February 25, 2011

A week, already?

So far, Merritt's journey in the NICU has been pretty uneventful (thankfully!). He has been stable since he arrived, and spends the time that I'm not with him seemingly content, nestled asleep in his isolette. I can't believe that a week has passed by already.

For three days he was under the bili lights and could only come out for 30 minutes every four hours.

Now that his jaundice has been addressed I can hold him for an hour or so every 4 hours. Usually we try nursing for the first 30 minutes and then do kangaroo care for the rest of the time.

Merritt is slowly being weaned from each of the interventions currently in place (TPN via IV, nasogastric tube feedings, room air nasal cannula, and incubator). The biggest milestone so far will hopefully come tomorrow night when his intravenous nutrition will be discontinued and we'll begin the process of weaning him from the nasogastric tube to the breast.

The stress and strain of the circumstance is beginning to take its toll on all of us. My days begin at the hospital at 7:30 am and I alternate between spending 2-3 hours at the NICU and 1-2 hours at home, with pumping in between. I don't typically make it home at night before 10pm.

The last couple of days I tried to cut down on the back and forth by staying at the hospital all day, but then I missed out on seeing Roscoe. I'm tired, and it has been difficult to find balance in time spent with each of the boys. I feel a greater pull to be with Merritt, but I still feel terrible when Roscoe looks at me with his big eyes and says "miss you" while rhetorically asking "Ug?" (hug). Andy has only been to the NICU a few times this week, and the distance is making Merritt's existence seem abstract.

Andy and I have been brainstorming alternative arrangements to mix things up a bit, maybe we'll switch roles for a day and see how we each feel. All I know is that I really miss my first little guy, and I think it's important that we get to spend some quality time together.

I'm finding comfort in focusing on the few things that I have control over: pumping, nursing, making sure that I'm available for Merritt as much as possible. It's been hard for me to give up control over Roscoe's daily routine but Andy has filled in for me as seamlessly as I knew he would. It's been an unusual opportunity for Poppa/Roscoe bonding, but I know that home-life demands have left Andy feeling equally worn out.

For now, we're literally taking each day one at a time (parent pow-wows commence nightly before bed, in order to plan for the following day). Breakdowns ensue when we try to think too far ahead, and lately my breakdowns are coming more frequently, and without notice. I suppose a good cry is in order every now and then.

Generally, we're expecting at least another week in the NICU, maybe longer. I have a lot of anxiety about what lies ahead for us as Merritt becomes more independent. I'm not sure how easily some of my mothering principles will integrate with the process and procedures of the NICU. Feeding on demand, and responding to his cries are two of my top concerns. I hate to say it, but often the other babies are left to cry for 15 or 20 minutes and then eventually fall asleep without ever being tended to. I guess I'll have to set up camp at his isolette to ensure that my little lion gets all the attention he deserves.

Any other attachment minded parents out there with NICU experience to share with us?

Happy one week birthday Merritt!


  1. I know this wasn't what you were expecting, and I'm sorry it as been (and will be) hard on your family. Thank you for sharing your update, you've all been my thoughts. Have you been to the preemie board on TB yet? My girlfriend found wonderful support there when her daughter was born early.

  2. It's really good to hear that Merritt is doing so great under the circumstances, but oh my heart is just going out to you and your little family right now. It sounds really hard, especially trying to balance between the two kids. Take care & big hug.

  3. That is so stressful. I think you have the right idea, taking it one day at a time. This situation is only temporary. And Roscoe is so lucky to have this time with his Daddy, so try not to let the guilt get to you. Merritt needs you right now. Even if he were home with you and full term, he would require more attention at this young age. Before you know it, you will be home enjoying your family of four!
    Keeping you in my thoughts :)

  4. Hey Jacqueline - another planned home birth turned preemie here. Hannah was 34w3d and a chunky 5 lbs 11 oz. She is doing great but I am struggling with some of those same issues - I hate that she is on a strict schedule, not allowed to nurse for more than 10 min at a time, and we have to supplement. I just want to take her home :( I don't have any advice, just know that I will be thinking of you!

  5. I'm glad to hear that he's doing well - I can't imagine what you are going through, but it sounds like you are all doing wonderfully - taking it one day at a time sounds like the best plan and the best way to cope as you indicated. It also sounds like you are doing exactly what you can to balance the two little ones! I'm thinking of you during these difficult days!

  6. My heart goes out to you & your hubby; I can't imagine what you are both going through trying to make sure both boys are happy, safe & well taken care of. I am sure that Roscoe knows just how much you love & miss him & hopefully all will be back to normal or at least you will be home before you know it.


  7. Jacqueline, I'm so sorry for how hard it has been for you, Andy, and Roscoe. I wish I had some good advice, but having never been in your shoes, I don't have any. I will definitely keep praying for the four of you.
    Angie A.


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