Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Bonding Through Gowns and Gloves

For the past few days I have started to experience this strong urge to bring Elise home. Maybe because today happens to be the 48th day in the NICU. I'm ready for tomorrow to be the 1st day home. However, we know she still has quite a few more days in the NICU before she is ours to take home. Right now, she is 2 pounds 9 ounces. She needs to grow to at least 4 pounds so the smallest car seat can carry her home. She will also need to be off breathing apparatuses such as the CPAP. She continues to do well on the CPAP, but still very much needs it to keep those lungs open and working. All of this tells me one thing: the NICU still needs her. 

I've spent the last few days pondering why I have this "urge" all of a sudden. A couple of reasons pop to mind:
1). We have just recently been able to dress Elise in preemie clothes. Even though many preemie clothes are still too big for her, anytime a baby is put in a cute outfit, life becomes more real, as we like to say. She's no longer a baby in a diaper with wires all around. She is now a baby, in a diaper, with some wires, AND an adorable outfit on! 

2). Holding time is happening much more frequently now that we are almost 50 days into our stay. At least once a day (if not twice) do the nurses help us get Elise out of her isolette and we enjoy rocking her for 1-3 hours, depending on her schedule and tolerance level. 

3). Maybe because this urge is normal! Meaning, there is no reason I am just now feeling it, other than we are slowly coming out of the shock of our world turning upside down and welcoming Elise 4 months early.

This urge to bring her home is bittersweet, as with many things about a NICU stay. I now feel the urge to spend everyday in the NICU versus my every other day schedule I started in the beginning of our journey (G and I thought this may happen). I've held off so far driving everyday because I know it is not the healthiest option for me to take. She also still needs her "no stimulation times" even though she can be held. If I'm there everyday, I will ache to hold her and stimulate the heck out of her! I can't get enough of her teeny tiny hands and feet....I could kiss them until they fall off! 

I find myself thinking of Elise one thousand times a day....that has never changed since her birth. I am also getting much more used to seeing 'NICU calling' come across my phone during the early afternoon hours. It's usually the doctor calling to give me the update for the day. For the last several days, Elise has received glowing updates from the doctors. We could say the roller coaster has been going in 'our direction' these last few days, until today when we took a slight turn in direction.... 

Today the doctor started with, "I have some not so good news first." It appears that Miss Elise tested positive for MRSA through a weekly routine nose swab. It has NOT turned into an infection, and we pray it doesn't, but the doctors are going to give her 5 days of an ointment through her nose and bottom to hopefully keep it from going into an infection. We pray that we do not have to go down the infection road again. Due to hospital policy, usually babies who test positive are moved to isolated rooms instead of staying in their usual decorated corners in the NICU. Fortunately for us, Elise is in the back of the NICU and the doctors declared that her spot was safe enough. 

MRSA is found in something like 1 out of 3 humans. Unless it turns into an infection, a person has no symptoms of even having MRSA. We are thankful that the hospital does the routine nose swabs and made us aware of Elise's positivity. If I were a parent of another NICU baby, I would want all precautions taken so that my baby stayed MRSA free. However, it is heartbreaking to know that we will have to wear gowns and gloves whenever we are in contact with Elise. Changing her diaper, feeding her, and even holding her. At first I thought the 'gown and glove' policy was just for the 5 days until they could swab again and hopefully find Elise to be MRSA free. However, they don't swab again because their policy is: 'once you a MRSA positive, you are MRSA positive.' Therefore, hospital 'gown and glove' policy stays in effect for the entire length of the NICU stay. I'll be honest and say when I heard this, I didn't think about the safety of the other babies in the NICU. I only thought about how I'll never get to hold Elise without gloves on until we come home. Skin to skin is powerful and moving. Gloves to skin takes all of that away. 

We've worked so hard on this bonding process because we are on a very unique journey in our lives. Anything we can do to bond, we jump in with both feet and 100% eagerness. I don't want to be doom and gloom and say this is devastating. We will find a way to adapt to this, as we always do. It just makes me very sad. I love touching her skin and letting her touch mine. I sit for hours sometimes just touching her tiny fingers while she snoozes away. These gloves will certainly throw a kink in the bonding process and make me feel like a space momma in a bubble trying so hard to feel like a normal momma. 

Maybe a nurse will let me take a couple of fingers out of a glove when no 'policymakers' are looking: what happens in Elise's corner, stays in Elise's corner? 

Always trying to find a little humor along the way, 

P.S...the doctor did give us some good news during the phone call today. Elise is at 22% oxygen and looks, feels, and sounds great! She is tolerating her feedings wonderfully and continues to hate the CPAP. That's our girl! 


  1. Jessica, when I was still working as a deaconess I visited lots of patients who were MRSA positive without an infection. Trying to provide spiritual care through gown, glove, and mask was challenging, to say the least. BUT, little Elise will still get to hear your beautiful voice - something she was listening to daily while still inside of you, and get to feel her momma's warmth and even smell you (sounds weird, but babies seem to like their momma's smell...) even through the gown and gloves.

    I'm still praying for you and your family - that Elise gains those last few pounds so she can go home to the fabulous nursery that awaits her. And so we can see more pictures of her in all those adorable outfits that are undoubtedly in her closet! :)

    Blessings to you,

  2. I remember that "urge!" When we were FINALLY told we were taking Olivia home (we were told the DAY before, that was fun to tell my boss! ha) we didn't feel "ready" but I assume that is prob what new parents feel like when the moms water breaks? I guess you are never "ready?" I can't wait to read when the time approaches for you guys!! I hope you won't have to wait 80 days like us! It was TORTURE!!

  3. Oh that horrible, no good MRSA. We've had many problems with staph and MRSA and we know it's no fun. So glad that Elise is doing good otherwise. She's a tough girl! I pray y'all are home soon.

  4. Oh my sweet Jessica!! My heart aches for you dear heart and Grant at this news, but, you know
    What?!? God has everything under control! He will totally protect Elise and I know this too shall pass!!! We are totally praying that Elise in her spunky little heart will be strengthened with HIS power! Dad and I love you so much - there is no doubt!

  5. I am sure it was quite disappointing to hear you will have to be outfitted to touch your sweet angel but it sounds like you have the right attitude! And when you get bummed about not bringing her home YET just think about how nervous you are going to be when they finally tell you that you can bring her home! LOL Keep your chin up!

  6. We are praying for Elise and for you and Grant. Love you!

  7. I am sorry to hear this news Jessica! It does sound disappointing and yet, you will find other ways to bond. I agree with the comments above about her hearing your voice and even smelling your Mommy scent! I am sure that touch is not the only sense that she uses to bond with her family. A thought occurred to me as I was reading your post. I wonder if you also felt recently like it was time to take Elise home because the warm weather has made it feel like late May! While we are all suddenly struggling with "spring fever", I wonder if your mind was also thinking that it was almost time for summer, when you had planned to bring your sweet baby home? Just a thought.