I wanted to share our NICU story with you. It might not be as traumatic or dramatic as other stories but it's our story and it's very real.
When I found out that I was pregnant for the first time, I like many others, was scared but oh so excited. We found out several months in that we were having a boy and we were ridiculously happy. Time went on and I had a very healthy, normal pregnancy. At 35 weeks and a few days, my mom, who lives in another state, was kind enough to throw me a baby shower at my house. About five hours after my shower ended, my water broke at our house. I was petrified. I was absolutely not expecting to have a baby early. My husband rushed me to the hospital with my parents following close behind. I checked in around midnight and it was confirmed that I was in labor. At 9:22 a.m. our son Joshua was born. I didn't get to hold him for more than thirty seconds before he was whisked away from me and surrounded by a team of NICU staff members. No one told me what was happening at the time but I learned later that our sweet little boy's lungs were not developed enough and that he had to spend time in the NICU. It was estimated that he would spend five weeks in the NICU, closer to what would have been his due date. I was crushed. I'll spare you all the details but we had to deal with CPAP, intubation, surfactant, high billirubin levels, nasal oxygen tubes and a garvage tube so that he could get the all-important colostrum and breast milk since he couldn't feed and breathe at the same time any other way. We didn't even get to hold him until the day after he was born but we were so grateful for that.
One of the worst parts about having a child in the NICU is leaving the hospital without your baby. To say it is heartbreaking and gut wrenching would be an understatement. Visiting your child in the NICU isn't much better: monitors and alarms are constantly going off, you're glued to the numbers on the screen, you brace yourself every time you go in because you don't know if your child has had a good day or a bad day. I cried so much the first few days at my house without my little boy. And then one day, like a light from heaven, I had a sudden realization: Joshua's half birthday would fall exactly on Christmas. Just like that, a little bit of peace came to me.
We were some of the lucky ones, Joshua only spent 13 days in the NICU. Though those were the longest 13 days of my life, I know that it made us stronger. And I also know that there are many preemies and their families that aren't so lucky. As for me, every Christmas I say a little thank you to God for blessing us with such a sweet, smart, empathetic boy who loves everyone and everything. He will be 5 this June 25th and I will thank God then too.
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