Day 8: 12 days to go. Things are starting to get real here folks. Don’t say you were not warned. 🙂 Please know that parts of our story are sad but they are not to invoke your sympathy. This is just us being real and sharing what is far too common with parents of preemies with a NICU stay. I’m sure you may have questions–feel free to comment or message me with them. I’m happy to share about each phase of our journey and hope that it brings some light and hope to someone’s life.
On Saturday after bits of sleep here and there and Lew going to check on June and more Facetime visits I was getting antsy. It had been not yet 12 hours since June was born and I hadn’t laid my own eyes on her. All my expectations of childbirth, a natural labor with a doula, skin to skin contact, breastfeeding, went out the window. Now, let’s be honest–most expectations for Mamas go out the window in the birthing experience at some level–it’s just preparation for parenthood. But I was never expecting not to hold my child–much less see her–for hours upon hours.
Lew was out of the room when my nurse wheeled in the hospital grade breast pump, a huge plastic bag full of pump parts and a brown bucket that was something akin to what my mom used as a dishpan growing up. Our nurse (whose name I cannot remember for the life of me) explained pumping and it’s importance for a NICU baby. She also explained that not only was she a nurse, but a lactation consultant and that she was going to help me.
So here I am, trying to figure out how to make this thing work with some stranger getting super close for comfort and get this “liquid gold” for my baby that was all so important for her development as it was one of the best things I could do for her at this time. No pressure. Sheesh.
It was then that two friends showed up at the exact same time. They knocked on the door and the nurse seemed hesitant to let them in but I couldn’t have been more pleased to see their faces–regardless of my state. What our nurse didn’t know is these were the friends who showed up at my doorstep the day after my Mom died with coffee and my favorite Panera bagels. The friends who’ve been there themselves with a baby on the breast and trying to figure it out. The friends who can walk in when you are in a…compromising state…and you are just so glad to see another person that is there with a warm smile, you shed a tear and don’t think twice about what is actually happening.
At some point Lew showed back up and we continued on our merry way. This began our journey of feeding our growing girl. Pumping round the clock 8 times a day. Hands becoming raw from washing pump parts 8 times a day. Carting in milk from home to the NICU every single day. Crying over spilt milk. Crying over milk accidentally left in the car. Wondering if my supply would ever be normal. Wondering if I’d ever get to actually breastfeed my daughter. So many of these cries and wonderings of my heart were answered very tenderly.
And then the day we brought June home, we also brought home a ton of milk for our freezer at home. This is a portion of the supply pumped that wasn’t used while June was in the unit.
But feeding our daughter, worrying about her weight from then until today still remains a very sensitive spot. And it’s a spot so many moms of preemies and moms of many babies with health issues hold very close to our hearts. There’s something tied to your identity as a mom and as a provider on how your baby is growing. I think that’s part of why the “Breast is best” campaign drudges up so many issues and tender spots in women when there are already so many tender spots (thanks, hormones).
And again, we are 56% of the way toward our fundraising goal for March of Dimes. March of Dimes helps with education and prenatal education and awareness for moms to understand the importance of breastmilk in a premature baby. Your donation can help with this education.