Saturday, January 06, 2007

Another Very Small Update

We're home again for the second night now. I'm amazed how good my own bed feels. It almost makes me forget I've left my baby in the hospital alone. How did any of you who have traversed the NICU manage this time? I'm there all day and then spent when I get home. And guilty.

Partner has a raging cold-- or flu-- or something. She comes with me to the NICU but wears a mask and doesn't touch Cricket at all.

Tonight I'm terrified the back of my throat is starting to feel sore. What if I get sick too? Then will Cricket get sick also? For a kid who has really just started to figure out this breathing lark, I worry incessantly how getting a cold/flu will effect him. Partner is even wearing a mask to bed and we haven't kissed or hugged in days, which could be precious support at a time like this. Monday she starts school, so I'll be flying even more solo in the NICU, without even having her there for support. My mother will come and help me, but still. I'm dying to just snuggle up to my girl, and her to me. Please let her get better soon. And please don't let Cricket get sick too.

For now, Cricket is staying. He just got off photo-therapy for the jaundice, and he can't quite wrap his sweet little lips around the concept of eating. He prefers, it seems, to be fed via the NG tube, even though we daily tell him about the glories of actually tasting his food rather than have it wind up in his gut via almost magic. Or gravity, as the case may be.

I want to tell you the story, and I will. I just feel like I need to get sleep. Desperately. But I am definitely taking NICU survival advice and sure fire ways to avoid Partner's sickness.

Thank you so much for your good wishes-- If you keep sending them our way, we'd all so much appreciate it.

37 Comments:

Anonymous Lynnette said...

oh...get well soon, Partner...I'm so sorry you're all not getting that "perfect" family time together, right now. Hang in there. Soon you'll be home together, with eeryone snuggling. {{hugs}}

2:03 AM  
Blogger Tanya said...

I hope partner is well soon and all three of you are home together.

I can't give you any useful NICU survival advice, but I can send you good thoughts and wishes from across the globe.

7:22 AM  
Blogger Stacy said...

Sorry no advice on the NICU. In regard to keeping Cricket healthy your pumped breast milk will protect him from anything you get. The antibodies you make when your sick will get transmitted to him and he will be able (hopefully) to fight off whatever it is. I am assuming that he is getting the pumped stuff but I know nothing about the NICU and if that's what the babies get fed. Sorry I can't be more help.

7:29 AM  
Blogger Jean said...

Poor partner, I hope that she gets better soon. As far as making sure that you do not get it, make sure to wash the bed sheets often, clean common areas like door knobs, phones, microwave handels, fridge handels, and other places you touch without really thinking about it. And change the house air filters and your toothbrushes. That's my best advice to stop trandmitting the cold back and forth.
I hope that little Cricket grows stronger quickly and you will not have to survive the NICU much longer. Sending lots of thoughts and prayers your way.

7:52 AM  
Blogger Pamplemousse said...

No advice on anything useful from me but good wishes to all of you in great abundance!

9:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Make sure to let the nursing staff know if you are feeling run down. It may put you into a hands free mode, but I'm sure they see this more often than not (parents run down easily catch bugs).

I'm sorry it's rough right now, but I know you will both get through this stronger then ever.

Get rest whenever you can. I'm sure you'll hear this hundreds of times, but everyone means it b/c it's for the best.

10:02 AM  
Anonymous Jenn said...

My only advice is handwashing, handwashing, handwashing, but you probably already knew that. Thinking of you, Partner, and Cricket.

12:37 PM  
Anonymous Liza said...

Oh, Katie. If I lived closer or owned a plane I'd come and spoon you myself. Ask the NICU to start using freshly-expressed milk to feed Cricket if they are using frozen; your antibodies will offer him the best possible protection. Remember, Partner is the co-parent but YOU are the boobs; I think Partner is doing the right thing by taking precautions with Cricket (although as far as her taking precautions with you I could argue either side) but if you get sick it's different--Cricket needs your antibodies because honestly if you get sick you've been contagious since before you realized it and there is no point in putting you and him through the separation when he has already been exposed and will need the milk more than ever, plus both of you needing the comfort. And you know that I say that as someone who has been in your shoes three times. Unless the neonatologists tell you to stay away (and if you have a bacterial infection they might and you then should), I'd say go on.

1:03 PM  
Blogger art-sweet said...

I have no words of wisdom, just ooodles and oodles of love for all of you.

1:21 PM  
Anonymous Liza said...

Also, forgot to mention before, but the other part of what I meant to say about you swapping germs with the baby--your milk will change to suit his needs once he is actually nursing and since he can't right now, you might see if they'd just let you kangaroo him and let him nuzzle around--it's not the same but might give your body the feedback it needs to adjust the antibodies and a little skin-to-skin always does a baby good. Also that reminds me of something I learned in CPR/First Aid class at work...what is your barrier of last resort? Come on, you're in nursing school...yes, SKIN. Skin is a barrier, and you don't get sick from skin touching skin, so why don't you just have Partner hop out of a shower, towel off, put her mask on, and jump in the bed with you? You won't get her germs from her pores. My two cents.

3:41 PM  
Blogger lagiulia said...

This is REALLY long. I don't want you to think I'm a nut who is obsessing over your blog- just that I've been through the NICU, and I know how terrible it can be, so I wanted to offer my support.

First, I'm sorry that you are experiencing so much stress right now. There is no way to explain to others just how stressful the NICU experience is. My thoughts are with the three of you as you go through this difficult time.

Advice? Well, the NICU itself is a good place to find guidance and support. If you are at the NICU for most of the day, you will probably meet a nurse or two you really like (and some you don't). Lean on them to answer your questions, and ask as much as you want. Even though it feels like others can care for your baby better than you right now, you are still the parents and the advocates for him. You have the right to know and keep track of what's going on with him. Good, compassionate nurses are priceless. Doctors will give you technical information, which the nurses can help break down for you (I know you have some medical background, so you're probably a step ahead of most of us in understanding things!). Some NICUs also have a social worker, and it may be a good idea to talk to him or her also. Meeting other parents in the NICU can also be good, though sometimes it feels like too much effort to even be the least bit social. But talking to others in the same boat does make you realize you're not alone.

Feeding: In a way, it is not so bad that your baby is being fed through the tube right now, if you plan to breastfeed. That is because if he learns to eat via a bottle before breastfeeding is established, he may not accept the breast very well. The bottle has a faster flow- he has to work harder at the breast. With my boys, I nursed them during the day. They were able to latch but not well, so after nursing they would get milk through their nose tubes to make sure they were gaining enough weight. At night, while I wasn't there, the nurses would feed them milk through the tube. Once their latch was better (about 2 weeks into breastfeeding), we introduced the bottle at night so that we could remove their nose tubes. I think the best thing to do is for you to talk with the hospital's lactation consultant (or an independent one who is willing and able to visit you in the NICU) and the nursing staff and/or doctors together in order to determine what the best plan will be for feeding your baby. My NICU was pushing the bottle, and I'm glad I pushed for the tube/breast instead. At 14 months, we're still nursing. HOWEVER, if you decide after talking with professionals that the bottle makes sense, don't worry too much... you have to do what you feel is best for your boy. And you can always work with a lactation consultant later.

Illness: Is your baby getting the Synagis shot for RSV? RSV is probably the main concern in this season for premature babies. If you don't know, ask the staff about it. I know what you mean about being afraid you're going to get ill from your partner. I remember my husband had a sore throat, and I was SO TERRIFIED I would get a cold and have to stay home instead of going to the NICU. Obviously, do what you can to prevent the cold (lots of fluids (especially because you're pumping now) zycam, coldeeze, etc., vit c,... for herbs or pharmaceuticals, check on breastfeeding safety). Ask the nursing staff what would happen if you do get sick and express your fear that this would keep you away from your son... I'm sure they deal with this problem all the time. Of course, fresh breastmilk for your little guy is a good idea, if possible- not a promise that he won't get sick, but an excellent measure.

Flying solo in the NICU: I know this fear, too. My husband and I were a team in the NICU up until he had to go back to work. Then, all of a sudden, I felt alone in this foreign place and very emotional with no one to catch me. But I found that within two or three days, I had my own routine in the NICU and started developing a closer relationship with my boys and the staff. A strength came over me, and I just found I could do it. (I too had an emerg. c-sec., so I was still healing from that during this time.) Of course, I'd go home at night and sob, but each morning I'd feel the urge to get back there as quickly as I could get there. It's hard and scary, but you can do it and will get through each day somehow.

Lack of time: Your only job right now (I hope) is to get through each day. That is such a tall order when you have to leave your baby behind, and when you're worrying about him so much. Lean on others to do things for you... to manage everything in your life except taking care of your baby, yourself, and each other. Order in or have people cook for you. Ask others to do dishes and laundry and anything else you need. If dealing with people who want to help or want information is too much for you right now, assign sometime to be a go-between... leave their number on your answering machine and be done with it. You don't need to do anything except get to know your baby and rest. That is it. Some people may not understand how hard this is, but they haven't been in your shoes. Don't worry about them... just do what you need to do right now.

While you're at the NICU, make sure you are taking breaks and HYDRATING! Pumping is exhausting, as is worrying and healing from a c-sec and going through hormone changes. Rest is so important. Make sure you are sitting. Ask if there is any place to lie down, if need be. We had a lobby lounge with couches, and though it was out in the open I'd lie there sometimes. Most NICUs also have something called a "nesting room," where you can stay with your baby the night before you go home. It may be possible for you to nap there or even sleep there once in a while overnight if no one is using it. We didn't know that until the end of our sons' NICU stay, unfortunately, but depending on how leanient the staff is, it may be an option.

Lastly, here are some blog pages that talk about peoples' stay in the NICU- may or may not be helpful.
http://blogpicchipacchi.blogspot.com/2006/11/prematurityuncertainty.html
http://www.alittlepregnant.com/alittlepregnant/2005/04/so_youve_decide.html
http://pewari.may.be/2006/08/15/mama-lama-ding-dong-ayun-calling/

Please email anytime- jbhovis@hotmail.com
I know this is a difficult time. Somehow, you'll get through it. And that baby will be all yours, snug at home with you. Even though you may not have a good timeframe for when he's coming home and it feels like forever, the release date can have a tendency to sneak up on you. Until then, be kind to yourself and try to remind yourself that each day that passes is one day closer to home.

8:38 PM  
Anonymous Sassy said...

I'm thinking of you, cricket and partner and hoping you're all happy, healthy and stong really soon so you can all be at home shating much love. Take care.

10:21 PM  
Blogger amyesq said...

Holy Smackers! I cruise by your blog and the first thing I see is NICU! First off, welcome, sweet, sweet Cricket. Second congratulation to the whole wonderful family! Third, I will be praying for all of you to stay strong. This may very well be the hardest thing you ever do.

Sending love and strength your way.

10:28 PM  
Blogger LilySea said...

Oh my gosh.
Wow.
Congratulations that he's here, and sending all the vibes I have for his speedy trip home and all of your health.
I can't imagine what the NICU experience must be like, but all I can really say is try to get as much sleep as you can. Once he's home, you won't get any at all.

12:15 AM  
Blogger Kristin said...

Hi Katie & Partner...

I have only a couple of words of wisdom regarding NICU roller coaster... _take time for yourself_. Make sure in that time you eat, you gather your scattered marbles and maybe even go shopping/out to eat/movie. I don't know about the hospital where you are, however many hospitals have Parent-to-Parent support groups made up of parents who have ridden the NICU ride and can offer support, the been-there advice and generally someone to talk to.

I've ridden the coaster and ours was relatively uneventful (thankfully) and I rode it alone too. (Father not in picture and my mom couldn't be with me 8+ hrs a day every day)

Send me an email if you need to rant, vent, or generally need some support, Katie (or Partner!). It hasn't even been a year yet, so it is still pretty fresh.

5:58 AM  
Blogger Grrlscout said...

Wow. Have been away from the blogging world for long enough to shockingly discover the Cricket has arrived! Many congrats to you and Partner.

We so hope that Cricket's visit with the NICU is so brief and the least stressful as possible.

I am in shock!

1:47 PM  
Blogger Gandksmom said...

Katie - I am sending you many many healthy vibes through the internet. I was shocked to see that Cricket had been born, but it sounds as though he will be out of NICU in no time. That doesn't help that he's still there also. I wish we lived closer so that I could come and take care of you and partner while you take care of Cricket. Take care dear friend and know there are huge amounts of healthy energy coming your way.

2:13 PM  
Blogger Robin said...

Others have already explained how breast milk will protect the little cricket--so cool, MOther Nature. Sending to you three all our heartfelt good wishes!

3:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So sorry you have to go through this...I know how hard it can be. If I could give you the one piece of advice that was most helpful to me it would be to join the pumpmoms listserve through yahoo groups. A lot of women pumping for their babes, many who are in the NICU. Wonderful support and lots of suggestions on how to make it through. All the best to you!

9:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow!! Congratulations to you two! I can't believe Cricket is here already!

I've been out of the blog world for a little while now - this little development is so surprising!

I'm thinking of you, Katie, and wishing you, Partner and Cricket all the best! I hope his stay in the NICU is short.

Love from Minnesota.... Sara

12:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow!! Congratulations to you two! I can't believe Cricket is here already!

I've been out of the blog world for a little while now - this little development is so surprising!

I'm thinking of you, Katie, and wishing you, Partner and Cricket all the best! I hope his stay in the NICU is short.

Love from Minnesota.... Sara

12:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow!! Congratulations to you two! I can't believe Cricket is here already!

I've been out of the blog world for a little while now - this little development is so surprising!

I'm thinking of you, Katie, and wishing you, Partner and Cricket all the best! I hope his stay in the NICU is short.

Love from Minnesota.... Sara

12:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow!! Congratulations to you two! I can't believe Cricket is here already!

I've been out of the blog world for a little while now - this little development is so surprising!

I'm thinking of you, Katie, and wishing you, Partner and Cricket all the best! I hope his stay in the NICU is short.

Love from Minnesota.... Sara

12:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow!! Congratulations to you two! I can't believe Cricket is here already!

I've been out of the blog world for a little while now - this little development is so surprising!

I'm thinking of you, Katie, and wishing you, Partner and Cricket all the best! I hope his stay in the NICU is short.

Love from Minnesota.... Sara

12:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This part is rough, but you guys will all get through it. We are all thinking of you!

8:53 PM  
Blogger NMsurrogate said...

I am thinking of you three every day. You are all in my prayers. Sending cyberhugs,
Erika

11:17 AM  
Blogger chris said...

First of all, belated congrats on your baby's birth. I checked in a while back but I haven't been posting anything because, clearly, I'm a big lazy loon.

I hope you and Partner and Cricket are all together soon. Keep pumping! I'm so happy for all of you.

PS: Send address so I can send your gift, Missy!

4:33 PM  
Blogger Anna said...

Thinking about you all and praying for the very best. I hope you all are well and I hope to hear from you soon. You're in my heart and I'm sending hugs! xoxoxoxoxo Anna

5:25 PM  
Blogger Gretch said...

thinking lots of positive thoughts for you three and hoping you all get to return home soon!

7:27 PM  
Anonymous Kim said...

Lurker jumping in...
The NICU club is not one I want anyone to have to join. However, since you are already there, my only advice truly is to take care of yourself as much as you can. Let other people help, feed you, do errands for you. When my son was in the NICU after our twins were born, it was the hardest days of my life. And I wish I had let people help us more. I wanted so badly to be strong even though I was physically and emotionally falling apart inside. You have to know it's OK to be falling apart and to let your friends and family be there to help lift you.

Congratulations on the birth of your beautiful baby, and if nothing else, know that there is a community of NICU parents out there who know how it feels.

Looking forward to the birth story and news of Cricket's homecoming.

11:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know that you don't know me, but I've been reading your story and wanted you to know that my prayers are with you and partner and cricket at this time.

11:01 AM  
Blogger fisher queen said...

No advice...but I am sending lots of good hopes and wishes for the three of you to be home healthy and safe very soon.

2:41 PM  
Anonymous Brooke said...

Just posting to say that Cricket came home yesterday (weds) and that everyone is doing well.

6:11 PM  
Blogger lagiulia said...

Yay! Cricket came home! Thanks for updating us, Brooke!!!!

1:12 PM  
Blogger Kim said...

Just found your blog (from NTM). I'm another lesbian-NICU-breastfeeding Momma and wanted to say congratulations on the birth of Cricket! Looking forward to reading through your archives and hearing more about your precious baby.

1:57 PM  
Blogger LilySea said...

Still thinking of you and hoping all is well!

2:12 PM  
Anonymous mamacate said...

I just popped in and got the news--many congrats to the whole family, and welcome to the world, Cricket. I have no advice except to be very kind to yourself and listen to those who have btdt. You've got that mama-strength all stored up, I can tell.

2:04 PM  

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