Our Week in the NICU – Part One

Thinking about our week in the NICU at Mayo St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester, must be one of the foggiest weeks of my life.  After giving birth, hormones are running wild, you are trying to take in every moment, needing to pump, and the nagging thought of when you will hear the words home. 

Then, being able to see Adeline at any time was an awesome upgrade now that we were at the same hospital!

During our week in the NICU, they had visitor restrictions on due to a late flu season.  This worked out well for us since the NICU did not provide much for privacy and it had pretty tight quarters.  

When we were finally settled into our new room, we wanted to go see Adeline, and the nurse was ready to take us!  We were staying on the fifth floor of the hospital and the NICU is on the third floor.  As we followed the nurse slowly, as I insisted on walking, we wonder what we should expect.  We had been watching Adeline on the television but hadn’t seen her since birth, which was over 24 hours ago.  

As we got to the third floor, we walked into the NICU as this is a locked unit.  Every time we entered, they obviously wanted us to wash our hands at the station.  We would then check in with the desk to get name tags, and then we could go see Adeline.  The nurse walked us into the open NICU room, and it was almost full with five babies.  Some babies were in little cribs, one was in an “incubator,” and Adeline was in a bed with a warmer on it.  

As we walked over to see Adeline, it was overwhelming.  Now, I was seeing her, in person, with all the wires.  My poor little baby, and this was just going to be the start of it.  The nurses started talking to us, telling us a bit of what “rounds” had discussed that morning, what the pumps were, and what the monitor were for.  

Even though we had already seen it before, it was hard to see Adeline hooked up to so many machines-many of which I didn’t know what they were for.  Pumps, computers, and a feeding tube going down her nose.  

Seeing this and being in the situation can be traumatic for any parent.  Given all these wires, as I like to call them, it was scary to hold her.  I thought for sure I was going to hurt her or pull something out.  Every time I wanted to have her in my arms, and I was sure hat a nurse would put her in my hands.  

Adeline during her week in the NICU
The picture is fuzzy, but she was such a blessing. The little red glow you see is her pulse oximeter probe that tracked her oxygen rates of her blood.

Given I had no medical background, everything they told me went in one ear and out the other.  I figured that were the nurses (and doctors), what did I need to know about this stuff?  Not that the staff was terrible, but how naïve I was, in so many ways!

  Little did I know what I would learn in this our week in the NICU!

The monitors would continuously go off, but the nurses assured us it was ok.  As I held Adeline, she just looked so perfect.  There was no way our little girl was as sick as they were telling us she was! 

 The cardiologists had done an ECHO (it is like a heart ultrasound) on Adeline, and they were pleased with what they were seeing.  But they wanted to continue to watch Adeline over the next few days to see what their plan for her was.  They wanted to see what her oxygen saturations did over the next few days as her PDA closed. (After a week in the NICU, I still didn’t know much about these things)

All I heard was: “We aren’t doing surgery right away.” 

Whoop! Whoop! I knew all I needed to know.

Since some of these children require intervention quickly, I was SO happy about this! I was in so much denial about the first surgery that I was hoping they were going to say she wouldn’t need any interventions.

Every free moment Jeremy and I had; we would head to the NICU to sit with Adeline.  It was so wonderful being in the hospital because she was at least in the same building.  If we weren’t by her, we could see her on the television in our room.  When we were in the NICU, we would take breaks every few hours to go back to the room.  This allowed me to pump, get medications, and even take the occasional nap.  Even though I wasn’t getting up with Adeline every few hours, during the night, I was still needing to get up to pump. Pumping is tiring! I know I could have attempted breast feeding, and I did.  I did not enjoy it and if I pumped, we would at least know how much intake Adeline was getting.  

Every morning the doctors would do “rounds’ where they would walk through the NICU and talk about each baby.  Events that happened in the last 24 hours were discussed, what they anticipated for the next 24 hours, and then they answered questions for both parents and other doctors.  This was something Jeremy or I always tried to be present for.  Even though we didn’t normally have questions, as we were so green behind the ears, it was still nice to hear what was going on from their perspectives.  Rounds were in the morning and could happen anytime from 8:00 am to noon.  Since our large room didn’t have as severe of babies (for the most part), round times were never the same two days in a row.  

Jeremy would always try to get down to the rounds while I was inpatient.  This allowed me to get some rest and Adeline and he could get some bonding time.  Given it was springtime, and we are farmers, I figured he would maybe be busy with field work when we got home.  I wanted to be sure they had some time together.  I would watch the two on the screen and admire them 

Jeremy would generally come back to the room after the rounds and tell me about what the doctors had discussed.  He didn’t typically have much to report on, and we were not always sure what they were talking about anyways.  Yes, the nurses were still available for questions, but for some reason, we didn’t ask much for questions.  We always assumed, yes, assumed, if it was bad enough, they would have a more detailed conversation with us.

Just as we were starting to get into a routine of our hospital and NICU stay, it was time for me to get discharged from the hospital.  We would have stayed if we could since it was so convenient, but it was time to go.  Adeline was born on Monday, and I discharge on Thursday morning.  Recovery had gone well, and I was ready to sleep in a regular bed!  Again, how naïve I was.  The discharge was what I had expected it to be, hurry up and wait!  After the doctors came by to see me, go over the things to watch for, it was time to go! We had packed up everything, got it in the vehicle, and went back to the NICU for the rest of the day. 

For my c-section moms, this was not a good idea, to spend so much time in the NICU!  My feet swelled so bad I could hardly walk by the end of the day!  Be sure to keep your feet up some if possible, take care of yourself! 

Of our week in the NICU, the first few days were uneventful.  As the week moved on, it got so busy! We also learned more from the doctors as we picked up some more of the “medical lingo.”  And when I say some, I mean some, we still had a long way to go in that department.  

The beginning of the journey was easy; now, we were going to be getting a bit more of an education! The week in the NICU was just starting!

-Jessi

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