Calvin rocked the NICU.
He started out strong and improved from there.
We were there for 3 weeks but really only had bad news a few times.
We had lots of friends in the NICU who got bad news a lot.
We talked about how awful that was for them, and I told Nate I didn’t know how we would handle bad news because really we only got good news.
We felt so blessed because we had the best baby in the whole NICU, and in the whole world.
The NICU was hard.
People would tell me how strong I was – but I didn’t feel strong.
I cried a lot.
I even thought, “Why Calvin? Why me?”
There were days and nights that I thought things like,
“This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.”
“This is the worst day of my life.”
Perspective – and time – changes everything.
While in the NICU we were able to hold our baby nearly whenever we wanted.
We were able to feed our baby when he was hungry except once, right before his surgery.
We were able to hear our baby when he cried, and watch him as he breathed.
We were able to touch our baby.
But the biggest thing –
and the thing I didn’t appreciate at the time –
was that we always knew we would bring him home.
It wasn’t a matter of if, only a matter of when.
It was easy to imagine our lives with Calvin.
Easy to look forward to the future.
I would imagine laying on my soft carpet at home, with the windows open, basking in the sun with him.
We imagined going on walks, reading him books, watching him grow…
We even looked forward to the normal new parent things –
midnight feedings, diaper changes, taking him on car rides when we couldn’t get him to stop crying…
I thought that that experience was the hardest thing I would ever have to do.
I was very wrong.
Now we can’t hold our baby.
We have to watch him cry, but we can’t hear it because there is a tube down his throat blocking the sound.
But he needs the tube, because he can’t breathe by himself.
And we can’t comfort him, because if he moves, he stops breathing, even with the tube.
And we can’t fix him, because we don’t know what’s wrong.
His MRI wasn’t 100% conclusive.
It’s possible that pressure in the bottom of his brain is causing these symptoms, and the shunt is only relieving pressure on the top of his brain.
Our neurosurgeon sent his images to other experts across the country, including our Dr. in Denver.
They decided to wait until next Thursday and see if his brain evens out and decides it wants to breathe again.
Yesterday was rough.
Calvin went for his MRI around 10:30 am.
When he got back we stopped his sedation and waited for him to wake up.
He started to stir around 5 pm, and I was able to hold him for about 10 minutes.
The last time I’d held him was over 24 hours before, and he had stopped breathing.
Then the Dr. decided to take out his tube and see how he did.
He didn’t do well.
We watched him struggle for an hour.
A very long hour.
He stopped breathing 5 times in the hour.
The Dr. told us, “He doesn’t have the drive to breathe.”
I left the room sobbing.
I couldn’t watch my baby struggle anymore.
The Dr. tried to put his tube back in, but his throat was too swollen and she couldn’t.
Nate watched them bag our baby while the emergency room Dr. –
the one that sent us home on Sunday –
He was able to place the tube and Calvin turned pink again.
The shade I’ve termed “baby pink”.
The color babies should always be.
Calvin didn’t do well overnight.
He started producing thick green mucous in his lungs as a result from all the intubations.
His kidneys stopped producing urine.
He had a period where he stopped breathing – even with the tube in him.
The Dr. had considered attempting to remove the tube again today to see how he did after a good nights’ rest. With all that is happening, Calvin is going to remain with the breathing tube for the time being.
Last night my BFF Marilyn (who is a NICU nurse) came and took care of Calvin for us while Nate and I went home to eat and shower.
While there, I asked Nate if he wanted to play the best-case worst-case game with me.
He asked if I thought I really wanted to do that.
I told him we are both thinking it, we might as well talk about it.
Calvin wakes up, pulls his tube out (because he’s breathing on his own and knows he doesn’t need it), and is in his crib waiting for us when we get upstairs.
He stands up and tells us he loves us and wants to sleep in our bed with us, please?
We had a good time coming up with our best case scenario.
When we finished, we were quiet.
Neither one of us wanted to finish the game.
Perspective – and time – changes everything.
Looking back, the NICU seems easy.
We met our baby, learned how to take care of him, and fell in love.
And we knew we would bring him home.
I hope that in time we can look back on these days with perspective and say the same thing about them.
In the meantime we are trying
(but mostly failing)
to appreciate the rain that brings the rainbows.
And hoping for a rainbow soon.