Saturday, June 23, 2012

It's my party and I'll cry if I want to

From my short experience being 27 I have found that 27-year-olds cry a lot.

As Krystal so wisely divined, we've taken a step backwards with breastfeeding and now it's like we don't do it at all. Last night I couldn't get Benjamin to wake up at all. We didn't even bother doing a test weight for him because I knew he couldn't have eaten anything, since he didn't bother to open either his eyes or his mouth the entire time I was there. It was so frustrating!

I asked Andrew to take the baby and then ran from his bedside, telling our nurse on my way out of the NICU that Benjamin was ready for his feeding. Then I sat in the pump room and cried and then pumped—more than 8 ounces in 7 minutes (eek)—and then cried and then washed the pump stuff while I cried and finally went out to meet Andrew in the lobby. His dad was on his way over from BYU campus, which is right next to the hospital, to help give Benjamin a blessing.

We hadn't asked him to come but for some reason he texted Andrew to ask if we were at the hospital and if there was anything we needed. Funny that he should think to do that the one night that I had I complete breakdown; he's never stopped by to see the baby before and he goes to BYU four nights a week.

I was happy to have a few minutes to collect myself before going back into the NICU. I was also happy that our nurse was a man. His name is Kevin and we've had him three nights this week and he's great. It's also a slightly awkward because NICUs involve a lot of...cleavage. Kevin won't come into our cubicle while I'm nursing or pumping and always announces himself if he's planning on coming in so that I can make sure I'm decent, which is nice. But he also has no advice and offers no assistance in the breastfeeding arena.

But, he also doesn't hover over me when I have a meltdown.

Instead he went in to start the feeding and said to Andrew, "Wouldn't latch on? Figured. He's been pretty sleepy lately." And then he made an appointment for the occupational therapist to visit with us the following morning without saying anything like, "Are you alright, sweetie?" or "Go home and get some rest," or "There, there," which I appreciated because sometimes when I cry I prefer people to pretend that I didn't instead of trying to be sympathetic (because sometimes sympathy just makes me feel worse instead of better). 

Right now I don't cry because of a specific incident—like, it's fine that Benjamin was too tired to nurse; I get that—but because I'm so stressed out about the whole situation in general that it seems there's a daily straw that breaks the camel's back, so to speak. 

Sometimes there are multiple straws that break my back everyday. 

I can't help it. I'm one big mess of emotion. And I'm so stressed out. 

I bought myself a mouth guard for my birthday because I suffer from Bruxism, especially when I'm stressed out. After sleeping with the mouth guard for a few nights I no longer feel like I need several root canals. And that's a good feeling. But I'm still rather stressed out (← understatement).

Our visit with Benjamin didn't go over too well this morning, either. Even with the occupational therapist right there, trying to help us help Benjamin wake up, he only managed to suck for a few minutes (and he got 6 ml, so it wasn't terrible...but also not great). 

I spent most of the day feeling like this phase of our life will never end (and Andrew spent most of today sending me back to bed). 

When Benjamin was born the nurses were talking to me about how he might be spent to UVRMC if he was too difficult of a baby for American Fork's small quasi-NICU to handle but assured me that they'd have respiratory therapists and NICU nurses there. "Because your baby will be in the NICU," she told me. After his birth when we met with the pediatrician he mentioned "three weeks" as his guess of how long Benjamin would be in the NICU. 

We're coming up on that three week mark and are no where close to being ready to go home. 

I haven't consciously been holding Benjamin to any deadline (except, perhaps, his due date) but my subconscious has been clinging to that three weeks with every shred of hope it can muster. Last night I sobbed to Andrew that I wished that the pediatrician hadn't said anything about when we'd be going home because this past three weeks has been so exhausting and I wish it was all over but it's not. 

We want to be home so badly but at the same time I'm terrified of bringing the baby home because...what if something happens?!

Benjamin needs to get two solid nursing sessions (approximately 50% of his milk intake) in consistently before we move up to three feedings a day. And then we do four feedings a day. And then we do two of the four feedings back to back (three hours apart, of course). And then there's the 12-hour and 24 hours requests (I haven't even asked what those are yet) and the car seat test. 

We can't even do two good nursing sessions a day. 

But tonight Benjamin was a champ! He latched on immediately (instead of fighting me for twenty minutes) and nursed for about 10 minutes and got 20 ml (it's his birthday present to me; I'm so happy)! 

He still had trouble regulating his heart rate and breathing after nursing (but did fine during nursing—we take off his cannula and do blow-by because he won't latch with the cannula on) but we found that when we put him down in his bed to rest instead of trying to hold him all his numbers evened out. It's so sad that holding him stresses him out because I want to cuddle this little guy as much as I can; I hope that he'll grow up to be a cuddly baby but right now I guess he just needs rest and space and as little stimulation as possible.

One of our occupational therapists said that breastfeeding counts as skin-to-skin contact so I suppose he's getting the affection he needs then. Still...I feel like my womb was robbed. And then every time I put him down I feel like my arms are being robbed. And every time I walk out of the hospital I feel like my heart is being robbed. I just want my family altogether again.

Good thing tomorrow is Saturday! Then half the family can be in with baby Benjamin while the other half looks at him through the window...and that's almost like being together, right?


  1. {{Hugs}} It's hard. The NICU experience is SO hard. Hang in there, he won't be the first toddler in the NICU. I promise. Day by day, or even hour by hour, that's the best way to do. Don't think about when he 'should' be home, or anything like that because then it's so much harder if he doesn't do it at that point, but if he does it before it's a great surprise!
    2 steps forward, 1 step back. I think I cried more in Martin's 1st year than the rest of my life all together. Many pumping sessions were full of tears because of non-latch/sleepy baby/A's and B's/O2 stuff.
    Day by day Nancy. You're a tough cookie, you have to be to be a NICU mom. :)

  2. I'm so so sorry! It's not fair and I hope he starts to perk up soon and you can take your whole family home soon because you're all healthy. I've heard that at 35 Weeks all babies (in and out) go through a major growth spurt and are sleepy and unresponsive. I hope that's the case here and he'll snap right out of it and make quick progress again!

  3. Oh Nancy! Nicu babies, they just break your heart! Even when they are home and healthy and doing everything they should, sometimes when you think back on it, it is enough to bring you to tears, but at least it's not like those long weeks in the hospital when you are crying everywhere, in front of everyone, all the time. Seriously I cried in front of a ton of people. I really just didn't want to talk to anyone because you never knew when the waterworks would start Aylin's first resident, just a young guy would get so red every time I cried, that and every time he saw my boob. I'm guessing it was a rough rotation for him. It's so hard. Praying your days go quickly and Benjamin is home soon. Next year we should do a fun beach day or something to celebrate you and Benjamin's birthdays! It will be so much better than this year!!!!!