"My Story…" Monday: My Other Child

Having C. stuck in the hospital with no end in sight was horrible. I felt so very helpless and it was devastating each and every time I had to leave her there. It really didn’t get any “easier”. It became more routine, but it was never easy.

When C. was almost four weeks old and my older child was approaching his first birthday, it was time that Bama had to go home. She had been an endless source of comfort and support to me. One of the most critical needs she filled during her weeks with us was to care for A. My son was a BIG baby, weighing in at 29 lb at eleven months and not yet walking. My massive surgery had left me with ridiculous-sounding restrictions, including a lifting limit of ten pounds for a full SIX weeks. My husband had no time off from work. I was simply unable to lift our son. My mom filled that need and provided the help and care that A. needed.

Of course, all good things must come to an end. It simply wasn’t possible for Bama to stay with us any longer. She had a job to get back to. We were all blessed that she had been allowed the stretch of time that she was, but it was coming to an end. And I was still not allowed to lift my child. Either one of them, come to think of it…

I became frantic. My level of panic was going up and up with each passing day. I talked to the nurses. I talked to the social worker. Finally, during a NICU Family Support Snack Hour, I poured out my heart to the family support coordinator, First Steps intake coordinator, and two other ladies whose titles I’m unsure of. They listened. They looked at pictures of my son. They tried to brainstorm with me. In short, they sprung to action in a way that became indicative of the kind of care and support I could expect from all the NICU staff at our hospital.

I received a call from our social worker the next day. This is what she told me,

“Mrs. S., the hospital has discretionary funding for special circumstances. We’ve been able to secure a spot for A. at the same daycare center many of the doctors use. It’s just a few blocks away. We’ll take care of the fee for the three weeks until you’re physically able to care for him.”

It’s hard for me to describe how I felt. On the one hand, I was so very relieved. We had a solution. And a generous one. A good one. A safe one. A quality, acredited, clean, developmental facility…

On the other hand, my husband and I sacrifice a lot so that I can take care of my own children. So that they DON’T have to go to a daycare center. It’s a choice that was important to us. Important enough to move. Important enough to live on a very strict budget. It turned my stomach to think of handing my baby to strangers…

In the end, though, there was really no choice. We were so very blessed to have been given this option and we drove to the daycare center that very night to meet the staff and fill out paperwork.

My husband would drop A. off on his way to work and pick him up on his way home. I cried. A lot. The first morning, right after they left, I called my mom sobbing, saying, “Please, Mommy, tell me I did the right thing. Tell me this is the right thing for my baby…”

I was left with a whole lot of time to visit C., which was wonderful, and a whole lot of time to worry about A., which was not so wonderful.

My poor little boy got sick time and time again. His immune system wasn’t used to the bombardment of germs that you find in a daycare or preschool setting. A few nights before his birthday, he spiked a fever so high he went into febrile seizures and we ended up in the emergency room. It was a rough, rough road.

But, right around Valentine’s Day, my six-week sentence was up. And I got my boy back. And finally, finally, I was able to pick him up, hold him, snuggle and rock him again. Mama was back…

Next Monday, I’ll tell you about the first time we heard those “two words”…

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