A mother’s struggle in the NICU

How do you leave your child behind? You never do.

One thing has impressed upon my brain in the short time I’ve been a mother: The imbelicol chord is never truly broken. The moment a child is born, your heart, soul and mind are forever attached to that little being.

My sanity was threatened each day my newborn son, Declan, remained in the NICU. Leaving him just to use the bathroom tested my fragile mindset. I sat by his isolation chamber day-by-day hoping, praying for change. Food and sleep were foreign concepts to me. I felt stretched beyond reason. My survival was dependent upon Declan’s.

My husband, Ross, eventually forced me to come home, to eat, to sleep. These daily, fundamental tasks alluded me. I sat in Declan’s nursery gulping for air as my ragged cries filled the room. Tears dripped in torrents down my pale face as I suffocated from the silence.

I returned each day hoping for good change to my darling baby boy. My standard reserve of strength threatened to run dry at times. I locked myself away, trying to handle my emotions as I dealt with doctors, nurses and Declan’s precarious situation. His silent cries due to being intubated shredded my heart, already so swollen with fear and pain, I felt it would explode from my chest leaving me hollow, brittle.

Declan now sits at home dozing in his bouncy chair as I write this. He is well, though still recovering. One ear is kept on him at all times. Each sound sends my heart into my throat. When your child has been sick, fighting for their life, you always wonder. There is significance to every little sound.

Ross and I feel so blessed and fortunate that Declan is well and home. As we left the NICU on Wednesday, October 10, we knew what we had escaped. The weight of the NICU pushed against us, but we were free of this crushing darkness.

Declan has come home with a G-button, which is an implanted feeding tube in his stomach since he’s still developing his coordination of breathing and swallowing while nippling. What he can’t take from the bottle, we deliver through this tube. He’s also struggling with severe acid reflux symptoms. He’s making slow progress, but it is progress. My baby is on the road to a full, healthy life.

I will go hold Declan now, reveling in the mystery of this creature. Life is not serene or free of frustration, but Declan is home and healthy; that’s all a mother can ask for in the end.