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Newborn Trauma - Our NICU Story

Updated: Nov 6, 2023

I initially wanted to share Beau's birth story...but, thankfully, that was relatively boring. The days that followed, however, were NOT, so that's what I'm sharing here.

I know this post isn't for everyone. If you need to stop reading, I won't be offended.

I do believe the power of a story can help others to know they're not alone. This isn't an easy one to tell.

So, here goes...

When my baby, Beau, was 3 days old (maybe it was 4 days, it's all a blur now), he had a stroke, and the scariest part was, we had no idea that's what was happening until about a week later.

We had arrived home from the hospital and started getting settled into our new life as a family of four. After about 2 hours of being home, Beau started turning blue around his mouth.

We immediately jumped in the van and raced back to the hospital (my husband is a first responder so I just did what he said to do). All I had grabbed was a pack of diapers, a onesie, and his baby quilt.

In the van, I remember telling my husband that his coloring wasn't good, and I couldn't tell if he was breathing or not. My husband was on the phone with the hospital and dispatchers to see if we could meet an ambulance to get him some oxygen. The hospital was about 25 minutes from our house - more than enough time for something devastating to happen.

We met the ambulance in a Kwip Trip parking lot and I ran to meet them with the incision from my c-section just a few days earlier burning. My husband was clutching our baby trying to keep him awake and alive. I think I was having an out-of-body experience...minutes seemed like hours.

We got to the hospital ER and the NICU staff were waiting for us.

The next few hours were a blur - I remember them conducting tons of tests, our little 4-day-old baby being hooked up to so many wires and machines. They couldn't get lines in his arms, hands, or feet because he was so small. They had to put one in his head. That image will forever be burned into my memories.

Around 11:00 at night, the nurses who were working that night came over to Matt and me and said we should go get some sleep. They gave us a room to stay in and we could come in at any time to be with Beau, and they would call us if it was necessary. We didn't know what else to do so we listened.

I remember sitting on the bed, numb, not knowing whether my baby would make it through the night. We still didn't have any answers.

I held Beau's quilt and I cried. My husband held me. We prayed. I've never prayed so hard in my life.

I vividly remember laying out the quilt on the bed, getting a closer look, since it had been gifted to us by my mom, the quilter, only a few days earlier after Beau's birth. I hadn't had a chance to see it up close yet.

I immediately broke down again when I found a Bible verse she had quilted in the blanket - "For I know the plans I have for you..." Jeremiah 29:11 - at my lowest point I knew I wasn't alone.

I'm crying as I type this.

My milk had just come in that day. I woke to pump throughout the night. My freshly postpartum body ached from all the stress of the last 24 hours.

We went in to find Beau was doing much better. He was mostly stable and not lethargic like he had been when we left him last night.

That day and the next he had a few O2 desaturations so our stay was automatically extended. They continued to run tests to try to figure out what had happened and what was going on.

Beau was finally able to breastfeed again and I spent every day with him, and every few hours at night.

Big brother Bram (who had just started walking) came to visit a few times, and that helped heal my mama-heart. It was so hard to be away from him, but I know I needed to be with Beau.

After multiple tests and finally an MRI, we got the news from a roomful of NICU doctors, nurses, and other staff that Beau had had a stroke. Looking back, I found it funny that they didn't use that word. They told us he had an infarct of the basal ganglia and that there was another area of "injury", for lack of a better term, to his gray matter.

They didn't know what caused it and said that this just sometimes happens.

As Beau was stable now and clearly better, they decided it was time to discharge. I think we were there about 9 or 10 days total.

We were scared. We didn't know if this would happen again or not...and we had about a million follow-up appointments with specialists in the coming months.

The day after we were discharged, the world shut down due to COVID-19.

My mental health was suffering. Therapy and medication helped. I'm still working through it, but we are in a good place.

Beau is happy and healthy and is now just about 18-months-old. In subsequent MRIs, tests, and screenings, he is advanced for his age and THRIVING. He tests my patience and parenting skills on a daily basis, and I'm SO thankful!

Talk about answered prayers. 🙏🏻

This is our story. Thanks for reading. ♥️

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