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Leaving the hospital with my baby still in the NICU was so hard

I had to go back to the NICU and give my baby one more kiss.

Leaving the hospital with my baby still in the NICU was so hard

My pregnancy was everything I could've wished for. I was not high risk, I passed the glucose screening on the first round and I was not sick nor in any excruciating pain. But everything changed when I reached the eight-month mark. At the end of my pregnancy, I stopped gaining weight. This was the first sign.

My baby shower was planned for late October and everyone told me I was having it too early since I was due in mid-December. I kept the presents in the living room, assuming I still had enough time to go through everything, but I had this feeling every time I walked past the gifts that I had to get it done. It didn't feel like nesting, it was something different like I knew ahead of time that something was up. This was the second sign.

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The week after my baby shower, I began feeling extremely uncomfortable spikes of pain in my back. I was not having any other pain in my body, but these were consistent enough for me to time them and for two days, they were always about eight to 10 minutes apart. I contacted the nurse's line, but they said it was normal. The pain was getting worse every day and I made sure I told my midwife when I came in that Friday. She also said it was normal. Although my concerns were disregarded, this was the third sign.

I continued to go to work as normal, still having pains, and they were gradually getting worse. Until I noticed a different discharge when I went to pick my boyfriend up for work and I went to the hospital immediately. My mucus plug had fully come out.

The doctors put me in a room for examination. I was four centimeters dilated and 100% effaced. I was having this baby sooner than expected: I was only 33 weeks.

Fast forward almost 72 hours later—I gave birth to a 4lb 9oz and 18.5 in baby boy who was breathing on his own and had no complications. Because he was so little he needed to spend some time in the NICU. Nothing was going as I planned, but we were both taken care of, and that's what mattered most.

Fast forward another 48 hours and it was time for me to leave the room because they needed it for another mother. I was dressed, I had everything packed up, and although I knew I was not bringing my baby home with me, I was not prepared to leave empty-handed.

I had to go back to the NICU and give my baby one more kiss.

It wasn't because we wouldn't be back. We were coming back the next day.

It was because I was leaving empty-handed. He was no longer inside of me. I couldn't feel his movement and I just felt empty.

I walked inside the NICU and my heart dropped. He was asleep in his bed and I didn't dare wake him. His heart rate was perfect, breathing steady and it was quiet in the NICU at that moment. I just stood and stared at him for what seemed like forever. I never thought I would have to be away from my sweet baby.

I wanted to take him home. I needed to take him home, to feed him whenever he needed fed, to change him when he needed to be changed and to hold him whenever he needed to be held. I needed to do all of these things in the comfort of our home. It all just didn't seem fair or real. I knew I was being selfish and I knew that he was in the best place he could absolutely be and was in great hands. That wasn't enough for me though.

This definitely wasn't how I pictured things would be. I knew I had to be strong. I kissed my son and whispered I loved him in his ear and made my way toward the exit.

I didn't say a word. With every step I took down the hall, boarding the elevator, and into the parking garage, my heart broke and silent, slow tears constantly fell down my cheeks. All I could think about was how bad I wanted my baby and that I was leaving him.

I will never forget that first time leaving my baby in the NICU and every time after. I will never forget waiting for the daily call each morning from the doctor to let me know if we were any closer to bringing our baby home and what kind of progress he made since the last time we were there. I will never forget it, but now I get to focus on my growing little boy and how far we've come in this journey. And I'm thankful for that every single day.

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By its very nature, motherhood requires some lifestyle adjustments: Instead of staying up late with friends, you get up early for snuggles with your baby. Instead of spontaneous date nights with your honey, you take afternoon family strolls with your little love. Instead of running out of the house with just your keys and phone, you only leave with a fully loaded diaper bag.

For breastfeeding or pumping mamas, there is an additional layer of consideration around when, how and how much your baby will eat. Thankfully, when it comes to effective solutions for nursing or bottle-feeding your baby, Dr. Brown's puts the considerations of mamas and their babies first with products that help with every step of the process—from comfortably adjusting to nursing your newborn to introducing a bottle to efficiently pumping.

With countless hours spent breastfeeding, pumping and bottle-feeding, the editors at Motherly know the secret to success is having dependable supplies that can help you feed your baby in a way that matches lifestyle.

Here are 9 breastfeeding and pumping products to help you no matter what the day holds.

Customflow™ Double Electric Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's electric pump

For efficient, productive pumping sessions, a double electric breast pump will help you get the job done as quickly as possible. Quiet for nighttime pumping sessions and compact for bringing along to work, this double pump puts you in control with fully adjustable settings.

$159.99

Hands-Free Pumping Bra

Dr. Brown''s hands free pumping bra

Especially in the early days, feeding your baby can feel like a pretty consuming task. A hands-free pumping bra will help you reclaim some of your precious time while pumping—and all mamas will know just how valuable more time can be!

$29.99

Manual Breast Pump with SoftShape™ Silicone Shield

Dr. Brown's manual breast pump

If you live a life that sometimes takes you away from electrical outlets (that's most of us!), then you'll absolutely want a manual breast pump in your arsenal. With two pumping modes to promote efficient milk expression and a comfort-fitted shield, a manual pump is simply the most convenient pump to take along and use. Although it may not get as much glory as an electric pump, we really appreciate how quick and easy this manual pump is to use—and how liberating it is not to stress about finding a power supply.

$29.99

Nipple Shields and Sterilization Case

Dr. Brown's nipple shields

There is a bit of a learning curve to breastfeeding—for both mamas and babies. Thankfully, even if there are some physical challenges (like inverted nipples or a baby's tongue tie) or nursing doesn't click right away, silicone nipple shields can be a huge help. With a convenient carry case that can be sterilized in the microwave, you don't have to worry about germs or bacteria either. 🙌

$9.99

Silicone One-Piece Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's silicone pump

When you are feeding your baby on one breast, the other can still experience milk letdown—which means it's a golden opportunity to save some additional milk. With a silent, hands-free silicone pump, you can easily collect milk while nursing.

$14.99

Breast to Bottle Pump & Store Feeding Set

After a lifetime of nursing from the breast, introducing a bottle can be a bit of a strange experience for babies. Dr. Brown's Options+™ and slow flow bottle nipples were designed with this in mind to make the introduction to bottles smooth and pleasant for parents and babies. As a set that seamlessly works together from pumping to storing milk to bottle feeding, you don't have to stress about having everything you need to keep your baby fed and happy either.

$24.99

Washable Breast Pads

washable breast pads

Mamas' bodies are amazingly made to help breast milk flow when it's in demand—but occasionally also at other times. Especially as your supply is establishing or your breasts are fuller as the length between feeding sessions increase, it's helpful to use washable nursing pads to prevent breast milk from leaking through your bra.

$8.99

Breast Milk Storage Bags

Dr. Brown's milk storage bags

The essential for mamas who do any pumping, breast milk storage bags allow you to easily and safely seal expressed milk in the refrigerator or freezer. Dr. Brown's™ Breast Milk Storage Bags take it even further with extra thick walls that block out scents from other food items and feature an ultra secure lock to prevent leaking.

$7.99


Watch one mama's review of the new Dr. Brown's breastfeeding line here:

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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