Welcome to Part 3 of the story. In My Little Miracle: Empty Handed Again, I talked about how I had to let my son go and go home without him... Now, comes the last leg of the journey.
Once my birthday passed, it was on to the next day and all days were difficult at this time. My son was in the NICU. Nothing happened like it was supposed to. I had just made rank, which is a big deal in the military, but I didn't really care. I couldn't enjoy it. Why? Because people said, "Your son's in the hospital? At least you made rank." Like seriously? How stupid could you be? My rank didn't matter right now. My son's life did.
I didn't have many struggles with the NICU compared to other people. My son was moved to a private room very quickly because he only needed oxygen and that was it. Now the goal was to wean him off of it and for him to maintain his oxygen levels on his own. But, this is where I met with the issues from this NICU.
First, when the doctor was briefing me on my son's vitals, my mom caught a nurse smuggling something to the trashcan. She pointed it out when everyone left because she though it was strange. I checked the trash and there were formula bottles wrapped in paper towels, which were empty. I looked where his stocked items were, and there was also a few more full bottles of formula there. You know what I wasn't briefed? I wasn't briefed that there was something wrong with my breastmilk which I woke up every couple hours to pump. My one and only connection to my son. The one thing I had control over. My one thing. Taken away.
Most people think it isn't a big deal, but it is. Some babies won't go back to breast milk after they've had formula. I was FURIOUS. I spoke with the nurse and threw a fit. She laughed like it was a joke. Claimed she didn't warm up enough and just supplemented. She tried making me seem crazy. But three empty bottles for a newborn who only takes 2 ounces at a time is not just supplementing. That's called being lazy to heat up some milk. I left pissed. Next day I came in, I found more. At this point I had had enough. I acted normal during this shift, waited at home and came in a time I normally didn't stop in. This time, without my mother. It was about to go down. NO stranger is going to take away the ONE thing I have for my son. My son who the nurses have held more than me. (Not because I didn't want to be there, but you cannot stay long in those environments.)
The head nurse worked the night shift. I told her everything. I was so upset. She was pissed too. But I noticed my son was no longer on oxygen! This was a great sign! She said he hadn't been on it for 10 hours! I was so surprised! The deal was, if he could go 48 hours maintaining his oxygen levels on his own, then he could go home. So I was counting down every hour and praying hard. She said she would stay late in the morning and talk to the team and get me new nurses. I was so grateful.
I came in the morning, same nurse and my son was back on oxygen. What the hell happened? I got no brief that day and once again I found formula bottles everywhere. WHAT THE HELL?! I came in again later that night and screamed at the night head nurse. She said that they had lied to her and said they would switch around. I could see that she was genuinely mad. The doctor had been brought in because one of the other babies was struggling, so we both waited and she brought her in. She showed me the notes on my sons file indicating that breast milk was on his file and also the nurse change. She was infuriated that nothing had changed. The doctor was also considerably upset because of how big of a deal this was. The doctor had strictly stated that my son was safe to NOT be on oxygen anymore and they should not have put him back on it because there were no notes indicating that he needed it. She checked all the records and there was no documented decrease in his oxygen levels that indicated he needed to go back on it. I told them both I expected a HUGE change for the next day and this to NEVER happen again.
Next thing you know, I go upstairs and my son was ready to go home. The doctor cleared him and they performed the car seat test for me. I was stunned. I was so surprised. They showed me all the records of him maintaining his oxygen to keep me from feeling they were pencil whipping things. I felt so amazing.
We wheeled him down, buckled him in the car, and my husband and I took him home.
I held him for hours. I put him in all the outfits I wanted. We passed him around and he was a happy newborn baby. I finally got the day I had been dreaming of.
We were HOME.
Of course I worried about his breathing, but he slept in his own room, in his crib. I felt so blessed.
A new world of stress came. Breastfeeding for real. Changing him. Crying. Everything. I WAS A MOM.
That NICU was a bad experience and I pray others don't go through that. Although they are "little" things compared to my son's life, I shouldn't have had to deal with it on top of everything else. But I made it through. The tears were worth it. We were and still are an amazing family.
However, I did later deal with Postpartum Depression and many more challenges which I plan on talking about. So, stay tuned! It was not easy to deal with and is very common in moms who get separated from their babies like that. Don't go far! Soon I will dive in to another difficult journey, but the point is... I'm still here and I'm doing great! So if you're going through it, don't give up!