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Challenge: NICU Parenting

NICU is not just for preemies

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My first baby was full term and weighed in at 8 pounds 9 ounces. She was delivered aggressively with forceps. Shortly after delivery she was having a hard time breathing and her limbs weren't moving. She was bagged to breath and needed to be transferred to our Children's Hospital to the NICU. We were told if we wanted to baptize her it might be good to do it right then before the transfer as she was in grave condition. That moment would change us forever. In the NICU our baby looked like a 2 year old compared to the tiny preemies that surrounded her, but what all the babies had in common were they were all struggling to live regardless of their size and all the parents would be forever bonded by the experience. We were told they thought that the forceps delivery had bruised her spine and the bruising caused the swelliing that made her stop breathing and her limbs to not move. They really weren't sure because her right side limbs weren't responding as well as her left side and still had some paralysis. We were allowed to bring her home but only after we learned infant CPR and how to hook up the breathing monitor machine to her that she would wear for at least 6 weeks. As with all machines, there were many malfunctions and each time it would go off we always thought the worse. The alarm sounded like a microwave timer. To this day, the sound of that beep makes me jump. The doctors didn't know if the spine was injured, and not just bruised, so our following days/weeks/months/years were filled with specialist visits to determine if she had any permanent paralysis, brain damage & development delays, or breathing issues. Thankfully, today she is a happy, healthy adult approaching her 30th birthday but those days are as vivid in my memory as when they happened. She spent 12 days in the NICU and we continue to celebrate two days every year; her birthday, July 21st, and her "homecoming" day from the NICU, August 2nd. I will always be forever grateful to the NICU of Women's & Children's Hospital of Buffalo.

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