It’s hard to believe that we are in the homestretch of March for Dimes and sharing our story!
Our 58-day NICU experience was full of ups and downs. There were both milestones and challenge. UK is a level IV NICU so that means that there were lots of very sick babies there–many who had been flown in from smaller regional hospitals here in KY, WV and even TN. Due to that, when we met with our social worker that first night over in the Mother/Baby unit, we inquired about staying in the Ronald McDonald house, however it was at capacity. Since we only lived 30 minutes away, we decided that we would stay on the list, but would always defer to someone else who had a further commute than we did.
This meant that once my blood pressure stabilized, I was discharged to go home. Home to a house that was mid-renovation as we still had 2 months until baby (so we thought). A house that didn’t have a finished nursery and a house that was quiet. I was grateful that my first night home, our sweet pup Gracie was here. She had been with my in-laws that entire week and I had missed her snuggles. It wasn’t a baby’s cry, but I was glad to have her there.
I’ll never forget going to bed that first night–finally out of the hospital bed and in my own cozy space–and saying good night to Lew, then to Gracie and through tears, to Junie Bugs….
I was still up every three hours pumping and in those early morning hours would call and check in on June Parker. Thankfully, she had a primary night nurse, Molly, who would graciously answer and tell me how great June was doing, any updates on her weight, if she’d had a bath (we tried to be there to give her all her baths but sometimes it wasn’t possible). I wasn’t there a ton at night so I honestly didn’t get to know Molly that great during our NICU experience but she and her husband are apart of our extended family now. She is just one of the amazing folks we’ve come to love.
During the days, I would get up, pump, shower, we would drive to Lexington (or I would after I was released to drive after my C-section and Lew had gone back to work) and try and make it there in time for morning rounds. June was on the APP team (Advanced Practice Practitioner–made up of Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants) and we were so incredibly grateful to have a good friend on this team. Rhonda was a godsend to text questions to if I didn’t understand something, to get updates if I was scared or just have someone that we knew that understood what was going on.
One of the challenges and points of grief that I’m just now realizing is how deep your expectations go when it comes to having a child. While I’m so incredibly grateful for our supper club who came to visit me in the hospital, June could only have limited visitors since it was flu season–and only two at a time. The thought of having a pastor from church or coworkers come visit our daughter didn’t happen (although I had several friends and coworkers who came to visit while I was still in mother/baby).
There were days that I would walk in and see June with a unicorn–an IV of blood in a vein in the front of her head. I specifically remember almost losing it that day and Rhonda being there to help calm my nerves and explain why they were doing what they were doing.
At only four-five days old, they decided to take June off the bubble and try her on room air and bottle feed. It was good for a day and then back on the bubble and tube feeds she went. So much back and forth.
While there were plenty of challenges, there were also plenty of milestones and celebrations.