One of the most frightening things about the day Thomas was born was knowing that his survival would require several weeks of hospitalization. The progress felt over the first six weeks of that hospitalization assured us that yes he would most likely survive and that he had a very good chance of escaping major disabilities. It was after Tommy was permanently taken off the respirator and moved to the isolette, that his hospital stay really started to feel like a drawn out waiting game. The waiting began to weigh on us.
After a week of having just about the healthiest baby in room two, we were moved to room five, a room in the NICU for babies requiring somewhat less intensive care. We went from having one of the healthiest babies in the room, to a room where he was about the least healthiest in the room.
Moving from room to to room five introduced us to a slightly different set of nurses. Some of these nurses were (appropriately) far more critical of our handling of Thomas while we were visiting. Being that we were permitted to handle and hold him on a regular basis, there was more to criticize.
This really began our education as parents of a preemie. Where before we were more spectators than participants, now we were trying to more actively participate in his care.
The NICU experience is described as "two steps forward, one step back". We had felt to this point that we'd taken many more steps forward than steps back. Unfortunately, week 8 included a step back.
Thomas' oxygen requirements went up and he became more sensitive to being handled. That Thursday, one of the residents called Natalie at home. He had been put back on the CPAP, placed on antibiotics and was being tested for infection. Once again, negative 24 and 48 hour cultures were followed by a positive culture at 72 hours. It was felt that Thomas was requiring more intensive care than what was available in room five, so he was moved to room three. It was a hard step back for his parents.
Thomas improved after about a week, just in time to receive his "three pound award."
After ten weeks leave, Natalie finally had to returned to work. Returning to work was difficult for her as she knew that it would be more difficult to spend time with him every day. The night before Natalie returned to work, we went for an extended Sunday night visit. It was that night that we were permitted to bath him together for the first time -- another little milestone.
The day Natalie returned to work, she received a flower arrangement from Thomas. The note said "Daddy says you have to go to work to buy me lots of toys. Go to it Mom!" To this day, Thomas' father doesn't know how Thomas borrowed the credit card ;-)