Learning to be a parent in the NICU (Part 1)

I was a brand new mother of three. Zero to three babies in a matter of minutes. We had the babies just before 9:00PM on a Sunday night. It took until 5:00AM for me to be able to see them again. They took me down in my hospital bed and wheeled me to see each of my babies.

With my husband by my side, both of us exhausted, we looked on and saw all of the different tubes and wires coming out of our babies. They gave us information that I only hoped Bryan was processing. I was just in awe at how much bigger they were than I thought they would be.

Still, so tiny, Brody was three pounds thirteen ounces, Brayden was four pounds, and Brooke was also three pounds thirteen ounces. All three were seventeen and a half inches long. Fighters. All three were doing exactly what they were supposed to. They were hooked up to antibiotics. They had feeding tubes. They also were having their heart rates monitored. All three were on C-Pap machines for the first twenty-four hours.

They were my little miracles. It took three days for me to be able to hold all three of them individually. They were in separate rooms but we were lucky because those rooms were all right beside each other.

Bryan had to go to work while I was in the hospital, so I quickly got myself moving and made it so I was able to walk myself down to the NICU. I wasn’t taking the heavy medication, because I wanted to be coherent and spend time with my babies. Honestly, they were giving me the motivation to heal faster than I expected.

If they were fighting everyday, I was going to fight too. By day three, I had heard enough heart monitor alarms to last me a lifetime. We had learned where each of the rooms were located on each monitor and I knew immediately if it was one of my babies whose heart rate had dropped.

The nurses were great. They told us to not even look at the monitors. So much easier said than done. My heart would drop every time we would hear them. Bryan knew and we would talk about it together but there wasn’t anything that was easing my mind.

They would finally have them less and then they would start eating more. That would cause them to have more alarms. It was an adjustment every day. Once I was released, Bryan and I drove that hour and fifteen minutes every day to be with our babies. The nurses couldn’t believe how much we were there and also couldn’t believe how much we did while we were there.

When you’re learning to be a parent, and let’s face it, we were clueless. It’s even harder to learn the things you need to do when you have a million people staring at you. No one was there to judge me but I felt like I was under a microscope some days. I was also dealing with a whole lot of hormonal changes, so I’m sure that helped add to my anxiety.

We were lucky, the NICU has camera’s so when I was at home, I could log in and look at my babies. My first day at home, I had to wait for Bryan to get done working before we could go to the hospital. I obsessively checked their cameras all day. If they were crying, I would cry. If the nurse was checking on them for too long, I would worry. I knew I needed to get a hold of those emotions and focus on giving my babies what they needed.

I was pumping, and my breast milk was coming in great. So instead of focusing on what I couldn’t change, I focused on pumping. We would take milk with us and I would pump while we were there and the babies were growing stronger and stronger every day. There were still alarms but I was learning to get through those without the heart palpitations myself.

Every day, Bryan and I would have those long rides to talk about everything we were learning and everything that was going on. Leaving them each night became harder and harder. When you have your babies, you are just ready to have them home with you even though you know they’re in the best place for them.

Seven days in, we woke up to one of our worst nightmares. Brayden was sick. He had an infection of some type and they couldn’t pinpoint exactly what was going on. They didn’t ask us to, but Bryan and I immediately left for the hospital. Our little boy was sick and we weren’t prepared for it at all. When we had left the night before they were all doing wonderfully.

When we got there, the doctor had told us she was so glad we came. They wanted us to see him first and then we would talk. When we went over to see him, I remember him looking gray. He was crying and I couldn’t hold him because he was in his islet. They said his coloring was due to him having so many heart rate drops and that they had started antibiotics and he was already on his way to getting better.

It was mortifying. There is really no other way to describe it. As a new mom, you never want to see your child going through what he was experiencing. There wasn’t anything we could do, other than to pray, and put our trust in the doctors. We had chosen that hospital for a reason. We were there for a reason. They were the best.

This is why, when the doctors suggested a spinal tap, we agreed. We knew that if they were wanting to do it, to try and figure out what kind of infection he had, then we needed to trust them. It didn’t take long before we were in with him. We got to sit in his room and I got to hold his little hand before the doctors came in for the procedure.

As we were standing there, his heart rate dropped and I had to watch my little boy gasp for air. The nurse came in and got him breathing normal again and it was at that point, I knew this was the worst we had seen. Usually the alarm would go off and they would come right back up on their own. He wasn’t breathing on his own. This is why he ended up back on a c-pap.

Honestly, I didn’t want to see him with all the wires again, but once they hooked him back up you could tell he was instantly more comfortable. We had to leave for about an hour during the procedure. I swear it was the longest hour of my life. I just wanted to know that he was okay.

We went to check on Brody and Brooke and then went to the cafeteria to try and distract ourselves for a while. The nurses were doing rounds so they were getting Brody and Brooke taken care of for us. We stopped in the lobby so that we could call our parents and update them on what was going on.

As Bryan was on the phone with his mom, I heard someone singing. It was a song I knew very well. A song I had sang in church a couple times. How Great Thou Art. I couldn’t find where the song was coming from and when I looked around, I saw a woman sitting in the windowsill singing. It was like she was there for me. That was exactly what I needed to hear.

When Bryan got off the phone, he started talking to me and I got distracted. When I turned around the woman was gone. I asked him, “Did you hear that lady singing? She was singing How Great Thou Art.” He gave me a funny look, “I didn’t hear anyone singing.” I looked him dead in the eye because I thought I was losing my mind. I said, “You did see the woman though, right?” He gave me a smile, “Yeah, I definitely saw her.”

Thank God. Because I seriously thought I had imagined the whole thing. We got to the cafeteria and ate something light. I wasn’t exactly hungry, but I knew in order to keep my milk supply up, I needed to eat. Focusing on that and Brody and Brooke were going to get me through this. Especially with Bryan and God on my side.

When we got back, it was time to feed Brody and Brooke so we both sat down with a baby and gave them their bottle. As I sat there holding Brooke, I remember the doctor coming back in. Bryan walked over from Brody and she gave us a warm smile.

She told us that Brayden did great and he was doing a lot better with the C-Pap and the antibiotics. I was instantly relieved. We were going to get through this. They had a plan and we were no longer climbing up the hill.

In my next blog, I’ll tell you all about Brayden’s miraculous recovery and when we finally got to start bringing these babes home!! Thank you for reading!!!


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