There are many things about having a preemie that are unknowable until it happens. No one can really prepare a parent for what NICU life entails. I will be forever grateful to the nurses that helped me get through it. This post is dedicated to those nurses on today, Neonatal Nurses Day.
To begin with, I did not know that I would not be allowed to hold my baby. While I was hospitalized, I would visit the NICU, gently press my hands against Charlie’s isolette, silently cry, and stare at her in disbelief. After a few days of this, one of the nurses sensed that I ached to hold or touch my baby. She showed me how to open the portholes on the isolette and demonstrated how to carefully cup my hands around Charlie.
After I was discharged, I sat by Charlie’s bedside each day. That was how I met a specific nurse that cared for Charlie most often. She explained how to rub Charlie’s back when she would forget to breathe. Later on, the nurse instructed me as I learned to change Charlie’s diaper while maneuvering around the PICC line. She helped me with kangaroo care. The nurse told me what each of the alarms meant, how my baby was doing, and what options we had in Charlie’s care.
We talked quite a bit during the many days that I sat with Charlie. She comforted me on Charlie’s bad days, reassured me that I was doing a great job, and consoled me when my milk failed to come in.
Through our discussions, I was able to understand that we would be all right if Charlie was disabled. Sometimes, we joked and had a good laugh. Most importantly, she helped me to find the strength and courage to be the mom Charlie needed.
Later, it was that same nurse that alerted the physical therapist of Charlie’s rotated leg so it could be corrected with positioning. Another nurse noticed that the replogle was suctioning milk from Charlie’s stomach. Later, she pointed out that the CPAP was blowing air into Charlie’s stomach once the replogle was removed.
Most of the nurses got to know Charlie well and relayed any suspicious changes to the doctors. I feel like they loved my baby almost as much as I do. I was comforted to know that Charlie was in good hands each night that I had to leave her.
The nurses answered my questions and assuaged my fears. They encouraged me to take the infant massage class, taught us how to bathe our baby, and helped us troubleshoot her feeding difficulties.
They even saved odds and ends for me to add to my scrap book.
As Charlie got closer to going home, one of the nurses would delight in helping me dress Charlie. The NICU nurses bestowed upon her the title of “The Best Dressed Baby In The NICU” during her stay at the second NICU.
Throughout the last week, the NICU nurses assisted me in tackling the overwhelming list of discharge requirements. Finally, it was time for Charlie to go home.
I want to say thank you NICU nurses for saving my baby and, in the process, saving me.
This life would not have been possible without you.
This picture was taken by Monica DeMariano. The Cocoally shirt was given to Charlie by my friend Ally Burguieres.