Can you briefly tell us about your NICU experience? 

My daughter was born at 34 weeks. It was a somewhat planned induction. My water broke Sunday and I was induced Friday. Elle Marie spent 5 days in the NICU. They couldn’t control her blood sugar levels and her bilirubin levels were high. 

What was the hardest part about your NICU stay? How did you cope?

 I can honestly say the hardest part was her being 45 minutes away. I thank God every day for her NICU team. The first night I checked on her she was aspirating. The nurse was not checking on her. She fed her, laid her down and walked away. It’s by chance I walked in at that moment. I had her moved. I may have been a first-time mom but my child deserved better care if I couldn’t be there. I instructed the charge that that nurse was not to be near my child and they adhered. Every night at about 3am the nurse in charge called me to update me. She placed me on a feeding schedule so she knew I would be awake. I had a routine. I arrived at the hospital by 9am each morning and left by 9pm each night. Structure took away the worry. And know her nursing team supported my decisions helped. 

Did this experience teach you anything about yourself? Your family?   

I learned I am stronger than I knew. I went through this pregnancy without knowing if I would lose my child. My siblings were definitely supportive, but I stood in this fight alone. I wasn’t catered to or cared for. I fought every day for Elle’s life and continue to do so. 

Do you think that your NICU experience had an effect on the way that you raised (or are raising) your child and subsequent children?  

Definitely, maybe to a fault. I never took no for an answer but patience has finally become a virtue. Kindness comes first. Had I been an angry belligerent mom I’m sure I wouldn’t have received the quality-of-care Elle deserved. She’s 3 now and I have a tenderness with her I didn’t know existed. I listened to her medical team’ advice. They said she was strong willed and I had to be patient with her. They definitely didn’t lie. 

What advice would you give to parents who currently have a child in the NICU?

 They are in the best situation for them at this moment even if it’s hard for you. Find the peace in your one-on-one moments with your baby. Once they are home anxiety may take over. Those long days and nights snuggling your little one will provide a peace for when they’re 3 screaming in the middle of the floor because their cookie broke. 

What’s the one thing that you wished you had known at the start of your NICU Journey?  

 Take a moment for myself. From the moment I was cleared to walk, I was at her bedside. Looking back, I should’ve rested more. My nurse forced me at one point to stay in my room because I had just given birth and refused to leave her side. I needed rest to be 100% for her. 

Is there anything else that you want to add?    

I was a threat to miscarry most of my pregnancy due to a SCH. Every day from 10 weeks to 26, I held my breath praying the clot in the toilet wasn’t my child. Not to mention Hyperemesis gravidarum the entirety of my pregnancy until that Sunday I was admitted after my water broke. She’s a blessing I will never take for granted. 

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