March for Babies

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

NICU Mother Venting

I am sure these are all very natural reactions and I in no way feel like I am the only one to ever go through these emotions but I do want to put them down in words.
I watched my baby cry yesterday.  With the tube in her throat she can't make any noise but her face got all squished up and red and she was angry.  It was a silent rage.  It broke my heart to watch my baby cry and there was nothing I could do about it.  I asked the nurse to suction out her mouth and throat because she sucks on the tubes and builds up so much spit she can't deal with it.  She was agitated and we just couldn't seem to make her happy.
I hurts to know that the nurses are better at comforting her than I am.  I want what is best for her so I will gladly step aside and let them do what they can to calm her down.  They can do better than I can but it hurts.
It sucks to pump every 2-3 hours when she can't even get the milk yet.  She will get it eventually but for now it is just a constant distraction.  If I am pumping I can't be with her.  I either have to pump at home which means I am not with her or I have to pump in the lactation room at the NICU which also means I am there but not with her.  Argh!  So frustrating!
We got our new insurance cards in the mail yesterday.  They added our daughter as a dependent only they don't have her name on them.  I swear they say ELEPHANT-TRUNKS, BABYGIRL.  How fucking assinine is that?  She has a name and the hospital knows her name but everything around her is tagged with the babygirl thing.  Her name is Azure Elephant Trunks.  They just don't get it.  I feel like they are not recognizing her as a person.  It is insulting.
People keep calling and emailing for updates or to ask how they can help.  It is SO sweet and I am very grateful.  I really am.  However, I do not have the patience for all the phone calls right now.  I understand people feel helpless to do anything right now and they want to offer their support.  The thing is, I feel helpless too.  There is nothing anyone can do. 
There are not enough hours in the day.  I get up in the morning, pump, do dishes and check email.  I get dressed and go to the hospital or run errands.  I then have to pump again, try to get something done for the day.  Pump again, have lunch, go to the hospital or run errands, pump again.  Meet T at home, pump, have dinner and then we go back to the hospital together in the evening.  Get home, pump, go to bed.  Get up in the morning and do it all over again.  Oh wait, tomorrow I am going back to work so it will be pump, hospital, pump, work, pump, work, pump, hospital, home for dinner, pump, hospital, home, pump, bed.  This sucks.
I do not feel like a mother.  I know that I brought her into this world and I went through birth and everything but the whole thing just seems like a dream.  I do not feel maternal. 
I wonder if I am visiting her enough.  I am there twice a day and if I can't get there in the morning then I call for updates but I feel like I should be doing more.  I feel selfish if I put off my visit to the hospital to eat lunch or take a quick nap or take a shower.  I know I shouldn't feel guilty but I do.  *sigh*
This all being said I need to do the dishes, take a shower and head down to the hospital.  Besides, I only have another hour and I will have to pump again.


averyjenn said...

I've been lurking here daily for updates on Azure. I've read many posts from NICU Moms who have the same feelings as you and my heart just goes out to you. Many continued prayers for Azure and your family.

WriterGrrl said...

From a past NICU mom, please PLEASE do yourself a favor. Let people help you. Pick a friend, and give her the job of fielding all your phone calls. Give her the job of updating people and thanking them for their concern, etc. Change your outgoing messages to say, "This is Blue, thank you so much for your concern. I'm not taking calls right now. You can call Girlfriend for an update. Please, the best way to help us now is to leave us alone and pray for Azure," or words to that effect. Also, do not try to get anything done around the house, especially if you must go back to work. Tell your friends to cook your meals for you. People want to help, and they will be grateful for a chance to do so. Really! Just concentrate on getting through the days. Rest, pump, and be there for your daughter as much as you can. Work, if you need to, to provide for her. Be good to yourself, because, really, just getting up every morning is a HUGE accomplishment. You are in my thoughts.

Julie said...

Listening and nodding in sympathy and understanding.

Is it a possibility in your NICU to pump next to Azure's isolette? I was able to do that with Charlie -- pulled the curtain around his little area so I had privacy -- and it made a big difference. I felt much better about pumping when my motivation was right there in front of me. (Tell the nurses it helps with letdown if they act doubtful.)

I've been thinking of you and your tiny baby elephant a lot. Thank you for the updates.

ThreeBees said...

I wish I had something to offer besides my good thoughts. Please know I am thinking of you and Azure and checking in often.

Alex said...

I have a cousin who recently gave birth at about 24 weeks. Thank you for helping me understand what she, her husband, and baby have all been through.

Their son's early months were not easy or uneventful and I read each email update (I live far away) with my heart in my throat. He is now safely at home with them after several months in the NICU. I hope and pray for you and Azure that you will have much strength in the next few months and that she will join you at home as soon as it is possible.

Also, I agree with writergirl. Take care of yourself and explain to your friends how they can, too.

rach said...

being a NICU mom blows. IT does. You spend so much time thinking about those first moments being a mama, and then the first time she cries, you cry. (At least I did - and I handed her back to the nurse because I couldn't deal with it.)

All these feelings are normal. And they suck, I know.

We're here. And let people help you. We had a site while Lucy was in the hospital - so people could just look for updates on there. it was WONDERFUL!

Cricket said...

I pumped for 7 months b/c my son would not breastfeed. I didn't even have NICU or work to contend with and it was awful. I feel for you and your family so much.

I used to have a joke that helped a bit with pumping, particularly b/c pumping took 45 minutes on my utters. You might remember the Dunkin Donuts guy, dragging his butt around trying to make the freshest products, moaning around the clock, "It's time to make the donuts." Once he even met himself coming and going at his front door.

Pumping, I would physically and emotionally drag, saying, "It's time to make the donuts" and that phrase conveyed everything I felt.

lagiulia said...

Another former NICU mom here. First, it sounds like you are doing a wonderful job taking care of your little one. It is SO HARD feeling like the nurses can take care of her better than you, but never forget that you're the mommy and the one who gave her life and carried her this far. And as someone else said, it really is a major accomplishment to get up in the morning. I don't have a lot of advice. Just do the best you can to take care of yourself and know that all the pumping really is making a contribution to nurturing her not too long from now. I'm thinking of you and your family.

wessel said...

Thinking of you, and Gd willing, the day will come when your only wish is that someone aside from you could comfort her! :-)

Hang in there, Blue.

Miss W said...

Damn, Blue, I remember that too well. It's hard. It's horrible. I did the thing of spending 12 hours a day for the first few weeks in the NICU only to end up making myself sick. You do the best that you can do and no matter how hard it is, you take care of yourself (the NICU nurses had to remind me to do the basics -- like hit the cafeteria for lunch). The maternal feelings are there...they are just different because they have to be. And it hurts that you aren't the one who can comfort your little one, but you know that there are times when the little ones there need nurses and a time when they need mommies.

Anonymous said...

I would have to agree with writergrrl. Let others help you. I too felt that I could not return all the phone call and most of the time didnt. In hindsight what I should have done was called one friend and had her send an email update. I remember when my little girl was in the ICN my house was a wreck and my bills got paid but they were late. Pumping is a hard job and in the beginning a very thankless one.

Very soon you will be able to read her signs better than the nurses. I hope soon this will all become a distant memory and you will be enjoying your little girl.

Hope and Strength to you!

Mama Kelly said...

came in via another blog and its my first time reading ... i cant believe what youve been through

may lil azure continue to do well
do not feel guilty about taking care of yourself ---

Jen P said...

Blue, while I had the absolute luxury of having a post-term baby, I DO know what it is like to not be able to consol your child, to have nurses and doctors being better mothers than myself, having a child in hospital, all the tests, the bloodwork, the drama, the pain, the tears, the frustration and the agony of it all. It is so hard at times. I invite you to really acknowledge that -- what you're going through is hard. It sucks.

I can't say much more than please know we think of you often. And send love.

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry for all that you are going through. I will be thinking of you and little blue. Just a thoguht...change the message on your anwsering mchine to say something to the extent that you appreciate all the well wishes and encourage people to leave messages but that you will not be returning phone calls. Another idea when someone says how can I help...tell them! Be honest, say I have a moutain of dirty laundry, a sink full of dirty dishes, errands that need to be run, toilets that have not been scrubbed in 3 weeks, etc. The ones that really want to help, will. I know I have done these things for friends in times of crisis.

Thinking of you, your husband and baby blue.

Erin said...

Just wanted to let you know that there are lots of us who are praying for Azure and thinking of you.

April said...


I am unfortunately unable to proivde any advice, assvice or even help.

What I will say is you are in my thoughts, always.

miriam said...

Wessel sent me... (not that she even knows that I read her blog!)

Anyway, we'll be praying for your little one. Some 66 years ago, my daddy was born at 26 weeks. Doctors gave up hope, except for one. Don't know what exactly he did, but my daddy lived (obviously!). He spent his whole first year in the hospital, and had a little sister by the time they let him come home, still under 5 lbs! But he made it, and grew up healthy and strong, raised a family. His sole "disability," and I hesitate to call it that, because it never slowed him down and actually allowed him to help many others he might not have thought to help otherwise, is that he is totally blind. He considers it a "minor inconvenience."

Anyway, medical technology has come a long way since 66 years ago, and your 24 weeker has an even better chance at a completely normal life than my daddy did.

I'll pray for her health, but also for strength, for you at this difficult time, and for baby Azure, that she'll continue to grow stronger and healthier each day.

HomeFireBlue said...

Over from Wessels blog. my thoughts and good vibes are with you and Azure!

-The other Blue

TracyB said...

Another NICU Mom here. This is the absolute worst time because everything you do is spent wishing it were something else. Pumping time is not baby time. Baby time can't be enjoyed because it's tube changing time or wires time or something. Like Julie, I am nodding in agreement and sympathy.

I hated the calls and emails so much, I started a blog so I would only have to spill once a day instead of 50. It helped tremendously. Find someone to be your networker. Make one call or write one email, and know that everyone else will find out.

I wish you the best. You and Mr. Blue and Azure are in my thoughts every day.

Anonymous said...

I also had a 24 weeker. I run a mentor program at preemie-l. Sign up if you want a mentor.

The best advice I can give you is really, really to take care of yourself. It is the hardest thing possible right now but the most important.

You are going through an almost incredibly painful time. So many emotions. Some times you don't know what to feel.

If you want to be at the NICU, be there. If you don't, give youself a break. Identify a third party to be the information source.

My heart breaks for you.


Foster said...

When my grandfather was in the hospital, and no one in the family knew what would happen day-to-day as we were waiting for surgury, my mother would up-date my grandmothers answering machine everyday with what was going on. This helped b/c none of us were home much to even take calls. Also, we didnt have to field questions to which we had no answers - everything was on the machine. My gandparents have a bajillion friends, so this helped a lot. Glad to here Azure is doing well!