by Sandra Hunt
I had a friend that didn’t want to see pictures of my baby in the NICU, hooked up to wires and tubes. It was too “graphic”, she said. My baby spent 45 days in the NICU. If you don’t want to see these pictures or hear this story, you’re not interested in knowing us at all. Because it has shaped us and changed us…They brought me these pictures after my son Mason was born, it would be two days later before I went to see him. They take these pictures for moms whose babies are sent to other hospitals, for moms too sick to visit the NICU, (in my case with preeclampsia on magnesium sulfate), and most importantly, they take these pictures in case your baby dies. I was denied a chance to mother the baby that I had carried for 28 weeks and the pictures didn’t fulfill that need.
That’s why you get up and force yourself to walk after that emergency c-section, those pictures are motivators, you keep them close by-especially after you’re discharged, to look at until you can come back to the hospital to do skin-to-skin, to look at when you’re at home pumping and have no baby to get your milk to letdown, to look at as soon as you wake up as you call the hospital for the doctor to tell you how many times your baby stopped breathing through the night, and as you get dressed to go back everyday for 45 days-or longer. There is no way you can go through the NICU and be unchanged.
You’re either trauma scarred, thankful and blessed, or both. I’m both. I’ve changed. I’m a little over-protective. I’m a little germ phobic. I’m a little over permissive…sorry…not sorry. This little guy in this picture took seven years to conceive, survived a miscarriage of his would have been triplet siblings, and then survived the a’s and b’s after being born far too early at 2lbs and 11 oz. He survived with just a touch of retinopathy of prematurity, asthma and sensory issues. The first meeting, first breastfeeding, first bath. These snapshots remind you of the family and friends, kind nurses, doctors, social workers, lactation specialists that were by your side. They remind you of what you’re thankful for. Specifically, I want to thank the maternity and NICU staff at Northside Hospital and to Graham’s Foundation for helping us through one of the toughest times in our lives. These pictures tell our story. This smiling happy child of mine almost wasn’t. Thank God for allowing these snapshots in time.