NICU Parent Perspective: I Was Scared to Leave the NICU

December 7, 2020

I wanted to be the perfect mom. But I also wanted to make sure he wasn’t having any more episodes. 

By Arielle Lucas, Hand to Hold Family Support Specialist and mom to Qingston, born at 27 weeks.

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Arielle, Quatima, and Qingston in the NICU

On a Thursday I was told my son, Qingston, would be discharged in two days. We’d been in the NICU for almost 70 days at that point. I was nervous and scared to leave the NICU. My wife, Quatima, was excited and couldn’t understand why I didn’t feel the same.  

All I could think about was what if he desats? What if he doesn’t sleep? How can I keep him on his “touch time” schedule? 

Saturday came and I got a call that he had an episode and needed help coming out of it. I was terrified, but also a bit relieved. I knew that meant they were going to set his coming home day back a little more. 

Six days later, the doctors met me at the bedside to tell me the good news. Qingston was getting discharged the next day, ending our 74-day stay. I held in my tears until they left. Our amazing nurse could read me. She pulled up a chair and talked me through everything. She knew I was terrified, that I had mixed feelings. On one hand I was happy I could have my baby to myself. On the other hand, I was scared.

The nurses have been by our side since day one. In the previous weeks they spent so much time walking us through how to care for Qingston. My wife was so great at everything, and got it the first time. I, on the other hand, was always told, “You will get it; just keep trying.” 

“How am I supposed to do this when Quatima goes to work?” I’d ask. 

But I kept at it. And when the day came for Qingston to leave the NICU and come home, I felt more confident. But I was still scared. I wanted to be the perfect mom. But I also wanted to make sure he wasn’t having any more episodes. 

arielle lucas, NICU graduate, scared to leave the NICU

Qingston today!

On discharge day the nurses went over everything and made me feel so confident. They encouraged me to get in and get dirty. And that’s what we did. We got home, and I was so happy and relieved. I could hold him whenever I wanted. I didn’t have to wait for a touch time. 

After about two weeks, I knew I had this. Qingston was doing great, and the nurses were constantly in contact with us. I would text them every question I had, and they would respond, “Arielle, you’ve got this. Trust your instincts. Just remember how you did it here.”

And soon enough, we got into a great routine, and it was like he was always at home. Qingston brings great joy into our household, and I don’t think we could have done it without the nurses. He is a happy 18 month old, thriving and hitting all milestones. We did it. 


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