31w2d – Day of Life 16

Nora is doing fantastic!  She’s gaining weight, they increased her feeds again, and best of all, her spinal fluid is now free of infection!  In the back of my mind I’m still worried about long-term issues from the meningitis, but for now, she is doing awesome.

Me on the other hand, I don’t know.  Physically I’m fine, well, exhausted, but my uterine infection is all healed, and I pray it doesn’t come back.  My body resembles itself before I was pregnant, which is a plus, but I’d obviously take some extra weight now if it meant Nora had been born closer to her due date.  Funny how it was so hard to get her in (IVF) and then so hard to keep her in.  I told Eric I want a surrogate next time…  His response, “Well, it would be cheaper than this NICU stay…”

I felt far more guilty today than I have other days, not exactly sure why.  I’m trying to keep a schedule, a routine I guess, to make my days feel purposeful.  I always pump around 7 am and then shower and head to the hospital to see Nora.  I usually get there around 9, in time for rounds which are anywhere between 9 and 11.  I usually pump again in her room around 10 and then grab lunch.  Today I met two friends I used to work with, and it was soooo nice.  I felt like a normal person again!  Then at 1 pm it’s back to her room to pump.  Normally I’d stay there until 4 to pump again, but on Wednesdays Kona, our chocolate lab, goes to playcare, so I left Nora before 4 today so I’d have time to get Kona and get home in time to pump there.  Looking back on my day though, now I feel really guilty, like I wasn’t with Nora enough today.  Granted, she was sleeping most of the day, and when I was in her room I held her hand, stroked her head, gave her back her binkie when she lost it…  But none of that seems like enough.  I’m honestly not sure if I’ve really bonded with her yet.  I’ve held her for about three hours total since she was born.  I don’t feel like she knows me, as she responds to me in the same ways as she responds to the nurses.  And really, being I go home to sleep at night, she is with the nurses far more than she is with me or Eric.

When I got home today I grabbed a bite to eat and watched an episode of “Secrets and Lies” on our DVR, but I turned it off halfway through, feeling guilty again that I was doing normal stuff while Nora is alone at the hospital.  After I ate I cleaned a bit, did a few loads of laundry, vacuumed, as Kona’s hair is everywhere, and even managed to dust, which I personally think is way overrated, but none the less, the place looks better.  I’ll admit, it was nice to be home, to relax a bit, to pump in the privacy of my home, to walk around in bare feet…  But again, it’s not the same, Nora isn’t here.  I long to just be at home, I mean, don’t most people get to relax at home after they have a baby???  I miss my home!  This just isn’t how I pictured the first few weeks with my daughter…  What if she doesn’t get to know me as a baby should know it’s mother?  Do all NICU mom’s feel the way I do?  I look back on my life two weeks ago and wonder how in the heck everything changed so fast…  I feel this overwhelming sense of responsibility, but then I remember that for the time being, I can’t really act on that responsibility.  When she eats and how much isn’t up to me.  I can’t hold her on my own, I need the nurses help with all the wires.  I look at her and feel so disconnected…  When will I look at her and only feel love?

33 thoughts on “31w2d – Day of Life 16

  1. My heart hurts for you right now. I can’t imagine what you are going through not being able to hold her very much. I am glad to hear Nora is doing better! I continue to think of you often and hope that she continues to grow and you get to take her soon!

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    1. Thank you… I feel bad for complaining, it could be so much worse, but yet this is still so much more difficult than I ever imagined. Just trying to take it one day at a time. I can’t wait to get Nora home and just relax with her!

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      1. I don’t even see it as complaining! Very few of us know exactly what you’re going through. This is your blog and you can write whatever! One day at a time is a good way to look at it. Have they given you a timeframe of when she might get to come home?

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  2. I am thrilled that Nora is doing so well, and saddened by the guilt you are feeling. I have no idea what is “normal” in this situation, but I suspect what you are going through is perfectly normal. I hope some of the other former NICU mom’s are able to give you some good advice on how they felt during this time.

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  3. My twins have been in the NICU for 44 says now (they were born at 30 weeks). And I felt everything you’re feeling now. But trust me when I say that it will get better. As she gets older you’re able to help with her cares (taking temp, changing diapers, changing her pulse ox, etc) and before you know it you’ll be able to dress her and change her bedding! The best advice I can give you is to look for and celebrate the little milestones made each day/week. It’ll help the time pass faster.

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    1. Gosh, 44 days. I can’t really imagine. Do you expect your twins to join you at home anytime soon? I have been changing her diapers and taking her temp., which is nice, to feel a little more involved. Just trying to get a handle on my ‘new life’ which I wasn’t expecting to be my life so soon! Thank you for the great advice. I’ll be praying for you and your twins 🙂

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  4. Hi (as a mother of a baby born at 28 weeks 6 days, that had a grade 4 IVH AND meningitis at 30 weeks that spent 124 days in the NICU) …she does know that you’re her mommy and EVERYTHING that you feel is completely 110% normal. It does get better, I was unable to hold my son for the first 2 weeks of his life and he is now going on 3 years old and doing AMAZING. I used to sit by his bedside and open the incubator and just read to him and cry and read some more and cry some more. I never knew I was capable of loving anyone the way I love him with every ounce of my being. He had a very severe chance of cerebral palsy with limited ability developmentally because of all of the brain trauma and to date he has not had a single delay. He walks, talks, swims, plays soccer, anything that your precious baby should be doing. Do not be discouraged by the statistics, your baby will defy all odds. Keep your head up and try to rest because she needs your strength.

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    1. Oh thank you! I love hearing success stories! It’s wonderful your son is doing so amazing! I can only hope the same for Nora. And it’s nice to know my feelings are normal. I think I just need to adjust to this ‘new life’ of mine… In time, right?

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  5. So happy to hear she’s doing great!! I just wanted to say that all those feelings are very normal. For me the guilt was HUGE. And it stuck with me for months… I had one twin in the NICU and one at home for several weeks and I basically felt like I was constantly letting one baby down. I had trouble bonding with the baby in that was in hospital as well. At the worst point she was intubated and in pain after an operation, I was afraid to hold her because I didn’t want to hurt her. Having friends visit while you’re there is a great idea though. That really helped me too.

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    1. Thank you, it’s very nice to hear that what I’m feeling is normal. Some days I feel like I have it all together, and then other days, not so much. Today is better as my husband’s case was cancelled and thus he is here with me. Makes the time we spend with Nora more enjoyable when we’re both here with her together 🙂

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  6. Aw hang in there! I’m sure it’s so hard to feel like you’re bonding when you can barely touch her, but you are there for her as much as you can and more will come!

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  7. Gosh, it must be so hard. I don’t speak from personal experience…I share that some of my friends have told me that they didn’t feel that love rush until weeks after baby was born. And that was with holding their baby every day. So I’d assume that what you are feeling is 100x normal, although it must be very hard. I really think that bonding will come with time! Hang in there momma, you are doing great especially when you consider the stress you are under! Hugs.

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  8. This has got to be such an overwhelming and confusing time for you. I know how frustrating it is to not be able to nest at home with your new baby (albeit mine only had a small stint being readmitted to the hospital.) This will pass. You will get your chance to have many sleepless nights with her. You are doing a fantastic job, and exclusively pumping is such an exhausting thing. Try to cut yourself a little bit of a break.

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  9. Oh, dear. My heart is aching for you. I wish I had words that would take away the in-between feelings and guilt. I think what you’re going through is normal but that doesn’t make it any easier. I truly believe you will feel more connected and grounded once you have Nora at home with you. Sending love and peaceful energy your way in the meantime.

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  10. Yay Nora! Just as I thought little Premie girls are such strong fighters. Nora is such a warrior!!!
    I’m sorry you have to carry guilt in your heart. Nora knows her mommy is there and she knows you are doing an amazing job taking care of all things necessary to bring her home. xoxo

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  11. As a grandmother who is totally absolutely bonded to her adopted granddaughter whom she did not meet until a month after her birth … do not worry about ‘bonding’. Bonding is a process and a decision and you ‘bonded’ pre-birth. This is why you feel guilt and worry when you cannot do more for your daughter and cannot be there 1000% of the time. Today there is a great deal of discussion of this ‘bonding’ thing at birth when in reality even parents who adopt significantly older children usually ‘bond’. Yes, it is lovely to have a 40 week pregnancy, an easy delivery with skin to skin contact immediately … but it is not necessary to ‘bonding’. I PROMISE. Also, many moms and dads who do have the ideal pregnancy/birth experience sometimes feel their new baby is a total stranger, a child they are babysitting, a non-relative … and this usually changes over time AND not abnormal at all for new parents. It becomes an issue if it continues over a protracted time only. Chill on the bonding worry. You have far better things to do with your time and getting organized and rested at home before your baby leaves the hospital is important too. VERY VERY best wishes for Nora’s health. Thank you for posting and sharing the joy of your baby; she is strong and a miracle.

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  12. Oh Stefanie. I am new to blogging and don’t really know how to “follow” people. I had no idea you’re in your own NICU journey now. I’m so sorry! It’s so hard to find the good things in the midst of all the pain and fear. That’s what I try for. It is easier some days, some moments, than others.

    Have you asked about the current appropriateness of skin-to-skin? That is when I started bonding. With the (loooong) journey into attempting nursing, more bonding. For me, anyway.

    Wishing you a night filled with peaceful naps and a few rounds of REM! You’re doing an amazing job. There is no “right way” to be Nora’s mother.

    Remember, this is still her womb time. This is all extra time to get to know her, as tough as the circumstances are. So if you want, you can think of it as extra. That’s what I do.

    And she knows you. You’ll see that when you hold her more, when she gets older and stronger. There is and never will be anyone like you in her world.

    If you want to, we can get in touch via email or some other way.

    It gets better.

    *big bear hug*

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    1. We’ve done skin to skin only twice so far. For whatever reason the nurses usually just wrap Nora up and hand her to me. I’ll ask today if we can kangaroo instead. And perhaps in the next week or so we can try breastfeeding. Hopefully that will help me feel closer to her, and as if I have a purpose here other than to just stare at her all day 🙂

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      1. Unless she’s sick or struggling a lot to maintain her temperature, then skin-to-skin, with a blanket on top, is incredibly good for them. It helps them regulate all of their systems. And it provides mommy with good hormones too, which helps the bond and helps milk supply.

        During the other times, sometimes I read to her, softly, so it doesn’t wake her up. It helped me a lot.

        Lately I’ve taken to sewing her initials into her clothes (that she’s finally allowed to wear) at her bedside. Never thought I’d enjoy it — I’m not crafty at all — but it’s really therapeutic right now.

        *hug*

        Oh and PS — progress with breastfeeding is incremental and swings back and forth. I am learning this as I type. Things that are helping me: celebrating the little victories and reminding myself how Ana is not supposed to be able to do this for 5 more weeks.

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              1. She can! They’re sensitive to sound. But it is very muffled. Like the womb I imagine, which makes me happy. Sometimes we would quietly open the isolette door just an inch and talk softly to her if we really really wanted her to hear us.

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