On the third day of
Christmas… wait, wrong line. On the third day of Auggie’s life, Meg finally got to hold our amazing baby boy. We had touched him and cradled him in his incubator the first two days, but never taken him out. We were not exactly sure when this time would come, considering how fragile he still is.
On Monday morning, we came in and the nurse told us that we could “kangaroo”, or have skin to skin contact with him. The emotions ran high, and the was a small sense of fear, but more than anything, we were truly overcome with joy. We had been reading and hearing about how important it is for a baby to be held by his mother as soon as possible, but we knew we wouldn’t have that chance as quickly as most parents. The nurses took Auggie to the NICU immediately after he was born so they could prepare him for his long journey home.
Holding a newborn isn’t just for satisfaction, there are medical benefits that are almost considered necessary here at MGH. The baby has been listening and feeling the mother’s heartbeat for so long, that he needs to continue to hearing it for comfort. Studies have shown that skin to skin contact (this is what they call kangarooing) will help release hormones in the child’s brain to help promote growth and development.
Since Auggie is getting photo therapy for the bilirubin in his body, he is only allowed to stay out for about an hour each day. It is also quite a production to get him from the incubator onto one of us, so they try to do it all at once, without transferring him between hands. That means we get to pick him up, hold him for the hour, and then lay him back down.
Meg held him first, then me, and now Meg is holding him again. We decided not to hold him yesterday because we had several meetings with doctors which made us stressed out a bit. (Just summarizing his treatment, not bad news.) We did not want to pass any additional stress to August.
While we hold August, we get to feel things that we haven’t been able to really comprehend yet. It’s one thing to see his breaths on the monitor and through the glass, but feeling him breath while we are holding him is out of this world. Meg says that one of her favorite parts is feeling his hair brush against her chin. I love feeling his fingers and toes wiggling.
The time we spend in the NICU has a lot of stress with all the alarms, tubes, and monitors, but the short time that we get to hold him each day reminds us what we’re fighting for.