I keep getting messages on Instagram as to why Louise is still in the NICU, especially when she look so big and healthy. So I wanted to share a quick update on her health and when she might be coming home. (Warning: I am a tad emotional as I write this.)
We are so thankful that Louise has had a pretty smooth NICU experience over the past nine weeks. But most preemies who have reached 39 weeks gestation are probably home or almost home at this point. For some reason, though, Louise is taking her time. She still requires oxygen supplementation and is only finishing about 20% of her bottles, thus requiring the feeding tube to give her the rest of her milk. (The oxygen and feeding go hand in hand: she needs the oxygen so she doesn’t get so fatigued while eating.)
They will consider sending Louise home on oxygen, but they will not send her home until she starts finishing all of her bottles (or breastfeeds for a minimum of 15 minutes) for all of her eight feedings, for several days straight. The nurse practitioner told me today that she estimates another 2-3 weeks before that happens, which left me so deflated. I don’t know why I had it in my mind she might be coming home at the end of next week, right before she hit her due date. (Because that’s what daughters of Type A people do: they meet their goals ahead of schedule – ha!).
I know two or three more weeks might not seem like a lot to most, but the multiple trips to the hospital each day, the mental energy it takes to find sitters and carpool rides, the stresses that come with a new school year, managing a small business, children who make you feel guilty for leaving “all the time,” and getting up in the middle of the night to pump is all getting to be too much. Not to mention a husband you rarely see because we are like two ships passing in the night. He gets home from work; I go to the hospital. I get home; he goes to the hospital. After one of us being in the hospital since May, I just long for our lives to get (somewhat) back to normal.
And as Louise gets bigger (she is now 6 pounds, 12 ounces – praise the Lord!), it becomes almost unbearable to leave her in her tiny plastic hospital crib every night. Can you imagine leaving your baby every night in a stark hospital room with constant beeps and alarms and poking and prodding? It’s not natural to go home each day without her.
Don’t get me wrong, the nurses and doctors are amazing, but I am ready to take care of her on my own. To have her in my bedroom, in her bassinet. If I didn’t have three other children I would certainly be up there most of the day. But I do…so I can’t. I envy the first time moms that have the luxury of doing that…
Now, having written all that, let me give myself a little pep talk: I want what’s best for Louise. I have had a child with serious feeding problems before (talked about that in my previous baby update) and do not want to repeat that if at all possible. If Louise staying in the hospital another 2-3 weeks will avoid those same problems, I will do it joyfully. Actually, I need to pray for God to give me joy while doing it because I want to do these “hard things” without complaining and without losing sight of the precious gift that she is to all of us.
Thank you again for your continued prayers for our little Louise. My husband and I are so thankful and humbled to have so many faithfully pray for her this past summer. We can’t wait to celebrate her homecoming soon!