Tuesday, February 2, 2010

All about the Nicu.

   Texas Childrens Hospital (as seen on tv) is equipped with private, separated bedsides,  and even recliners for the visitors. It is beautifully decorated and has a nice appearance. Los Angeles Childrens is not :) We were at Los Angeles Childrens. There are about 10 patients in a room- all different levels of care, and conditions. As you spend time with your little one, you are also present with other families and their little ones. Girls, this was the hardest part to me. You see, although our children have a reason to be in the NICU, it is very very different from others who are also in the same NICU. This is what I am going to talk about for you pregnant gals today. I know the feeling and the worry you get, when you hear the words Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, the NICU. We know, from other's experiences that only babies who are not "ok" at birth have to be put in the NICU. I call this the NICU mentality, and this is what I wish to diffuse. When we were given our hospital tour, I had on my brave face, my I'm ok with all this face.... I will cry later. You know the one, don't ya? Well, as we entered the NICU I lost all my hold and just sobbed... I saw babies; babies in the hospital and oh, that broke my heart. I knew that soon my baby would be in this situation and I was so scared. After that anytime someone mentioned the word NICU- I cried. It was a hard hard thought for me. Before I continue I want to take you to the end of this post and say, do not be scared about the NICU.
   Delivery day came, and Carson was immediately transferred to the NICU next door to me at Children's hospital. I wasnt able to visit him until day 2 just before his closure surgery. When I saw him, I of course cried and cried--- remember I still had the NICU mentality. I spoke with the nurse and asked how is he? afraid to hear the answer. She said "he's doing great" with a smile and then turned her attention back to her computer. So I wanted to know the truth... great??? what about this??? what about that???? why is he on that tube??? or why is he not awake??? What do you mean great? He's in the NICU? He can't be great.
   I think she noticed my reaction to her very happy disposition, and she proceeded to tell me all about him. He is very very healthy, she said.The wires, and tubes are only precautionary, not necessary. He has Spina Bifida--- around here that is music to our ears, He is fine.  Well, it took me a couple of days of observation around me, and I too rejoiced my baby in the NICU had spina bifida. I began to realize that it was a good thing. We were able to hold him, feed him--- both bottle and nurse--, change his diapers, bathe him, and take him home just after 12 days. Something very, very uncommon for the NICU. Feats that take months and months for others. Feats that some even are never able to do.
     After his surgery Carson was placed in a nursery with the "better" babies- these were babies that were doing very well, and didnt need intensive care. Well by far Carson was the youngest in there, and by far, by far the healthiest. I remember this couple that their baby next to Carson... their baby was 8 months old. She was born premature. She needed a trach, and a feeding tube. Another baby, 4 months old - Trach, feeding tube, colostomy. I felt guilty when I nursed Carson in front of the other mothers... something that they've not experienced, and probably won't. It was heartbreaking seeing these babies, and their parents in the NICU. These poor families still will face so many unknowns. We didn't. My husband and I would have a smile on our face as we saw, and held our baby. Yes, we wanted him home, and yes, we wish we had'nt needed to be there at all but honestly we learned that we had so so so very much to be thankful for. Thankful that it was Spina Bifida that took us there.
Now here's a list of what you need, and I hope others comment if I miss anything: A nursing pillow, a nursing wrap, blankets, burp rags, a camera, a good breastpump ( get the top model, I wish I had) a book to read, a notebook and pen, change for the vending machine,and a game or a deck of cards- We brought the game monopoly deal... so much fun. It gives you something to do whens he's sleeping. My husband brought along dvds of the Cosby Show- great idea!!! We would watch it while I was pumping.


nbush said...

I remember when my Carson was in the NICU and they kept giving us the new nurses. It made me nervous but it also helped me realize that he was the "easy" baby because he only had SB. It was reassuring realizing that although he was in the NICU he was doing great!

Joanna and David said...

I remember feeling like our nurse was always with another baby - at first this irritated me - when I came in I wanted MY nurse with MY baby ALL THE TIME. lol. I hated to come in and see him alone - of course he was almost always sleeping - but still I wanted someone with him. But I realized that just meant Jet was ok and another baby was in greater need of a nurse. It was a good thing for our baby. We couldn't stay the night or anything - there were no accommodations for that. They were very nice about hours - we could sit in there all night if we wanted - but no beds or cots or anything - and after a C-section there was no way I could sit up that long. It was tough being in the NICU - but the tour was 100% helpful to prepare and I felt at home there for those 11 days we spent. We were at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta and they are awesome - maybe not luxurious - but awesome. :) The nurses let us change him, sponge bathe him, showed us how to cath him, feed him on his tummy, etc. If your nurse doesn't show you - ask - YOU are the parents and should be "in the know" for your child and to build your own confidence. Jet was our first so everything was new and scary anyway. But looking back I was thankful for our time in the NICU to help ease our way into caring for our little boy. If I had been sent home right away I think I would have lost my mind - not that being away from him wasn't torture - it was - but in all honesty it was helpful not to be "full-time" right way with a baby with "extras". So pregnant moms, just think of NICU as a way of easing into full time care of your special baby - so that you'll be more confident and comfortable once you're all at home together. :)