This new job found me. I did not find it. This new job chose my skills. I did not seek it. This new job is asking so much of me. I did not want it. This new job requires me to stand up and deliver. This new job asks me to be on guard, be alive, be present. I just wanted to stay home with my boys, raise them, and not ever be missed by them.
In a nutshell, my hospital merged my department of well-baby nursery into our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit or NICU. We have become one unit in an effort to make us a cohesive group and to enable us to care seamlessly for our babies, sick or well in our hospital.
This sounds marvelous, except it changed our schedules, stole our choices from us, and pushed us into a lot of unknown.
I am now going to be caring for babies that might not make it. I will be attending deliveries of micro-premies, and I will be going to classes and furthering my education more in these areas.
No one asked me if holding someone else’s baby would make me miss my own.
No one asked me if tube feeding an infant would trigger a sense of loss for me.
No one asked me if I was okay making these changes to my career while raising two young sons and grieving the loss of another.
No one tried to settle the dust before stirring it all up.
So. I sit feeding a small infant who is not even 7 lbs yet, but a month old. Not my own infant. In fact, I’ve never met her parents. I try to imagine how I would feel as a parent of NICU baby.
I tell myself to stop thinking about things like that.
What could have been, would’ve been. If that was the plan.
But it wasn’t.
Truth is, I was lucky to have a very part-time dayshift position and got to be home most of the time with my boys until now.
But I can’t help but shake the what if’s.
I can’t help but remember being pregnant with a very sick baby, only to deliver him prematurely with “zero chance of survival” said the perinatologist who recommended an induction.
While the mothers come in to hold their babies in their isolette’s. I gently brush their arms and give them a little squeeze and a kleenex. It’s so hard not to be able to hold them, I know. They know your voice, keep talking. Here, hold her finger. In time you’ll hold her. I promise.
But how do I really know that? I hope with all my heart they will.
But it’s not a guarantee.
Nothing in life is guaranteed. But I don’t dare tell them that. Instead I offer reassuring words and gestures.
On the inside, I’m crying, screaming, and wishing I had a few more days with my stillborn baby.
I’d give anything to have a picture of him alive. Even if on machines.
Instead, for now I will shadow these mom’s.
I will shield their eyes, their hearts, their ears from that pain.
I will do my best to keep their babies alive.
To keep them hoping. To keep me hoping. That someday, things might be different.