Peace in the NICU

My husband and I started dating in junior high, if you can call it dating then.  More like you chat on the phone every once in awhile in the kitchen while your parents listen in, maybe sit near each other on the school bus on the way to track meets, write notes and leave them in each others’ lockers during passing periods, and in my husband’s case, write I heart Jami all over his hand. It was pretty serious.

That didn’t last too long but we eventually became a serious “item” when we were juniors in high school.  We had this amazing teacher/football coach (his football coach not mine) who brought his son with him to just about every practice.  This man was a mentor to everyone in our small, rural school.  He was a great person who took the time to talk with you, laugh with you and genuinely cared.  His adopted son was named Coleman.  Oddly enough, my then boyfriend and I loved that name and that boy. He was pure boy, a little man who loved football, dirt and all things, well…boy. I distinctly remember us saying that if we ever had a son we would name him Coleman.  When my husband was away at basic training Coleman’s father (the football coach/teacher) passed away.  It was devastating.  Extra devastating because we were told we had to keep it from him so he could focus on the task at hand of completing boot camp.

I’m gonna fast forward here big time…like 10 years.  It was the most terrible year of my marriage.  My husband and I had been through some major struggles.  Like the for better or worse part? We had about 5 years of worse.  So it didn’t surprise me when a couple of my very close friends were hesitant when I let them know we wanted to try for another baby.  I appreciate their honesty over talking behind my back any day of the week.  The best part is that they were supportive of me, my husband and our marriage through it all. But our family was leaving the past there and moving forward.  Turns out, when we found out we were pregnant, the timing showed that our little baby was developing even before we began trying! Then, on our 8th wedding anniversary we went to find out what we were having.  My husband decided to let the nurse tell him then keep it a secret from me until our reveal party. I’d tried to tell by the look on his face but couldn’t .  Since he didn’t seem overly excited I was sure we were having another girl.  Right as we got to the car, he shut the door and asked if I wanted to know.

Me ” I don’t know do you wanna tell me?!”

Clint: “Maybe we should wait, what do you think?”

Me: ” Well, make up your mind! It’s a girl isn’t it?”

Clint:(eyes are watery now) “NO!!!!!!!” (Shows me the picture)

Me: ” OH MY GOD!!!!!!!!!!!!”

And we are both crying in the parking lot while our daughters are looking at us like we are crazy people.

I mean God’s timing is so cool.  We didn’t make that appointment on our anniversary.  And we didn’t decide that all of those struggles would happen before we would be blessed with a son.  We stopped right there and prayed as a family to thank God for our beautiful daughters and the boy that we would soon be able to meet.

Here’s the part of the story that makes me cry.  April 10th, 2015.  My baby boy is born.  Every one of my children’s birthdays were so special and that’s why I am a big believer in celebrating birthdays ESPECIALLY if you are blessed with healthy children.  Don’t you take your healthy child for granted, not for a second.  With my little ladies I thought breastfeeding was disgusting. Like it made me gag, you could not pay me a million dollars to try it disgusting.  With Coleman I thought, hey, I’m staying at home, what the heck? (people change) Man is it a JOB.  So I stayed in the hospital an extra day to figure that out.  As we are getting ready to go home the doctor comes in to check him out and they ask me if I’ve noticed this large lump on his head, and it’s large.  Probably about the size of a golf ball.  Looking like an idiot I say no.  They ask me if it was there yesterday, I say no. Had to stay that extra day didn’t I?! My hubby is gone to get my girls so we can all go home as a family so I have no back up here.  Then more doctors and nurses.  I’m overwhelmed and I’m getting anxious.  My husband arrives with my daughters and everything is prepared for us to go home.  And then they tell us my new baby boy is going to the NICU.

They explain to me that he has a pool of blood outside of his skull that could do one of two things.

  1. It could go away.
  2. It could go into his brain.

I’m alone in the room. Don’t cry, don’t cry, don’t cry, don’t cry, don’t cry. My husband and little girls just walked in excited to take their sweet baby brother home. Don’t cry, don’t cry, don’t cry. Tell Clint without telling the girls somehow. The nurses  and doctors were super helpful with explaining the situation to him, I honestly have no idea how, I don’t remember but I do remember that they were very kind.  Clint and the girls took everything down and I stayed with Coleman.  I felt like I was going to vomit when I realized I was leaving the hospital without my baby.

NICU

I stood there not knowing what to say.  I’m usually okay at small talk, unbelievably uncomfortable but okay.  I felt like I should run with my baby.  Who lets a stranger take their newborn?  I handed him over.  This son I had literally waited my entire life for and I watched them put him in this thing that looked like a suitcase and zip him up.  They didn’t even hold him.  Then all I could see was his teeny, tiny face through a hole and he turned and stared at me and I broke. It was like he even knew it wasn’t right for his mommy not to be taking him  home.  I apologized to the nurse for sobbing and she said “Honey, we would think something was wrong with you if you didn’t cry”.  To make it worse, I couldn’t even run down to my car, they had to wheel me out, waiting for that elevator took FOREVER. When we got to the truck, my husband was waiting for me and we heard the siren go off for the ambulance and he teared up which upset my girls, ( he never cries, ever) and I remember him saying, “That’s my son”.  It was such a raw day for all of us.  It was difficult to expect pure joy and have our expectation flipped completely upside down. Not even upside down…upside down, crumpled up into a ball, thrown onto the ground and stepped on, that’s what it felt like.

NICU nurses are part angel. So are our friends and family.  So many people stepped up to take care of our girls for an undetermined amount of time while we headed to stay with our little man.  When we arrived at the hospital he was asleep peacefully in a onsie that had been donated.  We were met by several doctors and nurses who went over his condition, a hematoma on his head that was expected to go away and some severe jaundice, also expected to go away.  He would be spending 24 hours a day in a bed which meant I could only hold him to feed him.  ( I got in trouble for this often as I fell asleep feeding him:) ) I also loved to reach my hands through those holes and sing to him while holding his little hand and one night the nurse found me asleep with my face smashed against the glass. The nurses were awesome as they made sure we were comfortable, were supportive with breastfeeding (I had no clue what I was doing), and practically tried to push us out the door to make sure we ate.  My husband and I were shocked at how much they tried to make us leave.  At one point we went down the hall where there was a community refrigerator to eat  and as I was crying scared for my little guy as the lump on his head wasn’t getting better,  my husband asked if he could pray for me.  This marriage that only a year ago had been struggling was now stronger than ever.  I was so thankful we were sitting here, together, in the NICU with two healthy daughters, supportive family and friends, our faith, our son, and a great team of doctors and nurses.

Our little man will be one year old Sunday, he has such a special place in my heart. At his baby blessing ceremony a woman at our church let me know that biblically his name means peace….isn’t that interesting?

Happy Birthday Handsome

May the God of hope fill you with all the joy and peace as you trust in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:3

heart

PS- If you are a NICU nurse thank you from the bottom of my heart, I truly hope that you never feel underappreciated

 

 

 

 

 

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