Thursday, May 8, 2014

A Day In The Life: NICU...and COWS

Odd schedule today since RMcD House is serving lunch (usually we just eat lunch at the hospital and bop over here for dinner), so we have a little bit of time on our hands (not really...laundry, emailing, updating...) before it's ready, so I thought I'd take the time to give a brief overview of what a day in the life of a NICU parent(s) is like {some of you have asked what a typical day looks like around here, so here we go...includes examples of sleep deprivation moments...}

**I'd like to preface and say this schedule is a typical really GOOD day. This is not how a not so good day goes, where you might have an unexpected test, alarms on monitors, doctors popping in and out to assess her outside of normal times, round-table meeting with 9+ doctors and nurses all discussing worst case scenarios, having to consider decisions that will need to be made...those days are not this laid out and processed. On those days, there is a lot of praying, crying, and just getting through. We're lucky on those days if we remember to eat. But we are having a good day, so let's go down that road...

7am ~ Alarm. We wake up exhausted. Oxymoron, I know. One should feel refreshed after 8 hours of sleep. But we have adrenaline to get up and moving so we can have some time with her before the doctors make their rounds and do assessments. 

8:30ish ~ Eat a breakfast bar on the way to the hospital. Remember to take motrin. Accidentally almost take Percocet. Remind self to throw remaining Percocet away so that I don't accidentally mistake it for my motrin.

8:32am ~ Attempt to remember what level we parked on. Consider taking the little "you parked here" card. Use hand sanitizer while waiting in elevator. Listen to Alan sing "We all park in a yellow submarine..." to remind us that we parked on Level 2 Yellow Submarine. 

8:38am ~ By her bedside. Get night report from nurse. Wash hands. Ooh and ahh over her accomplishments from the night before :). Sigh heavily if a not so great night (but so far, so good!) Perhaps take pic of her. Wash hands because we realized we just touched our phones. Attempt to steal extra rocking chair if available, otherwise we get one rocking chair, and one nurse's office chair. Paper-rock-scissors to see who gets what chair. Watch nurses stare at us as we do so. Not really. Haven't had to play PRS just yet, but getting to the point where we've decided one day, when our cruise ship comes in, we'll donate nice rocking chairs to NICU nurseries. 

8:54am ~ Drink 3oz of horrible coffee. Decide it's not worth it. Return to bedside. Wash hands. 

9am ~ 10am ish ~ Help change diaper if needed. Rock her. Attempt to update prior night's report in a quickly wrapped up update on fb or to family. Wash hands, again. Consider coffee. Remember how bad it was. Forget about coffee. Google new medical terms the nurses are using today as to appear like we really know what they're talking about (for now we nod and smile in agreement). Read scripture for the day. One dear friend texts me daily scripture. Love her for this ;). Another person asks how Chloe is today. Text back update and include our scripture for the day we're clinging to. 

Sometime around 10am ~ 10:30am ~ Doctor rounds. This consists of neonatologist, neonatologist fellow, nurse practitioner, sometimes cardiologist, and a few more peeps, plus Chloe's day nurse. They assess her, go over all her numbers and how she's doing, then allow us a moment to ask any questions. 

COWS...this leads to a fun and interesting topic ;). They "drive" these computers around...
But since it's a children's hospital, they're decked out like tigers, zebras, cows, and the list goes on. They are called COWS (Computer On Wheels), but what's funny is there is one dying cow that our team of doctors somehow seems to always draw the short straw and ends up with the dying cow from the corral (seriously, where they keep them all, they call it the corral). They've begun to ask Alan {almost resident IT guy} why it sounds this way. Today's nurse practitioner commented it's nearly time to take this particular COW out to the back pasture.... {Thanks, Google, for the image. When I googled Computer On Wheels, a ton of computer images came up, and also one real cow out in the pasture ;) }

Noonish ~ Notice time runs on 'ish' as in, nothing is the same time daily. Depends on if she's having a test done, or a doctor will be by soon. Lunch is usually either at the cafeteria, Ronald McDonald Room which is like a hospitality room at the hospital, or at one of the 2 RMcD houses. Thankful for the friends that have taken us out to lunch or dinner once in a while.

1:30 ~ 3pm...attempt naps back at RMcD house. Attempt that is. Sometimes laundry. Sometimes phone chat or skype with the kiddos. Sometimes blog update. Sometimes sleep. Sometimes you're so exhausted that sleep still doesn't come. Check emails. Decide to head back over. Touch doors. Touch car. Touch elevator. Use hand sanitizer. Check texts. Realize scripture I sent to someone earlier is NOT the right verse, and that Old Testament reference to tents and ropes have nothing to do with our situation. Facepalm. Text back intended verse. 

4pm ish ~ Back to Chloe. Attempt 2 more oz of coffee before realizing there's more to live for in life than horrible coffee. Wash hands. Go back and rock and watch monitors. 

6pm ~ Dinner...somewhere. At some point. Sometimes we just skip and stay with her and do a later dinner. 

7pm ~ 9pm Wash hands. Cuddle. Major cuddling action usually around this time. Each night around 8pm is bedtime routine. We get to change her diaper, help weigh her, change out bedding, help check wires, swab out her mouth. Best nights are bath nights (every other night) bedtime routines because it's the most hands-on time we get. Makes me feel more like a mama when I get to actually help do stuff and not just watch the nurses interact with her. Give nurses are hard time. Listen in as nurses change off shifts from 7-8pm (parents allowed to stay during this hour, but visitors may no due to the medical information being exchanged). Check texts. Realize yet again I texted the wrong verse, but at least this time the verse was more fitting and not completely out in left field. Respond with originally intended verse. 

9pm Options: 1) More rocking/cuddle time. 2) Tucker her in and say bedtime prayers then head back to house. 3) Decide on cuddle time, get all comfy with pillows in the chair and rock her for 15min before my eyes are closing. Realize I'm too tired to stay awake and rock her, and it's kind of a dumb idea to fall asleep holding a preemie with 6+ wires....ask nurse to put her back. Sigh because I really wanted to rock and cuddle more, but realize I need sleep just as much. Say good night. 

9:46pm ~ Exit elevator. Use hand sanitizer. Wander aimlessly around Red Rocket parking level. Realize we're on Purple Plane. Head back to elevator. Use hand sanitizer again. Finally find vehicle. Promise ourselves we will start taking the "you are parked here" ticket. 

10pm ~ House. Wash hands out of habit. Check a few emails or respond to texts. Consider emailing Starbucks and asking if they'd like to partner with RMcD houses. Pray. Lights out by 10:30 or 11pm. Sigh. Realize He got us through one more day...


  1. If Starbucks won't partner with RMcD houses, I bet the NICU staff wouldn't mind a Kerrig machine with those fancy rocking chairs! ;)

  2. You perfectly conveyed the NICU experience! Each experience is different - but soooooooo much of it is the same! We pray for Chloe and you all daily! The NICU is a roller coaster (get used to that phrase) but thank the Lord that HE is in control of the cars!!