Our baby was small — really small. We had extra scans and tests, but when he dropped below the first percentile, we knew he would probably have to join us early in order to grow. We weren’t expecting me to be admitted to the hospital nine weeks before my due date with superimposed pre-eclampsia, though.
As scary as that was, the thought of having a baby at 32 weeks was even more frightening. UPMC Hamot employees were kind and gracious in explaining my options and possible outcomes, but what made us feel the best was a visit from the head doctor of the NICU, Dr. Balsan. At this point, I was a ball of nerves and terrified, but he kindly listened to every concern and assured me it would be okay. I know he sat with us way longer than anticipated, but he continually assured us that he and his staff were ready to handle it and would walk us through each step.
Connor joined us by an emergency C-section at 32 weeks at 2 lbs 14 oz. He was breathing on his own but needed some support still. So he went straight to the NICU.
I’ll never forget his first nurse. He was calm and gentle and allowed us space to breathe, cry, and absorb the chaos that seemed all around us.
Connor spent seven weeks at the NICU and came home one week before his due date. He had no significant complications during his stay there, but he certainly took his time and gave his mom a few scares along the way, especially as he learned how to keep himself warm when transitioning into the open-air crib. Every alarm was terrifying for this new mom, but the nurses helped him make it through.
I went to the NICU every day for hours at a time. Being there for so long, we were fortunate enough to get to know the nurses, who are indeed angels in uniform. They were taking care of more than Connor; they cared and supported me too.
I didn’t realize it then, but I went through postpartum anxiety or depression. One nurse, in particular, Lauren, listened and helped me accept that I may need some help and that it was okay. Rhonda allowed me to talk through my traumatic C-section and deal with my health while there. Through her kindness and calmness, Linda taught me how to be a good mom to my NICU baby. Emily listened and helped Connor and I bond through breastfeeding and took numerous appointments with me after we were home. There were numerous calls this scared mom made in the middle of the night — each one handled with care. (The 24 video monitor is the only way we survived!)
There are so many stories, and this synopsis is much longer than I anticipated, but I cannot say enough about the care Connor received at the NICU and, in some way, the care I received.
Connor’s medical history is fairly boring — he learned how to eat reasonably quickly, had a relaxed and calm temperament, and gained weight well. But, besides setting off alarms for a while (you never forget watching your baby’s face turn blue), he needed more time in the NICU to be strong enough to come home.
I do not doubt that his “boring” medical history is because I was so well taken care of and closely watched during my week-long hospital stay, and he was so closely monitored at the NICU. The daily doctor rounds and constant nurse evals ensured that nothing was missed along the way.
Connor is now almost eight months and getting close to 16 pounds. He’s almost crawling. He’s happy, healthy, and the most beautiful little boy.
It was a whirlwind, and every detail seemed crucial during his stay. But, looking back now, all I think about is how amazing the nurses and staff were to my family.