Sunday, November 20, 2011

My baby is in NICU

This is the narrative of my first visit to NICU, when I knew about the seizures, but not the stroke.

The entrance to the NICU is guarded.  They check our identification bracelets and let us in.  We pass 3 separate NICU rooms, turn a corner, pass the staff room, and face a closed room.  Just briefly pausing, my sister opens the door.

A large island counter blocks our way, so we awkwardly move my wheelchair out of the way so my sister can close the door.  Large mechanical incubators are pushed up against the walls. 

They look like they’re swallowing their babies.  Next to them are smaller machines beeping, demanding our attention.  

“Baby’s heart rate down.”  “Baby’s oxygen level low.”  “Baby’s having a seizure.”

My sister and I look around, trying not to look at the babies, afraid to see their pain, their loneliness in this cold, medicinal room.  I feel like I should know where my baby is by some mommy instinct, but I don’t.  I’m already failing in motherhood 101.  

“What are you doing here?”  Someone asks.  That’s what I hear, but I realize she asked if we needed help.

“I’m here to see my son.”

“What’s your name?”

My sister murmurs my name after she realizes I look confused.

“Right corner.”

“Baby’s heart rate down.”  “Baby’s oxygen level low.”  “Baby’s having a seizure.”

In a brightly lit corner, my son is being warmed by a machine simulating my heat.  My sister pushes me close and I can see him through the glass, sleeping.  He’s so tiny.  He can’t be sick.  It just isn’t right.  I reach out to touch him, but the nurse interrupts.

“You have to suit up.  He might have an infection.”

She hands us two paper gowns, two masks, and two pairs of gloves.  

How will my son recognize me?  At least he’s sleeping.  He won’t be scared of the giant yellow monster.  He’s on his back, but facing away from me.  I can’t see his face.  I can’t see his face! 

I wince through the pain and use the mechanical heating machine to support me as I stand up.  
His face looks so peaceful, but then he frowns.   

Where have you been mommy?  How could you leave me?

No.  I didn’t leave you.  I’m here.  I’m here my son.  

Look at what they did to me.  They hurt me.

His hand moves towards me and I realize that it’s splinted and a needle is stuck in his tiny little hand.  The same needle that hurt like crazy, when they stuck it in me yesterday, just in case they needed to medicate me for labor.  His needle is hooked up to an IV, half his size.  I wince, feeling his pain.  How did they get that thing in his hand?  

I look up at his face and realize that his little hat has a hole on top and a mass of wires are protruding from his head.  Suddenly a wining noise starts and I see that his other arm is attached to a blood pressure cuff.  It takes his blood pressure and beeps.  Are those numbers supposed to be normal?  I look down at his heart, a metal duck is stuck to his chest, with a wire attached.  As my eyes follow the wire, I see another wire stuck to my son’s foot.  It’s flashing a red light.  

I look back up to his face.   As if on cue, he frowns again.  Something bursts inside me and the dam overflows, flooding my face.  I don’t know why I’m crying.  I know that the wires are just monitoring him.  They don’t hurt.  He’s not on life support.  Yet I can’t stop the flood of tears streaming down my desperate face.  My sister starts to cry too.  We cry silently.  Trying to hide our tears from my sleeping son.  My son who cried when I yelped in pain yesterday.

It took 15 minutes before the nurse noticed our silent tears.  

“He’s okay.  He’s on medication to control his seizures, but otherwise he’s doing well.”

Words could not be formed.  I just nodded and continued to cry for another 15 minutes.  


  1. Replies
    1. I still feel the pain as if it were just yesterday. Maybe someday it will subside...


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