I went from being 30-weeks pregnant to suddenly being in labor to being on bedrest for 30 hours to then giving birth 10 minutes after being told it would be happening that night. And after a rocky 38-day stay in the NICU that included lots of roller coaster moments with my daughter, a one week maternity leave to get back to the company I was running and a hurricane slamming our region, we brought my daughter home on oxygen and a monitor and with a whole team of specialists and a set of medications. Me, freaked out prior to discharge time? YES. Oh heck yes.
Since the birth I maintained the Smiling Mom demeanor while visiting my daughter in the NICU. At home I was a wreck, struggling to pump breastmilk on a schedule, catching up on work and working through my hormonal overload of emotions. As discharge day was announced and then quickly approached there were many things to do at home and in the NICU to get ready. Between the infant CPR class (don’t ever sign up for the hospital’s “regular” class, see if the NICU has one for you, trust me on this), getting trained on the medical equipment by the Durable Medical Equipment (DME) provider I quickly surmised that I was preparing to be a home health nurse rather than a mother. In short I was terrified. It was bad enough that I was a first time mother and then I had a fragile infant on my watch. Were we able to handle this?
The day of discharge I was at work finishing up my morning but not concentrating on much of anything. Someone asked me what was wrong and I blurted out, “My daughter is coming home from the NICU today!” You would have thought I was about to handle a time bomb, I was that nervous. As we headed to the hospital and entered the NICU, we were quickly set up with a nurse to work through the discharge process. It took the better part of 2 hours to do all of this and pack up our tiny infant’s full cart of belongings (how did such a baby get so much stuff in such a small amount of time?) and get us all down to the lobby to load her into the car.
So from my experience to you - a special baby shower gift as you take your baby home: tips to make that day easier.
As we walked into the house with our daughter and her “accessories” of medical equipment the place was the same as always except for a surprise set of balloons in our living room. My parents had come to the house dropped off a welcome bouquet for us so as to be “welcoming” but to stay away as we were in full-on cold/flu/RSV season. We put a baby blanket on the floor of the living and placed Becky on it swaddled but accessible to our two cats. They both sniffed her and that was that. I won’t lie and say that the next several weeks were simple but in hindsight we did okay handling the hiccups that occurred throughout that period.
Deb Discenza is the Founder and CEO/Publisher of PreemieWorld, LLC and the co-Author to The Preemie Parent’s Survival Guide to the NICU. (https://PreemieWorld.com). She also runs the free Inspire Preemie Community, 40,000+ strong at http://preemie.inspire.com