How to Revisit Yourself as a NICCU Mom

Always a silly girl! She gagged down the barium that tasted like a rotten egg milkshake according to her.

When Londyn was born with gastroschisis she was almost immediately transferred to the NICCU at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. I was aware that she would have gastroschisis at birth, but I was only as prepared as one could be with the knowledge that your baby is going to be born with a defect. I would learn how to be a NICCU mom. Then I would learn how to revisit myself as a NICCU mom. I will write about her birth in the next days to come. For now I want to focus on the recent event of returning to CHLA after 5 years.

Getting ready for her x-ray.
Being brave. She actually asked to hold my hand.

So on to the journey to the hospital last week. I had very high expectations. Londyn was only going for a simple x-ray, so I didn’t feel very nervous or worried. Instead, I was actually looking forward to our visit. I was ready to revisit myself as a NICCU mom. Even though the NICCU time was the most stressful time of my life, there were so many good memories as well. I sat there for many days just getting to simply hold and enjoy my baby while talking to her precious roommate, Elaina.

(Side note: If you’ve never been to the NICCU at CHLA it is nothing like the NICU that you see on TV or other hospitals. There are actual rooms and only 2 babies to a room with a nurse that stays in the room at all times for the babies. So you bond with the baby’s roommate as well.)

Once we arrived and Londyn was checked in we went to radiology to get her series of x-rays started. I thought that as soon as she’s done we’ll go have lunch in the cafe’ and I would let her play on the playground. It was where her older sister, Arabella, played for many days.









I thought about how young Londyn was the last time we were there

I think it was at that point I realized that I have very high expectations. There was nothing wrong with CHLA. They were as wonderful as I remembered, but I was so different. I did not know that I was remembering all of my happy thoughts as a NICCU mom and not as my current self. Once I even smelled the cafe’ I began to shake, much like I did when I unknowingly had anxiety and PTSD symptoms when Londyn was born. It was so bizarre. One of the nurses said we should go say “HI” to the NICCU staff while we were there. Since I started shaking I knew that I wouldn’t be able to go to that floor, not on that day at least. I needed more time to process what was happening.

One day just wasn’t enough time to get through revisiting the NICCU mom I once was

I also had this incredible urge to hold a baby. That was what I did there…hold my baby. My baby was now the almost 5 year old running around the playground. I suddenly felt very unfulfilled from this CHLA visit. At that moment I had to flip a switch and just enjoy myself playing with my NICCU baby on the playground. I was so shocked that my mind could play these tricks on my brain, or my brain helped me to only remember the happier feelings by now.

I also had to accept that Londyn was now their patient called “Londyn.” When she lived there her name was “Baby Girl Cruz” because she arrived before her birth certificate was signed. My NICCU baby girl was gone.

Hanging out on the musical playground.
She was given bubbles because she did so well.
My curly girly
All done. She had to have her unicorns in the “unicorn party pic” according to her. Her Auntie Grammy gave her a special rainbow unicorn to keep her brave.












Us with the signature blocks

My baby girl was almost gone…

Ironically, when I arrived home that day I checked the mail and there was an invitation to the NICCU graduate reunion from CHLA. It was addressed to “BabyGirl Cruz.” I guess a part of my baby and NICCU world is still here.

Baby Girl Cruz in 2012 at CHLA

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