Tuesday, October 14, 2014
A month ago, to the day, I shared my birthstory of Caris entering our world 14 weeks early.
Caris was brought to the NICU just minutes after her birth. I did not get to touch her before her departure, and I certainly did not get to enjoy the immediate snuggles most new mommas and babies get to experience.
It would be over 2 1/2 hours before I would get to see my daughter again. I think Colin and I were in immense shock. Thoughts were rushing through our heads, but we didn't know what to say. We were new parents, but we couldn't rejoice. I think I asked Colin several times if he thought Caris was okay. We weren't getting any updates, and I just wanted to be given reassurance and hope.
At 9:18 pm, we signed into the NICU to visit our sweetheart. The NICU had 4 rooms, and Caris was in the Balloon Room. She was in the back left corner of the room in an incubator.
We approached the incuabator cautiously. We saw our daughter for the first time up close. Caris had soft, dark hair. She opened both of her eyes a little bit for us! A precious jewel.
Her nurse showed us how to touch Caris through the small doors of the incubator. We touched her hand, and she held our finger. Amazingly sweet.
Although Caris was breathing on her own, she was intubated and on a ventilator for back up. She was also given medicine to help her breathing. She had a feeding tube in her mouth. There were IV lines in her belly button so the nurses could give her fluids, draw blood, and monitor her blood pressure. She was given antibiotics through her abdomen to help prevent infection. Caris was started on caffeine to help with her breathing.
Caris was 3 hours old, and had already been through so, so much. Breaks my heart.
When I say Caris is the strongest person I know, all of this is why. My little miracle girl. I had a painting made for her nursery that says 'Such a big miracle in such a little girl'.
It was incredibly hard to leave her that night. So difficult for Colin and I to get any rest.
The next day we were aching to visit our daughter again. Being near her again brought us so much joy.
Hanging in Caris' room were two little preemie outfits, that at first we did not know who put them there (they were donated to the NICU and a social worker chose to give them to us). One had a bunny on it! This was so very special to me, because we knew we were going to decorate Caris' nursery with bunnies. God. Only God.
Caris was not yet going to be wearing clothing, nor did she yet fit into the preemie outfits, but the two special sleepers gave me hope each day for this milestone.
Caris was placed under a phototherapy light, because she had jaundice. She was on and off the light for a few weeks. When she was under the light, she had to wear cloth 'sunglasses' to protect her eyes. We like to say she was sunbathing.
I changed Caris' diaper for the very first time. I was a little bit nervous--not only was Caris itsy bitsy, so were her diapers. I think I did well.
We nicknamed Caris--Popcorn. Preemies are supposed to have their arms and legs contained in a special blanket to mimic the womb, but my baby girl loved to be all stretched out. She would flail her limbs just like kernels of popcorn being popped. She liked to do that in my belly, too.
She enjoyed her stretches, but she was calmest contained in the blanket, holding one of our fingers. This became a huge comfort to Caris.
Three days after Caris' birth, her ventilator was removed. Oh, this was beautiful to see. A big milestone.
After four very long days, I got to hold Caris for the first time.
The NICU encouraged 'Kangaroo Care', which is skin-to-skin cuddling. We did this every day Caris was in her incubator.
I needed nurses to help with all of the tubes and lines. I scooped her up so gently. She melted into my chest. This was so very good for both Caris and me. Caris was able to hear my heartbeat once again and feel my chest raise up and down. I talked to her and hummed. Our most precious time together.
The next weeks and months were filled with more precious times, but also plenty of apneas (pauses in breath), heartrate drops, needle pokes, blood transfusions, and more scary things.
My miracle of a pregnancy became my miracle of the tiniest little fighter.
More to come....