Discharge

In order to go home, all NICU graduates are required to sit in their carseat for an hour and a half without their oxygen dropping. I watched that monitor for the entire hour and a half.

When you are at the end of your pregnancy you are focused on one thing only, bringing your baby home.  You organize, you clean, and you daydream of being discharged and what it will feel like to bring that bundle of joy home.  I imagined that scenario more times than I can count.  What I didn’t imagine was being discharged without him.  We went up for our last feeding before we would fill out the discharge paperwork and I couldn’t help but to cry.  The nurses kept offering what they call “mom’s place”.  It’s a room on the NICU floor that allows you to stay close to your little one.  The problem is that it is typically only if your baby is only going to be another day or two.  When I was discharged they had no idea when he’d go home, so what is the point of delaying the inevitable?

We packed up my things and completed all of the necessary paperwork. And the whole time I was a disaster.  How do you make it worse?  Riding down in the elevator with a big blue balloon that says “It’s a boy!” and everyone congratulating you.  I feel bad for my husband when I think about that day because it was such a roller coaster.  One minute I would be okay, reading or occupying some time.  The next, I would be sobbing uncontrollably.  It seemed like I couldn’t control my emotions.  If I even had a fleeting thought about him, or the hospital, I would burst out. I probably called the hospital three times that day to check in.

Something else I didn’t think about… the day he was discharged being terrifying.  He had been off the oxygen for an official 48 hours and he passed his car seat test the day before.  He was officially healthy to go home.  The whole time they were reviewing paperwork and we were buckling him in I was so excited.  After 19 days, it was finally the day I had been hoping for.  My husband ran to get the truck while I walked with the nurse who carried him to the entrance of the building.  Suddenly I wasn’t excited.  I was terrified. They were sending him home without an oxygen meter.  How would I know if he desated? What would I stare at when I nursed him to make sure he was still breathing?  How do they know we’ll be fit parents of an infant with respiratory distress for no known reason?  I rode in the backseat next to him the entire 40 minute drive home. I stared at him in awe and checked to make sure he was breathing (so many times).  We got him home and I suddenly didn’t know what to do.  I must have just stared at him in the car seat for another 10 minutes while I marveled at the idea of not visiting him anymore, he was home.

I’m not sure what reminded me of that day, but it still chokes me up when I think about it.  I always find my little man when I think about it and kiss him. He’s home now and healthy, that is all that matters.

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