I had the easiest pregnancy. I felt great. I ate organic, exercised, used the cleanest and purest topical products, didn't get my hair colored, avoided jacuzzis, and never missed a day taking the highest grade multivitamins, gulped down with the purest filtered water. Having my baby end up in the NICU was not even a distant thought. Not even an option. Now I sit looking at my tiny baby through a plastic box, wishing I could just hold him and wake up to find that this is all a bad dream. Is this really happening?
As I put Griffin on my bare chest I feel his every heartbeat; the rise and fall of his chest. I am only in that moment, right along with him, as my Big Griff fights for his every breath. I have never been so present. Nothing but his breath matters.
Some people think that the NICU is just a place where babies who are "early" hang out and grow. In the last two plus months I have learned that this could not be farther from the truth. The NICU is a place of constant battles and these babies are warriors. They are connected to wires and machines. They are pricked and poked with needles and tubes. They are spinal tapped, jabbed with IV's, scanned, infused with donor blood, and tested in every way possible. Just when you think the tests are done, there is another. You can never really breathe easy and neither can they.
At the start of our NICU journey, the nurses and doctors warned us that our life here would be a roller coaster, a lot of ups and downs. It would be two steps forward, one step back. That is exactly how it is. Good days and bad days. Days full of smiles, and others when I can't catch my breath from crying so hard.
Having a baby in the NICU is heartbreaking. Even if NICU parents appear strong and okay, we have felt the deepest pain, worry, isolation, and helplessness. My heart has never been so conflicted; feeling so much love and so much pain all at once.
The nurses in the NICU are not only saving my son, but they are saving me too. They love these babies as if they were there own, and that makes it a little easier for us NICU parents to leave our little ones behind every night. I am not sure where I, or Griff, would be without such incredible people. My heart will be forever thankful.
Your dreams of what you will be like as parents and what your baby, labor, and delivery will be like quickly vanish when you give birth at 26 weeks. You adapt to an unpredictable reality and slowly get used to the new dreams that fill your heart and mind. You are thrown into a situation where you have to discover a new you. Your relationships, your mindset, your life is challenged. It is not just a fleeting moment and it's gone, it's a whole journey ahead of you, and it's a tough one.
I park my car in the hospital garage and often find myself running to see Griffin. I am not late for anything, I just don't want to wait another second to be with my boy. I thought the older and stronger he got the easier it would be, but it has only gotten harder.
He looks at me, he listens, he cries when he is hungry and he smiles with content. I see the most beautiful boy. I relish his every milestone. Every gram gained, every poop made, every feeding tolerated, every outfit outgrown - it's a celebration. I tell him I'm proud of him everyday.
People often ask how much longer until Griffin comes home. My answer: As long as Griffin takes to be 100% ready to come home. This is all up to him, and we will wait for that amazing moment no matter how long it takes.