At just over seven months old, we are finally celebrating August being home longer than he was in the hospital! For Matt and I it is very significant that his life at home has FINALLY surpassed his life in the hospital. Thankfully we have settled in well, August is thriving, and we sometime don’t even remember the difficult time in the hospital. Though at times it feels good to put our experience behind us, other times I find myself feeling guilty about “forgetting” about it. It was such a significant part of our lives, good or bad, and I feel it should always be honored. Writing about our experiences in hopes of helping other NICU parents is a way for me to continue my mental recovery. And why not start with something lighthearted to celebrate our recent milestone.
You know you’re a parent of a NICU Graduate if:
- You turn on the garbage disposal to get your baby to fall asleep. Yes, they are crying because it’s too quite.
- You don’t mind being “house bound” since you’ve been in the hospital for days/weeks/months and almost forgot what your couch feels like.
- The first time a stranger in the doctor’s office waiting room asks how old your baby is you lie, and tell them “he came home this week.” You don’t want to get into a long story when you they tell them he’s actually 4 months old and they comment about how small he is.
- You secretly smile when you catch said stranger checking out your lack of still looking pregnant (I can only say this because I’ve been through alot… I would still trade a terrible 40+ week pregnancy for what Auggie went through.)
- You think the advice to “sleep when your baby sleeps” is ridiculous… who’s going to make sure he’s still breathing?!
- You position your baby to breastfeed being careful of the phantom cords and leads that you think are still attached.
- You don’t even flinch when your baby gets their first vaccine in a doctor’s office, you’ve seen them endure much worse and already know they are a total champ.
- You give props to moms who take care of a newborn WHILE recovering from a delivery or section. All moms should get at least two weeks to recover before having to do anything but breastfeed a baby.
- You re watch Grey’s Anatomy and realize how terribly they portrayed a NICU.
- After being brave enough to bring your baby out in public, you can’t believe how many people you lied to in one outing, about his age. You’re not ready for all the questions yet.
- You keep double checking that your hospital bracelet is still on each time you wash your hands, which is about 24 times a day.
- You don’t believe nipple confusion in a thing. From early pacifiers to learn sucking, then trying to breastfeed, to hospital bottles, to whatever you’re now using at home, your baby has tried it all and likely masted at least some of those just fine.
- You don’t know what to do with yourself that first week when there are finally no doctors appointments to attend.
- You finally start telling the truth about his age and prematurity, to raise awareness.
- They finally smile, for real this time, a few weeks to a month or so after they come home and you cry all the tears because of the miracle of that smile.