My baby boy was born two months premature and had a birth weight of 1.16kg. On the day he was born, I was only able to have a quick look at his cute little face and give him a quick kiss on his vernix-laden cheek before he was immediately brought to the NICU. It was only a day after my surgery that I was allowed to go on a wheelchair ride to the nursery.
I started doing Kangaroo Care that same day. My baby was so small that he could fit in my husband's palm! The moment I had him on my chest, I felt so happy and all I could say was, "finally!" It was the first time I held my baby boy and it felt oh, so good!
The first two weeks of doing Kangaroo Care were the hardest, physically. My surgical wound was still very painful which made going to the nursery a chore. At that time, both my son and I had our own IV lines too. It always took us some time to get into position, taking care not to dislodge any of our IV sites. Those IV lines attached to my son also meant that we had very little space to maneuver. We were so close to the incubator since that was the extent of the length of the tubings. Furthermore, the chairs that were provided were not conducive for doing Kangaroo Care for long periods of time. They were actually uncomfortable. Lastly, my husband was not able to do Kangaroo Care as often as he would have wanted. The policy of having only one parent inside the NICU at a time was definitely a hindrance. And when it was his turn, they would politely ask him to stop kangaroo care at times when another new mom came in. Clearly, there was a lack of curtains for privacy. Since both parents are encouraged to be with their children, it would have been better if the NICU was designed in such a way that there would be privacy for the families, with comfortable chairs to help those doing Kangaroo Care the whole day.
My heart broke when I was discharged ahead of my son. He stayed at the NICU for more than a month. But I was there every single day, doing Kangaroo Care the whole day. I started around 9am when I arrived, until around midnight when my husband and I would go home. My only break was for eating lunch and dinner, and for pumping milk for his feedings. No matter how uncomfortable the chairs were, I loved doing Kangaroo Care! It gave me the reassurance that my son was doing okay, that he was breathing, that he was alive! I loved the feel of his breath on my chest, his arms on my chest and shoulder, his legs near my belly. I especially loved how I could feel his heart beating next to mine. The whole time we did Kangaroo Care, my son had no episodes of desaturation or bradycardia. He was thermoregulated. He always seemed content and happy where he was. When we had to refrain from doing Kangaroo Care for about a week due to seizure precaution, I was again heartbroken. It was agonizing being in the same room as my son and not hold him, especially when he looked so uncomfortable in his incubator.
We continued doing Kangaroo Care at home when my son was discharged after spending a little more than a month at the NICU. He slept in the kangaroo care position at night and in the mornings we would continue doing the same thing. Now my son prefers moving around more often but he still goes back to the kangaroo care position when he wants to sleep. He is more comfortable that way.
During the whole time that we were at the NICU, the nurses would often tell me that one of the main reasons why my son was doing so well was that I was always there doing Kangaroo Care. Without a doubt, Kangaroo Care greatly helped my son improve quickly. However, Kangaroo Care also helped me a lot, giving me the reassurance that I needed by letting me feel my son's steady heartbeat, smell his sweet fragrance, and touch his little body next to mine. As a physician who now knows both the theoretical and actual benefits of Kangaroo Care, I will definitely recommend it to my patients. Kangaroo Care does not only help babies, but also parents as well!