Geezaloo that last post was a downer. Thanks for your kindness, love, and most of all your prayers. You are the best. This NICU thing is yet another crucible, I'll tell ya, and I'm learning so much. Have you heard of Glennon at Momastery? Well, if you haven't she is a recovering alcoholic and bulimic and she is a Mom and an author. She captures so much about life so beautifully, and one of the best ideas about life she has expressed is the idea that life is "brutiful". Brutal and beautiful, and oh my goodness that describes the NICU perfectly. The NICU is absolutely brutiful.
Before Avery was in the NICU I would look at pictures of babies in the NICU kind of out of the corner of my eye, because it is a brutal sight. That tiny person, so incredibly fragile, all those wires and tubes and contraptions that look so uncomfortable and even painful. Now my daughter is one of those people in that brutal situation, and she is so beautiful. They all are. I can't say I don't notice the wires and tubes anymore, because I do, but they don't bother me because the job they do and the person they do it for are so beautiful.
Anyhoo, lessons I'm learning in the NICU:
1. It's Enough To Be Strong Enough to Try
When Avery was born she was intubated because she needs the help of a ventilator to breathe. We knew to expect this because babies born at 32 weeks aren't strong enough to breathe on their own. There are different levels of ventilator assistance and I was anxious to get that tube out of her throat. Talk about a brutiful sight. When she was a day old they decided to take out the tube and have her try a nasal cannula instead. I was over the moon! This was it, this was our first step forward towards bringing her home! It was progress and it was awesome! I blabbed it on facebook and went to bed feeling like this would all be over soon. In the morning I called to check in with Avery's nurses and found out she had been re-intubated. Cue tailspin. We were moving backwards! She wasn't strong enough! I really struggled that morning. It was such a disappointment because I thought we were Moving Forward. We've now been through the extubation/re-intubation cycle twice and this afternoon we may go through it again. What I've learned though, is that when she's re-intubated that's ok. Just the fact that they thought she was strong enough to try is a success. Just the fact that the neonatologist thought it was possible to try is positive. I see now that we will go through this forward and back many different times with many different procedures and that is ok. Our baby girl is learning how to live on her own, and that is a complicated and difficult process. Life is like that isn't it? Learning to live is hard work, even out of the NICU, even at 33 years old. Our little pixie can't even breathe on her own yet and she's already teaching her Mama an important lesson: Sometimes being strong enough to try is the success, even if the result looks like a failure.
*Since I first wrote this Avery is finally on the non-invasive ventilator! It took three tries and now she is doing well with it. Yay!
2. There Is Always Someone Who Has It Worse Than You
It's hard to see Avery all hooked up to monitors and the ventilator and the IV and the feeding tube. It's hard to see her in her "spaceship", which is what we call her isolette. It's so hard not to bring her home, but we will bring her home. There are some families in the NICU who will not bring their babies home. Avery just needs help to grow, to finish the work that should have been done in my belly, but she is not in immediate danger. Some babies in the NICU are very sick or very very premature and their homecoming is not the sure thing that Avery's is. This NICU thing is hard, but there are families who have it so much harder. There are families all over the world who have a babies at 32 weeks and there is no NICU to keep them alive until they can do it themselves. No matter how bad things are, someone out there--or just down the hall--has it worse.
3. Good Things Come To Those Who Wait