By Renee Brickner
Published: Feb. 18, 2012.
“Don’t lift anything heavier than your baby”, they tell you.
It’s one week after I delivered Payton and it’s a hard concept to grasp when I haven’t held her yet.
Ask any parent who’s hunkering down for a long Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) stay at BC Childrens Hospital and they’ll all relate to the alien feeling that comes with walking out of a hospital, taking all your belongings but leaving behind the most precious one in the care of complete strangers.
Even if it’s your first baby, your body, your mind, your heart knows that it’s not right, it’s not normal.
Our daughter, Payton Kress, was born at BC Children’s Hospital with a life threatening birth defect and the NICU department is the only facility in the province equipped to handle her care.
For that reason, I left my husband and two-year -old daughter and relocated to Vancouver for two-and-a-half months before her due date.
There are so many little things we lost that we took for granted with our first daughter, but everything was different with Payton.
Payton does have a weight (essential for the hospital to measure her medication) but her length is a rounded number with a question mark behind it, “50 cm?”
Her 1st hair cut was a shaved patch on her head to place an Intravenous (IV) since the veins in her little arms and legs needed to heal from the countless IV’s administered before.
Though holding her for the first time, almost two weeks old, was the most amazing thing, accomplished by a determined nurse and a desperate mother all in the wee hours of the night.
We had no photo to mark the event, no family gushing over a baby and counting her toes.
Just an intricate dance around too many wires and tubes, a fragile baby whose experience taught her human touch equaled pain and a priceless memory that time cannot erase.
Despite two months of lying in a bed with minimal interaction, our daughter, at six months, has caught up developmentally.
There are good chances the only remnants of her time in the NICU will be the scars she bears on her torso from the lifesaving surgeries she had when she was merely days old.
The NICU at BC Children’s was a blessing and a curse.
While there, the eight plus weeks seemed to drag on endlessly but looking back, it hardly seems like a drop in the bucket. For a time it defined us but now, its part of what makes us better, more appreciative of what we have.
We have gained much despite what we lost.