This Friday, Emmett will be one month old, or 34 weeks gestationally. Thankfully, we haven’t had any more surprises since that first day, but this sweet face could get away with anything.
Emmett is getting chubbier fast: born at 3 lbs, he is now 4 lbs 14 oz! He’s been maintaining his temperature, so this past week he was moved to a crib. He passed his first eye exam, with more to come, but so far so good. Now the focus is feeding, the most important milestone. He’s latched on and sucked for 5-10 minutes at a time, but there isn’t a lot of swallowing. And he’s only latching on once a day — it’s a lot of work and he usually passes out by the end of it. Today, the nurse tried the bottle but with limited success. This is all expected for his gestational age; it’s just hard to be patient since I know the sooner he can master this, the sooner he can go home.
At best, we have another 2-3 weeks left. It’s hard to believe so much time has passed already. Every day I tell Ben I’m going to come home earlier, but time moves slowly in the NICU and somehow it’s like a full work day. Commuting to see your baby is not every parent’s dream.
At least the routine is keeping me busy. We work around Milo’s schedule, which means I can be at the hospital for two feedings, the 11 and 2 o’clock. I pump before the feed so that Emmett won’t get drowned in milk as he learns to swallow. At feeding time, I change his diaper and take his temperature, which usually rudely wakes him up. But he calms down the instant I lay him on my skin. If he’s interested, I try him at breast. Then he gets tired and I hold him for about an hour. Laying with Emmett is my most restful time. If I’m not sleeping with him, I stare at his face and the peach-fuzz on his skin, I smell him, and I feel him breathe with me on my chest. I imagine him inside me, which is crazy to picture even if he is small. But it gets cut short because it’ll be time to pump, again. Oh, the pumping — it’s a labor of love. I am exhausted from it, yet each bottle gives me a feeling of reward, a sense of purpose.
At the same time, the NICU feels like an eternity, a black hole of time, and I try not to add up how many days we’ll have spent there. I’ve seen many babies come and go. I recognize and sympathize for the new parents, with that look of worry, still in shock, the tears. That first week, I remember asking Ben whether I’d really be crying every day for the next two months, and how exhausting that felt. Apparently, not. Now I’m a veteran, a regular. I’ve gotten to know many nurses, my only source of conversation. We swap stories about our kids. They are very caring to Emmett. One told me he sings to him during the diaper changes when no one else can hear him. Isn’t that sweet?
This experience has definitely brought us closer to our community. We’ve reconnected with people we haven’t spoken to in years, and we are just so grateful for all the support from everyone. It truly has been amazing. One day, I will cook again, right? Someone with multiple kids, please tell me I will have the time 🙂
A video, which reminds me of the Postal Service lyric, “Don’t wake me up, I plan on sleeping in.”