Balancing Act – Life after NICU

After Scarlett’s grand escape from NICU, she and I didn’t immediately go home. Home for us, is actually 2 hours away in Andrews, Tx.  So going “home” for Scarlett meant an extended stay at Grandma Sylvia’s and Popo’s house (my mom & her boyfriend). 

Both of whom we are so incredibly thankful for, for opening up their home to us following Scarlett’s hospital stay. I honestly can’t say enough how much their help meant to us during this transitional period. 

Our reasons for sticking around longer are not as crazy as you might think. BJ & I made decisions that were best for our family at the time. While we would have loved nothing more than to take our sweet, tiny warrior home; it was better if she and I stayed close to her doctors for a little while. Following her release from NICU she would have several specialists she would need to follow-up with (within the first month alone). Cutting out traveling time, not only helped us financially, but also gave this mama a peace-of-mind staying close to doctors who were already familiar with her medical history.  Not to forget to mention that Scarlett came home on supplemental oxygen support! All of which was something I wanted to be completely comfortable using, before taking any extended road-trips.

The Oxygen tanks & Pulse Ox Machine

The answer to the million dollar question: Why did we choose to follow up with doctors in Lubbock, rather than Midland/Odessa which are a lot closer to us?

For starters. Because we wanted to. Our kid, Our choice lol.

But for real, because I was scared. I was a first time mom, with a fragile baby, who had already overcome SO many obstacles. Having a choice between going to doctors in an area I’m not 100% familiar with. Verses seeing doctors in the area where my daughter was born, and we already knew.. I mean… It wasn’t really a choice – at least not in my eyes. We also have most ALL of our family in Lubbock. It’s where BJ & I were born and raised. So having that familial support and being so close, allowed the opportunity for our family to enjoy time with Scarlett. That was something we really wanted for her, especially during that time.

Finding balance isn’t; easy and can be very taxing. I know it took us time to find ours (and we’re still working on it lol). We found that by following the NICU schedule the first few days at home made the transition a lot easier on Scarlett. The absence of machines beeping and people coming and going made home eerily quiet for her. Thankfully the sounds from her oxygen machine created white noise which helped her sleep. I eventually started changing the routine a little at a time in order to make it our own and what worked for us.

Those first couple of days home were both a challenge and a blessing. While I no longer had the helping hands of 100 NICU nurses, I was able to take care of Scarlett all by myself. I had been looking forward to days like these. That’s not to say I didn’t have my worries. But thanks to the wonderful UMC NICU staff, I had been well “trained” on what to do in case things got a little hairy.

The days were fairly smooth and easy…when she slept, I slept – We slept. 😉 Jk. I had a “new born” on my hands – I wasn’t getting any sleep! lol Like any other mom, I spent most of my time changing diapers, prepping bottles, feeding, and washing bottles. Change. Feed. Wash. Repeat. You get the idea. My mom and Luis (a.k.a Popo) were almost always at work, so most days we had the house to ourselves. Visitors were far and few between. We were still in Flu/RSV season and everyone respected our boundaries. Healthy = a visit & Scarlett snuggles.  Unhealthy = Love us from a distance.

When our families would visit I would get a “break” and was able to shower and feed myself lol. Which was AWESOME! You don’t realize how amazing those things are, until you wind up skipping a few meals and start to smell like baby poop. They are such a godsend! They stepped up and learned Scarlett’s routine in order alleviate some of the work Scarlett required lol. I’ve said it a thousand times and I’ll say it a millions times more. OUR VILLAGE ROCKS! Seriously.

Night times were a little more challenging. BJ would continue to travel back and forth from Andrews to Lubbock, which meant I was something like a single mom. (Kudos to ALL of  you full time single parents. Raising a small human on your own ain’t easy!)  On the weekends, we would take turns getting up with Scarlett during the night which worked out…for the most part. However, two grown adults sharing a twin bed wasn’t exactly comfortable…so neither one of us was getting much sleep. Yet, somehow, we managed. At the time, I think BJ & I were in “survival mode” and just did what we had to do to make things work. We didn’t take a single thing for granted. After all, we had already been blessed beyond measure. Scarlett, slept in a pack’n’play that was given to us by our dear friend Shannon. Which made things SO much easier! With Scarlett on  oxygen support she would constantly need her pulse ox monitor on. The pack’n’play made it THAT much easier for us to pick her up/move her without having to thread or untangle all of her wirings. I highly recommend using one of these for your own little one in the beginning.

 

Her first post NICU appointment would be with her pediatrician, two weeks after her release. That day was one of my most anxious days of all.

From our Facebook Group 1 1/2 years ago. 

I took Scarlett to her first appointment today; and I’ll be honest with you – I was really nervous about it. Just like any first time mom, I felt all of the anxiousness you feel when it’s time to take your new baby on their first outing. I had all of these questions and worries flooding my mind. What time should I leave? Will we be there on time? Am I going to the right place? Do I have enough diapers? Do I need to pack extra clothes? And the list goes on and on and on…

And then on top of all of THAT, I felt the nervousness new moms, of a preemie, feel and all of THOSE worries and questions that come to mind. How am I going to carry Scarlett AND all of her equipment? Will I need to take all of her medicines with me? Do I give her medicines now or wait until after the appointment? What if the battery goes out on her monitor? What if her tubing gets snagged somewhere and I don’t know how to fix it?
And on and on and on…

Needless to say – I was one very anxious and overwhelmed mess of a momma this morning. (And don’t get my started on how my night went, especially, with our little rain storm)

I made a plan. I had a list. I tried my best to be prepared.

So I when woke Scarlett up this morning to start our morning routine, (change diaper, feed Scarlett, give Scarlett her breathing treatment…) God surprised me and put my worries at ease. I walked past my moms room, like I have every morning since we came home, and instead of it being empty, my mom was in her bed. She was waiting for me to wake her up so she could help and go with us today.

We went to her appointment and it was great! We got there okay, and after a little adventure (called being lost), with some help we found our way. I met with Scarlett’s pediatrician – she’s nice, I REALLY like her. But she gave me a lot of information and in the end I felt overwhelmed yet again. I forget that even though Scarlett is out of the hospital, she still has a ways to go before she is caught up with other babies her age. There are things that I as her mother have to do to help her get there. So when we came home I was kind of feeling down in dumps. I just felt worried all over again because I want to make sure Scarlett is taken care of and that I am doing the best that I can for her.

I don’t know about you, but to me that’s a lot of pressure to put on yourself – but I tend to do that sometimes. I have worried so much about Scarlett, her health and wanting to do what is best for her. That I sometimes forget to stop and ask God to help me. I forget to ask him to take these worries from me. When I opened my bible app today, I was searching for a new devotional to follow and I saw my favorite bible verse. Isaiah 40:31 And in that moment I felt an instant relief. I laughed at myself; because in all of my worrying, even though I forgot to ask for Gods help, he saw what I needed and he provided for me – like he always has. He never ceases to remind me of his constant love.

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1st Doctors Appointment

I know this new season of life will challenge me again. Now that Scarlett is home there are new obstacles to face and overcome. But only by Gods grace and love will we be able to get through it. We just have to take things one day at a time and remember to pray.

So with all of that being said – Scarlett is 8lbs 9oz and 20.5in long! She’ll have a weight check appointment next week. We will see her pediatrician every 2 weeks (until we decide otherwise) and She has an eye appointment on Friday. Please pray that we get good results like we have been.

Thank you all for your love. And I hope this helped you in some way. If you are struggling with something or just needed a reminder of Gods love. Know that he is always ready and waiting.

“…the Lord must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion. The Lord is a faithful God…” – Isaiah 30:18

 Looking back at this I can’t help but be PROUD of myself for being strong and BRAVE enough to talk about my feelings. It’s scary to open up and be 100% honest with not just yourself but the world! 

While life after NICU was ANYTHING but normal and easy, I am so grateful that God provided for us time and time again. It’s hard being a new parent and learning to take care of someone else. But it’s just a “tad” bit harder when your child requires a lot of special attention. Yes, we are blessed that SO MANY things went RIGHT for Scarlett. But that doesn’t mean our struggles weren’t real. I’m still dealing with my PTSD and taking things one day at a time. But if sharing our story will help any of you other NICU parents, I am so happy for that!

I hope that you can learn to find balance too and always know that no matter how hard the struggle is, you are NEVER alone.

 

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