One of the things I've noticed with spending time at the NICU is that you see a lot of the same people there day to day (no big surprise there). What I love to see and watch are the Dads. I've spent some time in the family lounge and when the Moms meet they great each other like the common warrior they are and ask, 'how many weeks were you?'. We don't need much more info than that, we know that we are all in the similar boat and there is no need to see if 'my kid is sicker than your kid'. We all feel that we are all in it together and as result there is an unspoken acknowledgement of respect and commonality.
It's the men however that fascinate me! I love to sit in the parent lounge with a few of the men (as their wives are pumping). I love to hear their stories (of how they got to the NICU) and they talk about life as an achievement, they are not sad to be there, they are so proud. They have managed to keep their wives and their babies alive, it is time to celebrate. They tell their stories proudly and unabashedly about the survival of the two most central people in their lives. What better start to Fatherhood could you get? Talk about fully engaged and involved!
A good deal of this journey feels like it is about Braeden and I, and it certainly is but I just want to take a moment to realize and thank Michael for being such and awesome Dad to all three boys. I think of the generation of boys that we are raising and I think "wow" think of what great fathers OUR boys will be!
The big news is that Braeden did get a chance to meet his brothers yesterday, so that was certainly a special moment. In true Ry style, I said, "oh honey, isn't he just beautiful?" and Ry responded with, "ya Mom, and he's just super cute too!". Sigh, I'll keep that 5 yr old awhile longer! They took it well, (all three that is), and we did our best to prep them before taking them in. They did see a picture before hand of him and we explained all of the tubes and machines. It is quite something else to see them all front and centre though. I am really proud at how well both boys did, it would be a lot for an adult to take in let alone a 5 or 6 yr old. Mike and I did hear from one of the charge nurses the other day that Braeden does in fact have the most complex tubing system on the entire NICU right now. It is truly space age, and would explain why we constantly have nurses come by and 'check him out'.
Braeden is doing better in many regards, his fluid levels have finally started to drop (he might be able to open his eyes one day!), and he is tolerating coming off of his blood pressure meds. I struggle so much when I visit him because they always are having to run some tests, move him, or assess him and I try to watch. I try, but I can't stand seeing his little face scrunched up, just knowing he is screaming and no one is listening. I finally left the room today and went to sit down because me having an anxiety attack at his bedside wouldn't prove helpful to anyone. The upside is that they are having to drug him less and less as a preventative measure against these 'tests'. When the nurse came to get me, and I'm sure to make sure I hadn't passed out, he had calmed down nicely (without extra sedation) and was holding Mike's finger. It is hard to have any quality time in a short visit when he and I are both keyed up.
Part of the downside to Braeden doing better is the weaning of medications (which is supposed to be good right?). The more they take him off one of his 'tower' of drugs, the more they expect that his body will take over for him. Which for the most part is working as planned but what I didn't take into account is the drugs that I had been taking for him (beta blockers and such for the heart) is that they are now coming out of his system as well. It came as such a shock to me (why I don't know) when his nurse informed me when I called this morning that he'd had two episodes of SVT (tachycardia) overnight. To have your baby in-utero go from a heart rate of 110 up to 280 is one thing, he is still inside and somewhat protected but having his heart rate shoot up to 300 for no plausible reason is shocking. I wasn't able to process that he is no longer supported by the heart meds that I was on, it does make sense however that now would be the time that we would start seeing these runs again. The question is over the next few days, as the last of the meds come out of his system, what will happen. We are literally getting to the heart of the matter now, and that is certainly stressful. What this does also mean is that by the end of this week we might just have some answers to the 'why' and 'how' of all of this.