Before leaving the NICU with Nicklaus, the doctors and nurses warned us about how Preemies can become over stimulated and shut down very quickly. They also warned us of any illnesses, such as RSV that preemies are susceptible to. We were warned of what will happen is Nicklaus catches a cold, becomes stressed, or simply is subjected to over stimulation. We tried to relay this to family and friends. While people initially understood our ground rules relating to Nick, we also had people who just never know when to shut their mouths. No matter what we told people, they would make ridiculous comments about us being over-protective parents etc. For example: Thanksgiving. We decided that because Nick was just released from the hospital, we did not want to subject him to a large gathering for Thanksgiving. While people claimed they understood, they really didn't because comments were made about how ridiculous it was that we were so over-protective. We had comments that were frankly rude and hurtful. We tried to re-explain to those who did not understand, but we were consistently met with "Oh, the doctors don't know what they are talking about", "Oh, you two are ridiculous", and a whole host of other comments. People didn't realize those comments not only frustrated us, but hurt us. We had to endure the loss of one child and we were not willing to allow anything to happen to Nick. Of course, people seem to have forgotten about Justin. You know the saying, out of sight, out of mind....well, for us, Justin will never be out of sight or out of mind.
We had a relaxing Thanksgiving with our newborn son and our two beautiful daughters.
Next up: Christmas. Here we go again. Nick had his first check up with the pediatrician. We were again warned by the pediatrician that subjecting Nicklaus to a large gathering could be detrimental to his well being both physically and emotionally. We were strongly cautioned that if we bring Nick to a large gathering and he catches a cold, he would likely be placed in the hospital for 3 to 5 days due to the immaturity of his lungs and his immune system. Of course, here we go again. Hurtful comments from the family once again. The typical narrow minded comments from family hurts more than dumb comments from friends. All along we agreed to play everything by ear. If all is well on Christmas day, and nobody is sick, we will come to the family gathering. If anybody is sick, we will not risk it.
Christmas day came...and all was well. We went to the family gathering. Within 5 minutes, Nick was stressed. My wife put him in another room where he exhibited all the signs we were warned about. So, we let him sleep in the other room while everybody else was celebrating Christmas. Of course, here come the comments. People asking: "What do you mean he is stressed? All babies are stressed?" or "You guys are ridiculous. Babies get stressed all the time." Then, other family members wanted to come to where we were. MY wife adamantly told them no. Why? Because these family members recently had the flu, and in fact one of them had been hospitalized for it. My poor wife got lambasted. Needless to say, once again, people who have nothing good to say should just shut their mouths. They have no idea how hurtful their words can truly be.
All in all Christmas was a success. Nick was good, albeit stressed, but otherwise good.
Now we have moved beyond Christmas and into the new year. Nick is gaining weight rapidly and he had his second RSV shot. You wanna know what...people still make STUPID comments to us. They still don't understand why he has to have the RSV shots. They don't understand why we don't take him to large gatherings. They don't understand why we don't want them over if they have been sick. We get the " You can't prevent him from getting sick forever" or "Well, what if one of you gets sick? What will you do with Nick". Hello people: If we get sick, we can't prevent that. What we can prevent is people trying to visit Nick who we know are sick. We can't help it if Kylie brings something home from the day care, or if I bring something home from work......they always miss the point. People try to play expert but fact is, we know better than they do. We also know we can't completely prevent Nick from getting sick, but if we can make every effort to avoid him getting sick, then we can avoid another hospitalization and possibly a severe illness. But, what do we know? We only spent 24 days in the NICU where our son almost died. We only spent the better part of a month following doctors orders and following their advice. You know what: Because of our listening to the doctors and taking all their advice: NICK HAS NOT BEEN SICK and it has been 2 1/2 months. I would say to all the ney sayers in our family: We do know better than you. Nick has been healthy and we have been able to keep him that way. So, ridicule us all you want, fact is, our son have been healthy and that is all in part of us being..as family likes to say : Overprotective.
We understand people will never truly understand what we went through. We also understand that other people have had preemies and have not had to do the same things we have. Every preemie is different. We happened to have a preemie who was very very sick for the first 7 days of his life. We had a son who passed away a year ago...so, yes, you can call us overprotective, you can call us ridiculous, but in the end, just know that those words hurt us but will not change how we protect our children.
So, now MOM is back to work and I am the stay at home dad. Things are hectic but manageable. Unfortunately, on my wife's first day back to work, I ended up very very sick for 2 days. My parents, Abby (my oldest) and the in-laws helped us out tremendously. Now, I am much better and ready to take the bull by the horns and enjoy this time with my son.
I can't help but look into his eyes and wonder though. I wonder....what if? What if Justin were alive? Would they look alike? Would they smile the same? Would they have the same fingers, toes, etc. I look into Nick's eyes and I cry sometimes....thinking of what could have been and what is. I love my son like nobody can ever know. I love him not because he is a boy, but because he will probably never truly understand how much of a blessing he is to my wife and I. We love our kids equally, no doubt, but Nick kind of rounds out our family. He is precious in so many ways.