A Personal Adventure Into Parenthood

So We Get To Go Home Soon…Right??? May 2, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — maternalmusing @ 9:07 pm
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So V had graduated to the NPCU, was respirator and umbilical line free, had kicked jaundice’s butt, and was growing slowly but steadily…we were headed home any day now right?


This type of thinking just went to show that we’d fallen into the giant mental sink-hole experienced by many NICU parents. This tends to happen when your child is out of the immediate danger zone, but not yet a master of the necessary newborn skills. Despite the doctors and nurses repeatedly telling you not to expect your happy homecoming before your calculated due date, it’s hard not to get your hopes up when you see the amazing progress your kiddo has been making.As a NICU parent your perception of time becomes very distorted…as does your appreciation for your preemie’s milestones, especially as a first time parent.

When you are first admitted to the NICU, or even in your pre-delivery tour and consultation, one of the questions I can guarantee every single parent has asked is ‘So when do I get to bring (insert baby’s name here) home?’. I’m surprised the doctors don’t heave a giant sigh, roll their eyes and move to the next topic, but I do appreciate their patience. We were told that V ‘should’ be home by November 7th (my original due date) if we didn’t experience any crazy complications. When we first saw him in the NICU, we were totally okay with this time frame, given how fragile he was, but as time passed, and we saw him getting stronger you start to think; ‘Well, he’s doing so well…maybe we’ll be home by the end of Oct….or even Thanksgiving!’. Oh how naive we were!

As soon as we crossed the NPCU threshold I began grilling the nurses on what we needed to do to get V home with us as soon as possible. I found out that there was no minimum weight requirement for discharge (|Woohoo!), but they did need to maintain a stable body temp, be oxygen/respirator free, and feed themselves without a feeding tube for 48 straight hours. No problem! I thought to myself.

This idea only became more entrenched in my mind when, during his first week in the NPCU, V was moved out of his isolette and into his very own plastic bassinet. This is the best way to tell that your child can now regulate and maintain their own temp. One item off the list! We already know he was off oxygen and his respirator…Two down, one to go! I foolishly thought that the next milestone; feeding himself, was only days away and we’d be a happy family in a matter of a few short weeks. This is when reality gave me a big old ‘shoulda had a V8’ slap upside the head.

Big boy finally sleeping in his own plastic basinette! Super exciting day!!

At this point, V was only tipping the scales at just under 4 lbs and was nowhere near strong enough to suck a whole feeding from breast or bottle. That type of energy would only come from spending more time in the NPCU sleeping and fattening up. This was a bitter pill to swallow when you’ve spent all this time getting your hopes up, through no fault of the doctors or nurses. As a preemie parent, especially when you’ve mastered the art of sucking it up, you deal and just keep repeating your mantra about how this is all what’s best for your child.

We did get some positive news, however, in the form of a phone call from V’s primary care nurse later one evening. I’ve told you before what seeing ‘Private Number’ on my caller ID did to my heart-rate but some calls just need to be answered. L immediately set our minds at ease and let us know that V was so alert they were wondering if they could try a bottle with him. I couldn’t get the words ‘Yes Ma’am’ out of my throat fast enough and did my own ecstatic happy dance in the privacy of my own living room. We may not be walking out the doors of the NICU but any teeny tiny, itty bitty steps towards a self-feeding infant were a huge deal.

V took about half of a bottle that night and kept it down like a champ. When we were visiting the next day, after A was done work, we received another great surprise. V had done so well again that day, the nurses asked if we wanted to be the ones to give him his next bottle! After a brief discussion it was decided that Daddy would be the one to give it a try and A got himself settled to try and coax as much of a 25 mL bottle into his tiny 3 lbs son as he could. The feeding was less of a success content wise but made a world of difference in the bonding between father and son. From that point on, Mommy got her Kangaroo Care and Daddy took over the bottle feeding and loved every second of it. I admit to this day that Andrew was the better bottle feeder; always getting V to drink more than I could and helping him get those burps out in no time flat. I bow down to his superior baby feeding skills!

Hitting the bottle with Daddy! This pic really shows how tiny he still was at that point. As Grandma pointed out…he was all blanket!

So now that V was in his basinette, started to feed on his own, and spent most of his time sleeping and growing, what did we do now? Wait…and wait…and wait…..


A ‘Big’ Move: NPCU Here We Come! May 1, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — maternalmusing @ 9:52 pm
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Vaughan was 15 days old when his Grandma decided to come for a little ‘one-on-one’ visit from Niagara-On-The-Lake, leaving Grandpa at home for a Bridge play-date with his other retired cronies. This already made for the start of an amazing day! I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed having my parents come and visit, actually, how much I enjoyed any visitors at all.

When you have a NICU baby, people, including family and friends, tend to treat you and your child like you have some terrible disease and that preterm labour is catching. They talk about you in hushed tones, and avoid visiting, calling or even Facebook. For a parent who already feels alone during a difficult experience, trying to get by without your tiny baby, this just adds more salt to the wound. When all you need is a shoulder to cry on and someone to share your small triumphs with, both of these things can seem in short supply. Now don’t get me wrong, our family was amazing and I definitely had a lot of fabulous friends step up and come cuddle our little man, keeping me company and keeping me sane as we spent long hours at the NICU. Most of them even kept the conversation going during pumping, breastfeeding attempts and diaper changes…signs of true friends!

This remains one of my favourite pictures of all time. Handsome little guy rocking out his feeding tube, staring at Grandma and showing off his tiny hand.

Anyways where was I…oh yeah…Grandma’s visit! You’ll see later that Grandma and Grandpa had fabulous timing and tended to serendipitously plan their visits to coincide with big days in V’s short life. This was the first of many.

Grandma arrived and peeked at her tiny grandson just as a nurse got my attention. She came over and let me know that V was doing so well that he was getting a promotion: a move to the NPCU! Since time seems to move in slow motion during most of your NICU stay, I assumed they were giving me plenty of advanced notice for his move and we were looking at a change in location over the next few days. Nu-uh! As soon as the new bay was cleared our kiddo was being wheeled down the hall, probably as soon as 5 minutes from then! My head was spinning and I couldn’t wait to let Andrew know! This was a HUGE step!

The NPCU, aka the Neonatal Progressive Care Unit, is the eating and growing room. This is for babies that are no longer at high risk and are trying to learn to feed themselves and put on some pounds. Each kid shares a nurse with two other babies (based on how full the room is at the time) and is more available for holding, breastfeeding and personal parenting like baths, weights and diaper changes. It is also, most importantly, a big step in the journey home! We were so incredibly happy that V was moving up in the world…what a champ!

Giant preemie outfit (they fit from 3 to 5 lbs just to give you an idea), skinny limbs and a peacefully sleeping little boy.


Grandma and I gathered up our stuff and followed V down the hall, around the corner and into his prime new location in the corner of the much more inviting NPCU. The room was still full of medical equipment, and had an institutional vibe, but there was more space and the feeling in the room was lighter, the parents more relaxed. V was still rocking the full isolette but most of the infants were in the plastic bassinets which gave us some hope for the future.

The nurses in the NPCU came over to greet us and asked if I was up for some cuddle time. Um…yeah! These pictures were featured in the last post (How cute were they?! Grandma is one heck of a photographer). My cuddle time was cut short by my immediate need to pump, and when I called the nurse over to put V back his little shell we got our first taste of how much more relaxed this room was compared to the full-on NICU. The nurse asked if Grandma wanted a cuddle. You should have seen the look on her face! Her arms went out immediately and at 15 days old V got one of his first experiences with Grandmother snuggles, sleeping peacefully the whole time. Now, as much as I needed to pump, I was immediately drafted into the role of photographer so that Grandma would have something to share with her golfing buddies, and to make Grandpa jealous. It was a beautiful picture and an overall amazing experience. There is nothing like seeing your parents, the ones who have been with you, raised you and supported you all of your life, holding the next generation. Yet another one of those ‘heart-melting’ moments!

Sweet baby snuggle! Doesn't Grandma look proud?

Grandma eventually had to head home, mentioning something about dinner and a hungry Grandpa, and Daddy showed up to see his son’s new digs and get in on some of those sweet baby snuggles. It was the perfect ending to a big day in all of our lives.