When Tim and I brought Alayna home, we had no clue what we should expect. Alayna was in the hospital for 94 days with all the bells and whistles going off every time something was wrong, so that really put us on edge. As she grew bigger and the weeks went by, it seemed that the alarms wouldn’t go off as much and she was beginning to tolerate breathing more and more, but what did this mean for us at home?
All of this in mind, Tim and I were still on edge. What would we do if the alarm went off? There was always a nurse to take over if something serious was happening. Will we have to do CPR? Will she choke on her food? How will the oxygen work? What about the feeding tube?
If you were a NICU parent, then all of these questions have passed through your mind, and let me tell you, IT WILL BE OKAY!
Just before leaving the NICU, the staff gave us a checklist that all parents had to complete before they were able to take their little bundle of joy home. Depending on whether or not your baby had oxygen, feeding tube, or any other medical condition, the nurses will teach you everything you need to know.
One of the first things that Tim and I had to learn, was how to place a feeding tube. Sounds gross, but honestly, was extremely easy. Alayna hated it, but the tube they sent us home with was good for 30 days and she was able to have it out after two weeks because she became a pro at eating! For Tim and me, this was so great, not only because our baby girl was getting stronger, but also it was one less thing we had to pack in the car when we went to her doctor appointments.
The next thing that we learned was how to do CPR. Learning infant CPR was on my list of most important things to know before we brought Alayna home. Not only is knowing CPR a great life skill to have, it is a lifesaving skill that I recommend all NICU parents to have and anyone else who is reading this blog.
The nursing staff also taught us what to do if she is choking and how to use her oxygen, but it didn’t seem like it was enough. When we brought her home it seemed like we were in over our heads, but what new parents aren’t? If you have read my previous blog post (which I highly recommend), you’ll know that Tim and I really had everything to be worried about and had our hands full.
I lost more sleep than the average new mom because I would stay up just to watch her monitor so that I was always ready if it went off. Tim would tell me I was crazy, but I couldn’t help it. It was an instinct I could not refuse.
Looking back at the past two months, I probably could have slept more because that was all she was doing. Every once in a while, her monitor would go off that was measuring her blood oxygenation and heart rate, but it was because she was squirming around in her basinet. If the foot wiggled, then the signal was poor and would not read accurately. If the cord was pulled too tight, it would go off. Over time we learned all the tricks to make sure it read as accurately as possible and it seems like it never goes off anymore.
We have started weaning down on her oxygen, so the monitor has become my best friend. When we shut her oxygen off, we are able to see how well she is breathing on her own and it is the best feeling to see her getting stronger.
There are so many things that a NICU parent will be scared of, and you have every reason to be scared. This is scary. This is a BIG DEAL. But coming from parents who have seen it all through the NICU, it will get better, and it does. As Alayna has reached two months past her due date, the things we were once worried about have disappeared. She acts how a two-month-old acts, she is building her strength and eating more every day.
I know this is a scary time but please feel free to post comments with any questions you have or your own personal experiences! I would love to hear from you all!