It’s been two years since we left NICU and brought our newborn home for the very first time, over six weeks after she was born. But, the feelings surrounding our NICU journey are still very raw. The date we brought our baby home is as memorable to me as a birthday or any other significant life event!
Last year as her first birthday approached I was consumed with thoughts about NICU, ECMO and blood sugars. It was emotional. A happy occasion but emotional nonetheless. I was happy that despite all we went through, we have a (mostly) healthy, bright and beautiful baby that we are intensely proud of. Actually, I feel that EVERY day; but possibly more so around her birthday. I felt sad that I didn’t get to take my baby home, like I should’ve, and have all the usual fusses first time parents do. Instead, my life was ruled by sats, obs, BMs, NGTs as well as countless other medical acronyms I had to learn. But, yet I remained thankful that she was here and I was able to learn about all these amazing things that contributed to saving her life whilst we watched her improve. I felt overwhelmingly grateful on a multitude of levels. I still do. How wondrous ECMO is! How lucky we are to know so much about genetics and thus ensure she gets 100% the best care possible. But, I guess the thing that I was not expecting to feel and that rather took me by surprise, was the feeling of extreme nervousness. I felt like any minute now she would be taken away from me. It’s inexplicable really, and completely irrational, but all the same nerves I had when she was born came rushing back and I feel them creeping up on me again this year too.
I guess there’s no time frame when it comes to healing after a traumatic experience. Surviving NICU was one of the hardest yet happiest times of my life and I expect all these feelings will resurface each year. It will always be a part of who I am now and this year I’ve kind of accepted that. I think it’s something that never leaves you but gets easier each day. Watching your brand new baby very nearly die still haunts me but being amazed by her every single day now takes precedence.