Three and a Half Years Is Too Long

TRIGGER WARNING: THIS DEALS WITH THE NICU

Ever have one of those days that make you stop and wonder how you have made it through since a certain moment?  When one little thing triggers you and you end up doing nothing but reliving events that truly were your own fault that hurt someone you loved?

I rarely, if ever, think about the time Glade spent in the NICU.  I don’t like to think about her birth at all, if I can help it.  I don’t like to think about any of my births.  But, that NICU stay is always pushed to the very back of my mind, and whenever I even remotely think about it, I am up for hours crying.

When my friend had her baby, I went to visit her in the hospital that night and got off on the wrong floor.  The elevator doors opened and just as I remembered, there was the door to the NICU.  Everything was exactly the same.  The camera was pointed down, the door was closed, there are no windows inside to peek.  I didn’t see any of the equipmentor or the families or babies or nurses, and yet I felt like I couldn’t breathe.

I remember every detail.  The giant sink you had to wash and sanitize in.  Which room she was in.  How many wires, the monitors, the chair, the isolette.  The charts on the wall, the beeps of the room as they monitored her heart and lungs and temperature.  I even remember the curtains they had, and the color blankets she used.  I remember every detail of the nurses and the rooms, but I don’t remember much of how Glade looked or did or how I felt when I held her.

I am so ashamed of how I handled Glade’s NICU stay.  I was never there.  Any chance we got, we were out of that hospital.  The first week of Glade life, I barely even saw her.  I couldn’t stand watching them prick her.  I couldn’t stand to see her so lifeless because she didn’t have the oxygen to move around.  I couldn’t stand seeing the bruises on her body from the version and the cesarean.

So, I avoided it.  I was there for when I needed to pump every three hours (which was actually done in my room a floor above the NICU) and I saw her when I went and put the milk in the freezer.  I never stayed long.  I truly felt so useless.

I had never even heard of the word NICU until Glade was life-flighted.  I didn’t know they existed, and I truly didn’t know that my child would need one.

As I ran out of the building after seeing that door for the first time in over three years, I stood outside for twenty minutes because even just the smell of the hospital had me feeling dizzy.  I knew that it would affect me, but I had no idea it would be that bad.

She was in there for five days.  With how much oxygen she needed, and how her jaundice levels were, it was amazing she was able to leave that soon.  She was tiny, and she went home on oxygen, but she was able to go home for the first time at a week old.  I know so many people that spent so much longer in there.

My daughter is healthy and alive and thriving because of that NICU, so why is the memory of it so traumatic?  Why is something that should be a happy memory, something that leaves me shaking and terrified?

How do you deal with the anxiety of something that happened over three years ago, and didn’t realize that it was still this bad?  How do you deal with something that you have suppressed, but now realize that it scares you more than so many other things?

How do you stop the nightmares that will come from remembering?

I’m not ungrateful.  I truly am so glad for what they did for her.  I still am so impressed with her stay and how we were treated.  I still love her nurses and doctors.  I am so thankful that Glade is here and doesn’t have any issues.

Yet, how do I deal with the regret that my choices and my ignorance are the reason she ended up alone in a cold place being poked and prodded alone?  If I am able to get pregnant again, and if I end up delivering prematurely, how am I going to be okay if another one of my children needs to stay in the NICU?

Because of my choices and completely trusting instead of researching, my daughter took the brunt of all of it.

My daughter, so tiny and precious, was bruised for weeks, had oxygen and regular tests, and I don’t know how to be okay with it.

How do you get over a NICU stay?  Even a good one?