Avery's journey - part 5
A Cook Children’s employee documents her time in the NICU
We have now surpassed our 100th day in the NICU. 100 days. Avery’s due date has come and gone. It feels like it’s time to go home. I’m ready. Shawn’s ready. Avery’s room is ready. But our sweet baby girl is not able to breathe on her own just yet. And so we wait.
Throughout this journey we have been through a lot more critical situations than our current one. We’ve dealt with pneumonia, watched our daughter turn blue from not breathing, discussed heart surgery and taken calls from doctors in the middle of the night. Things with Avery are better now than ever. I get to hold and cuddle her whenever I want. She is very alert and interactive and showing more of her personality every day. So why is this whole situation getting to me now?
Avery’s doctor told me once that our bodies are much better equipped to deal with what he called “critical” stress versus chronic, long-term stress. This is the only explanation I have for feeling the way I do right now. It was the “fight or flight” mentality that kept our adrenaline going and allowed us to deal with the critical intensity of the first few months of Avery’s stay. In those early days, we were just taking it a day at a time while Avery was fighting for her life. Now, Avery is stable and the long-term stress of being in the NICU for so long has set in.
It was around Avery’s due date that I started to feel this way. Up until that point, I felt like we were going on borrowed time, but now she is officially supposed to be here so it’s time to go home. I would trade the stress we’re feeling with the stress of a new parent with a “normal” baby in a heartbeat. I’m not diminishing that stress at all, I know it’s hard but it has to feel differently than the stress of having your baby in the NICU.
We seem to be stuck in limbo right now and are still waiting to officially start our lives as new parents. While we wait for Avery to get better, life has had to go back to normal but it doesn’t feel normal at all. All of the daily activities like going to work, doing laundry, grocery shopping still have to go on but it doesn’t seem fair.
I have so many different emotions in a given day: anger, frustration, sadness, happiness, the list goes on.
Our nurses have become some of my best friends because they seem to understand our situation the best. They have seen families in the same situation and are able to reassure me that the feelings I have are completely normal. However normal these feelings are, I’m just ready for them to go away. I miss the old Kelly and I’m sure Shawn does too. Glimpses of her pop up unexpectedly and it reassures me that I will get back to my old self eventually.
I’m hesitant to put these feelings down on paper and even more hesitant to share them with the world. My hope is that it might validate the feelings that another parent is feeling or has felt and will help them to feel less alone.
I just wish I could close my eyes and fast forward until the day that we put Avery in her car seat and bring her home.
Until then, we wait…
Kelly Wooley is a Marketing specialist at Cook Children’s. She is writing a series of blogs chronicling the birth of her daughter Avery and their time spent in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.