Newborn Baby Care: The Preemie Life
I knew that my preemie would require special attention, so we went directly to the hospital to be admitted. Her early arrival left her battered and beaten. I was able to hold her for a short while, but her inability and lack of interest in nursing told me that she was in dire straits.
After a quick check, the NICU nurses started beating my little girl's chest, trying to help her breathe more efficiently. They then carted her off to the NICU for an undisclosed amount of time. I felt disoriented, guilty and sad. I was no longer pregnant, yet I had no baby to hold. I had to nurse, yet I had no baby to hold. I had the crib, yet I had no baby to hold.
I was given a breast pump with strict instructions to pump 6-8 times per day in order to offer my little girl the best start in life. So I did.
The next morning, I was called down to the NICU. They had already taken X-rays and performed many procedures. I had no idea that they could do this without informing you. I couldn't recognize my baby. She was a limp, purply-yellow baby with an IV, a heart monitor, oxygen monitor and breathing monitor. The plates in her skull had not come together like a term baby either. She was placed on a ventilator shortly thereafter. I was not allowed to touch my baby—it was too stressful. I could not mother my child in her moment of greatest need.
A few days later, as I sat with my little girl, I witnessed one of the many procedures that she endured. They pulled out restraints—the size of a small riboon—and strapped the baby down. The baby cried as it was poked and prodded. Small wonder that my little girl is still afraid of having her legs pulled straight, as if for a blood draw.
I grew to hate those lifesaving monitors. They told the nurses when she wasn't flourishing. I wanted her to be well so much—but the monitors would tell a different story.
All in all, my little girl spent 10 long days in the NICU. I would return home between her feedings to find god-knows-who swept, vacuumed, put dinner on the table and cared for my child. Thank you to the angels in my life.
My peanut is still tiny, only in the second percentile for weight. I know what everyone else saw when they entered the NICU—but I only saw my beautiful child.
The pang of regret I have is that I could not keep her safe longer. And the regret eats at me each time someone asks, "What did you do?" or "How did you cause this?" Those are perhaps the most callous reminders of how harsh humanity can be. That being said, thank god for the NICU nurses and their newborn baby care expertise and saving my preemie's life.