Sunday, August 22, 2010

The NICU emotional roller coaster- stong momma has the baby blues!

ok i started this on Friday and then googled kicked me out and lost half of my post..  so i will continue now...

So today is Emelia's 3 weeks!  So So very hard to believe it has already been 3 weeks since I finally met my princess but even more so -  so much harder to believe she is still not home.  I guess this post is for any other mother that has to deal with the NICU experience... it is its own roller coaster of emotions!
   The very first few days I was just so happy to have her..  she was alive and looked so normal. She was delivered from me and I could hold her finally!    No matter what people had told me, all while going thru the chemo with her I was so scared it would either make her so unhealthy when born, or so skinny or even not look like a baby girl.  So the first couple of days I was just so excited to see her and show her to everyone..  I was on this happy adrenaline rush.   Then after the weekend, the normal fears of the NICU kicked in.  I actually had worked in a NICU back when I was working at UMass so I knew what it would look like.. I was familiar with small babies, tubes connected to them and them being in an isolette box and monitors all around.  It's still different when your own is in there.  At first you stare at the monitors or jump whenever an alarm goes off, and look for the closest nurse.  You have this constant fear that this peaceful sleeping baby is just going to have so major issue and everything will get worse.  Even if your baby is doing well you hear other babies' alarms go off or see them in a worse condition and you worry that will happen to yours.   I was scared, I was excited to have her but I still didn't grasp that she was mine yet.. I think i wasn't ready to accept it because I was afraid something could still happen. 
 I think about 4 or 5 days into it I finally had my breakdown and just cried.  They warned us that all moms have the baby blues at some point after delivery and yes I had them..  or have them I should say...  The best thing that helped was just spending alone time with her, holding her, feeling and seeing her comfortable on me.   It took a few days, and many talks with nurses, doctors and social worker, to understand she is doing great and is strong and will be ok.  And that what I am feeling is normal.   And then it was time for me to go home but not Emelia.  I actually did better than I thought I would with this first night, probably because I had talked so much out with counselor and nurses.  I knew she was in the best hands possible, I knew I could go see her whenever I wanted, even 4 am, and stay as long as I wanted, and I knew she needed to get stronger so we could take her home.  And my parents and grandma came over and made dinner so that was a great distraction. But leaving her still sucked.  And still sucks every night.   Of course when home I tried to get as much done as I can, try to stay busy or try to rest.  At first I called at night and in the morning to check on her.  Now I just know she had a great night and I will see her soon. 
    After adjusting to having Emelia and then having Emelia in the NICU and being ok... we adjusted to our new daily schedule.   Both of us want to learn as much as we can and do as much as we can with her now so we can be comfortable when she is home.  Emelia eats every 3 hours.  During this time is when her diaper is changed and temp is taken and usually she is somewhat awake and alert.  We typically are there for 2 feedings and the 3 hours in between at least every day..  We get there at 1:30 in the afternoon for her 2pm feed,  hold or cuddle her from 3-5 (we trade off on this altho I think Larry hogs her!) and then feed her for her 5pm feed and head home around 7.   Larry is amazing at this.  He has jumped right in and done everything and asked so many helpful questions.  Our nurse is also so wonderful, all of them are.  Showing us what to do once but then having us feed her, having us watch Emelia's expressions, colors in her face, how to handle if she chokes or is struggling to take a deep breath. Larry is more confident at this.. and maybe more confident in Emelia's ability to recover on her own but I am getting there.. We look less at the monitors and more at her face. 
   The big thing that is hard to deal with is time..  a typical mom has 24 hours a day to be with their newborn.  We usually only have 6 hrs with her.   Its probably the hardest thing to accept that i am not with her when I want to be or all the time.   And then when i am with her and larry is holding her for 2 hours and all i can do is sit there and watch them.. i feel like i am wasting my time and should be doing laundry or baby room stuff.. or even editing pics.  and then i feel guilty for thinking that.    and then when family come to visit you feel bad that they can only spend 5 to 20 mins with her .. but when I only have 2 hours to hold her.. its so hard to give her up for an hour for everyone else too.      I actually have learned to really enjoy these hours with just Emelia and Larry.. no computers, no facebook..  Larry and I have just sat and talked.. mostly about her, but also about work and us and how we will deal at home.  Or we discuss the preemie book Larry bought.  Of course he bought a book- what kind of engineer would he be if he couldn't research something fully!  I still wish I could be with her at my home all day and night reading and figuring thing out!
   3 weeks is a long time..  even if it has gone by fast... it gets real old fast.   Sometimes i feel like she isn't my baby yet.. just someone I am visiting every day..  it's definitely hard.     I want her home so much.   Sometimes you think this NICU thing will never end.   Esp when you see some "big" kids still in the NICU.  Emelia is so small but she is so strong and such a fighter!    She has really impressed me with her progress.  Bottle feeding -  no more feeding tube!   in her open crib!  and gaining weight everyday!   I know the day will happen soon.   And even when i am scared to have her home without nurses and monitors.. I am ready. 

Today we were told she is doing great!  And to get ready for her to come home soon.   We try not to get our hopes up yet...   but we are ready whenever she is!

Thanks to everyone for the cards and gifts.. thank you cards will come eventually when the birth announcements are done.. but please  know we are so grateful for your love!

As for me..  the first chemo on monday wasn't bad at all.. just long and i was tired monday night.. tomorrow is dose 2!  



  1. Becky - I know in my heart you are the best mother you dreamed to be. You and Larry are the best parents Emelia needs. You both give her love, support and she gains strength by the two of you just being there for her In time when Emelia is home you will hold her 24/7 and your heart will be fullfilled meeting all your dreams. Our love to you, Larry & Emelia - mom & dad

  2. What a remarkable post. I'm going to forward it right now to my relative who has had her preemie son in the NICU for 2 weeks now.