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Five Weeks and a Day - A NICU Story - Days 4 & 5

Updated: Oct 2, 2021

I have missed a few days here as our home took a direct hit by the EF2 tornado caused by Hurricane Ida. (Photos on my IG: @provenancewellnesspt) I am still without internet but we are back online with power thanks to the tireless work of amazing guys from Holland Power Services out of Canada and Maine. The community response has been incredible, and I trust our local officials are working on solutions to get the kids back in school (two schools were horribly damaged and are unusable for the foreseeable future), as well as provide The necessary resources the residents here need.

We are incredibly grateful for the way friends and family have come together and surrounded us in their care and support, JUST as they did seven years ago while we were enduring the difficulties I write about in this blog series. We were humbled then, and are humbled now, by the incredible selflessness and generosity of spirit of our loved ones, of acquaintances, and of strangers alike, who all came together then, just like they are now, to help a family in need.


Day 4 - August 17, 2014

LoLa at bath time. She is so skinny and small, and looks even smaller without all the apparatus. It looks like the IV is hurting her arm which bothers me. She is taking about

4 to 6 milliliters at a time of my milk through her NG tube.


Day 5 - August 18, 2014

24 hours in the NICU is a lifetime. In 24 hours, everything can change. We arrived to LoLa's isolette to find the same nurse we'd had the previous day. A few days earlier, we'd arrived with a cooler full of milk. The nurses were so impressed! 'WOW! Look at your supply! Great job, mama!' they gushed. Today, upon our arrival, this nurse asked where our milk delivery was. I hadn't brought any. I was under the impression from earlier reactions that we'd built a stash. Well, in just 24 hours, she'd increased her feeds from 6 ml to 11, nearly doubling in her daily intake. The nurse asks how often I am pumping.

Every 2-3 hours... maybe sometimes I am taking a longer break...

She nonchalantly informs me that I really should be pumping every 2 hours to establish and maintain supply. And that I'd need to pump. Now. But..that wasn't the plan. I don't have my pump parts with me, they're at home. The plan was for Sean to hold LoLa skin to skin. He's been a father for five days and never held his child. This was supposed to be his moment.

This was NOT THE PLAN. NONE of this was the PLAN. I lose it. The nurse, the casual suggestion that I am slacking on pumping, the disappointment that my baby's father goes another day without holding her in his arms, the driving back and forth, the exhaustion, the emotion... it suddenly hits me all at once. I lose it. I feel the sting behind my eyes, my throat tightening, the skin on my chest and face start to warm... I excuse myself to the bathroom and sob. How are we supposed to keep doing this for another month, maybe two? Where are we going to find the strength and energy? Am I going to be able to keep pumping and providing enough milk? What happens if I slack? Will my milk go away? I collect myself and wash my face with cold water. I curse my fair Irish complexion, I can never hide that I've been crying. My eyes were already bloodshot; all the blood vessels around my eyes and eyelids broke during labor with pushing. Add redness and puffiness and I look like I went several rounds with a prize fighter.

This was NOT THE PLAN. NONE of this was the PLAN.

I return to her bedside, fake a smile and avoid the nurse. Sean tells me there’s a new plan: he says he’s going home to get my pump parts, and while he is gone, I will hold LoLa. He will not take no for an answer. He makes sure I am okay and heads out. I am overwhelmed by his selflessness. He leaves. The nurse apologizes for upsetting me, which I appreciate. I hold LoLa for an hour and she tolerates it well with few episodes of desaturation. We return in the evening for a second visit and learn that due to hyperbilirubinemia, she will need phototherapy. Once she starts that, she can only be out of the isolette once a day at most for 30 minutes. If we miss our window, we can’t hold her.

We continue taking it 24 hours at a time...


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