Our NICU story

I was just getting the hang of being pregnant. Not quite too big to be comfortable but big enough to enjoy my slight waddle and I hadn’t been able to see my feet for weeks. It was the day after Thanksgiving and I was having what felt like light menstrual cramps. I rested, put my feet up and rested some more, nothing would make them go away. Of course I then began to worry. I’d been at the hospital the week before with dehydration and had been diligent about drinking more water so I knew that wasn’t the problem. After a few hours with no change I informed my husband, we had to go to the hospital again. It was the weekend and I refused to wait until Monday. He convinced me to at least call my doctor. I was informed that I had a few fibroid tumors while I was pregnant. Unfortunately, one of them had begun to grow rapidly because of the increased estrogen of pregnancy. My doctor was convinced I needed some pain medication, it was just the fibroids and I’d be fine. Little did I know then, that mother’s intuition doesn’t always start when your child is born. I refused.
Off to the hospital we went. After an ultrasound it was determined that I only had .08 centimeters left of my cervix. In other words, I wasn’t leaving the hospital. I was shocked. BJ wasn’t due until March 28 and it was only late November. That was the first time I’d heard the term “viable”. I had to find a way to keep him in for two weeks because BJ wasn’t viable yet. Not being viable meant that if BJ was born sooner they wouldn’t take steps to save him. That was a hard pill to swallow. So off to Ante Partum I went.
BJ made it another 2 and a half weeks before making his arrival. He was born at 24 weeks 4 days gestation weighing only 1 pound 8 ounces. BJ came into the world kicking and screaming (even at a pound and half he was a fighter) the sounds of his cries at birth were the only sounds I heard from him for the next 6 weeks because he was immediately placed on the ventilator (life support) until his lungs were strong enough to function on their own.
When the doctors told us that the NICU was a roller coaster ride we weren’t prepared for the amount of emotion and physical and mental exhaustion that we were in store for. But, I’m sure this is the way it is for all parents of sick children. BJ’s stay in the NICU was quite long. We saw families come and go and dreamed of the day we’d take our son home. My desire to rush the doctors was outweighed by my desire to ensure BJ was as healthy as he could be.
From the day I was discharged and left the hospital without BJ, (possibly the hardest day of my life) I begin writing him daily letters. It became a sort of therapy for me. I wanted him to know about his NICU journey and how much his mommy loved him and cheered him on while his future was so uncertain. My husband also wrote him some nights and when his grandparents or aunt came to visit from out of town they wrote him also. I’d write to him about everything I wanted to tell him but couldn’t. I’d tell him about the day he’d had, whether it was good or bad, and let him know how much I was praying for him. I wanted him to know what was in my heart during those tough times. I also took a picture of him every day so that I could remember how much he’d progressed.
We progressed from being able to just place one finger on his leg because his skin was too sensitive, to being able to give him a kiss for the first time (he was two weeks old) to Kangaroo therapy (placing him in my shirt chest to chest) and finally to me being able to swaddle him and hold him in my arms from the minute I got there until I left. We finally got to the stage called “growing and feeding” I believe that was one of the hardest parts. My patience was so thin. If only he’d hurry up and learn how to eat we could just go home. The hospital’s policy was that he had to be eating from breast or bottle for three consecutive days before he could leave. It doesn’t sound like much but most preemie mothers know this can sometimes take very long. I did everything I could to speed the process up. There were times I would go to the hospital at 1am just so I could be the one to feed him. I felt like he ate better when I was the one doing it. BJ and I fought like hell to get him home. I could never have imagined that the first four months of his life would be that way.
BJ was discharged March 28, 2011. Ironically, he was discharged on his due date but he’d already been here for almost four months. He came home still needing oxygen and was weaned off of it a little over a month later.
BJ is our little fighter. We believe he is a true testimony that God can perform miracles.

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6 Replies to “Our NICU story”

  1. Oh the goose bumps that gave me. Viable – that word, how chilling to be told that. My son, Cody, was born at 26 weeks, in the viable range but also, as you know, the very real touch-and-go range. He had complications, good moments and very bad ones. My husband was my rock through it all, helping me to take care of me even when I did not want to, did not care to.

    Thank you for posting this. I have not come across many preemie blog stories. They are therapeutic to read and it is simply good to make connections with others who have a NICU story.

    1. Thank you, there aren’t a lot of preemie blog stories. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to find a way to post ours. I used to roam around the internet looking for stories about families that were in our situation and it was hard to find them. There is solace in finding someone who has been there and understands…

      1. I can’t wait to read the rest of your blog. You are so right, not enough blogs and getting support was so very difficult. I just started my blod and wish I had done it mych sooner. My guys are older now (10 years old) but the memories are still very fresh.

        I wish you much luck!

      2. Thank you so much!! I haven’t been able to log on for a little while but am starting back up today. I can’t wait to check out your blog. I find that it’s become therapeutic for me. I hope you love it as much as I do!!

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