I feel like there are two birth-related stories for preemies - the actual birth (which is often a little foggy in retelling, as so many are emergencies), and the day we bring them home. It would be kind of cool, I think, to tell some of those second stories. What did we go through to get to that day? What was the last thing we were waiting for? What did we do, at the last minute, to prepare, or not? What was the first night at home like?
Me, I want to know if anyone actually gave in to the temptation to walk into the unit and rip the monitor leads off the baby on that last morning (it's not a spell if they don't record it, right?), how much warning you had, was it the first or the millionth time that they told you the baby would come home tomorrow?
(I'll post mine tomorrow. I really should go to be right now.)
i like this idea!
with us, we didn't get any notice at all really. we were in a french-speaking hospital, and my french is mostly non-existent, so i usually didn't get much in the way of feedback. it had been a couple of days since the nice english-speaking nurse had been on, so i didn't really have a good idea of how close she was to leaving. that last day was actually the first day i wasn't at the hospital for most of the day. i had finally built up a little bit of extra breastmilk and i was starting to feel really run-down, so i had only gone in for an hour or two in the morning, and then gone home to sleep.
when my husband and i went back in that evening, the nurses ran over to me all frantic (don't DO that to a NICU parent) and said they'd been looking for me, dd was going to room in with us that night and go home the next morning. we had nothing with us, so poor DH got back in the car and drove right back home to get us some pajamas, toiletries and our new baby clothes. meanwhile, i convinced the nurses to let us room-in in the big bedroom directly ajoining the NICU as opposed to the crappy little closet with fold out chairs that was my "family" room, so DH and I could actually get a good night's sleep.
the next morning, i don't think i've ever been so anxious to leave a place EVER. i think it was 10 am before the ped came in and actually released us, and then another 2 hours before we were packed and paperworked and ready to go. i was a royal b*tch that morning i'm sure, i was so antsy. the nurse had to chase us down the hallway to check our carseat because i forgot. my MIL had arrived that day to visit us too and stay with us, and while i love the woman, she is not someone you want to have around when you're in a hurry to get somewhere.
FINALLY, we were in the car, and strapped in. it was a sunny and really cold feb afternoon, and i just breathed the biggest sigh of relief, and then started crying. i think i cried all the way home.
then we got home, i grabbed my baby, put on my comfy pajamas and crawled into bed and didn't get out for another week. i still have much fonder memories of her birth day.
Mine was scary but beautiful. My ex-husband decided the day before Zavs came home that he was moving out. I had a 2 year old and a 4lb baby to take care of. But it was so nice to crawl in with them both beside me and have the three of us together. Beautiful start to a new life. I didnt sleep really for a long time, I was so scared something would happen to him. He's a great bouncing 4 year old now.
DD had been having the occasional "silent" bradycardia - her heart rate would drop and come back up on its own. She'd remain pink and calm throughout. The nurses theorized that if she'd been a normal baby, we'd just never know she was having bradies. Nonetheless, every time she had another one, they had to keep her another three days.
By the time we got to bring DD home, we had been told we'd be bringing her home so many times that I refused to call my parents and tell them the same news again. No phone calls, I decreed, until we had her actually out of the hospital. Leaving the unit wasn't enough. I wanted us out of the building, out of the parking structure, at least halfway home. We didn't tell our son that she was coming home yet either - I didn't want to add "heartbroken preschooler" to our list of problems if I didn't have to.
So for the day and night before she came home, I could not talk to anybody. I baked instead. I made three loaves of chocolate babka. I broke up three pounds of baking chocolate by hand in order to do it. The morning we brought DD home I was in so much pain that I wished I had filled the 'scrip for hardcore painkillers - the only time I wanted them.
We spent a lot of time that morning worrying about car seats. The NICU had resisted doing a car seat test on DD because they thought the infant seat we had wouldn't adjust enough to hold her safely. There was only one infant seat on the market more adjustable, and there were no local stores that had it in stock. At the last minute, one of our favorite nurses stepped in and kluged up some padding with rolled-up security blankets so that we would be free to go.
DH drove, and I made phone calls from the car. The house smelled like chocolate and cinnamon when we got home - it smelled like chocolate and cinnamon for days. I had absolutely no will to move remaining, but there was nowhere we needed to go.
DH and I always say that the day DS was born was the scariest day of our lives, and the day he came home was the happiest.
DS had had apnea and bradys for a couple weeks and that was the only thing keeping him there. He'd go 2-3 days without one, we'd get all excited, and then he'd have one (and sometimes I KNOW the nurses jumped to stimulation too quickly) and we'd have 5 more days to wait.
So the doc ordered a pneumocardiogram, and we thought for sure he'd pass. He didn't. But the events were so minor that we were "allowed" to stay in the Parent Living Unit with him for 2 days, which is a day longer than most babies being discharged get. We weren't thrilled with this, but it was better than being in the NICU for 2 more days. We were nearly ready to bust him out of there anyway. He was 2 weeks from his due date and otherwise doing well except for these minor apnea and brady episodes that he recovered from by himself.
He did so well being loved on us constantly that they finally discharged him. It was such a wonderful day, and I will never forget it! He weighed 5 lbs. 10 oz., and had been in the NICU for 6 weeks.
DD was bigger and healthier at birth, but spent 10 days in the NICU for mag. sulfate toxicity, jaundice, learning to eat, and slow weight gain. She never had any apnea, bradys, or desats, thank goodness! The last few days she was there, she wasn't really gaining any weight, or fractions of an ounce. I wanted to breastfeed as much as possible there, but wanted her to gain really fast so she could come home, so I just let them give her EBM with HMF. I knew I could get her EBF once she was home, as I had with DS.
The hospital had a ban on non-parental NICU visitors because of H1N1, so my mom and son hadn't gotten to meet the baby yet. This was lifted on Mothers' Day, so they came to the hospital. They both met her and marveled at her, and then we were told that because she had gained 2 ounces since the day before, she could go home.
So I got the best Mothers' Day present in the whole world - my family was complete and HOME. She weighed 4 lbs. 6 oz. and was 35.5 weeks. She then gained 10 oz. in the next 5 days!
And DS was the sweetest big brother. As soon as she came home, he just wanted to hold her and look at her, and it was love at first sight between them. 17 months later, they still just adore each other!
When our youngest was born, at home he was having some issues with breathing so we ended up transferring into the hospital which earned us a 13 day stay. Finn was an odd little bugger, they said that he was having brady and apnea spells, we found out later that he was actually having breath holding spells, the Ped Neuro that he now sees is convinced that Finn was perfectly fine in NICU but that he was mis-diagnosed so we ended up having to stay until he could manage to pass the 5 day test.
We were not treated well at the NICU, it was horrible, I was threatened and we were tortured while he was there. I have very few positive memories of that time, mostly they were when we were in the step down room waiting to discharge.
We had signed on our house when Finn was 3 days old, because of stalling from the sellers we were staying at DH's parent's house in the basement until we could move in. Finn was 5 weeks early, I was cleaning the bathroom of the new house when I started into labor. While I was with Finn in the NICU DH moved our stuff into the house.....almost 40 minutes away with the kids helping. We stayed at the Ronald McDonald House and at DH's Parent's house about 20 minutes away from the hospital. It was really crazy, we were without most of our stuff, and the new house was not really ready to move into but we had very little choice.
The day we were to discharge (which is done at 1pm)I went in as usual at 6am. Shift change was at 7 so I had an hour to feed him and get him ready for the hour we couldn't be in the NICU. Then I went back in at 8 to see him, the Doctors were miraculously on time for rounds that day and I was told to leave again....... about 30 minutes later when I was allowed back in I was told that he was to be discharged in an hour or so! I stepped out to call DH and tell him to get everything ready......he was at the Ronald McDonald House across the street with the other 4 kids. He started wrangling car seats into the truck and finished getting the kids ready.
When the nurse who was in charge of the discharge exam was checking Finn over I was told to get everything ready to leave, I ran across the street to get what I needed to bring him home. When I was allowed back in Finn was dressed and almost ready to go. We were hassled about everything up until then but suddenly they were anxious for us to be gone. I gathered him up, put him in the wrap and picked up most of his stuff. A really wonderful Dad whose twins were being discharged the next day helped me by carrying a few bags and the car seat. I went to leave and when we got to the security guard it was found that the new wristband that I had been issued the night before ( they required new ones every few days) was not a match for Finn's, his was smudged from getting wet and it was illegible. I was devastated..... I was stuck at the security desk while they called around to figure out what to do. The really nice guy who was carrying our stuff actually went out the front of the hospital and found DH, who was waiting with the other 4 kids. I had called him completely freaking out about the wristband thing and he drove over to try to help, but they wouldn't let him in the NICU with the kids and we didn't have anyone to watch them. (The kids were not allowed in the NICU the entire time because they were not immunized, due to our oldest son having a reaction)
When the security people finally figured out what was up, I was escorted back up to the NICU step down unit and we were issued another band to leave the hospital..... it tool an extra 40 minutes for all of this transpire!
After we managed to escape the hospital, DH had driven back to the RMH to get the kids fed because it was now lunch time! I walked across the lawn and then across the street to the RMH and we ate lunch together
We finished the laundry for the RMH and said our goodbyes ( they are still a huge part of our lives and it was really hard to leave) we got loaded into the truck and drove to DH's parent's house to get our dogs and the rest of our stuff. I drove the truck with the kids and DH drove the van with the dogs and the rest of our stuff. We drove the 40 minutes home and walked in..... to a house with only a bed for me and the couch cleared of boxes.....DH worked all night to get the kids beds setup, us fed and taken care of. We had boxes floor to ceiling in every room and no fridge or stove...... we did have a cooler and toaster and microwave(though I don't usually use one)
The next day some friends come over and helped us out to get settled ( though in retrospect I would have been happier actually having a babymoon with my little man......we needed to recover from the whole NICU experience)
We discharged on a Friday at around Noon, DH had to return to work on Monday, he had used all of his vacation up when Finn was in the hospital and we were so broke from not having income and buying the house. It was an experience to come to a new home, not organized with a new, little (he was under 5 lbs when we finally got him out of the NICU, they would not let me nurse him on demand, despite the repeated orders from our doctors nad our requests..... they didn't seem to get what on demand was). I think that the hardest part was that Finn had issues with heat and breathing and we didn't have an AC, so we ended up borrowing one ( it was the middle of August) and then it was easier to relax and know he was doing well.
The best thing was that our homeschooling group provides meals for a week for families with new babies, or other big events in their lives....... totally looking forward to that this time around
It made not having a stove for the first few days not as big of an issue!
I almost never talk about bringing them home. I feel bad because the day we brought Lillian home (twin A) was horrible for me. She and her sister were co-bedded for the last 5-6 weeks of their stay, but had to be separated. Lilly was totally ready to come home, but Kate was still on O2 and was going to be sent home that way. Because they planned to discharge Lilly on a Monday, but the oxygen company couldn't get a concentrator to my house until Tuesday, we weren't able to bring Katie home until Wednesday. I know Monday to Wednesday doesn't seem like much, but I can still cry (and am) remembering how hard it was not only to leave Katie in the hospital, but to take away her sister in the process. Like I said, I never talk about it. There are no photos. I have no idea what anyone wore. I know that we stayed in the NICU until almost midnight that night, as we had for weeks, but this time we left with a baby. It was surreal.
Bringing Katie home was more of a production. My parents came over to stay with Lilly while my husband and I first picked up our new car (a minivan), installed the infant seat base, and then picked up Kate. We had a crash course in how to deal with a concentrator and the travel tanks of O2. The one thing I remember is when they wheeled me down the front hallway (hilarious to be wheeled out 9 weeks postpartum) carrying Katie, we passed our friends Heidi and Josh, who had triplets still in the NICU. They both stuck their arms out and slapped my hands like I was a marathon runner. Which I kind of was, ya know?