Silent Night or Why Charlie’s Second NICU Rocked

Tonight, is an extremely quiet night. My husband went camping with Kaia (our dog), Charlie has fallen asleep, and the cat is curled up downstairs. The silence infused with Charlie’s rhythmic snoring reminds me of late nights in the NICU a year ago. I spent many nights with Charlie at the second NICU. It was an amazing place.

After two months of begging each morning, “Please don’t let anything bad happen today”, Charlie was deemed a “feeder-grower”. I was reminded to “Never trust a preemie” but told it was no longer necessary for her to remain at the very large level IV NICU.

For her third month, we had her transfered to another hospital which was closer to our home and my husband’s work. The NICU at that hospital was incredible with many great features.

Most importantly, it had private rooms. I was able to sit with Charlie and did not feel like I was in the way. Nor was I crammed into a corner and sandwiched between Charlie’s and another baby’s isolette. Her room had its own (reclining) chair. Therefore, it was not necessary to scavenge for one each visit like in the open NICU. We were allowed to participate in kangaroo care as desired without interruption. Whatever else was going on in the NICU did not impact our visit like at the other NICU. At night, I had the option to sleep in the recliner beside her isolette. It was comforting to know that I did not have to leave her if I did not want to.

Charlie’s new room gave us our privacy back and we started to feel human again. We were no longer subjected to the prying eyes over other babies’ visitors nor hear painful thoughtless comments from the same people. I did not have to endure the horrible experience of a NICU waiting room with unattended children and inconsiderate individuals. It was much quieter in the second NICU.

We were encouraged and allowed to provide most of Charlie’s care. Because I was able to stay with her comfortably, I was present to perform most of the hands on care and feedings. My husband was able to give her a bath for his first time and he often read her stories.

At this NICU, she began to feel like OUR baby. We started to make memories. I felt involved in Charlie’s care.

There was more continuity of care at the second NICU. Charlie regularly saw the same neonatalogists. They knew which doctor was scheduled to see her next and they communicated adequately with one another. That was a big difference from the larger hospital where Charlie’s case was handed off frequently and they usually did not know to whom.

The physical and occupational therapists were phenomenal with Charlie. They saw her often, made suggestions, and took time to teach me skills. They provided a one on one infant massage class for me, showed me how to position her, provided a book on preemie development, and answered questions.

We got to know the small nursing staff well. They helped us prepare to take Charlie home. They taught us about using a car seat with a small baby, administering medications, infant CPR, feeding, and small baby care. They were amazing people. I still think about them quite a bit.

There were things that I did miss about the first NICU. I missed a few of the nurses and the March of Dimes NICU Family Support. However, I was pleased with our decision to have Charlie transferred. The second NICU was where we, as a family, began to heal.

Overall, Charlie’s admission to her second NICU was instrumental in empowering us to care for her. The experience there helped me to feel competent and become confident in my new role as Charlie’s mommy.

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My husband bathed Charlie for his first time.

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This was taken a few weeks after the bath picture on the day Charlie turned five pounds.

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About Rebecca Wood

In May 2012, my pregnancy ended three and a half months early due to severe early onset preeclampsia. This is my collection of thoughts and media. It is an attempt to document and discuss our experience of navigating the post NICU world. View all posts by Rebecca Wood

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