home away from home

Today is day number 12 in the NICU for sweet baby Keller. When my water broke towards the end of 34 weeks, the nurses and doctors warned me that the NICU would more than likely be happening. They even warned me that it would probably be a 1-3 week stay for Keller. But I had different thoughts. I thought this boy is strong! He's perfectly healthy. Not to mention, he's adorable! He'll be out of here in five days tops. Welllll, those silly doctors are usually right. So here I sit, on that little couch you see there, staring at my beautiful baby, praying that we get to take him home soon.

Although being in the NICU is the opposite of fun, I really can't complain. We have a healthy, beautiful baby boy. Sure, he needs to get a little stronger and eat a little better. But he's happy and healthy and so are we. We have a nice, big, private room that overlooks some pretty trees (and cement buildings) and the nurses here are wonderful. Keller has pretty much done everything we have asked him to do in the past 12 days in the NICU. He is a much better listener than his two older brothers. I think this little guy is going to be the one who actually behaves (fingers crossed). Keller's CPAP has been removed, his billy lights for jaundice have been taken away, his extra oxygen has been turned off, and he recently got upgraded from his incubator to a big boy crib! And the really big one, he has started to nurse! All really great things. So what's left? When can we go home?? The big thing now is feeding. Although Keller shows interest in nursing, his little body gets so tired, so fast, when eating. So we have to work on eating constantly and gaining weight consistently. Come on little guy, you can do it!

I have been able to stay pretty positive throughout this process, thanks to family and friends. And free coffee. :) Dan has been amazing taking over with Porter, laundry, cleaning, etc. Grandparents have been so helpful watching Porter throughout the day, sisters and friends have been so considerate dropping off meals and offering prayers. But, it's still hard. The hardest thing about this NICU stay is the mom guilt. I feel guilty when I'm home with Porter for not being at the hospital with Keller. And I feel guilty when I'm at the hospital with Keller for not being at home with Porter. Not to mention, the way Sherm dog looks at me when I leave the house every night without giving him his daily walk. Kind of starting to rethink this whole "three kid" thing. What's that? It's too late to rethink it? Well shoot. Guess I'll just have to get a stronger mama heart. Because right now it's hurting bad. I just want all my boys to be in the same place. But for now ... Keller and I are here. For a few more days at least. 
Our current schedule looks something like this: 
(And nope, I don't expect this to necessarily interest you. But it'll interest me one day, when I am once again getting a solid eight hours of sleep ... in like two years.)

9:30pm - Arrive at NICU to spend the night with Keller.
10:00pm - Watch Keller sleep and sing to him. Porter doesn't really care for my singing, so I pretend Keller loves it.
10:30pm - Skin to skin with Keller. After changing his diaper and taking his temperature, I get Keller out of his bed and hold him close to my chest, hoping that he'll nurse on his own. Sometimes he nurses, sometimes he's too tired and just snuggles. 
11:00pm - Depending on the amount of milk I think he gets from nursing, the NICU nurse finishes up Keller's feeding through his NG tube (which goes through his nose) using previously pumped breastmilk. I continue to hold him, smelling his sweet, soft skin and kissing the top of his head for the millionth time.
11:15pm - Time to pump! I change Keller's diaper again if necessary, re-swaddle him nice and tight, and place him back in his itty bitty crib.
11:45pm - Wash pump parts, chug water, check on Keller one last time.
12:00am - SLEEP (a whole 1.5 hours!)
1:30am - Alarm goes off, time to nurse! Skin to skin, hope Keller nurses.
2:00am - NG tube feeding while I hold Keller close.
2:15am - Time to pump!
2:45am - Wash pump parts, chug water, check on Keller yet again. Because he's so cuuuuute.
3:00am - SLEEP (a whole 1.5 hours!) 
4:30am - Alarm goes off, time to attemp nursing again.  
5:00am - NG tube feeding while I hold Keller.
5:15am - Time to pump! Feeling like a milk cow at this point. 
5:45am - Wash pump parts. Or forget to wash pump parts. I can't remember. So dang tired. 
6:00am - SLEEP (a whole 1.5 hours!)
7:30am - Alarm goes off, time to try nursing again. So happy to be holding my baby again.
8:00am - NG tube feeding while I continue to hold Keller. 
8:15am - Time to pump! 
8:45am - Wash pump parts, chug water, give Keller a big smooch.
9:00am - Forget sleep. I get to drink breakfast!! And eat coffee!! What's that? I have it backwards? I'm so tired you guys.
10:30am - Time to nurse! Getting frustrated that he's not nursing consistently, but thankful that he's at least trying. 
11:00am - NG tube feeding and skin to skin.
11:15am - Time to pump!
11:45am - Wash pump parts. Smile a little because I get to go see Porter soon. Cry a little because I have to leave Keller.
12:00pm - Rush home to relieve whoever is watching Porter that day. Sometimes I head home at 6am, sometimes I stay at the NICU all night and all day, just depends on schedules and help from family.
12:30pm - Put on my toddler happy face! Walk in the door and hug Porter and give Sherm a pat on the head. Tell them I love them and start getting lunch ready while trying not to cry or fall asleep. Because you know, LIFE. It's just hard sometimes.
1:30pm - Pump while Porter watches Paw Patrol.
1:45pm - Wash pump parts and curse having to wash pump parts.
2:00pm - Put Porter down for nap and decide if I should A) eat or B) shower or C) nap. Showering usually wins.
4:30pm - Pump while Porter plays with toys and eats a snack and begs to watch Paw Patrol again. 
4:45pm - Wash pump parts. Crap. Forgot about the laundry. And poopy diapers. Run downstairs and throw in a load of laundry. 
5:00pm - Please come home Dan, please come home Dan, please come home Dan. 
5:15pm - Dan comes home!!!! We hang out and play and cook dinner. 
6:30pm - Dinner and dishes.
7:30pm - Dan gives Porter a bath while I pump. And have a glass of red wine. And just breathe.
7:45pm - Wash pump parts with my eyes closed. 
8:00pm - The three of us pile on mommy and daddy's bed to snuggle and chat while Sherman lays nearby and chews on his bone. 
8:30pm - Bedtime for Porter Gray.
8:45pm - Start dishwasher, bring laundry up from basement for Dan to fold, tell the Sherm dog that it'll get better, tell myself that it'll get better. Tell Dan I love him.
9:00pm - Head to the NICU for another fun night of pumping and nursing and not really sleeping. But being super grateful for everything we've been given. 

Typing that just reminded me ... 
I should really be napping instead of blogging.