We stayed in that NICU for a long 9 days. I know mom's of preemies were in for hundreds of days are going to balk at the "long 9 days" portion. However, we were surrounded by babies that were 1/4 the size of Bear (he was 9lbs) that were much sicker. Bear never had a seizure that they ever saw. He just didn't know how to eat. Because of his low level of need, we were stuck in a corner. We were pretty much left unattended unless some new nurse decided she needed to demand her expertise, which was highly uninformed.
We felt out of place in an area with babies that needed so much attention, mom's who couldn't even hold their babies. In the beginning the neonatologists just kept saying this was the result of a traumatic birth. It would improve. Then he had microcephaly and could be severely delayed. Then he had a brain injury. Then it was that I did recreational drugs, despite my adamant responses that I hadn't even been near a drug. Then it was a genetic disorder. Then it was an in utero infection.
Add this rollercoaster of emotion to the postpartum hormones and you would find me. The twenty minute ride home every day I would burst into tears. I would hand my baby back to a nurse that I just saw ignoring a crying baby for twenty minutes so she could check her email. Then I would get home, pump in an empty nursery, see my empty carseat, and go to bed with just my husband. I never felt more split apart.
I had an enormous amount of guilt. As mothers our first instinct is to feel guilty. When our child is sick, we feel guilty that we cannot make them feel better, when our child gets hurt we feel guilty that we cannot heal them and remove the sting.
My son was in a NICU all alone and I felt guilty I couldn't be there 24 hours a day. I believe every NICU mom feels this. Add to that, I could have done this to my son. I could have done something during pregnancy that damaged his brain. Was is that warm bath? Did I have an infection I didn't know about? Was it those 2 sips of wine I had? What if God gave me a perfect baby and I did something selfish and ruined it?
The what if's could eat me alive, and they still could if I let them.
Finally on day 12 of his life we were finally allowed to bring our baby home. However, I didn't bring home a newborn, I brought home a baby who learned a schedule in the NICU, wasn't sleepy all day, and screamed nonstop.