A Dream Vacation
When we see those two blue lines on a stick we expect magic for the next 9 months and to be holding our little one in our arms and taking them home to the room we’ve prepared for them and introduce them to their home, and have them introduce us to the new life we’ll be living. But for so many we’ve met that doesn’t seem to be the natural progression. Yes we get to take our babies home; not a few hours later, but sometimes a few months.
The first time I went into labour it was not a happy occasion. It was a moment of panic when we realized that we could be meeting our son 11 weeks earlier than we should be. We didn’t get to pace the floor and try and bring labour on; we got an ambulance ride to the best hospital in the province for preemie care. We didn’t see joy on the nurse’s faces; we saw compassion for the situation we might be in, and concern over whether we could do anything to stop it. We did, and we made it another 3 weeks.
I had been in labour for over a day when my water broke. We had been rushed to Brampton with lights and sirens going on the ambulance in hopes that we would make it on time to stop things, and we thought we had. We were moved on to the ward after a night in L&D triage, and they thought we had things under control. And then my water broke. No going back from there, so we were moved to L&D again, and hooked up to machines, and got the meds going to bring labour on faster. Not at all the birth plan we had in mind. We were excited to meet our son in a few hours, but more concerned for how developed he would be, and what hurdles we would have ahead. The doctor kept checking in not so much to see how we were doing, but to see how long the NICU had until they were needed in our room. Delivery became more about his health then about his entry, and even though I was able to hold him for a moment, a moment is all I got before he was taken to the NICU to be set up for treatment. Not what I as a first time mom had envisioned when I saw those two blue lines and dreamed about what the next 9 months held.
For Brian and I that dream was like a dream vacation in comparison to what we were living. We spent 33 days in the NICU praying for the day we could bring Grayson home. We spent 33 days waiting, not 33 hours.
So many of our friends make it to 40 weeks, go to the hospital and a day later bring home their baby. To be honest I dream of what life would have been like if we had that. I have had friends comment that they would love to have been able to sleep through the night like I did; I ask them if they want the hotel bed I slept in and their son in the NICU. They want the sleep but not the situation. And to be honest they were not well rested sleeps. We were always on guard for the phone to ring to tell us they needed us back by Grayson’s side.
There are only a select few who see waking up 10 times in the middle of the night to sooth a screaming newborn as the dream vacation we do. When you give up sleep to hold your child’s hand while a machine is breathing for them perspective changes. I would have woken up every hour to be able to hold and nurse my son, but instead had days when all I could do was rub his back; no snuggles, not even allowed out of his incubator.
There are blessings of the NICU; the knowledge of your little one, the few extra hours of sleep, the bond you create with your spouse before the baby comes home. But the blessings don’t outweigh the negatives, they just make it a bit more bearable.
Please don’t take the sleepless nights for granted, the limitless snuggles, the bond you create those first days. Some mom’s don’t get that and some babies don’t get that. And if you’re where I was, know that you’re not alone.
I will never count my time in the NICU as wasted time, we got bonus time. We got an extra two months of loving our son on the outside and I would never trade that. I look forward to being able to just bring home our next babE if that’s what’s in store for us, but if the NICU is our home for a few more weeks I will gladly live there. I will never take our journey for granted.