It’s been 8 weeks since I stood in the ER holding a very sick 8 week old Baby Gwen. I still wake up at night in a cold sweat & her normal growing baby cries make me check her all over for any signs of sickness returning.
When you leave the NICU with your baby, you never picture rolling your baby (in her tiny plastic hospital bassinet with her nurse closely following with IV bags & monitors that are all connected to your baby by too many scary cords) back into the NICU. Our Baby Gwen is a 2 time graduate of the NICU. A title that both breaks my heart with sadness & swells my heart with gratitude.
My water broke 4 weeks early- 1 day after my body started showing signs of preeclampsia (& 5 days after my father’s death). My OB told me that my body must of known I was close to preeclampsia and so, my water broke. (I believe I was just mentally & physically at my limit and so, my water broke.) I felt calm but raw during most of her birth.
OB laid (6 lbs 11 ounces & 19 inches) Baby Gwen on my chest & I bawled. She cried twice & they took her to the corner of the room to check her more thoroughly. We had already been told she would spend at least her first 12 hours in the NICU since she was a “36 weeker.” I got to hold her again for about 5 minutes (& my mom came in to meet her & to stay with me) before my husband went with her to the NICU.
Baby Gwen’s first NICU stay was a little less than 24 hours & she did great (in preemie terms) except for having low blood sugar & being too sleepy to nurse. (Husband gave her donor breast milk when she needed milk right away in the NICU for her low blood sugar & then I was able to bring her pumped milk later on. I cannot explain how therapeutic it was to see my husband loving on our tiny daughter when my own father had just passed days before.) I did get mad/upset/overwhelmed/frustrated seeing her in the NICU the first time because I really did feel like my dad dying was what had caused my water to break.
I became a preemie mom, a NICU mom & a fatherless daughter all in the span of 5 days.
Considering the craziness of everything & her being born at 36 weeks, everything went very smoothly & I was & still am proud of her birth & how I (& my husband) handled everything. It was a good birth. I left the hospital with Baby Gwen feeling empowered & relieved that the hospital/NICU was behind us. I had no idea what was coming for us in 7 short weeks.
It’s only been 8 weeks & I’m really not ready to write out/revisit details of our second NICU stay yet- 10 total days in the NICU, after 3 days in the pediatrics unit (where they stabilized her & finally diagnosed her with a bacterial blood infection) &, of course, that 1 hellish night in the ER.
Update on Baby Gwen’s health after being discharged from NICU for the 2nd time:
We received many answers during a full day of follow-up tests & specialist appointments at Children’s Hospital Colorado. Everything is treatable & she continues to do great since our 2 week hospital stay. She’s on a few longterm medications & will have many follow ups in the next year but that is perfectly okay because she is growing & happy & still back home with her mommy, daddy & big sisters.
I have been diagnosed with PTSD related to her hospital stay. It’s hard for me to be away from Baby Gwen but also sometimes hard for me to be in the same room with her. The dread/worry of noticing any repeat infection/declining health signs has triggered many panic attacks. I’m in therapy & have a good support system- Practicing breathing & facing each new day as it comes (which was actually my game plan for sanity each day in the NICU as well).
Last day of her 2nd NICU stay
Brave, sweet face during her 2nd NICU stay
Mommy & Gwen celebrating baby’s first Halloween