Yes, I know. We’re on Nyana time. She’ll tell us when she’s ready. Her due date is still two days away. There’s nothing I can do to help her breathe easier or make the time go faster. I know all of this. It doesn’t mean I have to like it.
When you’re living in the NICU, you cling to milestones and you immediately focus your attention on the next one as soon as the sun has set on the one you just celebrated. In the first few days here, I focused all of my energy on that back nursery where the healthy babies were cared for, that room just down the hall from the special care nursery where we live. And then on Day 12, she was intubated. Knowing there was no way we were being upgraded to our room with a view for as long as she had that machine breathing for her, I shifted my attention to our new milestone: extubation.
It’s been ten days now and the removal of her breathing tube is a blip in the rear-view mirror. I’m back to waiting for that room with a view. For the past three months I’ve watched other babies come and go through our critical care nursery, knowing they were transferred to the intermediate nursery on their way towards being discharged. There was a core group of five babies—Nyana plus four others—who were born within two weeks of each other and all spent three or four weeks together in the critical nursery. Over the course of about a week, Don and I watched as one by one, the other four families graduated to that back room, that room down the hall where the healthy babies go. We congratulated the parents on reaching their milestone and went back to cheering on our Chub-chub in spot #4.
I should clarify that the nursery I’m pining for doesn’t actually have a view; it’s actually quite a cramped room and I believe it has windows with blinds that open onto cinder blocks. The back room I’m dreaming of won’t give Nyana better care than what she’s getting now; in fact, I’ve been warned that the nurses aren’t as highly skilled in this intermediate nursery. The spot we’re in, in the nursery that we’re in, is actually the best place to be these days. It’s been quiet as of late, which allows Nyana to get as much sleep as she needs to grow those little lungs of hers. Because the nursery is where all the critical babies are first treated, there is tons of space around each crib and isolette—intended of course for a crowd of doctors and nurses and RTs, but perfect for dancing and burping a crying baby.
But it’s not about getting into that intermediate nursery so much as it’s about getting out of the one where the sickest babies are. It’s a mental victory more than it is a medical one, and even though it’s been only ten days since she started on her new phase of healing, I’m already anxious to pass this next milestone, this moment I’ve been waiting 87 days for: graduation to the intermediate nursery.
I’m told it will happen tonight or tomorrow, that it’s merely a bureaucratic delay keeping us here in the critical nursery. An extra baby in the back room means an extra nurse is needed there. But there is a family in a private room going home today, which means one of our group in the back room moves into the private room in preparation for discharge. This leaves a opening in the intermediate nursery for Nyana without needing to bring on an extra nurse to care for her. Assuming all goes well, we should be reunited with our friends by the morning.
I know it probably doesn’t sound like it, but given my lack of patience for nearly everything else, I am doing an excellent job being patient. I know there’s nothing I can do but wait, and even though I’m tired of waiting, I’ll sit back patiently and continue waiting. Every day here in the NICU—whether in the critical care or the intermediate nursery—is one day closer to home. And for that, I’ll wait as long as it takes.