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!
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!
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!
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.