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Five Weeks and a Day - A NICU Story - Day 15

Day 15 - August 28, 2014


I returned to work yesterday. My boss, who happens to be my dad, has been flexible and understanding, working hard to rearrange schedules and provide coverage. There was no expectation for me to return to work at thirteen days postpartum, but I knew that as soon as I was physically and emotionally recovered enough to go back, I needed to, because I had no PTO saved up for maternity leave. Therefore, once LoLa is eventually discharged, I’ll need to start my real maternity leave at that point.


I have the good fortune to work with hardworking, caring and supportive people. My friend and coworker Kelly picks up so much extra duty to cover me when I have to take pump breaks every 2 hours between patients. I have drafted a letter for patients to see when they come in regarding our situation and the need for me to schedule around those sessions, of which everyone is understanding. Patients constantly check in and ask how everything is going. Sometimes I offer a breezy, “Good, thanks!” And usually that’s the truth. But sometimes, especially the patients who catch me after I’ve received the morning update from the doctor, get a teary, worried confession. People are incredibly supportive and invested, for which I could not be more grateful.

My rigorous pumping schedule. I needed to see it in writing to conceptualize the logistics.

After a short night’s sleep which is interrupted by pumping and a NICU check-in call at 3:00 am, I re-awaken at 5:30 am to pump again so that I can get ready for work to be there at 6:30 to open the clinic. I see patients until lunch when I might be able to squeeze in a workout and pump, get some documentation done and get ready for afternoon patients. Finally it’s almost 8:00 pm when I rush home, feed the dogs and make dinner. My mom has dropped off casseroles, etc. but on nights where planning and cooking are up to me, it will soon prove to be too overwhelming to deal with. Eventually, dinner will be provided by my running club. The members of S.W.I.F.T. - Strong Women in Fitness Together will set up a meal train for us, delivering hot meals three days a week. My best friends, to people who hardly know me, and everyone in between will bring dinner, soup to nuts. I am humbled to tears by this.


We feel perpetually incomplete and out of place. The only place I know I feel whole is when my child is in my arms, but the longing to bring her home is intensifying by the day.

After we hurriedly gobble our dinner, we rush to the hospital to try to make 9:00 pm care. We spend an hour, two at most, and rush home for sleep. This schedule will wear us down. We feel guilty no matter where we are. When we are at work, we feel the pull of the NICU. When at the NICU, we feel bad the dogs are home without exercise or affection. We feel perpetually incomplete and out of place. The only place I know I feel whole is when my child is in my arms, but the longing to bring her home is intensifying by the day, as is the exhaustion.



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