I have 2 prior experiences in NICU. My first was totally unexpected, nearly 15 years ago, with my second-born. DS was born at 34 weeks, and we were totally unprepared. He was born 6/23/91, and was due mid-August.This was before routine ultrasounds, and we thought he was only 2 weeks early, but turns out he was 6. He came after they gave us pitocin, and wasn't breathing.Other than that, it was a natural birth. They drs said that if I had any drugs, my son would be dead! I didn't even get to see him before they whisked him away! He had no lung function-they were still pasted shut. Though he was early, he weighed 6lbs, though he quickly dropped to 4lbs8 oz. Not only that, they transferred him to a hospital an hour away, and we had no way to get to him. I didn't get to see him for 2 weeks. When I finally did, he was ready to be transferred back to NICU at the hospital where he was born. Though I pumped every 3 hours,(and sent the milk to the other hospital through the hospital where he was born) I got mastitis twice in that time, and was generally miserable. There was definitely PPD there. I got to nurse him right before he came home for the first time. Oh, how badly I still feel about it all.
My second NICU experience was 2 years ago, in Feb 2004. Our 9th child was born with spina bifida. She was born via c-section, 4 weeks early.(My first c-section) They cut me open and took her out. They let me see her before they took her away. DH got to go with her. They tranferred her out 2 hours later to another hospital, but only a few blocks away. SHe had her first surgery at 2 days old, to close the gaping hole in her back. I was the earliest c-section patient to leave the hospital, as they tried to get me out before her surgery so I could see her(less than 48 hours after she was born) but we missed her by about 15 minutes! She came through fine, though they had her propped up by her feet, so her head would get large so she could have surgery for her hydrocephalus. They kept her like that until she had surgery at 9 days old. I got to touch her, and even feed her breast milk through a tube, then bottle, during this time, so I felt much better than I did with my son. And, I got to see her nearly every day-every other day. She had her shunt put in her brain at 9 days old, and though she is still small(She's about the size of a 12month old), she is doing great. She doesn't talk, but does sign language, with about 60 signs. Our whole family has been learning this, to be able to help her. She also has other issues and birth defects, such as agenesis of the corpus callosum, (which means the band of fibers that connects the 2 halves of the brain never grew), rocker-bottom feet, and clubbed feet, which will likely need surgery in the next few years. She can't stand or walk, but can finally crawl on all fours. She has a walker, braces, and a wheelchair contraption that she just loves to run her siblings over in! Through it all, I am thankful for the NICU experience I had with her.
Our first baby was 2 weeks late. Babies 3-8 were all relatively on time, with only a few days early to a few days late.Other than the c-section,where I needed the spinal, I will take nothing more than tylenol for my labors and deliveries. It was too close a call with my son, and not worth it.Hopefully, baby #10 will stay put until he's due 6/29/06. I've just been given the green light for a VBAC, so I'm hopeful all will go well. After my c-section, the recovery was the worst thing-I even got infection in the stitches and wound up in the ER!
I feel for all of you having to go through your experiences. I hope that you will be able to take some good home with you through it all. Let me reassure you, that in today's techno world, it is much better for your baby than 15 years ago! The drs have told me(2 years ago!) that a baby born when my son was only would have had a 20-25% chance of survival. Today, a baby born at the same gestational age has a 90-95% survival rate!
All in all, it will make you a stronger person. Best wishes to you all.