September is National NICU Awareness Month which is designed to honor families experiencing a stay in the neonatal intensive care unit and the health professionals who care for them. Here is my story.
I had a pretty uneventful first pregnancy. The first trimester was filled with exhaustion and light morning sickness followed by two more trimesters of cravings, more exhaustion and a growing belly. Considering this was my first baby, I wasn’t sure what to expect aside from the stories and accounts from my friends and family. But for me, the worst part was the anticipation of labor. What would it feel like? What would it be like afterwards? How would I know when I was in labor? There was just so many questions that I had that regardless of how many times I talked with my doctor about it or asked my mom’s advice, I wouldn’t know the answer until it happened.
And then, three days after my anticipated due date it happened. I went into labor.
It started in the early morning hours when I woke up and just didn’t feel well. I didn’t have contractions or any pain, I just felt off. So I moved to the couch and spent the rest of the morning in and out of an uncomfortable sleep, catching up on reality TV episodes I had missed. But a few hours later, when my husband was about to leave for work, I stopped him because what I thought were contractions were starting. And then as he called the doctor things picked up and we were off to the hospital. There were no more questions about “what if” because this was it. It was time.
The labor started uneventfully, like it was mirroring my entire pregnancy. But less than five hours in, things started to take a turn. Machines were beeping, I was signing papers and teams of doctors were rushing in. I don’t remember much except being told to push hard and get him out quickly. When my son was born I held him for only moments before his gurgling little body was whisked away by a NICU team for tests and monitoring. The NICU was never part of my plan. I never anticipated this part of my pregnancy story. But here we were – not only did we have a new baby but were experiencing something completely new.
I remember being wheeled into the NICU after I was cleared by my doctor. The room was dark and quiet with several beeping monitors in the background. As I approached my brand new baby’s little basket, the NICU nurse sat next to me while I held him for the first time. I held his sweet little sleeping face while she calmly discussed the test results and future plan for him with me and my husband. This part of our story was never one that I had envisioned. But it was happening and we had to come to terms with it.
We spent the next 48 hours in the NICU. He eventually was allowed to come visit in our room for a few hours at a time but then was wheeled back down to monitor his blood sugar and breathing levels. The NICU staff was amazing and I’ll never forget their kindness. They kept us informed about every test, procedure and situation and we never felt like we were asking a “dumb question.” Even through the new baby-post delivery fog, I felt content and certain that my baby was in the best possible hands. It was the little things the nurses would do that kept my heart believing. Like when she let us give him his first bath or showed us how we could brush his hair around the tubes. Even the little things like calling our room when he needed a diaper change so we could be part of the process. Even in a dark moment the NICU staff worked hard at helping create some light in the situation.
Our journey was a short one, which we were so grateful. Our son passed his tests and was allowed to come home with us. But ten years later I vividly remember our NICU experience and most importantly, each and every one of the NICU staff that helped us stay positive.
About Our Sponsors
Whether you’re expecting your first child or adding to your family, Hancock Health is committed to getting you off to the best start possible. Andis Maternity unit at Hancock Regional Hospital is the only maternity hospital in Hancock County. Every year, they deliver an average of nearly 400 babies in a calming, comfortable environment—supported by an expert, caring team and the latest healthcare technology. And now Andis unit is getting even better. Our labor, delivery, and postpartum rooms are all updated with new amenities that make them even more family-friendly and homelike.