Coming Home: An Unexpectedly Short Stay
Written by: Lauretta Zurcher
If you have not read the previous parts of Lauretta's story you can find them here...
Most preemies are expected to stay in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit until their original due date. My favorite Valentine’s Day gift was hearing that our son had been taken off the ventilator after just 4 days. Still tiny and facing an uphill struggle, he was a fighter and made good progress, but he would remain incubated for several weeks.
I was dismissed from the hospital and sent home to recuperate – two major abdominal surgeries in the same morning (very unexpected by all) proved to be problematic. I remember feeling winded and extremely tired just from showering. Actually even simply lying down took effort. I thought my symptoms were somewhat natural given my recent surgeries…boy, was I wrong.
Realization finally set in and I called my doctor. I was told to come straight to the ER. We discovered that my discomfort was caused by blood clots – rather large ones in my lungs. A VERY UNEXPECTED TURN OF EVENTS! I was admitted to the same hospital as my little guy. The one bright spot of all was the convenience it afforded me to visit him. I’d grab my IV pole and head to the NICU where I was learning quite a bit about preemie care. I was almost sad when I was dismissed because the baby stayed in the hospital.
NICU nurses are wonderful people who dedicate themselves to not only caring for tiny babies, but also their families. Imagine leaving your sick baby totally in the arms of someone else 24/7. That is just what we had to do in order to keep him healthy and keep our family in tact. UNEXPECTEDLY those nurses became some of our very best friends not only throughout our hospital stay, but also for years afterward.
The whole family (grandparents and anyone else who might be a child care giver) was trained in infant CPR. We all had to scrub up and put on disposable gowns before going in to visit the baby. As I said, it was a great learning experience. Eventually, our little “bird” came out of the incubator, and we could hold him and feed him. I had been home pumping breast milk (once off my meds) and we’d bring it to the hospital in a cooler! I would have never EXPECTED a scenario like that especially since I had not nursed my other two babies. But we do what we gotta do…and I knew breast milk would provide the best nutrients for our little guy.
The baby thrived and flourished – he outgrew or “graduated” from his incubator to an open bed. He was still on monitors and medicines, but we knew he was a model preemie. We thanked God every day that passed and our little guy was still alive. His primary care nurse would talk to my husband every morning about weight, food intake, and respirations. It appeared that our little man would come home much SOONER THAN EXPECTED if his progress continued.
The call came 8 weeks after birth – our baby was ready to go home! It was still 6 weeks until his actual due date, but we were ecstatic. Of course, it’s a good thing we were unaware that MORE UNEXPECTED EVENTS AWAITED!
You can find the next part of this story here...
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