Thursday, August 1, 2013

Jojo's Story Part 2: The NICU

{click here for Part 1 of Jojo's story}

I never thought I would be a mom with a child in the NICU. Having delivered two healthy 8 pound babies, and having no plans to adopt a newborn, the thought had never crossed my mind. But God.....

After Jojo's safe and healthy delivery, I really thought we might not need a stay in the NICU. I knew he would spend a lot of time in the nursery due to the circumstances of the adoption, but was very hopeful that he would be released shortly after T. I was prepared for some sort of heart issue (which is very typical in children with Down syndrome), but when they quickly ruled out any major issues, I assumed we were good to go!

The nurses discovered during the first night after Jojo was born that he was what is called a "poor feeder". This simply means that he needed a little time to get the hang of breathing, sucking and swallowing all at the same time. Sounded like no big deal to me.

If I had to describe a stay in the NICU in one word it would be "uncertainty". I know many of you have been there. For those of you who know me, you know I am a planner, and I don't do well with uncertainties! I especially don't do well with uncertainties when I am with my kids, in a another state, away from home. From day one until the day we were released, moment to moment, I was literally never sure of anything.

How long would he need to stay? A doctor would estimate two more days and an hour later a nurse would guess a week. Babies in the NICU change so often, and each and every time I rang the bell, washed my hands, and turned the corner I never knew what I would see. Would he be better? Worse? The same? Would the birth mom be in there holding him? Will his crib be closed (meaning he isn't keeping his temp up on his own) or will it be open?  Is that my baby's monitor beeping or someone elses? Have they moved him to a different spot? That is a great way to freak a new mommy out by the way!

We were staying in a hotel (which is expensive), driving a rental car (which is expensive) and eating out for every meal (adds up fast). First and foremost I wanted Jojo to be healthy, but second I wanted to be able to have a PLAN.

June 21-first morning in NICU-no tubes
By the time we got to hold him he had a tube in his mouth

After 48 hours he was officially ours!
Me and "my" sweet L and D nurse Nicole
By the 3rd day he had to work on his tan under the Bili lights
(one of my fav NICU pics-holding sisters hand)


Tube moved to his nose

So, we spent the first few days at the hospital in the mornings, then back to the hotel to give the kids a break, then back to the hospital in the afternoon. I spent A LOT of time feeling like I needed to be in 3 places at once. I couldn't just turn my back on T after everything she had been through (she had NO ONE else there for her), but I wanted to focus all my time on my new baby, and also not ignore Aidan and Ella Mae. It wasn't an easy balance.

The law requires that the birth mother (or parents) have 48 hours before they can sign over their parental rights. So Saturday evening, we all headed up to the hospital to meet the social worker and be there in case we were needed. It was a tough night. T had a family member that was supposed to be there for her while she signed the papers, but they were a no show. I felt so terrible for her. Of course, I wanted her to sign the papers with no issue, but as a mom I couldn't even begin to fathom what she was feeling. Mothers who give their children up for adoption are the strongest people in the world as far as I am concerned. To carry and deliver a child, and then make the choice to do what is best for that child, and walk away from the hospital empty handed.....I can literally not imagine. She will always be my hero.

The social worker needed two people to witness the signing of the papers, and they had to be people who were in no way affiliated with the hospital for legal reasons. She asked my mom if she would witness and of course she said yes. The kids and I waited in the waiting room and I think I held my breath the entire time. My mom realized in the moment, that since she was also adopted as an infant, her birth parents likely had to go through a similar process to give her the gift of a family that could raise her well. It was a very emotional night for all of us. I doubt I will ever again experience a time in my life when I felt such joy and such sadness all in the same moment.

Once the papers were signed and T was released, things got a little easier for me. It also became clear that Jojo was not going to be released as soon as we had hoped, and that we were definitely going to be in Texas for a while. So decisions had to be made.

Emmy decided it was best for her to go ahead and travel back on Monday to take care of things at home. My amazing friend Tesney was planning to drive to Houston to see Jojo on Monday as well, so it felt like the right time to transition from the hotel to stay with friends. The only problem was, the hotel was 10 minutes from the hospital and my ever changing baby, and our friends house was about 30 minutes away. To say this caused me a little anxiety would be a HUGE understatement. Huge.

Staying in a hotel for only God knows how long and paying for a rental car as well was just not an option. Tesney and the friends we were going to stay with have an AMAZING connection (you can read more about that here), but they had never met in person. I had never met the Eichers in person either.....but we took the leap of faith that all would be fine, and on Monday morning we loaded up the car and headed from Sugar Land to Houston!

{Part 3: "Our Texas Family" coming soon!}



1 comment:

  1. Mitä teille kuuluu (That`s "how are you" in finnish)? It would be really nice to hear how things are going with your little one.
    God bless you!