Our son, Mikey, was born full term – just a week early because of my high blood pressure. I labored all day after being induced and then ended up having a c-section just after midnight on September 11, 2010. When he was born, he spent an hour in the NICU due to some breathing/wheezing issues. I was exhausted and busy trying to recover from the c-section and didn’t really even know that him going to the NICU was scary at that point. He was my first baby and I didn’t know any better. They eventually brought him back to us and I got to hold him. It was heavenly. We rested a little and enjoyed our baby all day Saturday, but by 9 pm, my husband and I were exhausted. Mikey had struggled a little that day with maintaining his blood sugar levels and he – as most newborns do – just wanted to sleep, and wasn’t that interested in eating. Garrett, my husband, took him to the nursery so we could get some sleep in between feedings. About 45 minutes later the nursery nurse came in to tell us that because his blood sugar was low and he didn’t want to eat, they had shoved a tube down his throat to put formula in it; that later made him throw up some green mucus, so they were sending him to NICU because that could be a big problem and they would do some tests. Garrett immediately left with the nurse and I was left alone.
I lost it, called my parents who’d gone home to sleep for the night as well & my dad jumped up and was on his way to me immediately. Sitting there in that dark room, in so much pain and being so upset was a miserable few minutes for me – probably some of the darkest and scariest in my life. Before my dad got here, Garrett was back up to tell me the news: they were taking him to Primary Children’s hospital to do some GI testing on him, cause the green mucus could indicate some massive problems with his stomach/bowels. Good hell, this baby wasn’t even 24 hours old & I swear he didn’t cry unless you stuck him with a needle or shove a tube down his throat. He was delightful. It took about an hour of getting the life flight crew to arrive and get organized, and they let me hold him during that time… I did the ugly cry a lot. I couldn’t believe this was happening. We had a very pushy nurse tell us that my dad couldn’t be in the room – only 2 people allowed per baby. One of the life flight crew people finally told her to calm down, that I needed my dad in there to take me back to my room later and that it would be ok. She also told us that once Mikey left the hospital that he would be discharged and wouldn’t be allowed back in the hospital. I told her that I didn’t care and that he would be with me when he was released. I was getting pretty worked up and I remember my dad patting my shoulder trying to calm me down. I didn’t like this nurse making threats to me and I remember throwing my dad’s hand off of my shoulder… I was ready to fight her!
Garrett followed the ambulance in our car up to the other hospital and my dad and I went back to my room and rested for a bit, while we waited. It was now 2 o’clock in the morning. What I’m sure seemed like forever for Garrett [about an hour] of testing, they ruled out any horrible sickness/problems. No immediate surgery required… which is one of the things that that nurse had told me would happen. Mikey could come back to our hospital, but he’d be in NICU for some amount of time. They put him on IV fluids and antibiotics and the goal then became weaning him off the IV. We ended up mostly just giving him formula because we couldn’t measure how much he got with nursing. I remember one time we went in to the NICU to find him with an IV in his head and it was so shocking and scary. They later explained to us that they put it there so that he didn’t pull the IV out, but I felt like the nurses should’ve warned us. We had gone through enough trauma already!
For the next three days, we went down every 3 hours and held him for about a half hour and fed him. We snuck a few pictures. A few times we let our parents take a turn feeding him. I remember one night, we missed a feeding because the alarm was on silent and we woke up an hour late. I remember yelling at Garrett, not his fault now I realize just an accident, because I was worried at that point that Mikey would never be allowed out of the NICU if we were “bad parents” for not being down there for every feeding. I was pretty irrational at that point. I was scared and upset. I just wanted my baby.
I was a wreck. I was angry that my seemingly healthy baby was taken from me. I felt like the NICU nurses weren’t nice at all. We did not have a positive experience with them at all. When I hear stories about people loving their NICU nurses, I remember thinking that I wanted to slap one particular nurse so badly.
When I found out I was pregnant with my 2nd baby, I spent a lot of unnecessary time worrying about the NICU, not having another c-section. My main goal when having Henry was keeping him out of the NICU, which thankfully – we were able to do! That NICU experience changed our second experience in the hospital – absolutely no time spent in the nursery, except when the nurses had to do a few tests on him, and then I usually sent my husband with to watch and protect.
Mikey spent 3 days in the NICU, and they were some of the hardest days of my life. I honestly don’t know how people survive extended stays. He is now a completely healthy 2 and a half year old. We adore him, but I fear he’s always going to have a little more nervous mom as a result of that NICU experience.