There isn’t really a book or manual to teach you how to be a “hospital mom” with a toddler (and husband) at home. There are no recommendations or best practices on how much timeto spend at the hospital with your sick baby or at home with your healthy one. There are no studies, that I am aware of, that outline the trauma or permanent damage to a baby when it’s abandoned in the desolate hospital with only nurses to love them. There is no way to know if I am hurting Asher’s ability to trust, cope and feel secure because I am not there as much as he is used to.
Everyday I struggle. Everyday I cry over it. I don’t know who needs me more. How do I balance my time, effort and my love. It was going to be a struggle to be home and healthy with two kids, but now my children can’t even be in the same room. If I am with Finn, I feel guilty that I am not spending quality time with my gregarious Asher. When I am with Asher I worry that Finn is scared or not being picked up when he is crying. It’s impossible to be both places at once. I literally have to choose one child over the other.
Tomorrow (Saturday) makes this visit to Children’s longer than our stay in the NICU. For some reason that really hit me hard. Coupled with Finn’s lack of progress I feel a deep dejection. He didn’t regress, but he didn’t make the progress we hoped for. The doctors didn’t seem as optimistic today. The weekends are long and hard here. There is far less support medically and the home balancing act gets even harder. Time sort of stands still. Every minute I am with Asher, Finn is alone. Every time I spend the day with Finn, Asher misses his mommy. Of course Jeff is doing the best he can but rarely are we ever together. It’s man-to-man coverage and it’s exhausting. In the NICU the nurses would always say “Finn won’t know you aren’t here, but Asher will know you are home” as a way to encourage me to go home. Here in the CVICU I feel like the doctors and nurses value my inputs and Finn DOES know I am here. Often times I am the only one who can calm him down. I keep him active and engaged. Toys, mirrors, swings, stories and songs. The nurses can’t do that. He whines when I walk across the room or put him down to pump. I just don’t feel right about leaving him here for hours on end, alone.
I will never know if I am doing it right and that feels pretty awful. So many of the babies in the unit don’t have their mom or dad here at all. They just sit in their cribs, watch movies or get minimal PT/OT attention. I can’t do that to this sweet babe, it just doesn’t feel right for a mommy to be away from her brand new baby. Jeff has got the home life taken care of and doing a killer job, but Ash needs his mama too.
I am doing the best I can, I just need to convince myself of that.