Friday, the nurses told me I could be discharged the next day. Panic immediately set in. I didn’t want to go home. I was in pain, walking down the hall to see my baby in the NICU completely exhausted me, and I wanted to stay in the same building as my baby.
But by the next day, I realized that going home was what I really needed. I realized baby wasn’t coming home with me no matter what day I was discharged, and I had to take the leap and leave him so I could take care of myself. I was having a hard time pumping in the hospital, people constantly walking in and out of my room making me feel self-conscious.
Yesterday was a good day for Josiah. He is tolerating his feedings well, and there is no residue left behind after he eats. (In the NICU, after a baby is fed the tube attempts to pull out the residue in his belly. It’s a way for them to assess how well he is tolerating food. No residue means he’s digesting it all, which is great.) They even increased his feedings a bit. I’m so happy about this, because it means he will be using those calories to grow. Growing and eating, after learning to breathe, means going home.
Yesterday I was there for his tube feeding for the first time. I had a tiny plastic syringe full of breastmilk. The nurse attached it to the thin plastic tubing that snakes into his mouth and down into his belly, and slowly pushed it in. After it was done, he started wiggling. In appreciation, I think.
For a couple of days I’ve been using a q-tip to swab his lips with my milk. It’s a little weird, but still awesome to be able to do something to care for him. The CPAP machine makes him salivate a lot, and there are always little bubbles between his lips. His poor lips were so chapped from all that moisture, but the breastmilk did the trick. His lips looked so much better today: pink and plump. I was so proud.
My two oldest got to visit him again yesterday, and they both commented that he looked bigger. He did indeed!
Leaving him was so hard, but it was the right thing to do.
I got more sleep last night than I have in the 3 nights previous. I got to cuddle in bed with my husband and be with my children all evening. And today, the doctors are letting us do kangaroo care! I can hardly wait to do the most normal thing in the whole world: hold my newborn baby.