Some of my favorite times of the day are spent snuggling with James. I love when he climbs into my lap and just wants to sit, or when he lays his head on my shoulder and gives me gentle little pats. He’s getting older now and will say, “hug” as he lays his head against me. It just doesn’t get any better than that. I’m so glad he’s a snuggler and likes to be held. I remember the first time I held him, not just in my hands (although that was awesome too), but the first time I Kangaroo’d him.
It was a Friday. James was almost 6 weeks old (39 days to be exact). Andy was back at work a few days a week and I was at the hospital by myself that day. At the time Kangarooing had yet not been discussed for James. At this hospital they typically start doing Kangaroo Care at 30 weeks and James was only 28 weeks. It seems he has a bit of a track record for testing boundaries and pushing the limits. Not sure I’ll be thankful for that the older he gets, but it’s worked out well so far.
James was having a tough day. He had been taken off the oscillator (high frequency ventilator) and placed on a conventional ventilator that Wednesday. He did ok at first, but was really struggling by Friday. His blood gasses weren’t good and they had just about maxed out the settings on the new vent. James could be Kangaroo’d on the conventional vent, but not on the oscillator. His nurse, Genna (who is amazing by the way!), was concerned that James would be back on the oscillator that night, and would be on it for some time. I was absolutely shocked that afternoon when she asked if I wanted to Kangaroo James. I really wanted Andy to be there, but it was either then or wait, possibly weeks, so of course I said yes.
I scrubbed down, sat in the chair, and watched all the commotion as they prepared James to be placed on my chest. Several nurses came to assist Genna. I remember as I watched them and saw how involved this was going to be, I started to panic. I thought something must be very wrong with James if they are going to all this trouble to let me hold him. I wasn’t sure I wanted to know, but I worked up the courage to ask if James was ok. I couldn’t quite get the words out before tears started to fall. Thankfully Genna knew what I was trying to ask, and she assured me he was fine.
It was a very coordinated effort as they moved James to my chest. I couldn’t believe how tiny he still was, at six weeks old. When they placed him on my skin it was the most amazing feeling I’ve experienced. They used a mirror so I could see him and watch his face. His eyes were so big at first, but soon he relaxed and slowly fell asleep. Skin to skin contact does amazing things for babies. Somehow they know they belong with us.
Many more days of Kangaroo Care would follow that one, with both Dad and me. And James did not go back on the oscillator that day. Maybe it was a coincidence, but I like to think Kangaroo Care that afternoon had a little something to do with it. I know it helped me get through some tough days in the NICU. And even now if the day isn’t going right, it only takes a little snuggle with James to make it better.