I am supposed to be writing, but, uh, ummmm… Muffin. Every time I have tried to touch my computer or be productive in any way today, she has intervened. Now, I hear a lot of clanking & clinking sounds from the living room, and not one of them sounds like the clankings and clinkings of any item belonging to her. They sound a lot more like the future “mysterious” disappearance of my keys, phone, and all remotes. As always, in the case of remotes, the batteries will be hid separately. But at least she is happy & finally letting me write. Hooray!
A friend of a friend of mine had her beautiful 31 weeker yesterday, after attempts to reign in that nasty bitch named Preeclampsia ended in an emergency c-section. I will be the first to admit that I have zero experience with preeclampsia or c-section, but I imagine it’s a monumental pile of suck, from one end to the other. I was the healthiest pregnant woman that has ever lived, right up until my baby got bored and stomped on the escape hatch 12 weeks early, for absolutely no other reason than she could. (I am taking this verbatim from the doctors. No really! I *totally* am! Total scientific, doctory lingo, from their lips to your eyes! Tee-hee!!) Point is, every NICU family has a completely unique experience for how they came into the NICU, but there are a few things that aren’t unique at all. The non-unique is what I need to talk about today.
First on the docket of non-unique NICU stuff, is the 3 minute scrub-in. Wait– no. Let’s back up. First on the list is right after they cut the cord, stabilize baby as best they can, with the intensity and urgency normally reserved for horrific traffic accidents, and whisk baby away. This was not the “glorious” moment I had pictured, wherein a new mom brings life to the world and everybody is joyful and congratulating the proud new parents. I was pretty well stoned from the epidural & whatever else they’d stuck in my arm, at this point, so emotionally I was about as tuned in as an orange, but I did at least want to SEE my baby. Which was apparently a ridiculous thing? I am not saying I was treated poorly– I was not. I have nothing but awe and respect for borderline magical talents of all the people involved in the birth and our time in the NICU, but apparently things were so serious and so dire with my baby, that even taking one second to let me look at her would have been a frivolous waste. There was no iconic “victory lap” pic of a sweat-drenched yet glowing new mother holding her prize, in my case, and I’m guessing not for you either. That’s kind of a pisser. In fact, one of the reasons I want a second child, is just for this pic. Just for the experience of a birth that nobody is horrified is happening, you know? How messed up is that? But anyway, this blog is not about my somewhat alarming need for professional help, so on we go.
So, NEXT most non-unique thing about the NICU is the 3 minute scrub-in. If the entire team of people in the delivery room working like mad to stabilize your baby didn’t scare the crap out of you (assuming you didn’t poo on the bed during delivery), then the reality of what you are walking into will hit you right at the sink. Most people, until they’ve been inside a NICU, think it is just a happy-sweet-cute nursery filled with happy-sweet-cute premie babies– which granted– isn’t 100% untrue. If the rare person ever gives any thought to what happens in a NICU, they probably just remember the meme of the premie twins cuddling in the same bed and get filled top to bottom with warm fuzzies. Again– not 100% off target, but we’re a long way from the bullseye. In the 3 minutes spent removing what you used to believe were necessary layers of skin, you have plenty of time to think about WHY you are disinfecting yourself up to the elbows. And if you aren’t thinking about that, the nurse will be there teaching you exactly why you need to be thinking about that. The “why” is actually still so big and scary to me, that I don’t feel it will be of any support or service to talk about it here with you. You know exactly why you dressed yourself with burning hot clothes out of the dryer, refused to let other children, pets, or people touch you until after your visit, why you are alcohol-wiping down your igloo-cooler & your purse, and why other NICU parents who aren’t holding themselves to these standards make you almost violently angry. I don’t have to tell you the why on any of that, but any of us who have been through it won’t bat an eye the day you wig out and change lanes in the grocery store because the cashier is touching her nose too much. We get it.
I want to wrap this up on a happier note (THANK GOD), so my final non-unique moment is non-unique to NICU parents as well as non-NICU parents. The time you’ve been waiting for this moment is different for every parent, but the actual moment, when it gets there, is the same. This is the first time you hold your baby. Okay– so your particular moment is cluttered up with 15 different cables and cords, and everything outside of exactly what is going on in that exact instant is all banged up & bruised– but who the hell cares, it is your baby and you are holding it. That moment is perfect no matter what, and needs no explanation.
Until next nap time,
PS: Muffin is now doing a victory dance, waving around the dismembered remains of the tv remote. I see where the batteries *used to* be…