NICU Experience Series: 5th Guest

NICU Experience

Written by Katharine Hayes

Our journey to get to our two children was a slightly bumpy one.  We were blessed with both our children through the gift of modern medicine and fertility. When we were going through the long journey with our first, Elizabeth, I know I thought to myself more than once that the road to get here was so long “I’m positive the pregnancy and arrival will be status quo.”

dad spins daughter in Sherborn MA for family photo

There were a few warning signs a few weeks before her arrival that should have been caught but they weren’t.  As a first timer I would not have picked up on them on my own.  We had a life insurance blood test that was off, one night I came home from work and my ankles were about 4-5x their normal size (no joke!) and finally what triggered her (we didn’t know it was a her) arrival – I felt no movement for 3-4 days. These were all incredibly frustrating, infuriating and upsetting things especially right after her arrival while sitting in the special care nursery at Newton Wellesley but (in hindsight) prepared me really well for pregnancy #2 (and everything to ask about and look for) with our son who just arrived this January.

Family photo, mom holds baby up while family smiles at baby in Sherborn Massachusetts

Elizabeth arrived a month early and was just a hair over 4 pounds.  I called that afternoon because I felt no movement for a few days, I remember not wanting to be “that” patient but good thing I did.  I called around 2pm and Elizabeth was born via emergency c section right after 8pm.  I never thought I would have a premmie and like I said I especially never anticipated a c section.  They whisked her away pretty swiftly in the post op room and told me about areas she was struggling and all the issues with my placenta. My blood pressure was through the roof and ultimately that kept me from seeing her again for almost an entire day.  I remember feeling so many things being in the hospital room on a maternity floor without a baby.  I also felt so unprepared because again, I never thought I’d go early.

Elizabeth was in the special care nursery for two weeks.  At the time it felt really scary on so many levels most of which I was a first time mother and I wanted her to be okay and felt I had no way to tell if she really was okay (especially with all the tubes, monitors, beeps, alarms).  The first few days were very rocky but as time passed and she seemed to be out of the toughest time, it got better.  We brought premmie clothes in, got to bath her and even made friends with another wonderful couple going through the same challenges.

sister holds baby brother on blanket for family photo session in Sherborn Massachusetts

The nurses in these units are really a special breed and they were key to managing our scary experience.  They are brilliant when it comes to caring for these tiny, fragile souls.  I would also say in hindsight they prepared us so well for when we got home (with Elizabeth and our son), it was almost like a crash course with guardrails that a lot of new parents don’t get.  To anyone going through it, my advice is lean on the staff, talk to them about anything, get tips from them, ask them as many questions as you can.  It helps you prepare, helps pass the time but also reinforces that you’ve got this no matter what your experience is that places you in the NICU or special care.

Our Elizabeth is still a peanut but is thriving at 3!  I’m excited to share her NICU / special care story (tip: I also penned her an email while I was in the hospital) with her and tell her all about the amazing nurses who cared for her (and us).  I’m here for anyone that goes through it, is going through it or has gone through it.

family sits on blanket at Barber Reservation Sherborn Massachusetts for photo session

AUGUST 3, 2020

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