"The first night is the hardest"

Tomorrow marks 1 month since my HunnyBee made his arrival and those 10 long days in the NICU almost seem like a lifetime ago. However, I promised to share, especially because I want to encourage DiversAble Models out there to be fighters and to always do what you know is best.

2 hours after my boy was born and we had just been transferred to our recovery room, the nurse came in to check my vitals. I was in pretty stable condition. At 35 weeks gestation, the hospital checks things on babies they normally don't check for, thank God. In the delivery room, HunnyBee's sugar level was tested and was at 38. I didn't know how to interpret this number at the time, but I was encouraged to breastfeed him as soon as I could. I tried, but because breastfeeding is quite the mission for me (another post for another time), I wasn't very successful. Back in the recovery room, my boy's sugar had gone from 38 to 24 and I saw the nurse race to get one of the doctors. His face looked panicked, he ran to make a call (I believe he was a resident and called the attending physician). He raced into my room, picked up the baby and said he had to be rushed to the NICU. He said his sugar was way too low and this could cause seizures. Though surrounded by my family, I lost it. I started crying as I sat in the hospital bed feeling more helpless than I had in a long time. The doctor held my little one out to my face so I could kiss him and then swept him away, promising to return and explain everything.

It seemed like hours had passed by the time the doctor returned, but when he did, he explained that a normal sugar level for a newborn is above 50! He said the NICU is one of the best and that I could visit and/or call any time. By this time, visiting hours for my family had ended and the doctor said I should wait until morning before visiting my son. All I remember of that night are the feelings of shock, anxiety, and emptiness.

I was up most of the night and decided to get out of bed and into my chair to go downstairs to the NICU as soon as the nurse did her morning rounds. Everything hurt! I felt pain all over my body, especially my pelvis and my back, where the epidural had been. I had bruises and marks everywhere from the countless attempts doctors made to get an IV in me and/or draw blood. However, I also had a determination and strength in me that I can only attribute to my Lord. My husband pushed me downstairs to these 2 huge double doors. We had to ring a bell and be buzzed in. As we entered, I noticed the space was decorated and there was effort made on the staff's part to make the area look more cheerful and child-friendly...at least in the waiting room. We approached the front desk and after showing our hospital bracelets, we were guided through another door, where the atmosphere went from cute and child-friendly to the sterile and cold space I had come to expect in hospitals. My boy was in Room 2, apparently where the "moderately" sick babies go. As we approached that room, my heart raced and I had no idea what to expect...

We entered and our baby was the first one near the door in a room filled with about 18 little ones. He was in an Isolete, or what my husband soon deemed "The Box." I again broke down in tears as I spoke to my baby through the window we could open on his box. I remember feeling angry as I began to notice the tubes and IV he was attached to. As someone who is an incredibly difficult stick, I just kept imagining my fragile little boy screaming in pain without me there the previous night. Although he seemed peaceful, I was anything but. We were greeted by his nurse and I will admit, all the staff were pretty kind and understanding. I was able to hold my baby by laying him on his nursing pillow. I felt a little more at ease with his warm, soft body against me.

I was scheduled to go home the next day. It was the most confused feeling I had, wanting to roll as fast as possible out of that hospital, to rest and get back to my Little Bear, yet having an innate desire, almost need, to stay and care for my HunnyBee. I went to the NICU and stayed until my discharge papers were ready and then I cried. I remember my son's nurse that day hugging me, a genuine hug filled with compassion, and promising to take care of him. I was heartbroken leaving. I remember being in a daze and all I kept feeling was empty. I got home, and though I was actually happy to see my Little Bear, I couldn't help feeling disconnected from him. I felt disconnected from everything and everyone. As I was leaving the NICU that day with tears streaming down my cheeks, the charge nurse looked right at me and said, "The first night is the hardest." She wasn't kidding!

Since this post is already quite long, I'll end here, but will post more on my 10 day journey as soon as possible!

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