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Challenge: NICU Parenting

My sweet little Vayda Jean

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Our story begins with a perfectly normal first time pregnancy. Everything seemed to be going as it should. My husband and I were elated to find out we would be starting this new chapter in our life! We decided not to find out the gender and of course everyone hated us for doing that. I had severe nausea during the first two






trimesters so that was loads of fun, but I secretly could not have been happier because I knew in the end we would be holding our first born in our arms and taking him or her home with us to start our life. I went through what seemed to be normal pregnancy symptoms, nausea vomiting, even swollen feet towards the end. I am a nurse so I read all there was to read on complications and how to do everything you can to have a healthy pregnancy. It wasn’t until our last ultrasound appointment at 32 weeks pregnant that the pregnancy took a 360. My husband and I were so happy to see our tiny little love on the big screen for the last time until we could see him or her in the flesh. I was super swollen from head to toe and I had tingling in my hands from all the swelling putting pressure on my nerves but up until that moment the dr.s reassured me It was all normal. We went into the room the medical assistant took my blood pressure and seemed alarmed. She took it again and still was sending unpleasant vibes through her facial expression. She then asked me if she could try on my other arm so I said no problem. Now at this point all my nurse alarms are going off and I felt my heart sink into my stomach because I knew something was wrong, all the signs and symptoms were making sense now and they were all pointing to one thing, my biggest fear, the thing I read about in all those pregnancy books, preeclampsia. The medical assistant as kind as she could said “let my just go get the dr. I’m going to have her do it.” I have never seen a dr come into a room that quickly. My husband looked at me and said “ “what’s wrong” and I just said “preeclampsia” before I was truly diagnosed. The Dr. confirmed it was true with dipping my urine and finding tons of protein in it. She said my blood pressure was reading 150/100 and we had to go to the hospital right away to have blood work and get on magnesium to prevent seizures!? My husband in shock asked “how long do you think we will be there?” The dr. Answering “ you’re not leaving until the baby is born, let’s put it that way.” She told us that right now I was priority over baby and if I didn’t get medical attention now it could be bad for the both of us. I too was in shock, after all we were ready to just see our baby for the last time and then wait for her/his arrival not to mention I was just told that my life was in danger and my baby was second priority?! That to me was scary enough, a baby is always top priority but when Mom’s life is in danger that changes and to me that meant I was in a whole lot of that danger. There was a few tears of fear shed in the parking lot between my husband and I and then it was time to get tough. I remember just trying to tell myself “well, we have no choice now we just have to do what we have to do and hope this baby will be ok?” I got to the hospital I was now reading 160/110 for blood pressure, the nurses all said I was looking worse by the minute. They hooked me up to wires upon wires and tried to give me the low down on what was going to happen in the next 48hours I honestly didn’t hear a word they said. I was still trying to wrap my head around the fact that my baby might not be ok, the baby I had been dreaming of those past 7 months. They started me on magnesium, which is horrid by the way, you feel like you have the flu. I could not eat or drink at all! Not even an ice chip or I would vomit. My husband al this time just trying to stick by me and pray he wasn’t going to loose his wife and baby. It really was a crazy experience ? There wasn’t a minute that I could be nervous all of a sudden, I just had this overwhelming feeling come over me that told me I had to be tough I had to, for my baby’s and for my husband. I refused to be negative about anything and I promised to do whatever I had to inorder to survive. After 48hours on the magnesium, no food no water just lots of “rest” if you want to call it that, they chemically started my contractions (even though my body was starting them prematurely on it’s own). I couldn’t follow my plan to use a birthing ball or warm bath to get through my pain because I was bed bound, cathed and I had compression boots in my elephant looking legs. I lifted the head of my bed and all I could do was squeeze my husbands hand as hard as I could to get through the contraction. I had ZERO energy I hadn’t eaten or drank in days, just IV fluids. I was falling asleep between each close contraction as if my body was shutting down to save whatever energy was left for birth. I finally agreed to an epidural because they told me I would need all the rest I could get. So I got it and man did I sleep! My body was drained ! I finally felt woke up feeling as if I had to well, poop. I told the nurse and was very embarrassed but she said “oh that means baby is coming” so I started to push and our cane our little GIRL! They placed her on my chest only for a few minutes and then whisked her away. My husband didn’t even get to hold her. I didn’t get to see her for another 24 hours because I had to continue the magnesium which meant no getting out of bed. Little miss Vayda was born 3lbs 7oz 15 in long. It was such I lonely feeling. I knew family was happy we were ok for the moment but I couldn’t help but feel like everyone was starring at us, talking about us like we were some poor unfortunate souls to go through this. I myself felt like I did something wrong and that it was my fault my daughter was in the NICU. The next few days I was in a fog trying to get better myself so I could see my baby and be there for her. I can’t remember how many drs came in and out of our room telling us all of these things that they would have to do, it was overwhelming, meanwhile I was trying to look strong for everyone who stopped by so they wouldn’t worry. I finally was able to see my daughter, my husband wheeled me down to the NICU. The nurses were warm and friendly as were the drs but this all almost made me feel worse. I felt like I just wanted to break down. Why was I the 1 in 10 statistic, why did this happen to us? I looked at my daughter with tubes all around her , so tiny so sweet. I couldn’t believe she was mine. I wanted her to survive more then ever now. I hated seeing the tube down her throat I just kept thinking what did I do to her. She actually opened her eyes at one point and I almost just lost it. She looked so helpless, so lost like she was saying “mom what is going on, why am I out already?” It broke our hearts to see her like that. Of course the next coming days were filled with hearing that she could take a turn for the worse at any moment or she could be fine no one knew. My husband and I were there everyday most times twice a day. I was there all day until dinner while my husband worked and then we ate quick and came back till around 9 at night despite living 40minutes away. This went on 5 LONG weeks. We stayed as positive as we could and listened hard to the staff so that we could do everything we could for this little angel. I pimped every 2 hours to be sure she had food. The nurses would say you need to take care of yourself but it was hard to do when you go home without your baby every night. It was heartbreaking to see all my friends around me have their children and go home with them in two days time and here I was not pregnant and baby less . I hated going home to an empty house. People who say things like well at least you can catch up on sleep and I would go home and cry because I would of given anything to have a sleepless night with my baby at home. My husband and I talked all the time about how lonely we felt. Everything just felt cold. I know people meant well but when they would try and compare their one day or two day NICU stay for prcausionary measure with their baby to my situation it would anger me because they had no idea what it was like to not know if their baby would be alive in the next few hours. It was hard to listen to people bicker about how they can’t handle their crying baby or they need a break. We just kept thinking to ourselves “man what we wouldn’t give to have hours at home with our baby screaming. Come 3weeks in we almost seemed comfortable, like it was a part of us now. We were NICU parents and when we looked around us we could finally see that we were not along. Some people there for the second or third time. We build a family bond with the staff and I will never forget them and What they did for all of us. Our daughter progressed well throughout her stay. To the NICU’s surprise she was a true fighter and they called her the over achiever because she always exceeded their expectations. She eventually was able to get rid of the breathing tube, the feeding tube, the two IV tubes and after 2 failed car seat tests she passed on her third try. We were definitely ready to bring her home by week 4 but her wt was not were it should of been so they kept her another week. We cried a lot, we still can’t believe what happened and we sometimes still shed a tear when we think back but we are happy to say that we were still blessed with a happy outcome. We have a healthy baby girl who is now tripple her wt, who laughs, smiles, and loves attention! We will never forget the NICU and all of the emotions we endured. I still today feel the rush of emotions come back when I look at her. I still sometimes wonder if it was something I did or if we could have done something different but then those thoughts quickly go away because I look down and see this beautiful little girl looking back at me. My advice for other NICU parents is to never give up, to always stay as positive as you can even if you don’t feel you have it in you, be sure to look around you and see all of the other right there with you. Get close to those nurses and those drs because they are the ones who will be there every SECOND of you child’s brand new life. Trust them and understand that that will do everything in their power to help your little one survive, god willing. I hope everyone who has been through this knows that even though we may have gone through the most challenging emotional rolicoast of our lives, we still were blessed to have some extra time with our babies that others will never have.

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