Lydia spent about two weeks in the Level 2 NICU, and I spent as much time with her there as possible. NICU life is a unique experience, and you kind of have to approach it in the way that is right for you. That approach will be different for everyone. For me, I needed to be with my baby. After the surprise of her diagnosis, I quickly found out that if I just stayed in my own room, my mind would race through all the “what if” scenarios it could come up with. Fear of the future and despair would overcome me. But if I was with Lydia, I could focus on living in the moment, getting to know her, and developing our relationship—which was much more healthy and positive for me.
Dan had saved up a week of vacation for the baby’s birth so he could watch the other kids while I focused on the baby. As it turned out, he spent much of that week with me in the NICU, getting to know our daughter and familiarizing ourselves with her needs. We are incredibly fortunate to currently live close to both sets of our parents (after living out of state for the majority of our marriage), and the grandparents took over watching our boys while we spent time at the hospital. The opportunity to spend those critical first days together with Dan and Lydia was incredibly healing and strengthening, and will forever be one of the greatest gifts anyone could have given us at this time.
I have always felt profoundly grateful for my labor and delivery nurses, but I tell you what, those NICU nurses who cared so well for us for those two weeks have a special place in my heart!! Because I spent so much time in the NICU, I got to know many of the nurses very well. They taught me how to care for Lydia in the NICU environment, they offered medical knowledge and advice, they provided me with educational books and resources and with baby supplies. They offered me friendship, comfort, and respect. They taught me how to stand up for myself and advocate for my daughter. They celebrated our victories with us and helped us come up with solutions to challenges. They bathed my daughter, put bows in her hair, created artistic signs for her bed, and carefully picked out her bedding and clothing. They watched over her day and night with love. I will always remember our nurse Amy saying in a moment of casual conversation with me, “Do these parents know how much we love their babies?!” Oh Amy, I know, and my mama heart is forever grateful!! My heart is so full when I think of those beautiful people who truly helped us during that crazy time.
My boys had long awaited the new baby, and it was hard for them to not be able to see her immediately! Not to mention having Mom gone so much. They were such patient little troopers, and watching them meet and love on their new sister that first time was something special. I know they will be the best big brothers to her!
There were so many hard things about the NICU, but so many beautiful things, as well. As I look back, I feel tenderness for that time and place and those who shared it with us. It was such a sacred time of growing closer to Lydia, closer to each other as a couple and family, and closer to God.