There are many moments from James’ NICU stay that I will never forget. Some of them bring sadness and tears, remembering the times James fought so hard to hang in there. But Many of them bring smiles and tears of joy, moments of connecting with my little peanut that I’m incredibly thankful for. This photo captured one of those amazing moments.
So much about James scared me when he was born. The obvious being that he was so tiny. I had never seen a baby as small as James. His eyes were still fused shut. His skin was translucent and extremely delicate. I was scared to touch him and cried when I looked at him. I was scared to get too attached to him at first, something so hard to admit now. I was trying to protect myself because the thought of losing him was unbearable. There was so much fear inside me, but moments like this one helped me to overcome that fear.
He was 3 days old. His nurse that day was Angela. She, like his other nurses, encouraged me to assist with the assessment they did every three hours. I was nervous, but as I watched and started to help in small ways I became more confident. That day I helped to take his temperature and change his diaper. Doesn’t sound like much, but in those scary first days it was a big deal. A diaper change was far from easy with his with his delicate skin and his tiny body hooked up to so many wires. I’m so thankful his nurses encouraged me to help with his care, because the more I was able to do these little things, the more I started to feel like his mom. These moments gave me the courage to bond with my baby boy.
When all the usual steps of his assessment were completed she told me she had another job for me, if I was up for it. She explained that I could hold him while she changed his bedding. I was scared to death, but there was no way I was going to turn down the opportunity to hold James. Angela picked James up as I readied my hands under hers. Very gently she placed him in my hands. I held him so carefully,barely breathing, not wanting to hurt him. I remember smiling. Smiles were not easy those first few days, but that moment made me smile. It certainly wasn’t the traditional way, but I was holding my son, and it was beautiful. I can’t begin to explain how important that moment was to me. It was pure joy.
This is one of those memories that brings smiles and tears of joy. The NICU experience can be difficult beyond words. But even through the pain there was so much happiness and love. I’m so thankful for all the beautiful moments we experienced with James. And so thankful to his amazing nurses who made it all happen. I’m not sure they realize the powerful impact they had on us and our NICU experience, but that’s a story for another day…