Dear Henry, the day you saw the sky
This is from one of my first posts about the day I was discharged, and my worry and sorrow that came along with it....
It was time to go... I walked out of the hospital and saw the sky for the first time in 6 days. When would Henry see the sky? Leaving a child behind is indescribable. I wobbled and cried to the car, as we drove away I couldn't help but feel gut wrenching sorrow. Although I would be back in a couple of hours to sit next to his bed, it just wasn't right. I longed for the sleepless nights of a crying baby, the exhaustion of never being able to put him down. Wishing all of those annoying comments (get your together time in now, because once you have a baby it will be all baby all the time) true.
Through the past 100+ days this thought went through my head more times then I can count.
Then it happened. On Wednesday October 12th Mary told me to bring in my carseat. These were the words I had been waiting to hear. Once they tell you to bring in a car seat you know you only have a few days left. He just had to pass a few final tests, and the day was set! We are going home on Saturday! I was so excited but also a little heartbroken because Tara was still on vacation and Mary was off on Saturday, so a different nurse would be walking me out. I know it's ridiculous to feel that way, we were going home and I should have been focused on that, but instead I already missed my NICU family. Mary and Tara have become such a big part of my life both inside and outside of the NICU, I knew that this wouldn't be the end of the relationship, but I just really wanted them to be there when Henry was discharged, we started together and I really wanted to end together... It's ok. Moving on.
Here are the tests Henry had to pass..
*Oxygen trial- We didn't pass, but going home on oxygen has always been a possibility
*Hearing Test- PASS he can hear! The technician said to me "He can hear so if he tells you that he can't later on, he is lying". I thought that was funny
*Final eye test- PASS his eyes have no damage from all of the oxygen he started his life on.
*Car seat trial- PASS he had to sit in a car seat for 2 hours without having any "spells"
*Final 3 tests- He had to gain weight consistently, he couldn't have any "spells" for 3 days, He had to keep eating well.
He did it! All of it! He flew through the last few days in the NICU. My final days were tough. I went through CPR training and Oxygen training. I fed Henry for 90% of his feeding. All without my Tara. I did let her know everything that was going on, but she wouldn't be returning from her vacation until Sunday. Just 1 day too late. Mary's last shift with Henry was Wednesday night, so I went in around 9:30pm and stayed until 1:30am just to soak up the last of Mary (as a nurse) with Henry.
Then the next 2 days were kind of a blur. I kept my same routine with some added responsibilities. Feed Henry. Have breakfast. Feed Henry. Talk to the doctors about discharge. Feed Henry. Make a million doctors appointments. Attend CPR training, and oxygen training. Feed Henry. Go to bed.
Then comes Saturday... Mary let me know that she would be there (on her day off) to walk us out and I was so happy!
I woke up on Saturday emotional. Was this real life? After 108 days in the hospital was I really going to be able to take my baby home and be his mom full time? I cried on and off all day... for 2 reasons.. 1. I was so excited and so happy for my little family 2. I was sad to leave Tara and Mary behind (I'm a child). I avoided the NICU in the morning, I wasn't ready. I went to work for a few hours and I made all of the doctors and nurses cupcakes as a going away present. Then around 11 I went in.
I walked into the NICU for the last time. I walked past all of the babies and I scanned the rooms to soak it all in. I looked at the new moms, crying and scared for their babies. I looked at the familiar moms and their strength. I said hi to the nurses, the desk clerk and the doctors, the same as I did everyday. I walked to our room and wondered who my nurse would be. Who would be Henry's last nurse as a patient here? AND GUESS WHO WAS THERE?!?!?!
This sweet angel showed up and surprised me! I saw her and just cried. I did try to hold back. Seeing her holding Henry was exactly how I wanted to end my stay at the NICU. Not too long after Mary showed up. Then Dr. Reddix came in... we had come full circle. 109 days ago Dr. Reddix told me that Henry's chance of survival was slim, and if we want to fight for him to be realistic, don't expect to be the family with the baby who beats all of the odds. 108 days ago Dr. Reddix held Henry in his arms and told us that he was worth the fight, I love this man. Here we are so many months later, with the baby that beat all the odds, and we were realistic, and we didn't expect to be this lucky. BUT WE ARE!
So I got all of my discharge instructions. We exchanged gifts... those deserve their own post, so I won't share that just yet. Matt and I were there, Derek and Hannah showed up, my mom and dad came in, Justin and Erin were there, and of course Tara and Mary... all so we could witness the first time Henry saw the sky, together as a family! And we did it!
We put Henry in his car seat, took some last pictures and walked out. I didn't turn around to look at his empty space. There would be no looking back for this family. We walked out of the NICU, through the hospital halls and there it was... out side! Someone pulled the car up, we put Henry in the carseat base and said out final goodbyes... and cried.
I cried for 108 days of strength. I cried because I was so happy for Henry. I cried because I will miss the NICU. I cried because I will miss spending so much time with Tara. I cried because this impossible time has brought us 2 new family members in Tara and Mary. I cried because I couldn't wait to leave but I didn't want to go all at the same time, but it was time.
We got in the car and drove home.
Welcome home baby Henry!