The Empty Feeling You Have, During Your Preemie Baby’s Hospital Stay
Every now and then I startle myself with the realization, “I am a father!”
This may be something, which hits us all over time, but I think for me, it is mostly because our baby boy, Daniel, is still in the hospital.
He is just shy of four weeks old and has yet to experience the outside world, not to mention his beautiful nursery.
He has spent his entire life in a mostly sterile environment with a constant rotation of doctors and nurses. The only constants in his life is us and our favorite nurse, Kay.
He is now sharing his NICU suite with his fifth roommate, which is frustrating; since all of the other babies have been going home.
Sometimes it is Good to Fail
Last Sunday, he failed his car seat test, which believe it or not, was a blessing.
We weren’t sure he was ready to come home and we were later informed that most of his nurses felt he wasn’t ready, either. But all doctors are different and the doctor on duty in the NICU that day is known for sending babies home to be with their families.
My guess is that this young doctor thinks that he is being proactive or uniting families; where the older doctors seem to be a lot more easy going about pushing babies out the door, saying things like, “He will tell us when he is ready.”
Weighing Our Options
I know that this is weighing heavy on Lynn. I know that she is torn between wanting him home and wanting him ready to come home.
I think that our lives will be easier and we will be able to get back on track once he is at home. As it is, we are seeing him twice a day and averaging about 3 hours per visit. With drive time and the inevitable fast food stop, we are away from the house (and our work) seven to eight hours per day while visiting Daniel. It is exhausting.
The lack of balance in our lives is also unsettling.
Here Comes Some Advice:
- Communicate with each other frequently and openly.
- Schedule time to do the things that need to be accomplished.
- Make a “to do” list and stay focused in quick bursts of energy.
- Plan your meals in advance.
- Take lots of pictures of your baby and look at the photos often until your baby comes home and then take more pictures!!!
- Take videos … the sounds, grunts, cries, etc. that your baby makes will change over time and if you don’t record it, you won’t remember it.
- Don’t make yourself feel bad if your “forget” you’re a daddy (or mommy)!
- Notice if you are feeling overwhelmed or depressed. (It happens)
- It is normal to have anxiety when you are a new dad.
- Remember that as long as you are focused on protecting, loving, nurturing and mentoring your child, you are probably doing it right.
UPDATE: Daniel came home with us on June 5, 2016. One day short of four weeks from his birthday.
And so, the adventure begins!
By Bill Robertson