Updated: Feb 12, 2019
We are so thankful for Loma Linda Children's Hospital and the care that Jack is receiving. Without question he could not be in a better facility. With that said, from a parental standpoint there is nothing natural about this experience. Everything is counter-intuitive. In many ways it feels like Jack isn't ours yet; starting with how prohibitive it is just to visit him. The process has been burned into our senses every day for months now. For those who have never seen what NICU life is like, here's a glimpse at what it takes just to see our baby boy.
Grab Your Wristband
Lisa and I have wristbands with unique codes on them assigned to Jack. No wristband; no access to Jack. We put them on necklaces and pretty much always have them on.
It's about a ten minute drive to the hospital from our apartment in Redlands.
Take This Hall To That Elevator
Buzz-In And Verify
Once we get to Jack's floor we have to buzz-in. A receptionist will answer and we'll reply with verification that we are Jack's parents.
The receptionist makes a call to Jack's nurse to confirm that we can come back to see him. Then we'll have to sign-in with the date and time. When we leave we'll have to sign out.
Head To Jack's Wing And Buzz-In Again
Jack's unit is in a separate area from the check-in desk. Time to buzz-in again.
And Buzz-In Once More
The "Tiny Baby Unit" is highly secure.
Wash Like Your Baby's Life Depends On It
Because a common cold or flu virus can be fatal for a premie, it's important to wash up to your elbows and scrub for at least three minutes.
Find Your Baby
We're finally able to enter Jack's unit and head to his bedside. There are up to 12 babies in the TBU at any given time. All born before 28 weeks gestation.
Verify One Final Time
Once we arrive at Jack's bedside, we'll have to verify with hospital staff that we are his parents once more and present our wristbands with the special code. At last we can visit our baby boy.
Bonding Through Plastic
Once we are finally with Jack, all we want to do is pick him up and comfort him. But of course we can't do that. Most visits, the best we can do is to put our hands on him through the small incubator portals and talk or sing to him. We do our best to comfort him through all the wires, tubes and plastic.
The Hardest Part
As you might expect, after spending several hours with Jack the hardest part is leaving. Every parental fiber is telling you to pick him up and take him home. The reality comes to bear yet again that we are helpless and completely dependent. We'll head back to reception to sign-out, then walk slowly back to the parking garage as the weight of it all washes over us.
Tomorrow we’ll do it all again.