Bringing A Child Home From The NICU
By: Heather Somaini
It was amazing bringing Tere and Izzy home. We still referred to her as “the girl” then. It was astonishing how long it took us to stop doing that. I guess it was hard to switch from thinking of them as embryos to full-fledged babies.
It was a Monday afternoon in March. My Mom had set us all up in the master bedroom with everything we needed so we could all sort of hunker down in there. My boss and his wife gave us the bassinette that all of their kids came home to so we kept Izzy in our bedroom for that first week. We really wanted her near us but I don’t recommend keeping a newborn in your bedroom. Izzy, and apparently most babies, move a lot when they sleep so I would essentially wake up every time she moved – which seemed like every fifteen minutes. I was terrified something would go wrong so I lay there listening to her move, listening to her breathe. She would be loud and then quiet and I was convinced she had stopped breathing and then I would get up and check. I’m sure I was a sight standing over this little baby trying to see her chest rise and fall, trying to be completely silent, listening. I’m so glad Tere never woke up to see that!
I was exhausted the next day and the next and the next. I went right back to work which I also don’t recommend. I should have taken a week or two off – it would have gone a long way to help Tere who had just gone through a ridiculously trying experience and needed my support more. Parents tell you about the lack of sleep but nothing prepares you for it actually happening.
It was amazing though to come home to almost all of my very new family every day. My Mom made sure we all ate well. I would get Izzy almost immediately and do whatever needed to be done. She would invariably spit up most of whatever I fed her and I soon started to worry that I was doing something wrong. Tere and my Mom kept telling me it never happened with them so it must be me. I was clearly holding her wrong, feeding her too fast, feeding her too slow…something! I was starting to really freak out when they decided to let me in on the joke: Izzy spit up a lot on everyone! Aren’t the people who love me the most fun?
I loved that we had a chance to spend time with one baby at home before trying two. It gave us time to practice. We realized quickly that babies sort of do whatever they want and if you go along with them, your life can be very challenging. We took Izzy everywhere. Every day we went and visited Free in the hospital and Tere and I took turns feeding him. We would hold the babies together, hoping that might help Free get stronger. Those NICU nurses were on a very intense schedule and if you missed your baby’s feeding every three hours, even if that just meant missing the big push of formula from a syringe into his feeding tube, you missed it. They ran on time like Swiss watches, like German trains –it was insane. It was a good thing though, as it set Free up for one of the best baby schedules EVER!
Now if we could just get Free home.