Embarking on week three, we have become NICU regulars. The nurses know us, the social workers know us, the other parents know us, the volunteers in the Ronald McDonald Family Room know us. Days filled with occupational and physical therapy, attempts (sometimes more successful than others) at bottle feeding, pumping every two to three hours, and scrutinizing the monitor (all while trying to peel our eyes away) suck the residual energy remaining in our sleep-deprived bodies.
Evelyn is largely doing very well, and focusing on her progress each day drags us mercifully through the worrisome moments. When oxygen levels dip quickly, from 99 to 56, wild beeping alarms ensue. As panic swells, our calm(ish) musings to Evelyn are our best attempts at reminding her to breathe. Gentle strokes on her soft, chubby cheeks sometimes wakes her enough to inhale a few sharp, shallow breaths, relieving the alarm from its notification duties.
Like recurrent pregnancy loss and infertility, there are so many more people thrown into the world of caring for a premature baby than I had ever imagined. While this is new territory in our lives, the familiar understanding that while each family’s story is different, we are all connected by having a similar intimate comprehension of this journey. Like recurrent pregnancy loss and infertility, the journey is lonely, yet we are never alone.