Reflecting On The NICU Experience
By WLAPOM Alumni member Nicole Bugna-Doyle.
The NICU… such a place of stress and hope and highs and lows. I never knew a building could feel like a roller coaster at times.
My twin boys were born at 24 weeks and 6 days. They spent 154 and 156 days in the NICU. Oscillating vent, vent, cpap, PDA ligation surgery…every time I walked through the doors after scrubbing in, I held my breath hoping that each was improving. There were good days and bad days. I would be smiling ear to ear when they had good days. Bad days were spent crying in my car after leaving the NICU.
What made the difference – the nurses. Our constant cheerleaders, teachers and explainers of everything I didn’t fully understand from the doctors. Also receiving a care package from Graham’s Foundation helped me know that I was not walking alone in the prematurity journey. (Full disclosure, I work for Graham’s Foundation now, to help preemie parents with support and resources). The NICU support group that our NICU offered weekly and the understanding of other parents in the NICU helped during our five months stay there as well. When you walk this path of a preemie in the NICU, it feels lonely, but know there are resources hopefully in your hospital and also online to help – emotionally, financially and spiritually.
There were tears when my boys were finally ready to leave the NICU. At the time I wasn’t sure if it was tears of relief and triumph that we were going home as a family finally or tears of concern that we wouldn’t have the constant support that a NICU does. In truth, it was both.
It has been 10 years since our NICU journey. That experience stays with you. It can soften and harden you at the same time. Thanks to amazing NICU team of doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists and other specialists, they are here to be a part of the world and for that, I will forever be thankful.
In pictures: Nicole and family, November 2011.