When I was pregnant with Butters I remember sitting in childbirth class and watching the video of the NICU. All I wanted to do was cry the entire time. I just thought that things were going so well with the pregnancy that there was little chance we would end up there.
I vividly remember Butter's birth. When I went into labor I was 37 weeks pregnant and so close to full term that we and my OB thought things would be fine. He said there was a slight chance of respiratory issues, but the chances were pretty low. Only minutes after he was born I was still in shock and he had barely let out a cry. I was told by a nurse within a couple of minutes that they were going to take him to the NICU for further observation. Luckily W got to bring him to me and let me see him before he walked with the nurse up to the NICU. Then about an hour later we got the call that he would be there for 4 days minimum. The 4 days turned into 7 before he finally got to come home.
Fast forward 2.5 years. I was pregnant with Dot and having constant contractions. I was on meds to stop labor and yet they kept coming. All of this started at around 28 weeks. We were so focused on getting as far as we could to give her the best shot at not having to go to the NICU like her big brother. Finally at 37 weeks and 1 day I was admitted to the hospital to finally let nature take its course after having contractions the night before. We were told so many times that girls do much better so we didn't think there was any reason to worry. After she was born she did cry, but the NICU was called for a consult. Once again my child was taken from me. And once again about 2 hours after she was born I got the call in my room that she was being admitted. I remember the neonatologist said that they did everything they could but she was following in her brother’s footsteps.
A couple of days into Dot’s stay I got to talk to Dr. Morris as he made his rounds. He told me that the studies are still being reported on, but it looks like if the first baby has respiratory distress like Butter’s did, that the chances of a sibling having are in the 80 to 90% range. He even said that there was another baby in the NICU that the exact same thing happened to his/her older sibling.
When your child is in the NICU there aren’t the normal visitors of friends and family for the most part. When Dot was born we did have W’s family come up and another good friend, but that was it. For me the biggest support with both kids was W and the nurses and lactation consultants at the hospital. The one we had at night with Dot was wonderful. One night she stayed in the room and just talked about things with us. Because sometimes after a situation like that you just need someone who has been there / done that kind of thing. There was also the lactation consultant came by one day before I headed down to the NICU. Her words of encouragement were priceless and just the fact that she came by to make sure I was ok not physically but emotionally. She talked for just a few minutes before giving me a hug and reassuring me that I was doing everything right for my baby girl. Another group that was a huge help were the women on a local breastfeeding message board run by the owner of A Nurturing Moment. She herself is a lactation consultant and answered my questions and just made herself available if needed. The other members were also wonderful in offering their support.
Having both in the NICU within 2.5 years of each other brought out the best and worst in W and I. Many times we were just mad and generally angry at the turn of events. But even through it all I think it made us stronger.
To this day I still feel guilty. I know I did everything I could but the guilt is still there. All I wanted was to bring one of them home when I was discharged. I wanted to room in, but of course that didn’t happen. I remember crying in the middle of the night while W was asleep. I kept hearing babies down the hall and it just tore me up inside.
I have no clue what spurred me to write this post. I’ve had these thoughts in my head for some time but struggled to ever write them down.
I guess in some way I hope that someone will read this at some point who is either going/ been through something similar. I hope that it shows them that they are not alone even though that’s exactly the way it feels.