I read an article the other day about the PTSD from having a baby in the NICU. I feel what we are going through is something that a lot of people can not relate to. I always update on how Abram is doing but here is the real life for Tab and myself.
Tab unfortunately went into preterm labor at 6 months (24 weeks). We didn't get to do pregnancy pictures. I didn't get to really feel Abram move in her belly. We didn't get to get him used to our voices before birth or play music for him while in utero. We didn't get to do a 3D ultrasound. Tab doesn't get to be pregnant at the baby shower. We didn't get to pack a bag to have ready for the "big day". We had a very traumatic and stressful birth experience. There was no option to cut the cord (I would have fainted anyways). We don't get to hold our baby whenever we want to. Abram didn't get to have newborn baby pictures without tape on his face. We don't get to feed him. Tab doesn't get to breastfeed him right now. We can't burp him. We don't get to take him home. We don't get to change every diaper. We can't rock him to sleep. We don't get to do the normal things that parents of full term babies get to do.
Tab and I wake up every morning around 6:15am. We call the hospital to check on Abram. Tab pumps while I get my lunch ready for work. We get to the hospital by 7:30 for doctor rounds. I go to work shortly after and Tab hangs out at the hospital for a couple more hours. She goes home and rests while I work. I get home from work at 5pm and we quickly eat and head back to the hospital until about 8 or 9. Get home, get ready for bed and call to check on Abram. Then do it all over again. This is our new normal.
The sounds of the machines doesn't go away when we leave the hospital. It's instilled in our heads. The vision of him hooked up to the heart monitor and a ventilator is imprinted in our minds as well. We go to sleep worried that we'll get a call in the middle of the night that something happened. The first week we received 3 to 4 different calls waking us up. One was the nurse notifying us of a perforation in his lung and him needing a tube, then a call the next day about the other lung. Then he had a couple good days, until we got the call about his bowels and him needing to be transferred to Children's. Now that he's at Children's we can watch him on a webcam. But now we find ourselves waking up in the middle of the night to check the camera to make sure he's still in his incubator (you never know, he could escape). There's always the worry in the back of your head that the nurse won't give him the attention he needs. Or that they won't notice little things because they're busy with another baby.
We try really hard to stay optimistic, live in the now and not dwell on the"what ifs". We try not to look too much into the future because we don't know what tomorrow will hold. Abram is still a very sick baby. Although he is improving everyday, he is still a critical baby. When he was born the doctors were worried if he would make it through the week. But he's made it through 4. He's fighting right along and his moms are too.
(I wrote this when Abram was 30 days old. He is now 9 months old, 5 months adjusted. Abram is home and doing great.)