Welcome to Parenthood: Take Your Baby & Go

It’s no secret that I was totally in shock at having a baby 8 weeks early with pretty much no warning or preparation.

After my surprise party of labor, leaving our son at the hospital was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Nothing prepares you for going into the hospital with a pregnant belly and then coming out a few days later with no belly and no baby to bring home. It was a bit surreal that I’d had a baby but really had nothing to show for it.

Every day since Jack was born, I’ve been keeping track of every little bit of his progress and hoping for the day he could finally come home. I’ve been worrying about my dwindling time off from work and counting down the days I have at home before I need to go back to the office.

Last week, one of the nurses said that it was possible that Jack could come home this week or next. However, another nurse cautioned me against getting my hopes up because he was still so young. It was possible that they might even keep him in the NICU until his original due date of April 13th.

So, I kept myself tentatively hopeful. In my head, I thought it would be nice if he could come home this week, but it was more likely to be the end of next week once he reached 36 weeks of gestational age. To pass the time, I’ve been keeping myself busy with house projects and visiting Jack at the hospital every day.

This morning I received a call from the NICU, which of course scared the poo out of me once I saw the number show up on my caller ID. Thank god the news was good – according to our primary nurse, as long as everything continues to go well we will be able to bring Jack home on Thursday.

Thursday. Meaning the day after tomorrow.

Holy crap.

You would have thought that I had no idea that I’d be bringing a baby home at all by the way I ran around the house like a drunk chicken. I still had bottles to sterilize, diapers and formula to buy, a diaper bag to pack, and a car seat to install among so many other things.

But what was most shocking was the fact that my precious baby, who has been hooked up to monitors and watched 24 hours a day by professionals for the past three weeks, would be handed over to me.

They’re going to just hand my baby to me and let me leave with him. As if I have some idea of what the hell I’m doing.

For the first time since even thinking about conceiving a baby, I felt so unqualified to actually have one.

Yes, I know how to change diapers, feed and burp a baby – I had tons of experience with my sisters and brother. Granted, that was 20+ years ago, but I’m still pretty comfortable with the basics.

But this isn’t a sibling that I could hand off to my mom while escaping out the door. This is my kid. I’m the mommy and I’m the big cheese in charge.*

And I’m not too cool to admit that I’m scared I’m going to mess up.

* Except for the daddy of course, he’s also very much in charge. And very strong and manly too. Yeah.

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2 thoughts on “Welcome to Parenthood: Take Your Baby & Go”

  1. Hi Julie, I’ve been following Jack’s progress and congrats to all of you. My daughter was also born 8 weeks early. I was on bedrest for two weeks before that so we kinda had an idea, but I had much of the same feelings as you after her birth. I don’t know where you had Jack, but at St. Agnes where Hannah was born we got such great support. They always give that talk about how the baby could be in the hospital until their due date and then they call you out of the blue and are like – come pick up your baby now! Holy Crap. But what I loved at St. Agnes is that they made us pass a “parenting test” before taking Hannah home – could we bathe her, dress her, etc… I thought it was awesome. I ended up feeling way more prepared then people who have their babies full term and 24 hours later they all go home. Also, the NICU puts these little guys on a feeding schedule! All my friends were feeding their kids every 1.5 hours (it took the whole day). At 4 lbs, Hannah was eating every 4 hours! You guys will do just fine!

  2. I can’t attest to having to do the NICU thing, but I remember sending my baby off to the nursery at the hospital and the second night the nurse brought him back because he wouldn’t stop crying. I remember thinking, “why are you bringing him to me? Aren’t you the experts?” A few days later we were putting him in the car to leave, struggling quite a bit with the car seat, and all I could think was, “these people are nuts letting us leave with a baby.” Lol!

    I’m so happy for you that Jack is going home. Whether you feel qualified or not, you’ll make it happen. Follow your instincts. If one thing doesn’t work, try another. And if you need to vent, cry, scream, or laugh, call me. 🙂

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