Jacobs Birth Story, NICU horror and More

Written by both me and my husband.

Ch. 1 - The Third Beginning

My life has had three beginnings. The first was my birth, obviously. The second was meeting and subsequently marrying my best friend and soul mate. The third was the birth of our son. This is going to document everything from the third beginning.

I suppose every beginning isn't really the beginning but just a continuation of some other beginning (confused yet?). So in order to get the full picture I have to go back a little farther. But before I start I must first ask forgiveness if this seems disoriented because I am pulling from my memories and as we all know they are notorious for getting jumbled and distorted.

It started with a stick. The day was the 12th of November, 2008. I had been feeling sick for a while but that was nothing new, I was and still am sick a lot. I hadn't been eating. Food tasted like metal. I was sad and thought I was really ill. It felt like I would never like food again and I didn't know why. It was my husband who first suggested I should take a test. I was adamant about it not being pregnancy related. It had been a long road. I had wanted children for a long time and on October 12th, 2007 my husband finally agreed that I should get off birth control. Eight months after that I still hadn't gotten my first period. I went through 3 doctors before one determined that I was insulin resistant, suggested PCOS, put me on Metformin and scheduled me for a ultrasound of my ovaries.

I was jaded by this point. I took my pills and they made me sick. I lost twenty pounds because of this but my period did finally return.

I begrudgingly got in the car and drove up to Wal-Mart, complaining the whole time how it would be just another waste of money. They always came back negative. I bought the cheapest test I could find. We went home and I locked myself in the bathroom. Opening the package, I allowed myself a tiny bit of excitement and then chastised myself for getting my hopes up. I was good at building walls. I finished and sat the test on the back of the toilet.

In the time it took to wash my hands, my world changed.

Bursting out of the bathroom I ran swearing to my husband. Waving the stick around we hugged each other and shared tears and literal jumps for joy. It was not how I had always pictured telling my husband he was going to be a father, it was better. Then worry sat in. These were cheap tests! What if they were wrong? So back to the store we went for more expensive tests. The cheap ones were not wrong. I peed on 6 tests total even though I only needed one. I was addicted to the second line, it was like I was trying to negate all the negative tests that had ever taken a toll on my self-worth. Those damned negative tests that made me feel like a broken half woman.

But I had made it. I was finally able to lay eyes on one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen - my first (and so far only) positive test.



Ch. 2 - The Third Beginning Continued 

I was almost 8 weeks pregnant when I found out, so the first trimester was almost over, but my fear of losing the baby was real and terrifying. Every day I would Google and email my husband all the horrible things I had found, every day he would try to reassure me and every day I was never fully reassured. So it was that, with fear and excitement as my constant companions, I traveled through pregnancy. As I grew, so did my love for my child.

8 weeks pregnant.

baby 012
First view of our little bean to date the pregnancy. You can see his tiny little leg/foot and his little butt crack.

12 weeks preg
12 weeks pregnant. Starting to get a bit of a belly. Ending 1st trimester.

My daddy bought the crib at 15 weeks pregnant.

18 weeks pregnant. Definitely starting to show.

It was February 17th, 2009 when we went in for the big ultrasound. Jonathan had taken the day off work and we were both so excited as we walked into the hospital. I checked in at the front window while Jonathan found a seat. After finishing, I joined him.

We brought something to read but both of our books remained firmly closed, untouched. The excitement was palatable. We kept stealing glances at each other as we tried to make small talk. There was some game show on the TV that I tried to watch when there were lulls in the conversation.

My name was called.

The walk was long as we twisted and turned through unremarkable hallways. I thought they would lead us right back to the ultrasound room, but we were instead taken to a smaller waiting room where a visibly pregnant woman sat. She looked to be close to 8 or 9 months and I just looked fat in comparison. She was called back first.

Finally, our ultrasound tech came to take us back. His name was Steven, like my brother. The room he led us to was dark and warm. I got undressed from the waist down, laid on the bed and waited. He came in and started the procedure. The goo they put on my belly was cold and as he smeared it around with the sound machine my baby came into view. I was holding Jonathan's hand tightly as I peered at our little angel. Tears ran freely down my cheeks.

Steve was good at making us feel comfortable. He let us know everything we were seeing and reassured us that, to him, it all looked good. He then asked if we wanted to know the sex. We did. He tried very hard to push the baby this way and that to get a good view between his legs. He poked the ultrasound wand very hard into my belly trying to get the right angle. Finally he said it was a boy.

A boy. Just like I thought! Before that moment I had built two lives in my head. One as a mother of a little girl dressed in darling dresses and playing tea party. The other as a mother of a boy with rocks in his pockets and dirt on his nose. It took approximately 5 seconds for the life I had built in my head with a girl child to disappear and for the life I had ahead of me with a boy child to shine brightly.

It's a boy.

24 weeks pregnant.

28 weeks and I won a free 3D ultrasound.

32 weeks pregnant. My mother-in-law does a maternity shoot.

35 weeks pregnant and everything changes...



Ch. 3 - The Birth

It was the day I turned 35 weeks that things began to go wrong.

Jonathan came home for lunch, like always, but was taking a long lunch that day. It was almost 2:00 p.m. when he was getting ready to return to work. He was walking out the door when almost as an afterthought I let him know that I hadn't really felt the baby since about midnight the night before.

Jacob was not one to move a lot, in fact he had been in the same butt-up position for so long that there was a visible lump in the top of my stomach that was clearly his behind. Jonathan could always get him to kick though, except this time he couldn't.

I am not sure what drove us to seek medical help this time but we did. I called the doctor on call and was told to come in to labor and delivery to get checked out. We didn't even pack our bags. We were so naive in thinking that we still had 5 weeks left.

When we got there I was given a gown and told to put it on and lay on the bed. As soon as I got my feet up on the bed Jake got the hiccups. I was relieved and told the nurse that everything was fine, that he had started hiccuping. The nurse said that was a good sign but they would hook me up just in case. As I laid there with the belt wrapped tightly around my tummy, monitoring my baby's every heart beat, Jonathan and I made plans for what we were going to do that night (mistake number one). Noticing the peaks on the monitor we both stupidly wondered what they were.

Enter the nurse. She informed me that I was having very regular contractions and they would be keeping me in order to stop them and monitor me further. I was scared.

They checked me into a room and hooked me back up to the machine. Waah. Waah. Waah. Waah. The sound of my child filled the room.

We called our parents. His brought us our stuff from our house. Mine wanted to know if they needed to come down. Once we had all our things and the parents were informed and at least semi calm we settled in for the night. Jonathan sprawled out beside me in a vinyl recliner and me in a surprisingly comfortable hospital bed.

It was the first night that we had truly spent together as a family. I had always been aware of the life growing inside me but on this night Jonathan got to be a part of it too as Jacob's every heart beat, every breath, every move resonated in the room.

The next morning we were told that our baby had some decelerations during the night, so they put me on bed rest and told me to come back on Tuesday. As we left, the nurses at the front desk smiled at us and said 'see you in a month'. Little did we know.

On Tuesday we returned and I was given another NST. As we waited in the doctor's office, hooked up to the machine that wasn't quite as nice as the one at the hospital, we made plans for that evening (mistake number two...or at least mistake number one repeated). The doctor came in and told us that he was deceling still and they were going to induce.

I was shocked. In a fog we gathered our paper work and went to the front desk to pay for the circumcision. My heart pounded and tears stung my eyes as we walked across the parking lot to the hospital. I remember telling Jonathan that him coming this early could mean NICU time. He said it would be okay.

They got us into a room and hooked me up to the monitors. Blood pressure cuff, belt around the belly, IV full of pitocin were all in place. It felt surreal. Jonathan called our parents and told them it was happening. I could hear my mom ask in disbelief 'now'. This wasn't supposed to be happening. It was too soon.

Soon my mom was there. With her and my husband beside me I felt okay. Scared but not alone.


They came in with a hook and broke my water. The warmth spread all over my lower half. The pain started to come stronger, faster, harder. At 5 centimeters I gave in and asked for an epidural (my third mistake). The anesthesiologist came in and everyone else had to leave.

I was alone except for my nurse and the doctor with large glasses that magnified his eyes so he looked like a bug.  He was confident as he guided me through what was going on. Bend forward, hold my breath, now you will feel a stick, pain in your left side, cold running through your body, and finally the warmth of sweet oblivion. It felt like I was basking in sunshine. But it was all wrong.

The nurse kept wiping my throat and asking me if I felt it. I didn't. They put the epi in too high. My neck was numb but not my cervical area. Never my cervical area.


My mom and Jonathan came back. Too soon it was time to push. Time was flying. Every contraction wracked my body. The intense urge to push drove me to bear down. My nurse and my husband held my legs. My mom was at my head holding me up. I thanked God for both.

As soon as I felt the contraction coming on I would position myself. The nurse and Jonathan watched the monitor thinking I couldn't feel when they were coming. They were wrong. I knew. I felt.

The doctor came in after a while and informed me that Jacob was sunny side up and she was going to attempt to turn him. I agreed (mistake number four). The doctor's hand disappeared inside me up to her wrist as she tried to turn the baby. The pain was horrible. I could only say one word over and over again. Stop. Finally she gave up. It couldn't be done.

People came in and out of my room as I flashed them my goods. I didn't care. I just wanted someone to help me get this thing out of me. I would show the world my vagina if it meant getting that child out.

After two hours of pushing I thought I was going to die. I wanted to die. It would have been sweet relief.

But progress was being made. He had cleared the pelvic bone and was finally coming down the canal. Another half hour of pushing  and he was in place enough for the vacuum.

At 1:06 in the morning I looked down and saw my son being pulled into this world.

I felt like the world held its breath waiting for that sweet cry to emanate from his lips. When it finally did I laid my head back on my pillow and let the tears flow.

They transferred him directly from my womb to my stomach and my mouth hung open in shock. That was our baby. He was gray, gooey, and misshapen but he was beautiful.

6lbs 2oz and 18 inches long.



Ch. 4 - NICU Shmicku (part I)

In retrospect, NICU was inevitable. If somebody turned our story into a book, the chapters leading up to Jake's birth were thick with foreshadowing. My favorite was the doctor's declaration that children delivered at 35 weeks turned out okay in the 'long term'. I didn't see him putting air quotes around long term at the time, but I certainly saw them in the early morning on June 3rd.

A few minutes after Jake was born, while we were still trying to wrap things up on Becca's end, one of the nurses came to me and said that they would be moving him to the special care unit down the hall, because he was having a bout of apnea. She saw the worried look on my face and assured me that he was okay as they carted him away.

You can't really appreciate my position for the next few hours without actually being in it, but let me try to describe it anyway.

In one room, I have my soul-mate, who has just delivered a beautiful child. This is the apex of our lives together so far. And she's worried - anyone can tell that she's worried sick. She asked me if they were moving him to NICU, and I reassured her that they were just moving him down the hall to keep an eye on his breathing. He'd be back in the room with her soon. How could I tell her this, not really knowing? She told me to go be with him, but I was frozen at her side. Her worry was contagious, and this wasn't how I imagined things going.

In the other room is my firstborn son - a total stranger to me, but he's already the light of Becca's life, and she urges me again to go see him. So I go. He's beautiful. Don't get me wrong, at this earliest stage of his life outside the womb he looks like an alien - gray, slimy skin and everything. All those movies and TV shows where the newborns have pink, flush, healthy skin and unswollen eyes, bright with interest? LIES. But I can honestly say he was beautiful even then.

So it was that I spent my first hour as a father going back and forth between soul-mate room and baby-stranger room, keeping soul-mate abreast of how things were going with baby-stranger and assuring her that everything was fine, then rushing back to baby-stranger room to see if things were indeed still fine. The nurse watching over Jake looked haggard, like she was on the twenty-third hour of a day-long shift. My parents (who hadn't been in delivery) were plastered to the window on the other side of Jake's cube, proud as can be. I recall them mouthing things like 'he looks just like you!' which I probably should have found a little bit insulting if I was being logical. I don't, after all, have a misshapen cone head or goo in both eyeballs. But I managed to be proud and even affect a strut. I was proud.

I was more worried than proud, though, and worry turned to terror when the nurse informed me that his apnea had not improved, and they would be moving him down to NICU. I asked her 'how long?' and thought 'how do I tell Becca?' at the same time. She didn't know, or at the very least she didn't have the heart to tell me. I asked her to wait a moment - it had been a while since I'd given soul-mate an update.

The walk back to Becca's room in L&D was impossibly long. I was feeling pretty numb - this was the same tiny woman whom I fear finding out that the gas bill was $5 more than last month. How do I deliver this bad news?

I walked in and told her. I don't think I even sugar-coated it. She looked scared. I wish I remembered this moment a little bit better, or maybe I don't. She understood what NICU meant better than I did. In my eternally optimistic view, Jake might still be coming home with us when we check out in a couple of days. NICU shmicku. I'm good at talking myself up. Becca's the one who keeps us grounded.

It killed me to leave her yet again, especially after delivering that kind of news,  but baby-stranger was yet again in a cart, ready to visit another ward of Saint John's Medical Center. I linked up with the nurse and she let me push Jake out of L&D. My parents were, of course, waiting on the other side of the automatic double doors. I told them what was going on, because we hadn't really had time to talk up to this point. They looked scared. I wish that their first hours as grandparents had been happier hours.

NICU is, in a word, clean. In six words - an impregnable, clean fortress for sick babies. They clipped a wristband on me that they explained was my key to the kingdom, my only means of seeing my son, told me to scrub down, and buzzed me in.

Jake was given Room 19. When he first arrived, he was surrounded by NICU nurses. Their faces would become quite familiar to me later, but for now they were just more strangers with bad news. The arrival process was a lot of hustle and bustle, and they didn't really have much time for my questions (not knocking nurses - they really do most of the work in these places). I managed to get one to talk to me for a few minutes, mainly to ask how long this was going to take - I knew that this was the vital question, the first one that would pop out of Becca's mouth when I returned to her. I asked if they expected it to be a few days, if they thought that perhaps he might come home with us when we checked out of postpartum.

She shook her head. Eight to ten days was on the optimistic side.

Eight to ten days. I wish Jake's stay had actually been that short, but at the time it seemed like he'd be going to college in eight to ten days.

I walked out of NICU. How was I supposed to tell Becca eight to ten days?

Five days, I told her. It wasn't a lie in my mind, not at all. That nurse was just trying to keep us from getting our hopes up, so that we'd be even happier when he came out sooner than they estimated. That's the ticket!

Five days was too much - Becca is a creature of habit, ritual and carefully plotted plan of action. The plan was as follows:

1) Go to the hospital
2) Have a baby
3) Stay in post-partum for two days
4) Go home with baby

I was adding steps. She hates added steps. Also, she wanted to hold her baby, but she was still tied to the hospital bed. They were getting ready to wheel her down to the post-partum ward, though.

Post-partum is maybe my favorite ward at Saint John's, even with our relatively rocky experience. The nurses are happy, the rooms are clean and have a more homey feel to them (they're also kept quite a bit warmer), and the place generally seems like the sort of place where you'd come to terms with life changing forever at peace.



We slept there, but we lived in room 19 of the NICU, a floor below.

I'd like to say the first night was the hardest, because it was hard. And I say night, but Jake decided to make his grand entrance at 1:06 AM, so it was probably close to 4 AM when we were finally settling down to get some rest in post-partum. NICU offers a service where they place a video camera in your child's room so you can watch them sleep on your own room's TV. We used this service once, that first night. Babies sleeping are actually not the most interesting thing on TV, but I watched as long as I could.

Becca was running a fever that first day, and NICU is not a place you visit when you might be sick. Luckily, it broke fast and there was no evidence that she was actually sick, so she was able to see and hold her son again within 24 hours of delivery.

The first day was bizarre, unreal. We were very nervous about NICU - at this point, Jake was still on assisted breathing because of his apnea, and they were feeding him through a gavage tube. He was also in a warming bed because he couldn't maintain his own body temperature yet. We had been preparing for kids for years (Becca probably mentioned this in other posts, but we'd been actively trying for a year before we even conceived), but we were absolutely not prepared for this.



Still, I kept an optimistic view of things, and we ate a lot of hospital food. By the by, Saint John Medical Center has a fantastic cafeteria. I mean, it's pretty average, but by hospital standards...fantastic. If you're ever there on Reuben sandwich day, get one.

Anyway, we did all of the typical stuff you do in post-partum - received plenty of visitors, learned a lot about how the birth process affects bodily functions, etc. The only difference was that once visitors arrived, we had to bring them down to NICU to see Jake.

We were already forming unhelpful habits at this early point in the NICU process. We were both feeling very cagey and protective - everyone wanted to see our son, but our son was sick. Saint John's NICU is one of the few in the country with 24 hour parental access, but we still felt like the time we had with him was a limited commodity. Other people were intruders on our pain. Entertaining company in a NICU ward is honestly not fun. It was a disturbing dichotomy, the joy that our families were experiencing with the arrival of the first grandchild and the pain we were feeling over his predicament. I could go on, but you get the idea - we weren't handling the perceived disconnect well at all.

The pain intensified when we had our first meeting with the neonatalogist, one day before Becca's discharge. Jake had shown signs of improvement - he was off the breathing machine but he was still being fed through a gavage. He'd also had a bout of jaundice, though the NICU nurses told us that this was common. From our perspective, the apnea was the reason he was in there at all, and we thought that with its disappearance we would be getting some very good news.

We met with the neonatalogist in a small conference room adjacent to NICU. There were two nuns in there - in retrospect, not a good sign. There were a couple of other people who I honestly can't recall now, and the whole thing started with kind of an air of 'we've all done this a lot' which I found intensely irritating.

The doctor started it off with a summary of Jake's status - he wasn't in any danger, he was expected to develop normally, and his outlook was good. Very good news so far. Then the doctor got to his eating, or lack of it - I specifically recall the doctor describing Jake as having a 'very weak, immature suck'.

When he said this, my reaction surprised me - I wanted to knock his teeth in and yell 'WHO HAS A WEAK, IMMATURE SUCK NOW?!' as security hauled me away. I can't explain this reaction completely; I'm generally a pretty rational, peaceful person. The only thing I can think is that I was already assuming the role of strutting, annoyingly over-proud father, a role I still fill today (and will probably fill until I die - I seriously love this kid).

Getting back to the story - Jake's 'weak, immature suck' was going to be a major road block to his release from NICU. We asked for an estimate, and the doctor told us two weeks or so in a tone of voice that implied we should be more grateful.

Neither of us reacted well to Jake's projected stay increasing to two weeks. Jake was being seen far more by strangers than by us, and we were already starting to feel like he wasn't our child at all. We loved him like he was ours, but the lack of control we had over the situation was extraordinarily hard to deal with.

It was what it was, so we bade the doctor farewell and returned to post-partum to get ready for Becca's discharge. I'll condense discharge day into a single sentence - leaving the hospital after giving birth to your firstborn without actually taking your firstborn home sucks.

- Jonathan

Ch. 5 - Nicku Shmicku (part II)

The next few weeks were a blur. I had scheduled a week off from work to help Becca get settled and enjoy time with Jake, but this was pointless now, so I returned to work - at first full-time, then part-time (I had lots of vacation stocked up) when it was clear that leaving Becca alone to deal with the pain of NICU for eight hours at a time was a bad idea.

We quickly settled into a routine - Jake's cluster care (wherein he was fed, changed and interacted with until he fell asleep again) happened like clockwork every three hours. So it was that we lived life in three hour blocks of time. When we weren't actually at NICU, we would call after each feeding to see how he did. When we were at NICU, we would either watch him sleep (FYI - newborns sleep a lot) or try to get chores done. Chore #1 was keeping Becca well-fed, because she was expressing milk every two hours to keep Jake's mini-fridge completely filled with milk.

We also continued developing NICU-tainted habits. Don't get me wrong, cleanliness is important. But we became total germaphobes. I'm writing this nine months afterward and we still are. Germs, and the people who carry them, are hated enemies. I blame the scrub-down / sign-in / buzz-in / scrub-down-again ritual required to even enter NICU, but in all honesty we were both destined to be overprotective parents.

Progress with Jake's eating was slow, basically non-existent, for the first week. He got out of the warmer pretty quickly, so this was really the only thing keeping him there. One of the nurses told us privately that she didn't feel like this situation was fair - other hospitals will teach parents how to insert a gavage tube and use it, then send the child home. Frustration was slowly replaced by a constant, low level of anger towards the 'establishment' that was needlessly imprisoning our son.

By the second week, he was occasionally taking a little bit of the bottle, but he wasn't doing it consistently, and most of the time he'd fall asleep in the middle of a feeding. Side note: if anyone you know is ever going through a situation like this, under no circumstances are you to assume a reassuring voice and tell them that 'one day, it will just click'. Because every single nurse, doctor and Internet forum-goer they have talked to about this has already done it for you. After a while, it stops being reassuring and starts being grating.

As the second week slipped into a third, we started getting really jaded. Every day carried eight disappointing gavage feedings, and day after day of disappointment started to compound on our collective sanity. I stopped being optimistic - when Becca raged about our situation, I started joining her. We stopped calling after every feeding during the night, which I'm sure the nurses appreciated.

I remember clearly the day that it 'clicked'. Overnight, Jake started eating like a natural. The nurse I talked to over the phone said he'd taken his last three feedings completely by bottle. We rushed to the hospital to see for ourselves. As we scrubbed down and entered the ward, one of the neonatalogists flagged us down to tell us the good news we had already heard. He also told us that we could probably expect to take our son home by the next day.

The narrative pace at this point demands that I wrap this up in a neat bow, but it didn't go down like that. The next day was by far the worst day of our NICU experience, because it was not (as promised) the last.

Jake took his feedings like a champ for the rest of the day, as we watched in amazement. Finally, we kissed him good night and returned to our house to prepare for his homecoming.

I called the next morning to see how his feedings had gone overnight. A change of shifts had given us a new nurse, who informed me after a moment or two (she seemed very distracted) that Jake had been kind of tired during one of the cluster cares, so she had to gavage half of his feeding.

Let me explain for a second the 'discharge criteria' for a baby leaving NICU:

1) Baby has to weigh at least 4 lbs. 10 oz. and be gaining weight. Check!
2) Able to control body temperature in an open crib. Check!
3) Pediatrician selected and approved. Check!
4) Parents must take infant CPR class. Check!
5) Baby taking all feeds within 15-20 minutes for at least 24 hours. Oh snap.

In short, because Jake had to have half of a bottle (25 ml at this point) gavaged in one feeding, they were going to restart the count for another 24 hour period.

To give you an idea of why I think this whole thing is a big money-making scheme for the hospital/neonatalogist group, each day of Jake's stay in NICU put an extra $5000 on the bill. $5000 for a nurse to change 8 diapers, administer 8 feedings by gavage or bottle, write down his current vitals, and most importantly for the doctor to walk by and say 'yup, he still needs to be here'. I was there every day - this was the most that they did for our son on a given day, because we probably did at least half of the diaper changes and feedings. But I digress.

Anyway, in one phone call we went from 'we get to take our baby home today!' to 'will we ever get to take our baby home?', because the nurse also mentioned that sometimes babies regress after they start taking their feedings. We could be looking at another week before he actually took them all for 24 hours straight.

I was furious, but Becca was starting to distance herself from the situation. NICU's stringent, unwavering stance on the discharge criteria and the language that they were using were beginning to make her feel like Jake wasn't really ours. There was no logical reason (in our minds) why we couldn't care for him at home, nor had there been one for a while. Rules and regulations had completely wrecked our first birth story, and now they were stealing our son.

Fortunately, Jacob resumed taking his feedings after this little hiccup. We didn't dare hope, but we did watch intently. The next 24 hours of feedings went by without a hitch, and we once again arrived at the hospital, prepared for a possible discharge.

The last day there was strange. We were (I hate to say it) accustomed to the unrelenting routine of the place, and the initial concept we had of taking our baby home and being parents now seemed alien to us. Still, neither of us could help being excited once more.

He had had a sleep study the night before, and they were still a little bit concerned about his potential for apnea, so they were sending him home on a monitor. A guy from the company that rents the monitors was due to meet us and show us how it worked, so we spent most of the last day (after discharge papers were signed) waiting for this guy to show up. I took a moment to take some pictures of the NICU room, because it really did seem like we would be leaving it for the last time.

nicu room3

nicu room

nicu room2

The monitor guy finally arrived. It probably didn't take nearly as long as it seemed to take, but our attitude this day was something along the lines of 'get Jake out of here before something goes wrong and they decide to keep him longer'. He was actually a pretty funny guy, and the spiel he gave us about the monitor reminded me of a door-to-door salesman from the 1970s (or at least, how I picture one - I was born in '84).

Finally, the monitor was remanded to us, our bags were packed, and his papers were all signed. Jake was sleeping peacefully in his car seat. It was time to leave.

I do realize that we are very lucky people. There are many who have babies who stay in NICU for months, or even worse, never make it out alive. By those standards, our story is not so horrible. All I'm going to say on this is that everything is relative - you can always find someone who has it better and someone who has it worse than you. I'm merely documenting what happened, and how we felt about it at the time. Today, if you were to ask me about NICU I will say that it was good for us - it made us appreciate our son more, and I think it also forced us to grow up a bit. Things that annoy and frustrate most new parents instead seemed completely joyous to us. Dirty diapers and sleepless nights are nirvana compared to some alternatives.