After my daughter was born, she had to spend a few days in the NICU. It was one of the most difficult times of my life. It was hard to see my little baby in the ICU connected to all of those machines, and I felt so utterly helpless and inadequate. There was nothing I could do to help her, I just had to wait for her to get better on her own. The worst part was that my husband just refused to go see her in the NICU. I think it was too hard for him, he couldn't handle it. I faithfully showed up every 3 hours where the nurses would help me try and feed her with a bottle. My milk hadn't come in and she needed badly to gain weight, so there went my hopes of a smooth start to breastfeeding. Even with the bottle, she was so weak she would barely eat anything before passing out. They kept her on IV nutrition for the first couple of days.
Once she started eating, things got better quickly. They took out her IV. She was able to maintain her blood sugar and her temperature. The NICU staff was very optimistic and ready to discharge her when she came down with jaundice (which apparently is quite common in preemies). They kept her an extra day and put her under the light. Once the jaundice was gone, they did another thorough check up and discovered that she had a heart murmur. So a cardiologist was brought in for a consult. After doing a sonogram on her heart, the cardiologist told me that she has a hole in her heart. At this point, my heart dropped, time seemed to have stopped and I was about to pass out. The cardiologist noticing this, proceeded to tell me that she is still considered perfectly healthy and in all likelihood the hole will close in a couple of month and it is not a cause for concern! I'm not sure how I started to breath again, but somehow I managed to get myself outside where I had a good cry. All I could think about was that my baby had a hole in her heart! And it was somehow my fault! I was totally and completely irrational.
Anyway, my baby was released from NICU the following day. I still couldn't believe they were letting us take that tiny little baby home with us. How were we going to care for her? In addition, my support system had totally fallen through. My Mom was very ill (arthritis, I thought - more on that later) and couldn't help out. My mother-in-law had saved her one week of vacation for the time that I was actually due and couldn't help us then. So it was just the two of us.