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Personal Stories ~ From Terri
Lauren spent 10 days in the Children's Hospital (C.H.) with newborn sepsis.

After a grueling birth, Lauren was immediately put to my breast so we could breastfeed as I intended. I then slept for much of the rest of the day. When I was finally awake and alert enough, I asked to see my baby only to find out they had fed her glucose water from a bottle and had been giving her pacifiers! The only good part was that Lauren was keeping a 4 hour schedule on her own from the start.

Anyway, the next day I wanted to feed her, but she wasn't hungry because they had given her a bottle again! I guess they either thought that this is how mothers get breastfeeding support or they did it because I was honestly a physical mess. The nurses were otherwise very supportive of my efforts to breastfeed against all odds (the nurses at C.H. were not LC's), and I always sought their advice when I returned from my visits to C.H. with any problems. But I digress . . . The doctor came around that afternoon to inform me that her CRP results were bad and that the pediatricians from the (C.H.) were coming to check her out themselves and most likely take her with them. They did, and I bawled my head off. Who wouldn't? It turned out she had newborn sepsis of no conclusive origin (like e. coli, staph. and co.). She got an antibiotic transfusion attached to her head - looks a lot worse than it is - and after a day, she was doing much better.

Lauren was born on the Wednesday right before Easter Weekend, and I wouldn't be released until that Saturday at the earliest. Not knowing when I was going to be released, we couldn't get a parent's room organized at the C.H.. That being the case, the hospital I was staying at did me the favor of keeping me until the following Tuesday (Easter Sunday and Monday were bank holidays) so that I could pump milk for Lauren and feed her that instead of the formula she had been getting. Until I was released, I was allowed to go over to the C.H. every morning and afternoon to breastfeed her, but it was very exhausting, and I could only do so much and felt like a failure. We did manage to breastfeed, but it was very frustrating competing with a bottle. Things got better as soon as I got moved into a parent's room so I could be called to come feed her 24 hours day.

As for the pacifiers, the nurses were only good about that considering other parents in the clinic: Lauren cried once and a father came over and put the paci in her mouth and the nurse got all over him. But I know the nurses use the paci's, too, for the very same reason! Well, to this day Lauren won't take a pacifier if she's crying, but she will suck her thumb - a very nice alternative!

My bonding with Lauren was severely affected by the hospital routine: I felt like I had her on loan and wasn't allowed to pick her up or do anything without the nurse's approval. I was more worried about all the cables than I was of holding her wrong or dropping her. On the up-side, she could already hold her head up, even if it was rather wobbly. I got to see her completely naked for the first time since birth after a whole week had gone by. Since she didn't seem to differentiate between us and the nurses, I started wearing the same blouse to nurse in everyday until she was released. After I moved into the C.H. I would snuggle with her after a nursing session by wrapping her in my blouse and then the blanket around us - kind or re-creating the womb. This blouse was our savior. She not only recognized me and that it was time to eat, it helped when we finally got her home - yet a new environment with new caregivers.

All in all, it wasn't that bad, if I could forget my hormones and the fact that she was bottle-fed for seven days straight. The fact is, she needed to be treated and she wasn't having heart surgery, just antibiotics. I wasn't happy with the bottle and formula thing, but we were able to get over it, and I certainly hadn't ever expected her to starve if she couldn't have EBM. The nurses were also very understanding of our situation and my hormones. I'm sure I wasn't the nicest person during our stay, but they didn't bite back.

It wasn't a perfect world, but it was temporary, thank God! :)

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