Today (7/25) was supposed to be my due date. Cade and Camdyn have now been in the NICU for 112 days; that is 16 weeks. Everyone tells me they will come home sometime in the future, but it definitely feels like they have taken up permanent residence at North Austin Medical Center.
I filled out some social security papers for the babies a few weeks ago. On the form, it asked, "How many children do you have?" Without a thought, I wrote in 3. That was the easy question. Next, it asked, "Do your children reside with you?" I had to think about this one because they are supposed to live with me, and they will eventually live with me, but they don't currently live with me. Was I supposed to write "1 child lives with me, 2 do not"? Then, it asked, "If not, where do your children reside?" They live at the hospital in the NICU, 2nd floor, bed 24. I wrote in the hospital's address at 12221 N. Mopac Expwy. Austin, TX 78758. I had to look up my children's address.
Brenna told me the other day, "Mommy, when I was a little baby, I lived at the hospital too until I got big and you took me home." I just answered, "Yes, sweetie, that's right." I didn't even try to explain to her that she was "big" on day 1 and that I was able to tote her out of the hospital like all the other lucky parents who I seem to pass constantly in the hallways.
What does it mean when your babies "live" at the hospital?
It means you always have to make a plan to go see them (which visitors are going at what times since only 2 are allowed, who is going to watch Brenna, how you will fit in all the other things you have to get done on your list). You still have to go buy groceries, do the dishes, do the laundry, fill up the car with gas, get oil changes, go to the bank, etc.
It means that date nights change from "dinner and a movie" to "dinner and a trip to the hospital."
It means that you can't just wake up and feed your baby; you have to plan to be at the NICU at the appropriate time, get ready, and drive there.
It means that you have to remind the nurses that you want to be the one to bathe your babies. And, again, you have to make a plan to be there at bath time.
It means that every time you want to see your babies you have to make yourself look at least as decent as you would to go to Wal-Mart (i.e. shower, brush your hair, brush your teeth, get dressed).
It means that you are the milk man (or woman). You have to pack up your little cooler of breast milk to deliver fresh to the hospital daily.
It means that you can only be together as a family 15 minutes once a week. That is how often Brenna is allowed in the NICU.
It means that when you do your babies' laundry, you put it in a bag to take to the hospital intead of in a drawer in their nursery.
I desperately want to be able to hold, rock, feed, dress, and bathe my babies at home without having to make a plan to do so. I want to be able to sit on my couch with my husband and all three of my children for longer than 15 minutes once a week. (And, I want to do all of this without taking a shower wearing one of my husband's t-shirts and no bra if that's how I feel!)