Little Man’s first eight days were spent in the Special Care Nursery (AKA Level II NICU). We were so fortunate to not experience any setbacks in his recovery. His admission was filled with forward progress. He never even lost any weight which is completely normal for newborns. The hardest part was watching the daily needle sticks he had to endure. It seemed like every morning, his IV would need to be replaced. During these eight days, he was weaned from oxygen onto room air and received a course of IV antibiotics to combat the pneumonia caused by the meconium aspiration.
The first three days of Little Man’s life gave me a somewhat unique non-bio mom experience. Mommy was still in the hospital where he was born, and he was in another hospital about seven miles away. My days were spent back and forth between the two. After about 36 hours, he was breathing room air, and I was able to hold him for the first time. I spent hours just sitting and holding him. For 2 ½ days, it was just him and me there in that room other than the hourly vitals checks by the nurses and a short visit from his Granny. I held him first. I fed him first. I changed his diaper first. I would try to be there at least for all of his day-time feedings during those first three days. I brought back lots of pictures and stories to Mommy. I spent my nights on that uncomfortable pull out sofa in her room getting up every three hours to help her set up the breast pump.
We were told that Mommy would be in the hospital at least through the weekend, but she was so determined to get to our son that she delivered in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, had a blood transfusion on Thursday afternoon, and was discharged on Friday around noon. We went directly from her hospital to Little Man. Mommy’s milk still had not come in, but she sat there and did skin to skin with our little guy, and they both slept while I kept a watchful eye. It wasn’t really necessary, because they both slept so soundly that neither moved an inch. That evening as Mommy pumped for the last time before going to sleep, finally back in our own bed, her milk came pouring out.
The next day Mommy and Little Man were determined to get this breast-feeding thing down. When he finally latched and started eating, I felt none of the jealousy I had feared throughout the pregnancy. I really thought being outside that close bond would be the hardest part of the whole experience for me, but after watching them both struggle so hard at his birth and work to make this connection, I felt nothing but joy and relief when they finally got it. We spent our weekend in his little room going home just a couple of miles away to sleep and getting back the next morning in time for his first feeding.
On Monday, five days after Little Man was born, I went back to work. It was so very hard. Our routine was that we would get up in time to get to the hospital for his morning feeding. We would both go in, and as soon as he was done eating, and I had changed his diaper, I would leave for work. I would count the minutes until I could leave to go back to the hospital to be with them. We got our hopes up that he was coming home Wednesday evening, but his doctor insisted that he stay through Thursday morning. So, on Thursday, I took the day off, and we headed to the hospital for his morning feeding as usual but full of excitement knowing that we would no longer have to leave Little Man behind at the hospital. Finally, we were going home with our boy!
That was almost 9 months ago. The good news is that neither Mommy nor Little Man has any lasting effects from the whole ordeal, at least not any physical ones. I think that Mommy and I are forever changed emotionally, obviously just by the fact that we became parents, but also because of the dramatic fashion in which Little Man arrived.