On the morning of the 28th, they finally decided that I had peed enough to remove my catheter. This was very exciting for me because it meant I could finally go see my baby. It still hurts to think about that so many people got to see her before I ever got to hold her, and it’s something that I am still struggling with (and actually, makes me cry – including as I am writing this). The nurse and Jake decided it would be best to wheel me up there, since I was not steady on my feet having been in bed on my back for nearly 24 hours. So they get me all ready to go up, and Jake wheels me up. The first thing we have to do is scrub in – which Jake has to teach me how to do (since he had done it the day before). We get into the lobby area and sign in, and they tell us she is in #2 (there are 7 rooms with roughly 8-12 babies per room). She is in the farthest corner of the room, meaning Jake has to wheel me past at least 4 other babies in varying states of sickness, from those who were born micropreemies still in isolettes to babies under the blue lights (for their bilirubin levels).
Seeing your baby in an isolette, completely naked (other than a diaper), with wires everywhere is not something I think anyone is prepared to see. No matter what the doctors tell you, you cannot prepare for that. I had already started crying before we ever made it to her while I was being wheeled through the room. She looks so tiny, and so fragile – despite being one of the biggest babies in the room at 7lbs, 7oz (her birth weight). We have to wait for the nurse to come get her out and hand her to me. Once the nurse got her out, and got her wires adjusted and handed her to me – I just closed my eyes and cried some more. It was a mixture of relief, and sadness. Sadness that this was our reality now, and that she may have some medical issues we would have to face.
I don’t even remember the rest of that visit with her. I’m not sure if it is just because the next 9 days were so stressful, or if I blocked it out. I know the nurse talked to us, and the doctor I believe did as well. I was allowed to do skin to skin the next day, which was an amazing feeling. It did not take the place of the immediate skin to skin I wanted when she was born, but it did help me a lot. They say it also helps the babies get better faster. That same day I got to see her, I was able to take a shower and remove the first bandage from my incision. Let’s just say it hurt like hell, and my husband is a saint for helping me. We were able to enjoy (if you can enjoy hospital food) a nice dinner that night, something special our hospital does – complete with cheesecake! The next 3 days that I was still inpatient were filled with multiple trips upstairs to see her, feed her and just hold her. In addition to visits from the lactation consultants (who were amazing), lots of pumping breastmilk for Jordan, I had “goals” everyday from the nurses, things like pain management & walking the hallways to get my strength back. She did move from room 2 to room 4 on the Friday the 1st. We loved most of her nurses, and everyone was totally in love with her (and all her hair!).
On March 2nd, she had to go under the “blue lights” due to her elevated bilirubin levels, and got an ng tube through her nose for feedings (she was having some trouble finishing bottles). With the blue lights, she had some super cool sunglasses, which she didn’t seem to mind too much! Other monitors she was on (for the majority of her stay) were respiratory monitors (3 cords), her IV (part of the time in her foot, rest of the time in her hand), a pulse ox monitor (on her wrist or foot, depending on the day), and at times a temperature monitor on her chest. Holding her was always an adventure due to all the wires & cords, and making sure nothing was kinked or pulled off. The NICU is noisy, lots of monitors beeping on all those babies. Alarms that go off, shuffling of nurses, doctors, consultants, and different specialists. Depending on the baby – they are set to go off if respiratory, heart rate or IV levels get above or below a certain number. You can see some of her different monitors in the photos below.
I was discharged on Saturday, March 2nd and to say it was the worst day of my life is an understatement. We packed up all my stuff, said goodbye to the nurses and left – without Jordan. While nothing can prepare you to see your baby in the NICU, there is absolutely nothing you can say or do to prepare yourself to leave the hospital without your baby. Jake and I both cried. It was a mostly quiet ride home, we were both lost in our own thoughts, and of course as always – holding hands. The day we were able to go to Jonathan’s baseball game (Jake coaches), and have a good dinner that my mother in law prepared. Then it was back up to the hospital to feed Jordan at 8pm. The multiple trips were something that was repeated daily until Thursday the 7th. I would go up in the morning with my mom (who arrived on the 3rd when my MIL left), and we would stay for most of the morning, go home at lunch, get the kids from school and then Jake and I would go back at night to feed her. It was absolutely exhausting, and draining both emotionally and physically. I was pumping every 2-3 hours, 24 hours a day as best I could – in between taking care of my husband, the house and my kids. On March 5th, Jordan was moved from the NICU to the special care nursery, a “step down” and a step closer to going home. It was quiet in this nursery, without the constant beeping you hear in the NICU – and honestly, I kinda missed the noise when she was in there, it seemed too quiet to me. While in the special care nursery, she got all the newborn tests most babies get when they are first born. She had her hearing screening and got her hep vaccination. In addition, she got a 2nd echo cardiogram to check her heart, to see if some issues that had presented at her birth were still an issue (they are not, but she will have a repeat echo at 3 months). Her first echo was done the day after she was born.
On March 7th, my mom and I arrived to spend the morning there and the doctor came to talk to us. I will never forget her saying “ok mom, I think today is the day – Jordan can go home”. I immediately broke down crying, because we had not expected this at all. Once the doctor went over some stuff with me, I called Jake (who was at work), to say “are you ready to take your daughter home?”. What a relief, and the day that I had prayed for multiple times daily. Leaving the hospital with her was an amazing feeling. We did not tell the kids she was coming home, we just showed up with her that afternoon – and the kids were also overjoyed!
She is now a month old, and growing like a weed. There are moments I still get sad (mostly sad about going back to work in another few weeks). She sleeps like a dream (in her own crib!) – 4 hour stretches at night before eating and immediately going back to sleep. She does great in the carseat (she spends about 2 hours a day in it going to drop the kids off at school, and picking them up), and loves her siblings and her daddy. I am still pumping daily, and we have a nice freezer stash going for when I go back to work. She has been eating 3oz per feeding, burps and of course – farts up a storm (just like her daddy).
We are head over heels in love with her, and are so glad she is finally home with us. I do find myself thinking daily of the other babies who were around here in the NICU, and pray for them daily.