Wednesday, January 26, 2011
The NICU experience
When you are preparing for the birth of your child (especially the first) the farthest thing from your mind is the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). You most likely have these grand expectations of how it will turn out, your birth plan set, the arrival home with your baby, a bag packed for the hospital or birth center and then BAM--it goes nothing like you planned. In birth as in CrossFit you must be prepared for the unknown and the unknowable.
At 32 weeks, giving birth was not what I had planned for, Jason and I were on a "babymoon" in Lewes DE. But, on October 24th at 32 Weeks and 4 days Chloe was born. After my water broke and we made the call to the mid-wife's at the Bryn Mawr birth center and 911 it was apparent we needed a hospital with a level 3 NICU. I ended up and delivered at Christiana Care in Delaware. Chloe was delivered 8 weeks early and weighing in at 4lbs 4oz, and 17 1/4 inches in length.
I never had a friend who had a baby in the NICU so this was all a new experience, we would come to make this our new home for 21 days. I was discharged out of the hospital in 2 days after giving birth and the remainder 19 days would be spent going to and from the hospital. Many of you reading this blog know that we live in King of Prussia, about 1 hour away from DE. This wasn't an easy commute but we didn't want her moved because of the great care she was getting there, so between the drive and hotel stays this quickly became a way of life.
Yes, there are very scary things involved with having a baby in the NICU, Monitors, foreign machines, alarms, feeding tubes...it's a wild new world, but you learn it all fast. I found one of the unexpected consequences of having preemie was the profound gratitude I had for even the smallest milestones. Full-terms parents may not recognize the miracle of holding your baby for the first time or seeing your babys breath without the aid of a machine. Seeing all the IV tubes taken out of her arm and having her moved out of the Isolet to a crib. We appreciated every milestone that Chloe made. Especially the milestone on 11/14 when she arrived home. Learning from the NICU nurses was also a benefit, I asked questions and picked their brains for knowledge daily. This knowledge made the arrival home a little easier. In retrospect it may not have been what we planned for but it's what we got and it's now how Chloe's life began...