This place where the premature babies, the ill newborns in distress, are given care specific to their needs. The experience summons up new vocabulary for use by their respective parents. Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Ours was housed in Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City. The site we came to know as home to our son, Trevor. He arrived two months early. My water broke and it is not supposed to do that at 32 weeks gestation. What had I done wrong? How could this have been prevented? Questions that prompted uncertain answers. Trevor weighed in at 2lbs. 12ozs. Check out that porterhouse on your plate. You’ll get a pretty good idea. In the NICU we were acquainted with a baby who was a full pound less. Very dire prognosis. Trevor had no body fat. Not sufficient time to develop body fat. Spindly arms and legs with wrinkled, red skin. Nothing remotely resembling cute, chubby Gerber baby.
Trevor’s first crib was the doll bed we borrowed from the church nursery. A real baby would sleep in that doll bed. We borrowed it for six months until Trevor’s size was befitting a regular crib. Everything is unique to the premie. Diapers one-half the size of a typical newborn. Tiny bottles with the appearance of syringes. There is a corner of the baby stores where I found solace in selecting tiny clothing tailored just for babies like mine.
One day on a visit I stepped into the office of the director of neonatalogy. Dr. Alexander was friendly and accessible. Eternal optimist that I am, I told him I thought we would lose Trevor. He assured me that was a defense mechanism. That if we think the worst, and the worst doesn’t manifest, we are relieved. Welcome relief.