This first week has been the most joyful, rewarding and scary week of my life. One week ago today we brought our baby girl home from the hospital.
I slept less than I have in years. I have never been more scared than in years. I cried more than in years. I’ve disliked my husband more than I have in years.
Yet, I also feel incredibly happy and more in love with my husband than ever before.
I think coming home with a new baby, whether a full term baby or a preemie, is a time when one feels a full spectrum of emotions more than any other time. With a preemie, the fear and anxiety might be heightened to the extreme though.
Coming home one week ago was a day that I had been waiting for since June 21. I cried when the neonatologist told me that he was discharging us from the hospital. I didn’t cry because I was excited. I cried because I suddenly got very scared. I wasn’t ready.
I hadn’t been ready. Everything happened so quickly from the moment my water broke to the long wait and most especially when they told me that it was time for me to push!
Even though I had officially been a mommy for 12 days, I needed more time to learn how to be a mommy to a preemie. The nursing staff taught us how to bathe her, change her diaper, feed her and care for her most basic needs. But, we never had the chance to take the infant CPR class or the child safety class we had signed up for and cancelled because of my bed rest.
More importantly, we didn’t have the fancy computers to monitor her heart rate, oxygen levels and respirations. That is what terrified me the most. In the hospital, my anxiety level rose each time the alarm went off on her monitor. But I knew that a nurse would come over and calmly check her to make sure she was ok. She always was fine, which was why she was going home with us.
That first night at home and every night since I have been terrified to put her to sleep in her own bed. Preemies make a lot of noise. Their gastrointestinal tract is still developing so they process food differently and it makes them grunt and groan a lot. (Maybe full term babies do this too? I don’t know.) It is a scary sound at first but even scarier is she doesn’t make that sound.
She is such a tiny girl that it is hard to feel her breathing through her swaddle unless she is on my chest, so I feel better with her on me. But I’m also terrified that I’ll fall asleep and she’ll slide off me, and so I stay awake. I blog 🙂 I read my Kindle. Sometimes I take her downstairs and we watch TV but for the most part we snuggle in bed with MH sleeping next to me.
This is why I am looking into a night nurse to help us. I need to get more sleep. I need to learn to trust that she will be ok and I think a transition from a very monitored baby to one without any monitoring was too much for me to handle. A night nurse can help me with that transition.
I already addressed her feeding schedule, which is pretty much tied to my pumping schedule, both of which are aggressive. The doctors want her weight gain to be on par as if she were still in utero, which is half to whole pound per week. She had her first pediatrician’s appointment last Friday and she has gained nearly a pound since she was born, which is great! My tiny girl is growing up! We will go in for once weekly weigh-ins for the foreseeable future.
So this first week has been tough emotionally and physically. It doesn’t help that this time of year is the end of the fiscal year for many of MH’s clients and so it is extremely busy for him and he can’t get away. Because he’s having to go into work, my mom has been helping me with the 3am and 6am feedings, which is great but makes for a tired mommy and grandma! I can’t wait until he can help relieve my mom a bit.
At first I had been hesitant to have my mom come and stay for so long but now I can’t imagine her not here with us. She is planning to stay for as long as we need her and I have no idea when that will end 🙂 MH has been great with her too!! I can imagine how difficult it can be to have your mother in law around all the time and he is handling it all in stride.
The good news is that we all are getting into a routine and rhythm. It is getting easier and my anxiety is going down. It helps for me to nap during the day and it helps me to cry it out too! Being a mom is the hardest job I’ve held and I’ve had some challenging roles with a lot of responsibility in the past. This is the hardest and I know it will be the most rewarding when she is able to better interact.
Roo’s only fault is that she was born too early. I can’t wait for her little body and system to catch up! We have a beautiful and strong little girl on our hands an I can’t wait to see what joys life with her will bring us!