By: Lauren Carmichael
My son was born 8 weeks early. When he was born, I wasn’t able to hold him. I heard him cry; the nurse turned to me holding him and said here he is; my mother snapped a quick picture of the brief moment; and off he went. When I finally went to go hold my baby for the first time, he was in a tiny box with holes on the sides to stick your hands through. I took his little hand through the box and watched him breathe through the tubes and stickers all over his tiny body. I was nervous to touch him. The wires were intimidating, but I was hopeful. It was comforting having the nurses there and seeing them care for him. They didn’t seem nervous and it made me not so nervous anymore. I was a new mom so I felt more confident in the staff and the facility than with myself at that point. Although I was sad to be in my hospital room alone, I was content and felt at ease knowing he was getting everything he needed to be healthy.
It wasn’t until I left the hospital that the experience really hit me. I can’t describe exactly what I felt the day I went home; but, up to that point, it was the worst feeling I have ever felt. I can’t describe what exactly it was like after giving birth leaving the hospital without my baby, but I never want to feel anything like it again.
In order for him to come home, he had to have no breathing spells for five days. It’s very common in preemies to stop breathing for a short amount of time. I remember my son was due to come home one morning so I was there the night before, visiting him for his nightly bath and feeding. As I was rocking him in the rocking chair, the alarms went off. He was having a breathing spell right in my arms. I had no idea other than the sounds coming from the little machines. He looked totally content. The alarms quickly stopped and a nurse was there in an instant, but I couldn’t keep from crying. I knew that sound meant it was going to be another five days until he could come home.
Once I had my son home sleeping in his bassinet, I couldn’t help but panic that I didn’t have a nurse staff and alarms to rely on in case he stopped breathing again. I didn’t get much sleep in those days; and when I did, if I woke up and noticed he had been sleeping for an extended period of time, panic would set in.
The whole process of having a baby in the NICU changed me. My son has grown into a healthy and happy eight year old. I am currently pregnant with my second baby and I have to take Makenna shots every week to help prevent me from going into early labor again. I hope it doesn’t happen;but if my second baby happens to be born early, I will feel much more prepared this time around.