This is our son, Miles Orion Fogg. He was born at 38 weeks 2 days, at Kaiser Sunnyside in May 2016. We knew he had a high possibility of going to the NICU a couple of months before he was born. His 20 week ultrasound revealed a single umbilical artery, which meant we needed additional growth scans. Subsequent ultrasounds discovered more and more abnormalities. The perinatologists knew something was wrong, but couldn’t put a finger on what it was exactly, so they prepared us as best they could for all possibilities. We even met with a neonatologist ahead of time to learn more about the NICU. By the time I reached 36 weeks, his size had dropped from the 55th percentile to the 16th percentile, and he was breech. I was very scared going into my C-section and tried to be ready for heart or breathing problems that would require him to go to NICU immediately. Surprisingly, his breathing and heart seemed fine, and although small from some kind of growth restriction (he was less than 6 pounds), he seemed healthy. I thought we dodged the NICU.
A few hours after his birth, his blood sugars were dangerously low, and they took our sweet son to the NICU for an IV of dextrose. Initially the hardest part of having him there was getting to and from the NICU. I was on the 4th floor and he was on the 1st floor, and my husband and the nurses took turns wheeling me down so I could hold him. He received donor breast milk, as my milk hadn’t come in yet. His blood sugar level was too unstable, so they didn’t want him expending extra energy by trying to nurse. It was so hard not to nurse him.
Then came leaving him. The NICU nurses helped me adjust by giving me their direct line so I could call anytime and check in. I kissed him goodbye, and we drove the 25 miles home to Beaverton. My first night at home without him I called to check in and found out his IV had failed and they couldn’t find another vein, so they had to use a vein in his head. That traumatized him so much that he wouldn’t eat, so they had to put in an nasogastric (NG) tube. I was horrified and thought he may die. Fortunately, he started stabilizing and gradually weaned off the IV and the NG tube, and we got to bring him home when he was 10 days old.
To get through all of this, I reached out to friends and family for support. I contacted Baby Blues Connection, continued seeing a counselor I had been working with, and increased my dose of antidepressant.
I found the NICU Families NW Facebook group and the ICAN group for C-section support. And I wrote. I wrote a lot about being upset, angry things, and honest things. And I wrote affirmations too, things I could start to believe if I said them often enough.
We have now been home 6 months, and Miles is thriving. I’m so thankful to have had such great support throughout this process. Between the nurses in the NICU, and having people to listen to our story, I feel like I’ve come a long way in digesting what has happened. I’m glad that NICU Families NW has been a part of helping me heal, and I’m hopeful that I can give support back to others in these shoes. I’ve even been able to pump and donate extra milk which has helped me feel like I’ve come full circle.
For those of you in the NICU right now, know that the NICU is your story. It may not have been what you were expecting or hoping for, but there are sweet moments to savor amid the medical interventions. Walking into a dark quiet room with classical music playing, sitting in that rocking chair doing skin to skin and smelling my sweet baby boy— that’s the part I’m going to try to remember the most. Find those moments and treasure them because that’s your story.