Thursday, November 17, 2011

Welcome to the NICU

Do you want to know what life is like in the NICU?

This song by Rascal Flatts sums it up nicely.

You feel like a candle in a hurricane
Just like a picture with a broken frame
Alone and helpless
Like you've lost your fight
But you'll be alright, you'll be alright

Cause when push comes to shove
You taste what you're made of
You might bend, till you break
Cause its all you can take
On your knees you look up
Decide you've had enough
You get mad you get strong
Wipe your hands shake it off
Then you Stand, Then you stand

Life's like a novel
With the end ripped out
The edge of a canyon
With only one way down
Take what you're given before its gone
Start holding on, keep holding on

Cause when push comes to shove
You taste what you're made of
You might bend till you break
Cause it's all you can take
On your knees you look up
Decide you've had enough
You get mad, you get strong
Wipe your hands, shake it off
Then you stand, then you stand

Everytime you get up
And get back in the race
One more small piece of you
Starts to fall into place

Every day in the NICU is a fight. Every drive there and every drive home is gut wrenching. Every alarm that goes off makes your heart stop and makes panic set in even when it's not your baby alarming. Every time you see a baby go home you’re happy but it’s hard to watch because you’re jealous. Every time a new baby fills that bed it shatters your heart. You want to hug the parents and tell the mom in the wheelchair with the hospital gown on that she’ll be alright but the fight of her life is ahead of her.

You feel beaten down all the time. You feel the weight of the world on your shoulders and feel like you have nowhere to turn, no one to understand what this is like, alone and helpless. You can literally feel your heart breaking and your throat hurts from stifling the tears so the NICU staff doesn’t have to pull the curtain because you're a crying basket case…again. Like the song says, you are bent until you break, until you’re literally down on your knees. You think and feel like you just do not have the strength to move on, no strength to spend one more day in that hospital, to spend one more day sanitizing yourself just so you can touch your son, to make the drive home without your baby again and again. You feel like you have no control as you sit there and literally will you child to take a breath when you can see his stats dropping and you know he's forgotten to breathe again. "Come on baby, take a breath. Take a breath; come on, don't alarm. Take a breath." Then the alarm goes off...fuck.

It's the most helpless you've ever felt in your life. Your child is having a hard time taking a deep breath. He keeps "bradying" (where his heart rate drops). He's in his isolette and all you can do is look at him and cry because he's struggling and there's absolutely nothing you can do for him.

You feel like you want to quit, like this can’t possibly be your life, that it’s not your child in intensive care. You want to scream at God, “why did you let this happen to us? Why are we the ones singled out to have this road no parent should ever have to experience?”

You are irrationally jealous of moms bringing their babies home 3 days after birth. It feels like every day you show up to see your son a new mom with a big happy grin is leaving the hospital with their baby. And it's a giant kick in the heart every time. You learn to look at your phone or keep your head down as you walk in because you just can't see that one more time and have people watch you cry as you walk through the lobby.

But when you’re down on your knees and feel like you just can’t do it, you wipe the tears, take a deep breath and pause. You close your eyes and think of the 2lb 7oz dynamo that needs you that is doing everything he can to fight every single second since the day he was born. You know he’s counting on you to be as strong as he’s been in the face of so much adversity. You take another breath, stand up, brush yourself off, and take the step you didn’t think you could. You find new strength and get your second (or 10th or 57th) wind and say, “I can do this today. Just think about today and I’ll worry about tomorrow tomorrow.”

But it's not all terrible. Those stories come tomorrow. :) Here's a snuggle picture to prove it.

1 comment:

Jim Greer said...

Great post, great writing! Beautiful.