Colin and Shire's birth story, Part 4

Part 4 - Life in the NICU

If you're skipping over these Birth Story posts, I don't blame you one bit. :) I'm just telling it as it happened with the details that feel fresh this time of year. And for those who read this blog for the fun stuff, (home decorating, refinished furniture, etc), it has been a busy last few days and the garage is full of some exciting new pieces and projects!!! There will be some fun posts coming up in the next few weeks of all the goodies. :)

The babies were not allowed in the post natal room with me, which was sad, but it also made me get up and get moving almost immediately after the surgery. Matt came to the hospital early the next morning, helped me into a wheel chair, and rolled me down to the NICU. First we went to Colin’s room. I felt a huge welt in my throat when I learned our babies were not even in the same room. When I looked in his incubator he was sleeping and all swaddled up, (except for his right arm which was left out for an IV). That made me sad. Did it bother him? Did he feel the IV? I got to hold him right away. I couldn’t believe I was holding my own flesh and blood. I loved him so much. It was difficult holding him at first. For one thing, I’d never held anything so small before. Also, he had so many cords and wires stuck on him that were somehow hanging out of his swaddled blanket, it was awkward! We got used to that fast, but it was tricky in the beginning. I loved holding him, regardless. It felt right. :)

{Some kind nurses made each baby a sign for their incubator}

{First time holding my son}

I hated putting him back in the incubator. Hated it.

Next we strolled on to see Shire in the room next door. It made me happy when I realized they were right across from each other, on opposite sides of a thick wall. There wasn’t a window or anything, but it reassured my momma’s heart that they really weren’t very far from each other. When I saw Shire I had so many thoughts and feelings fall over me. First, she was beautiful.

A perfect looking baby girl with delicate, feminine features. Second, she was not swaddled. She was hanging out naked with only a diaper on. Was she cold? This bothered me for a week straight until she was finally allowed to be swaddled. They couldn’t swaddle her right away because her tiny veins in her arms were too small for the IVs, so they did something called a central line in her belly button. They removed the umbilical cord and ran things into her belly button. As long as she had the line in her belly button, she wasn’t allowed to be swaddled.

Because of this central line in her belly button, we were not allowed to hold her. I had no choice but to get up out of my wheel chair, which was painful and stand by her incubator to talk to her and touch her skin. A kind nurse came up behind me and put an extra robe over my shoulders. I had forgotten that all I was wearing was my large undies and my hospital gown which I thought was secured in the back. It was not. I might have been mortified if I wasn’t staring at my daughter for the first time. It hurt my arms not to hold her.

Three days after their birth I was released from the hospital. It was November 2, my Dad’s birthday, and exactly one month from when I was admitted. For weeks I held onto hope that I would get to go home, but after my babies were born and I realized they would need to stay at the hospital for a while, leaving was the last thing I wanted to do. The day I was scheduled to leave we waited until late in the evening so we could spend as much time as we could with our babies. I cried saying goodbye to them, even though I knew I would return the next morning. It didn’t feel right walking into the cold, dark November air, with empty arms. It was the first time I’d been outside in a month. And it should have been a joyful occasion. But joy was so lost somewhere deep inside me. I felt heavy sadness and cried the whole way home. Actually, I cried the whole way home and then every day and night for 3 weeks straight. I had gained 19lbs with Colin and Shire and lost 29lbs after 2 weeks post pardum. I was

so sad.

Once home, I started a schedule that would be grueling, emotionally and physically. We thought it would be best for Matt to go back to work right away and wait to take his time off for when the babies were home. It seemed like the right thing. But I was still recovering from surgery and just getting out of bed by myself hurt, let alone the process of pumping every couple of hours. Besides the physical recovery, the loneliness and missing my babies was overwhelming. I will never forget my Mom dropping


during this time to come and help me. She would prepare food and coax me to eat. She drove me every morning to the hospital the first week since I wasn’t supposed to drive yet post-surgery. Because of the swine flu epidemic, no one, and I mean

no one

was allowed into the NICU besides Matt and me. So, my Mom would drive me to the hospital and sit in the lobby for 2 hours waiting until I was done visiting/feeding my babies, (we were limited to one hour at a time with each child). My schedule revolved around either pumping milk or visiting my babies. I'd go by myself every morning, (once I started driving myself after the first week), and then again with Matt in the evening after we'd scarf down a quick dinner together. The first day visiting the hospital was the worst. I walked into the NICU by myself, and went to Colin's room first. Just upon


Colin, I started crying. I was embarrassed. I just knelt close to his incubator and told him I was sorry to have left him and that I missed him.

A week went by and I felt physically stronger. Then good news came! Shire’s nurse told us we’d be able to hold her the next day! I was SO excited!!!! That day I put on a special dress for Shire. It was a strapless dress so that she could feel my skin, and it had lots of bright colors, which I thought she’d enjoy looking at. I totally forgot about the stupid hospital gowns we were instructed to wear every time we went to visit the babies. Ugh. I hated all the rules. But, it really didn’t matter what I was wearing, what mattered was getting to hold our Shire Grace for the first time.

It was like lifting air. She smiled for me and it lit up the room! Gazing at my daughter was/is like seeing my heart outside of my body. Now it was even harder to leave her behind. She would be thriving even faster if she were home, I thought.

Tomorrow is the finale to this birth story, (finally!!!) Stay tuned to find out how/when our babies come home.