Prior to Baby A, I had no idea what a NICU was. Now I have full experience with the NeoNatal Intensive Care Unit which is for premature babies or babies who need special care.
He was 8 weeks early. 2 months. Born at 32 weeks of gestation. He was sent directly to the NICU within 15 minutes of being “born”. I use born in quotations because he was “born” through an emergency cesarian section after his heartbeat dropped. It was all so scary. Leading up to it was scary too. I had been in hospital on and off for 3 weeks. We had just gotten back to the city and the very next day I was in hospital.
These are things you don’t plan. They just happen. We planned on having Baby A and with full intention we created him on our wedding day. The plan was to have a water birth in the countryside in the regional hospital with a midwife that I had already been seeing. Then things went pear shaped.
It’s still hard for me to talk about but I know I need to. I still shed a tear hear or there when I hear about birth stories, or if someone really asks about mine. It’s brought up regularly since Baby A is developmentally 2 months younger than his actual physical age. Thankfully he has filled out quite a bit so he doesn’t have that skinny premie look anymore.
Baby A ended up staying in the NICU for 5 weeks after he was born. My husband and I had to leave the hospital without him. We returned to the hospital at least twice a day for those 5 weeks. I expressed milk so he would have breast milk to be tubed into his stomach instead of the formula. We could only get one cuddle a day in the beginning, when he was in the humidicrib, which looks like some space alien contraption with two holes to put your arms in. He needed help breathing even though I took the steroid shots before he was born to help with his lung development. He had cords and wires and tubes all hooked up to him, it was disheartening, disorienting and very surreal to see my baby like that.