Parents have a tendency of comparing their babies to others. You’d say this is a horrible thing but in reality, I disagree (as long as it’s taken with a grain of salt and not to pass judgment). I don’t know about you all but I don’t know what on earth I am doing half of the time. I am learning how to be a mom one day at a time, A.K.A. one Google search at a time. Us moms overthink things. “Is my baby big enough or is he TOO big?,” “Should he be holding his head up yet?,” “When will he start grabbing his toys?,” etc. I think comparing our babies to others is a way we remind ourselves we’re doing a decent job. We compare because we’re clueless. We compare because we’re trying to be the best mom and maybe that person knows something we don’t.
When other parents are looking at Jed, they are always shocked to hear he was born at 24 weeks, weighed 660 grams and spent a whopping 110 days in the NICU. Aside from a few minor scars, he doesn’t look any different than a 4 month baby. I think because he’s doing so well and looks so “normal”, people think he might have just been sitting in the NICU, growing, putting on weight, waiting to come home. That, unfortunately, is far from the truth.
When we got to the NICU, the nurses warned us that there was a rollercoaster waiting for us. They told us that he would have good days and bad days. That on some days he would take 2 steps forward and 2 steps back. Actually, he might even take 1 step forward and 5 steps back (which he did). Jed was not exempt from this rollercoaster, unfortunately.
Were there babies going through more than him in the NICU? OH YES! Big time! If we take a closer look, there were healthier babies than Jed and there were babies fighting battles 10x worse than him. Although the battles and challenges Jedidiah faced may seem massive to some of you, other parents might be sitting there thinking, “oh, that’s nothing”. And I get it. But as a parent, even a simple 1 day stay in the NICU is traumatizing.
I tell my friends all the time that if I’ve learned one thing about this whole journey it’s to be grateful because life is really all about perspective. Just because you have a friend whose baby is in the NICU for 100 days, doesn’t mean you don’t have the right to be upset if your baby was there for just one night. Everyone wants a perfect pregnancy and a perfect baby. We hurt when our children hurt. Therefore, when we sometimes compare our children’s situation with another less severe case, we might grow weary, angry and upset. On the other hand, when we compare their battle to another more critical one, we realize things could be a whole lot worse. At the end of the day, we will always look at our own case in retrospect, either consciously or subconsciously, after hearing of another. That’s why its important to be sympathetic with those going through something worse and be grateful for your situation. Learn from it and find hope in it. In the same fashion, be sympathetic with others who are going through much less. They are hurting as well. Help them find hope and solace in your situation, just as you can find it another’s similar or worse one than yours.
With all of that said, I will end this with a list of every battle Jed faced in the NICU. Every “diagnosis” he was given. Some of these I’ll go into more detail later as they were big parts of his journey. He came home on 5 different medications/supplements and had to follow up with about 5 specialists. But I hope to those of you comparing your child to mine, that this list helps you find some comfort and hope, knowing he went through all of this and is now a healthy 7 month old (4 months adjusted) baby boy with absolutely none of the below issues anymore.
– Hyperglycemia (High Glucose – Jed’s was double the norm when he was born)
– Low Creatinine Levels (Sign of poor kidney function)
– 2 PICC Lines (Catheter from the vein up to the heart)
– Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia (BPD – Chronic Lung Disease)
– Accute Respiratory Failure (Brief)
– Collapsed Lungs
– 30-Day Intubation, 3 Months of Oxygen Support
– Apnea of Prematurity (Not breathing for 15-20 secs during sleep)
– Patent Ductus Arteriosis (PDA – Open vessel in the heart causing abnormal blood flow)
– Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC – Intestines become damaged and begin to die)
– Hypotension (Very low blood pressure)
– Suspected Hirschbrung’s Disease (Barium Enema done – tested negative)
– E-Coli and a UTI
– Pseudomona Colonization (Required mild isolation)
– Cholestasis (aka Jaundice, high bilirubin levels and poor liver function)
– Anemia of Prematurity (Required 14 red blood cell transfusions)
– Thrombocytopenia (Platelet deficiency – Required 6 platelet transfusions)
– Retinopathy of Prematurity (Abnormal blood vessel growth in the retina)
Below is Jed during what was probably his toughest time followed by him today.