I woke up the next day honestly, feeling really good. I had to stay on oxygen for a little bit in the morning just until the local anesthesia was completely out of my system. The nurses got me up and out of bed around noon and I was finally able to go see my little boy. They wheeled me into the NICU and right around the second corner was this tiny little baby surrounded by a wall of machines helping him survive.
At first, I only had eyes for my sweet babe. He was so tiny, just weighing 3 pounds 4 ounces. He had so much hair and the cutest cheeks! He had, what seemed like, a bunch of wires attached to him. There was the oxygen, his feeding tube (which started in his mouth and was moved to his nose a few days later), his IV (which started in his hand, a PICC line would be put in the next day), and his leads which kept track of his heart rate, and respiratory rate, and his pulseometer which kept track of his oxygen levels. In the middle of all those tubes was my perfect little boy. He seemed so peaceful. We were told about the amount of oxygen he needed at the time, about what was going through his IV, something called TPN and LIPIDS. The nurses showed us where to look on his bed to see how hard it was working to keep his temperature where it needed to be. If we wanted to open the sides we needed to push a button that helped keep the warm in and the cold air out.
All of this information was heard but it didn’t really fully register. I just knew he was doing well and they were happy that they didn’t have to intubate him. That was the main thing I took away from that first time in the NICU, they were happy that he was breathing on his own and so was I. I wasn’t able to hold him, which was hard. I put my hand in and slid my pointer finger under his right hand. His hand was so small his fingers couldn’t wrap around the tip of my finger. I was smitten with him from the get go. He seemed comfortable and I felt confident that he was going to be ok. I called him by his name and told him I loved him then they wheeled me back to my room.
While in my hospital room I dealt a lot with answering texts or phone calls from family and friends. We had so many people reaching out to us to congratulate us and to offer their words of support and prayers for Jonathan. I lost count how many times I heard or read the phrase, we are praying for you. Hearing those words buoyed me up and helped me feel closer to my Savior. I was so touched and brought to tears over people’s kind words of support and encouragement. Little did I know, this was only the beginning of being on receiving end of such sweet acts of service.
Later, that night we went back to the NICU and I was able to hold my boy. The actuality of his size didn’t fully register until I was holding that three-pound body in my arms. I was amazed and how perfect he was. His full head of hair, his tiny beautiful eyelashes, his little fingers and toes. Everything was just so perfect. His sweet nurse asked if I had any questions, I honestly didn’t know enough at the time to know what to ask. All I could think of was, is he ok? She told me that he was and they were very happy with how well he was doing. That’s all I needed to know. I looked down at him again and just fell in love with my little guy. I called him by his name again and told him that mommy was here. He turned his head toward me and opened his eyes for just a moment. I knew, he knew I was there. I could only hold him for about 10 minutes because they didn’t want his temperature to drop too much. I handed him back to the nurse and she tucked him back into his bed.
During the remainder of my stay in the hospital we would go see Jonathan first thing in the morning, in the afternoon, and again before we went to bed. We would only hold him one of those times, and again for only a few minutes. They started feeding him so I started pumping. I pumped every two to three hours and the nurses would take my milk to the NICU and store it for Jonathan’s feedings. They fed him every three hours. They called them ‘care times’. They would change his diaper, check his vitals, and feed him through his feeding tube. They started out very small, just a few CCs at a time. They increased the amount of CCs every few hours. When they got to 20 CCs then the PICC line could come out. I began thinking and calculating how long that would take. That is what I focused on. Those few days in the hospital, my spirits were up and physically, I felt really good. I was even doing really well emotionally. Then the day came for me to be discharged and leaving was much harder then I had anticipated.
I was discharged in the morning. I was anxious to go home and see my girls. We loaded up the car and then we went to the NICU to see Jonathan. As soon as we walked around the corner it hit me, I was going to leave without him. How could I do that? How could I leave my baby there? I wanted to stay. I wanted to put all of our stuff back in my room and have things be the way they had been. How in the world could I be a 30-minute drive away from him? My heart was breaking. I opened the little door to his bed and placed my hand on his head. I told him I loved him and that I would miss him. Then Russ gave him a blessing. It was short but beautiful. He blessed him with speedy growth and health. I couldn’t hold back the tears. Jonathan’s sweet nurse came to see if everything was ok. I explained that I had just been discharged and leaving was harder than I thought. She wrote down his care times and gave me the number to the NICU. She said I could call anytime, day or night, to see how he was doing. We left and when we got to the car I sobbed uncontrollably. Russ did his best to console me but nothing changed the fact that I was leaving my baby and it was breaking my heart.