What Happens After You Deliver a Premature Baby? One Thing Surprised Me.
Each of my four kids was born five weeks early, and three of the four of them spent some amount of time in the NICU after birth.
Now, I think it's important to mention that while my three girls did spend time in the NICU, not one of them was ever in critical condition, so my experience is different than a parent who had a life-threatening situation. That said, I have had a few different experiences with premature babies in the NICU and no matter how prepared I may have been, one thing caught me by surprise each time.
I was totally alone after my babies were born. Since each of my babies was born prematurely, we knew that the baby would likely go to the NICU once born. During the final stages of labor with our son and twins, there was a flurry of activity in the room, with medical teams filling in and on-call in case of emergency. (Sadie's birth was a bit of a different story.) After the babies were born, I was able to hold them momentarily, but they were quickly taken for evaluation in the room and then whisked away to the NICU. In each case, they asked Zach to accompany the babies to the NICU. I was left with the doctor to finalize anything and then moved into a post-partum recovery room. And I was alone.
It was the strangest feeling. I was in labor for hours (days!), and there was a nervous, excited energy in my room. And then, nothing. I was in my hospital bed completely by myself. A nurse would periodically check on me, but it was usually a little while until Zach came back and/or I was able to visit the babies myself. I had so many confusing emotions — excited that I just had a baby, scared because the baby was in the NICU, sad that it was over, relieved that it was over, exhausted from the birth... It was hard for me not to get completely overwhelmed by it all.
To keep myself from getting bowled over by all of this, I made phone calls to my closest family and friends to tell them my news. It helped to share what was happening and have someone to talk to.
Once I was able to get into the NICU, my perspective shifted immediately, as I was completely focused on my babies and their health. I was fortunate to have relatively healthy babies each time, but the intensity of the environment puts it all into place.
What did you feel like after you gave birth? Did you have an early or complicated birth? How did you handle being alone after delivery? I'd love to hear your experience. Let me know in the comments below.