Andrey spent five days in the PSL NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). Three of those days in the level three NICU. The level three unit is the real deal NICU. It's where the sickest babies are. Machines are constantly beeping and alarms are going off. Nurses are checking and rechecking vitals. It's cramped and chaotic. We saw other parents come to visit their tiny and sick babies. They had to put their hands though small holes on an isolette to touch their children. They had been there weeks, some months. It's wonderful that this place exists, but you never want to be there. After three days she moved to the "graduated" NICU. Here, babies go to grow and get ready to go home.
On her second day in the NICU she had a MRI to assess the cystic hygroma. She needed to be sedated for this procedure, and that was really difficult to see. We were not allowed to follow her to the MRI, but we waited by the elevators to see her being wheeled back. I was a mess. When she came out of the elevators the nurse saw us sitting there and told us to give her five minutes before we reentered the NICU to see her. She assured us everything was fine, and it was. It took Andrey about 12 hours to come out of the anesthesia and that was tough. She had a feeding tube in, oxygen (just in case) and was hooked up to several machines. The results came in the next day and the surgeon said there was no need to do anything about the hygroma right now. We were so relieved that she wasn't going to have surgery yet.
Each day we went to visit her with a sad and heavy heart. I felt sorry for myself that my little girl was not well enough to be home with me. Upon entering the secure unit, my bad attitude changed from selfish demands to empathy for other families. Our girl was by far the healthiest baby in there. She was HUGE compared to other babies. She was breathing on her own. She was pink (most of the time, she did have two bouts of jaundice though). We were originally told by the Neonatologist that she would probably be in there until her due date. Nate and I mentally prepared ourselves to make the 40 minute drive everyday- trying to wrap our minds around how we would do it for 5 or more weeks. We got a call on December 23rd when we were about to walk out the door to the hospital. It was one of the nurses saying we could take Andrey home that day.
We were so thrilled and terrified at the same time. She was just 4lbs and 12oz at this point (but gaining really fast which is why they let us take her then). I didn't know if I was capable of taking care of her. I had never been with her without a staff of highly trained people around us. About three hours later, we left for the hospital. I needed to clean my ceiling fans, vacuum everything, wash baby clothes. I needed to panic and pray.
I'm incredibly grateful for the NICU staff. I'm grateful she only spent five days in the NICU.
I'm just, grateful.