November 15, 2013

NICU Days Are Over But Forever A Part Of Me

There is a video going around on social media the last couple of days and today I sat with Drew on my lap and watched the six minute video and during those 360 seconds I was back in the nicu with my own four little miracles. We have been out of the nicu for over a year but instantly I can be right back in there. Those were some of the most amazing, happy times but  also some of the scariest and hardest of my life.
Our 4 babies all together in the nicu
Kenzie was 24 hours old when I got to hold her for the first time. It was over 36 hours before I ever got to see Isabella without a hat or contraptions on her face. Tate was the first one I got to see clothes on. Kenzie was 2 weeks old before I got to see her in clothes. Rylan was 24 hours old when I saw how much hair he had and at the same time that I was marveling over his hair I was praying to God to let me get the opportunity to hold my son as he struggled to take each breath.
Kenzie was the first baby to be held.

The first time I saw Rylan's hair was after he was intubated.

Tate was the first to be dressed at 3 days old.

The famous bili lights.
I knew the quads would have nicu days from the moment we saw four beating hearts on ultrasound. I was a nicu nurse and I thought I knew what it meant to be a nicu mom. In the end I had no clue. I remember the evening of August 16th like it was yesterday. The babies were a week old and I had just gone out to the trailer in the hospital parking lot that I was staying in. I had yet to hold Rylan in my arms but had held everyone else. I was grieving. I wanted the nicu journey to be over but I knew we had so far to go. I was a women who was having the biggest drop of hormones ever after giving birth to four babies. I was alone and not just because Paul had gone home to our other children but because I had no one to turn to that would understand what it was like to be a nicu mom. My mom had never had children in the nicu, Paul was a dad but not a mom, and none of my close friends had ever gone through what I was facing. I did have one group of women though that totally got it. My quad momma group and within minutes of crying out to them I had so many moms that responded who understood. A couple minutes later my phone was alerting me that I had a new text message. It was from one of the nurses who I work with but more importantly she is a mom to quads. As I read her text I knew I would make it through the nicu days. That they would not last forever. And that there is a bond that brings all nicu moms to the same understanding. That night as I laid alone in the trailer, knowing I could not go back up to the nicu because I was an emotional wreck, I watched the video of the quads birth and cried until my pillow was soaking wet. The next morning I was ready to fight the nicu battle and that is the day I held Rylan, my Baby D.
Many hours spent looking through the portholes.

Nightly weights become an obsession to nicu parents to see how many grams their baby gained. Thirty grams equals a whole ounce and that is huge in the nicu world.

First time holding Tate.
When I was getting ready to go back to work after the quads were born I wasn't sure I could go back and be a nicu nurse. The reason being is because I knew what the moms' were going though leaving their children every single day, watching them through isolettes and being told when it was okay to touch their baby's hand. A year later I can tell you with certainty that I am a better nicu nurse because of my experience as a nicu mom. My knowledge and skills are the same but I have now sat at the bedside and watched my babies through portholes. I have longed to hold my baby and see their face. I understand that breast milk really is gold to someone who is not producing enough to feed their baby/babies. I have always been one to make sure my bed spaces are cleaned up, that that babies who can be dressed are in cute clothes and that lips are cleaned of milk. These simple things show parents you care. But I now know the importance of that first skin to skin experience between a mom and her child. I understand making the phone call to see if a mom is planning on coming in to nurse her baby instead of just giving the baby the bottle which is sometimes faster. I know the joy of being the parent giving their baby their first bath. I also know how special those first pictures are of mom, dad and baby.
Kenzie holding her daddy's finger during a cannulaide change.
My Rylan still waiting to be held by his mom.
Skin to skin with Isabella.
Kenzie's first bath.

Daddy & Tate
I would never wish a nicu stay for anyone but if you find yourself in the new role of being a nicu mom or dad just know that you will make it through. You will have good days and bad but in the end you will be stronger than you ever thought possible. Once you are a nicu parent you will be part of an amazing group of people who share the same joys of the first bottle, the call that your baby is going home and the feeling of walking out of the nicu for the last time with baby in hand.
Finally!! My heart was so full as I held my baby #7.

Kenzie dressed in clothes at 2 weeks.

Heading out of the nicu for the last time.

1 comment:

  1. That is a beautiful post. I imagine having your own babies in the NICU did make you an even better NICU nurse. We appreciated our NICU nurses and doctors so much. It takes a very special person to be a NICU nurse. We found that the nurses who cared for our babies were some of the most empathic and compassionate people we have ever met and we were so grateful to have them care for our babies. As you know, it is incredibly difficult to have your babies separated from you in an isolette (a word most parents have never heard of before their babies are enclosed in one). Thank you for the job you do.


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