Monday, June 24, 2013

NICU memories

Normally we just rinse Natalie's sippies in the sink or wash them in the dishwasher, but we accidentally left one in the car overnight and it required more attention so we whipped out the Ivory dish soap that we haven't used since Natalie was brand new. It brought me immediately and intensely back to when she was first born and had to stay in the NICU for five days. I wouldn't wish those circumstances on any parent, especially for the first child, but in a way it made me a different, stronger mother than I would have been. I felt like my hospital stay didn't really happen because we were only in the NICU with Natalie, so I don't even really have memories of that part post-delivery. What I do remember is the amazing, wonderful nurses who took care of our baby girl, and us at the same time. The neonatologists were capable and informative, but it was the nurses who really showed us compassion. One in particular, Ladonna, made the experience even close to enjoyable because of the funny stories she would tell and the way I knew she would watch over Natalie when I finally gave in to going home to bed. The nurses taught us to wash everything carefully with that Ivory soap, how to give our little baby a warm bath, when she was hungry and when she just wanted cozies, and Ladonna taught me that you never stop being a mother even after your kids are grown - in addition to our family, I felt like she was my support system and I knew that everything would be okay because of her strong presence.






It makes me ache to see these pictures because all of the emotions that I felt then come rushing back: overwhelming love for this perfect creature, worry that she was comfortable, frustration that we couldn't go home, sadness that she was hooked up to machines, fierce protectiveness, wonder and awe and contentment, and complete exhaustion.

They chalk up Natalie's mild issues to "needing time to adjust" after being squeezed out abruptly (little miss eight pounds nine ounces apparently did not like being cramped!) so we were never really worried about her health since she was perfect, but you can't be in a place like the NICU and not feel worn down. I'm so grateful that we were so taken care of and that we only had to be there for a few days, compared to the tiny tiny babies that still had months ahead of them. I hope that Stockton won't have to go through that when he is born (or us, for that matter), but this experience definitely taught us that a trial isn't really a trial when Heavenly Father is watching over you and blessing you with constant comfort. We are grateful for prayers, fasting, and Priesthood blessings, and that Natalie has been even stronger because she had to deal with all the poking, prodding, IVs, blacklights, monitors, etc. We fell in love with our baby girl then and love her even more now, and smelling the Ivory soap makes me excited and grateful to be welcoming another new precious child into our family in a few months.

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