Dear NICU friend:

T's NICU open crib made by Hard Manufacturing... They should consider a name change and a wider color range to make it more crib and less tiny baby jail. 

T's NICU open crib made by Hard Manufacturing... They should consider a name change and a wider color range to make it more crib and less tiny baby jail. 

Can we talk about blogs? Thousands of people blog about their homes/pets/finances/clothes/ boats/travels/diets/kids. We blog about things we paint, things we like, what we had for dinner, what we wish we had for dinner, our super photogenic dog, and earlier this year, we posted about our baby and the NICU. I'm not sure you can really call it "blogging," as the last two posts were more a nod to our families than anything else ("Look! We are posting! Everything is fiiiinnnneee!"), but the funny thing about the internet is that it is forever. And it is public. And if you post something, people will find it.

So, people who are getting here because you are searching for "blog + NICU," know this: I wouldn't wish the NICU experience on my worst enemy. I don't know you, but I know what you are going through. Our Tommy spent 89 days in the NICU. More than some, less than others...but it really doesn't matter. Even one day is one too many, isn't it?

Our Tommy is home now, but there were days when I wondered whether he would ever get out. Days when I left the NICU and did that thing you see in cheesy low-budget dramas, where people collapse mid-step in fits of tears and they throw themselves against the wall because every cell in their body has given up. Days when my anger could have lit a thousand fires because, as it turns out, sushi and caffeine are not the problem after all. Days when your default "We are GREAT, tired, but great. And we are so lucky, really! No, we don't need anything, really!" wasn't cutting it anymore, because pretending you are fine is a monumental effort. Days when the valet attendants stop working and cry with you and remind you that your baby will come home and you are strong, and your car is here, but you don't have to go anywhere because, honestly, you can't drive this way... So they bring you water, and they try to cheer you up. And they tell you to go home and rest, and that you need to take care of yourself because they know you've been there for fourteen (maybe fifteen?) hours and you look really tired. And you nod in agreement because you are super tired. Every part of you is tired. Your heart is tired.

And every day you blame yourself for not paying more attention, for working too hard, for being too short, for not being able to keep your baby safe...and you are smart, so you know its not your fault. It just feels like its your fault.

But there were also days filled with happiness and milestones and victories. Days when you had one, two, maybe three (three!) great feedings in a row and the tests came back great and the neonatologist confirms its been a great week and you feel like you won the lottery. Days when you show up and your favorite nurse is talking about "sleeves" and you realize that your tiny peanut is wearing clothes (clothes!) and you cry because you cannot wait to get him into some cute outfits. Days when he starts taking full bottles and eventually, days with no bradys and it feels so so good. 

Dear NICU friend, if you find your way here know that you will get out, that there is an end to it, that you will survive. Know that it is OK to be angry when people say well-meaning, but totally out-of-touch, things like: "take a spa day" or, "he is such a little fighter." 

Know that it is infinitely easier to be home, and that whatever your outcome is, you are not alone. 

Most importantly, if you find your way here, know that I could write a novel about our NICU stay but I won't because, eventually, all of those memories fade...It goes from the initial "I can't believe this is happening" to "remember when we were in the NICU ...?" in a hot second and it feels great. And if you stick around you'll see that our lives are no longer consumed by this and that we have started to move on to more pressing matters, such as showers. Showers are now VERY important. As are the quality and make of swaddle blankets, the best diaper rash cream, Tommy's rejection of his super-fancy Comotomo bottles, and the very important business of choosing baby outfits (I'm happy to report the novelty hasn't worn off).

In summary, the internet may be forever, but the NICU is not. Be strong. 

With all our love, 

Nick & Melissa

Dear internet: if you are currently a NICU parent, please let people help you. Even if you don't really need it because you are "just fine." It helps. And if you can't bring yourself to talk-it-out with those you know, feel free to contact me. Really. I am the BEST at commiserating. 









No NICU news is great news

A funny thing happened in the NICU locker room today-- I caught myself thinking of ways to improve the place (maybe sturdier hangers for the coats? A trashcan? And why is the room freezing anyway?) and then I totally forgot all of it because I needed to get inside to see my Tommy ASAP. 

He is the cutest. 

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These days I'm either coming back from seeing Tommy or going to see Tommy or calling to get a Tommy update and it's always good to hear "Ummm....Do you have any specific questions?" because that means the nurses don't have anything really worth reporting. And you guys, no NICU news is GREAT news. 

Our Tommy

The Brightberg Report is as follows: On December 11th at 5:53PM our family grew by one and our hearts almost exploded. 

This is our Tommy - all 2 pounds 10 ounces of him.

I'm not sure how long it will take for me to process all that happened in the last couple of weeks (a month? a year?) because I'm not really sure how we went from "everything is going great!" to dangerously high blood pressure, to problems with the cord, to fetal heart rate monitors, to: we need him out TODAY...

The truth is - as I told every nurse I encountered that first day at the hospital- I had just been at BLT Steak eating tartare. And popovers. And steak. I was definitely not supposed to be on a IV only diet and I was definitely not supposed to be kept at the hospital for continuous monitoring.

I am busy, you know. 

But in spite of the surprise, our son is doing great! He has only been here for a week, but he has already proven himself by surviving on room-air at an improbably young 31 weeks + change. He likes to hug his bendy pillow when he naps and has not given up on his attempts to get his feeding tube out. He scrunches his nose before every sneeze and, did I mention how much we love him? Because to say that we love him with every cell in our body would be an understatement.

Saturday- A dual story

First things first: can we talk about my bump?! Let's all laugh at past-Melissa who thought she looked pregnant a month and half ago. 

(Let's also look past my filthy mirror and stare at the goodness that are the blue walls)

Now that that's done, let me fill you in on our weekend! Saturday was hospital tour day, otherwise known as the day that "stuff got real". Because nothing says "You are Having a Baby!" like being addressed as "mommy" and "daddy" for a full hour and seeing real, live, brand new babies. That people get to take home. To their houses. With them. To live with them. Forever. 

Many of you can probably guess that Nick and I handled this (can we call it a moment? Let's call it a moment) in two totally different ways. The tour spurred him into action: he single-handedly moved all the furniture upstairs/downstairs, cleared at least a half-dozen packing boxes, put stuff away in storage and organized a good chunk of the leftover renovation materials. And he cleaned all the things. And did the laundry.

I? I left the house and went shopping with my friend Jenn for 9 hours. 

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To say that it was epic and amazing would be an understatement. We started out at an antiques center in southern Alexandria and ended up closing down the Ikea in College Park, Maryland. 


I will also note that Jenn is a most excellent shopping partner. For example, Nick would never let me leisurely browse the live plant section of IKEA because it's at the end of all-the-aisles and by that point, he just wants to escape Ikea. As fast as humanly possible.

Jenn didn't just let me browse, she encouraged me to pick a new fiddle leaf fig plant to replace the one that I killed with love AND totally agreed that I need more succulents. Best shopping partner ever.


Even better than IKEA plants? This (surprisingly sturdy) vintage chrome stool (for the attic nook) and a pretty cute vintage chalkboard for the nursery which I think I'm going to use as a bulletin board/cute picture center... we'll see. 

And, speaking of the nursery, we finally assembled the crib! And by "we" I mean Nick assembled the crib while Sawyer and I sat on the glider and said helpful things like "what are you doing?" and "are you sure that's how it goes?" Memories!  



Dear Internet: Are you also looking for well-priced mid-century goodness? Both the vintage chrome stool and the chalkboard (not pictured because its still in my car) came from Peg Leg Vintage Goods. Found by Jenn, the store is just down the street from the IKEA in College Park, Maryland. The owner is knowledgeable AND charming and I personally can't wait to go back.