Once I made it home from the hospital we had to figure out what our plan was and how we planned to get ourselves together and to the hospital. It never was a question of IF we’d go to the hospital, it was just more of a question of when. For the first week or so I was pumping every 2 hours during the day and every 3 hours at night. Mostly. When I didn’t sleep through my alarm. Later on, after talking to one of the lactation consultants, I would do one 5 hour stretch which seemed to help. When I didn’t sleep through my alarm. So trying to pump, get enough sleep, pump, get dressed and get our stuff together, pump, and get to the hospital took some time to figure out. Especially since I was staying late at night in order to spend time with TJ since he came up after work. Spending so much time at the hospital left little time to get anything done at home. We tried combinations of things to help us get out of the house faster but it took us several weeks to figure it all out.
At some point we finally got into a groove of sorts and pretty much spent our days in the same way. This really started to happen mostly in the last pod in the third room. We would get up around 9am and I would pump and then jump in the shower. We’d pack dinner for that night and gather up all our necessary items (camera, blankets/clothes, lunchbox, Bubba Keg, netbook, phone charger, etc) and leave the house sometime around 11am. Mom would drive and I’d put my makeup on in the car to save time. The goal was to get there in time for his noon feeding. Most of the time this was accomplished. Due to my weight restrictions from the C, Mom carried most of our stuff up to the 4th floor. I’m sure we looked like we were moving in every day. We generally got a locker to hold the lunchbox so it would be one less thing to carry in. We managed to only semi-lose the key once as TJ took it home with him once on accident. Good thing they had a spare. Once we got there, we’d do his assessment if the nurse hadn’t started it yet and I would sit down to feed him. A nursing session could last up to an hour with him starting and stopping. I struggled to keep him awake a lot due to his low energy from the anemia. Then I would generally pass him off to Mom to hold upright after he ate to help with the reflux and I would pump as he was generally wasn’t taking from me but about a third of what I normally produced.
After his lunch we would head down to the cafeteria to eat. We started out bringing lunch and dinner up to the hospital but it just got to be too much to pack and carry. So we opted for salads from their salad bar and really enjoyed them. We learned to bring our own dressing; one, because they didn’t have anything tasty and low fat and two, because the dressing added to the weight of the salad. Most days we split a chicken breast in order to get some protein and every now and then got another goodie like jalapeno poppers, a quiche, or a pot pie. Unfortunately the tastiest things we found they only had once while we were there. After lunch we’d head back upstairs where I’d pump (yet again) and then most days I’d kangaroo with Baby G after his 3pm assessment. TJ would get there around 5:45 and he’d sit with us until the NICU closed down for shift changed. I’d pump again and then we’d head to dinner. Most nights we’d eat leftovers (unless there was something particularly wonderful in the cafeteria – which wasn’t often) and then head back up after dinner. TJ would kangaroo with him some nights and then I’d attempt to feed him again at 9, after his assessment. During the 9pm one he would get weighed and I’d change his clothes. After he nursed (or attempted to nurse or slept through the attempted nursing) I’d pump again and then we’d leave. TJ would have already left by that point to go home and get ready for bed. We’d get home, get our stuff together, I’d pump, and we’d be off to bed. This was our schedule for the last 2 1/2 weeks Baby G was there with only a few exceptions. There were errands to run and things to get accomplished that I knew wouldn’t be a possibility once he came home. But once he started nursing I was always there for his noon and 9pm feedings. It was important to me to be able to do that.
It’s funny… the days seemed to go by quickly even though time seemed to drag on. It’s hard to explain but sitting there with him seemed to pass by at a good pace even though our overall stay seemed to last forever. I felt like it would never end. I felt my life was on hold. Everything should have been suspended while we spent our days watching monitors and hoping our little guy would come home. Nothing outside the hospital seemed like it mattered or seemed real or fair. Why should we have to deal with insurance or bills or paperwork? Our child was living in a hospital attached to tubes and monitors – nothing else seemed relevant.