Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Dec 2- 9, in the NICU

I stayed in the hospital for 2 days. I could have walked out of the hospital right after giving birth, they kept me an extra day because Annelies was going to be in the NICU for an undetermineed amount of time. I think they were observing me and how I was coping with the DS diagnosis. I did not take any pain medication the whole time in the hospital, or after leaving, short of tylenol for headache.
My room was on the second floor, the NICU is on the first floor, past the nursery. Normally, a Mom would stay on the first floor with her baby in the room or in the nursery or a combination thereof. We had this with Marco. On that floor, you run across new moms walking with their babies in a bassinet, and you hear babies crying. I think they put the Moms who have babies in the NICU away from the others, so we don't have to hear babies crying. That thought hit me kind of like a brick. In the beginning all I could see was how different things were this time.
When I was discharged, I had a difficult moment leaving without Annelies. I kept comparing how it had been with Marco, leaving with him 24 hours after he was born. You go into the hospital to give birth and you expect to leave with a baby. But putting it into perspective: By now, I knew Annelies' heart was good. I knew her kidneys and bowels were good. She was breating on her own, and eating well (by now she was getting my milk, I was able to provide 100% of her milk within 4 days). I focused on the things to be thankful for, and this carried me through that moment.
On Dec 6, I woke up and I knew at that moment if someone were to come and offer me to turn back the clock one week, to let me relive it all with a different outcome, I would turn that offer down. This was for me the moment I accepted the situation. I accepted it, but still continued to go through grieving moments of what 'could or might have been'. I learned that the stages of grief to acceptance are not clear-cut. You go through them back and forth. Like a roller coaster, you can not get off until the ride is over. But you get used to it and things sette down in your head.
I was lucky enough to have a talk with a friend who has a daughter with CP. This friend has been a horse friend for quite a while (I got to know her via her Mom, who was a colleague of mine and became my friend during my illustrious HP career in the mid-90's). Now we have something in common besides the horses. It is funny.
Something about "coincidences". I do not believe in coincidence. I believe that people and things happen to us for a reason, like the fact that KD was in a room on my floor and came to talk to me when I needed it. Or that Aaron called his friend- one particular friend out of about 10 close ones he could have called- whose wife came over to the hospital immediately. Or the fact that I have been friends with this person for years who now was able to give me great insight of how it has been for her to have a child in her life who has a disability, how she went through the diagnosis and how her life with her daughter has played out. (And she told me I turned her on to the particular horse-discipline she is now persuing). Or the friend I met at my current work who kept insisting for about 6 months that I take her to my Brothers' breeding farm, which I reluctantly did to get her the heck off my back, and then talked me into taking riding lessons 15 years after my butt last felt the back of a horse, which re-started my horse passion...All these people in life who make things possible, I am grateful for.
Annelies stayed in the NICU for a week, she was discharged at one week old on Tuesday Dec 9th. One day before we left, we were informed she would have to take something called the "car seat test". This test consisted of putting her in the car seat we had for her, hooked up to an oxygen machine for 1 1/2 hour to make sure she could breathe in the car seat. The prospect of this test scared the crap out of me. Not because we would have to buy an expensive car-bed if she did not pass, which could only be used in emergencies like Doctor's appointments (so how was I going to take Marco to day care if Aaron was at work?), but because it would make me feel scared to take home a baby who might have oxygen shortage problems. My fears were ungrounded, she passed that test with 'flying colors' (the exact words used by Chris, the nurse who gave me her results.) I was so relieved, and proud: My daughter had passed yet another test.
A few words about the NICU at Sutter Roseville: What an awesome place. It opened in September, just 2 months before we had to make use of it. What timing. The staff there is fabulous, I felt in such good hands while we were there. They were comforting and nice, and had senses of humor. They helped me so, so much those first couple of days.

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