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The 60 Day Rollercoaster: Our Baby’s NICU Stay And The Weeks After

Our son is two months now. Every time I look at him, I can’t believe how much he has changed from the day he was born. And yes, I know that everyone says this, but I guess it doesn’t really sink in until the baby is your own — even more so because he was a preemie baby who required some time in the NICU.

Logan took us all by surprise, coming six weeks early on a day that was just a routine doctor’s visit. Or so we had thought. It’s funny because both my husband and I had musings that morning of what if this baby came today. For me, it was as I was getting ready for my stress test appointment. I remember looking in the mirror, thinking, “I should have washed my hair, what if I go into labor tonight?” (By 34 weeks of pregnancy I was so uncomfortable and lazy-feeling that it had been probably four days since I last washed my hair.) For my husband, it was as he passed our son’s room and saw the hospital bag sitting by his crib. He contemplated putting it in the trunk…talk about foreshadowing. Logan came that night at 6:45pm via c-section. Another surprise, as I had been prepping for a natural birth. I had a medicine ball and everything. Life’s funny right?

As I look at our chubby-cheeked boy, with the bright eyes, I can’t help but think back to the night of his birth — when they raised him above the curtain and I saw this bluish-purplish, wailing baby for the first time. I wanted to hold him so badly, but coming as early as he did, his lungs weren’t quite as developed as they needed to be. He had to be taken to the NICU and hooked up to an oxygen machine. I wasn’t able to see him until the next morning, I think mostly because of my surgery. Myles would text me photos of our little baby, attached to all of these tubes. You could barely make out his face. In the grand scheme of things, we were lucky as he was breathing only at a slightly higher oxygen percentage than us. The doctors said we breath at 23 percent, the machine was set at 27-30 percent for Logan. Still, it broke my heart the next morning to see how hard he worked to breathe at that level — his little chest laboriously heaving up and down.

 

Our baby in the NICU.

Holding Logan’s hand for the first time.

Logan was born February 13th; I wasn’t able to hold him until the 15th, when he was finally stable enough to come out of the incubator. His little body felt so fragile to me, with all of those tubes everywhere. I felt clumsy and worried about hurting him. On day four of his NICU stay, I was finally able to try breastfeeding. He latched right away. I was so uncertain in that moment, though. I was amazed that he knew just what to do, and with a nurse’s help I got the proper latch. It was also the first time that he opened his eyes. He looked right up at me, as if to affirm that I was there and I was his mama.

But our time with Logan wasn’t all beautiful experiences like that. There were some dark moments that scared us to our core. Moments where the doctors were unsure about his lung development…moments where our little boy would just stop breathing and turn blue, simply because he was still learning how to continuously inhale and exhale on his own.

Logan ended up needing to be given surfactant (something his body would have made on it’s own if he hadn’t come so early) to help his lungs stabilize and after 12 days in the NICU, we were finally given the green light to bring him home. Now, here we are seven weeks later. A lot has happened in those weeks. We’ve grown and learned (and are continuing to learn) so much about our baby and ourselves as first-time parents. Sharing some of those learnings below:

Babies Aren’t As Fragile As You Think.

Logan was born at 6 pounds (huge by preemie standards!), came home at 5 pounds 8 ounces and yet he seemed so small. Even more so when he’s bare-skinned and just in a diaper. In those first few days of having him home, I would worry about hurting him during a diaper change, especially because he’s always flailing his arms and kicking his legs. Now, it seems like second nature.

 

Holding my son in the NICU for the first time outside of the incubator.

Holding Logan for the first time outside of the incubator.

He’s Still Learning, Too.

We had a couple of scares during feedings where he would forget to breathe and start choking. He would usually catch himself after a few seconds, but there was one night where he didn’t for what seemed like an eternity. My husband was frantically patting his back trying to get him to take in that gasp of air and he just wouldn’t. Then after probably 15 seconds, he inhaled. While, these little hiccups still occur on occasion, we’re happy to say that he’s gotten a lot better about multi-tasking.

Grandparents Err Grandmas Know Everything.

Love them and the abundance of support and love they have for this baby, but we still know him best. Case in point, our son hates having his diaper changed; he screams his head off most times. (I get it — cold, wet wipes on a warm tush isn’t appealing.) However, it took some convincing of both grandmas that he wasn’t crying because he was in pain.

You Learn To Function On Little To No Sleep.

In the NICU Logan was on a 4-hour sleep schedule — so not the case at home. Sometimes we get two hours, other times he wakes up every hour (that was when he first came home, though, and thankfully we’re back to 2-3 hours). And as tired as you might be, the world really doesn’t care that you’ve got a newborn at home. You’ve got responsibilities, obligations, and just have to learn to function on what feels like never-enough sleep.

The Swaddle Is Our Friend.

In the beginning Myles and I were split on whether or not to swaddle. He was team swaddle. But, I, seeing that Logan hated to be so confined, wanted to let him sleep with just a blanket covering his middle and legs. Well, I quickly learned that was not going to work, as Logan would almost immediately start flailing his arms about once we put him down.

You Become A Songwriter.

It’s amazing the lyrics and melodies you can produce when trying to console a crying baby. Logan’s favorite tunes include a remix of “You Are My Sunshine” and little diddles about how much mama loves him and his sweet cheeks, set to the tune of “Daisy, Daisy.”

Just How Much Your Life Changes.

Yea, that’s the first thing that everyone tells you, but it doesn’t really sink in until your baby is here. It’s crazy how much love we have for this chubby-cheeked, bright-eyed baby and how much every thought, decision, purchase, outing, etc. has him as the central focus. Nothing can prepare you for that.

Sometimes You Don’t Shower Every Day And That’s Okay.

Before my son, there was no question over whether or not I’d shower daily. Now, however, between his feedings, playtime, and my job (I’m a writer), there’s really no extra time for luxuries like a shower. Showers either happen at night or if I’m especially tired, the following night.

Your child is the only person who can poop, pee, and throw up on you and you love him/her even more. 

Ravelle Worthington is a wife, momma to three, and the founder of Mommy Brain. Follow her on Instagram here.
Join the Mommy Brain private community where members can have open and honest discussions about all the parts of motherhood, whether that’s parent/child-related, self-care, life after becoming a mom, divorce, career changes, intimacy with your partner — there are many layers to who we are as women and as mothers. This is the space to talk about it all!
By Mommy Brain, April 25, 2015
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