off work (mostly because he had a gout flare up) so he was able to watch the kids, but he had a hard time doing a lot of walking around. I was so grateful to the people who just gave us meals or helped with the kids.
After we got home I took mental inventory of everything we’d been given (food, time or… whatever) I almost started thinking about how I was ever going to repay everything, when I realized that I wasn’t; that God had shown me, us, his Church in action. He had shown me how good He was, is, and how big He is and there is no way for me to match that. I can only accept and pass on as I’m able.

NICUstay-8
~almost ready to leave~
~home~
~home~
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2 thoughts on “One year later…

  1. Yours is a story to be passed along. Delighted to learn the depth of your thoughts, and the clarity of your writing. Apologize for being a little surprised, as you were always quiet, pleasant but quiet. i suppose you are seeking improvements, but I suggest don;t touch it!

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