Can you believe it’s been two months since Nyana was born? Nine weeks into our roller coaster ride, Monday marked the beginning of Week #10 as a NICU family. If we’re using mid- to late-January as a target for release (which, of course, is nothing more than non-scientific speculation), this would mean we have ten weeks left at BC Women’s. To look at it with a schoolyard perspective, we’ve finally made it to Humpday.
Having the most tenure in the nursery does come with its privileges, of course. For example, Nyana’s still the first and only in our nursery to have received her two month immunizations. I stood over her crib yesterday and comforted her as two nurses—one of them double-fisting with a needle in each her right and her left—vaccinated her from Hepatitis B, IPV, meningitis, and a whole host of other diseases.
Being two months old and just two ounces shy of six pounds, Nyana is also the only one in the Special Care Nursery to have outgrown the Neobar that holds the ventilator tube in place. Well, she’s the only one in the room to be on the ventilator at all, but I digress. She outgrew the bar that was stuck to her face, and that meant they needed to remove it and replace it. I had a small window of time to grab the camera. She handled the procedure very well with minimal need for additional oxygen—which is hovering around 45% these days—and was rewarded with a two-hour cuddle with Mum.
We’re the parents who get to walk around like we own the place, feeling comfortable enough to change a diaper or reposition Nyana or turn off a feeding pump when it’s done, without needing to consult with a nurse first. We’re the parents with two primary nurses while most new families are just hearing about what a primary nurse is. We’re the ones who can confidently tell our nurse or our RT that “she likes…” this or that, and know that we’re right, because after two months, we know Nyana.
But being the veteran isn’t all fun and games.
It also means that we’re the only ones whose whiteboard says September, and that we get to watch as babies born weeks after Nyana are getting better and moving on. The Smug Parents were the family closest in age to us, with a birthday a week after Nyana’s, and they were moved to the intermediate nursery today. The parents we get along with the best were also moved today to the intermediate nursery, just minutes behind the Smug Parents. We’re the ones who are left looking around the room full of bewildered new parents, trying to give them empathetic smiles, while at the same time trying not to hate them, knowing that their 36-weeker with jaundice will be home in a week.
It’s easy to feel like I’m spinning my wheels on this ventilator issue, and I need to stop and remind myself that nearly every parent in the NICU is hung up on just one issue, just one part of their baby that just doesn’t work quite right and is keeping them in hospital. For Nyana it’s her lungs. There’s a baby in the back nursery who’s just not tolerating his feeds and can’t gain weight. Another has been back and forth from CPAP to biphasic to room air and back again for weeks. I was resentful of forlorn parents that just moved in beside us yesterday with their fat, full-term baby, until I overheard “difficult delivery” and “unknown brain damage”, and a nurse the other night told us a story of a family who just brought their 18-month old son to visit, a previous 24-weeker who spent a year in the NICU. Nyana took a gamble arriving this early and was dealt crappy lungs, who knows how long she’ll be here for.
We all have an unknown road ahead. Every parent, whether their baby is here for a night or a year, would rather be at home, without the nurses and the fluorescent lighting and the beeping machines. I keep saying that I know we’re on Nyana’s time now, and that that’s OK by me. I’m finally starting to believe it… as long as it happens in the next 10 weeks.