Roughly about three hours after Kaden was born and once he was finally stabilized enough for transport, he was taken to the nearest level 4 NICU. It was roughly thirty minutes from where he was born and where I remained in the hospital for 6 days following his birth. 6. Long. Days. I was unable to see Kaden, hold him, touch him, talk to him etc. I saw him for about one minute before he was transported. He was about five feet from me and in a traveling incubator. The first time I saw my son was when he was in an incubator. It was a miserable 6 days following his birth. I was hospitalized for multiple health concerns at that point and wanted nothing more than to be with my child who was fighting with every ounce of him for his own life.
Now, my time frame may be a little wonky just due to the trauma and the level of intensity of the situation. However, I believe it was the same day he was born that my entire family drove to visit him once he was in his own room and stabilized (as stable as he could be considering he was also Sepsis at this time and very very sick). I saw pictures, got calls from his doctors and nurses at the NICU and reports around the clock from my nurses at the hospital I was at as well. The contact and the desire to include me during these precious moments was amazing and greatly appreciated. The pictures however, did not do any justice for his size. During those 6 days I don’t know that my head was fully wrapped around the situation yet. I barely recognized that I was no longer pregnant and that I was now a mother to a child who needed me more than ever. I spent my birthday in the hospital alone and away from my child. Probably the worst birthday ever. The NICU nurses had gotten word that it was my birthday and made such a sweet and thoughtful gift for me. The nurses there were so amazing, and worked so incredibly hard to include me while I was unable to physically be there. They had sent M with a micro preemie diaper of Kaden’s and my mom with a picture they had made for me with his foot prints. INSERT PICTURE HERE.
I was finally released 6 long days later. I immediately rushed home, showered and off I went to actually see my baby for the first time. I arrived at the NICU and was immediately intimidated by the protocols there that soon became second nature. Signing in, repeating my parent code, being buzzed through the front doors, scrubbing in, gelling in and out of the room, maneuvering the windy hallways. But finally, FINALLY I was there! I slowly but yet urgently walked into his small and cozy room that quickly became our home and was Kaden’s first home for 105 days.
When I walked into the room there was an incubator, lots of machines beeping, monitors going off, it was dark and he was covered with an isolette cover that had giraffes all over it coincidentally as that is my favorite animal. There was a glowing light coming out from under the cover and beneath that cover was the most precious and beautiful thing I have ever laid my eyes on. I cautiously lifted the corner of the cover and peeked right in and there he was. My little fighter, my miracle laying so calmly and peacefully in his bed. He was covered with lanugo from head to toe that glowed blonde under the bilirubin lights, he was wearing the cutest little sunglasses, had wires all over him and a tube down his throat. Once I laid my eyes on him, I was stunned. Him and I were both there. I was finally able to see him! He was so incredibly tiny, smaller than I ever imagined but so dang precious. I began crying, I was so overwhelmed with emotions in that moment. It was not long after that the nurses and doctors seemed to begin to pour into his room. They had been waiting for my arrival for days now. They began to fill me in on his status, what they were doing, protocols, consent forms, etc.
It wasn’t long after when they told me about his grade 4 brain bleed, his heart defect, how weak his lungs were and that he had a long road ahead of him. WE had a long road ahead of us. He ended up being there for 105 days total. It became a routine. Work, hospital, home, shower, sleep and repeat. It was a routine that I loved but equally hated. The days seemed long, almost never ending. Kaden ended up going in for surgery on July 29th, 2018 for placement of his VP shunt. This would then ultimately stop the brain bleed, but not prevent the prior damage that was done. Which, at this point in his life was unknown. The day of surgery was scary, slow and traumatic. I was prepared for lots of outcomes. But little did I know, this surgery would create a better life for my baby boy. He was so much better off afterwards. He was extubated the following day! Meaning, he finally could cry! Holding him wasn’t as scary, there was less chance of damage to his vocal cords, less chance of having his airway blocked by phlegm (which happened a number of times. Each of which I was present for and completely traumatized). But before we knew it, he was meeting new milestones, baths, breathing on his own for short times, able to feed by mouth, and ultimately coming home!