Been a rough couple of weeks in the NICU. Anne Marie is fine but unfortunately three babies have died. Anytime a baby dies the whole staff is devastated, as are all the parents. It’s a big ICU but a small world back there. We all get to know each other’s baby and baby’s condition.
George was a baby everyone got to know. He was there for three weeks, seemingly in what they call the feed and grow stage. That’s where a baby is doing fine and only needs to eat and get bigger.
Out of nowhere George got sick. His issue quickly escalated and sadly he passed away.
His death was troubling for a lot of reasons. We spoke to George’s parents a few times. Saw them the day before this happened, they were excited he was moving to a private room and then again after the surgery when they were clinging to hope. It’s a commodity in the NICU, hope is.
The big fear for all the other parents back there; George was fine a day before it all happened. Makes no sense, and I can tell you from recent experience these things never do. But that scares every parent back there. We look into our Iso-boxes with a little more concern after George.
Not seeing George’s Iso-box across from Anne Marie’s the next day was a huge gut punch. As we have learned in the past two months, this is life in the NICU. The emotional roller coaster is hard to describe. You want to be excited that your baby is doing well, but you don’t want to be too public about your excitement for fear that some parents have just lost or are about to lose a child. When your baby is not doing well, you have no recognition of anyone else in the room.
So it was with fright that I answered a phone call from the NICU early this past Wednesday morning and Anne Marie’s doctor was on the other end. Anne Marie was gray, breathing very shallow, lethargic and completely unresponsive. Like George she was fine the day before. She was just moved to a private room and we were transitioning into the feed and grow stage.
By the time we got there her color had improved but she was a rag doll, completely limp. The fact that her feeding tube and nose canula (breathing apparatus), was being held in place by only one measly sliver of tape was the big clue she was out of it.
A few rounds of anti-biotics, fluids, and some blood and she is right as rain again. What a difference a day makes. They have no idea what the issue was.
Anne Marie is now 3 pounds 10.5 ounces, at last measurement 16 1/2 inches long, enjoying her private room, as are her parents, and getting to spend a lot of time out of the box with mom and dad.
Interesting thing I learned about preemies during kangaroo care. Toenails and fingernails grow immediately, while eyelashes, eyebrows, nipples (boy or girl) all grow at the end of the pregnancy. I know this now because the last time she was stuffed down my shirt she dug in, hard.
Besides some superficial wounds to my man-breasts, we’ve had some quality time lately. She and I rocked out to Route 66 by Chuck Berry on Friday night. Apparently the girl has some soul.
We are encouraged but guarded in our hope. Say a prayer for George’s parents if you’re so inclined. Another oddity of the NICU, parents tend to take on the name of their baby. So I can’t tell you what their names are, and I’m not sure I would print them in this setting if I knew. No worries, pray anyway, God knows who they are.
Some of you may have heard or read about an interview Tracy did for a fundraising event called Evening in Orange. That event ended about 5 minutes ago (9:34pm eastern, Saturday, 12 May). Just got a call that the event raised almost a million dollars for the NICU at University of Tennessee Medical Center. That’s some quality work right there. Of course my wife was brilliant in the video.
The emotional roller coaster ride continues.
Thank you for posting this, it is very insightful, I was blessed that my daughter was born without complications and so know nothing about the NICU. I’m grateful for your pressence of mind in writing this, I don’t know how else to describe what I heard from you…but i’ll try because i enjoy overwriting, it sounds like stillness, like the space between an inhale and the exhale. There’s hopeful practicality in your prose, an honesty that I appreciate reading. George’s family and yours as well will be in my prayers tonight.
Thanks Jes! very kind of you to say. Appreciate all the prayers we can get.
Oh my. How tiny Anne Marie is. I will light a candle for you and yours, and for the other babies in there.
She’s right as rain alright – and blessed to have the parents our Lord gave her.
…and we’re blessed that she’s here with us.
Love you guys…
Thanks man. You angling for another T-shirt? =P
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