Leaving Your Heart Behind
There are so many difficult things about the NICU, but I think one of the hardest things is leaving your sweet baby. No matter if you leave for a few hours, leave for the night, or have to leave for a few days, it feels like your heart is in that hospital.
Since the twins were not my only babies, I couldn’t be at the NICU every hour of the day. My oldest child was not allowed, and I needed to spend time with him too. I also developed a cold during their stay, and had to wait until I wasn’t contagious before visiting.
Every time I left the NICU, my heart broke. Would it be the last time I saw them? Would I miss something important? Would they remember I couldn’t be with them all the time? Would they even realize I was their mom?
Your emotions go to crazy places when your child is fighting for their life, and you can’t do anything to help them.
In your head you know that in the NICU they are getting the best care, and it is the only place they can be, but it is still an impossible situation for your heart to understand.
Today’s family experienced the same pain and heart-break.
But, they also have a story of hope, and a beautiful daughter to share with you today. I’m so excited to introduce you to Gabriela, as told by her mom, Jacqui.
1. Tell us about your baby.
Gabriela was born on April 7th, 2016 at 27 weeks gestation. She weighed 1 lb 6 oz.
2. How long was your NICU stay? What was the hardest part?
Our NICU journey was 97 days long.
Gabriela was diagnosed with a level 3 IVH on the left side of her brain, which was later downgraded to a level 2 IVH. Her kidneys were not functioning until a week and half after her birth. She was also diagnosed with stage 2 ROP, which slowly self corrected.
The hardest part was waiting for her kidneys to function, it was that complication that held her life by a thread. If they continued to not work, the rest of her body would start to fail.
The biggest celebration was the day she had a wet diaper.
2 months into our journey, she was stable and considered a feeder grower.
3.Do you know what caused your premature birth?
I suffer from extreme hypertension from before my pregnancy. My blood pressure was not well controlled at conception. It caused all of the blood vessels the placenta was creating to burst just as quickly as they were forming. In turn, causing Diastolic cord flow, with reversal at 25 and 5 weeks.
Given my hypertension, preeclampsia was expected but the only symptom was the elevated blood pressure. This was also my first pregnancy, so there wasn’t a previous experience to learn from.
4.How are you and your baby doing now?
Gabriela is now a happy and healthy 2-year-old.
She is about 6 months delayed in milestones, and she receives physical, occupational, speech and visual therapy. She is currently followed by Neurology, Ophthalmology, and Developmental Pediatrics.
This journey has taught me a lot about strength and patience. It lives with me everyday.
5. What advice would you give to a new preemie or NICU family?
Ask all the questions you can think of, even if you think it is a dumb question.
Take a lot of pictures. They change so quickly, and sometimes you forget how they looked.
Talk to parents in the neighboring bays. Create a support system of people who understand what you are going through. The NICU is a scary and sometime lonely place. Make it home.
After all, our hearts are in those boxes.
Such great advice, Jacqui. Thank you so much for sharing sweet Gabriela with us. Please leave any supportive comments or questions below.