“It won’t happen to me!” That was my naive approach to my babies going into the NICU. Up until the moment our doctor said “today’s the day,” I genuinely thought I would go full term or almost full term, and I would walk out of the hospital with both of my babies. We would go home as a happy family of four, the girls would sleep through the night from the first day, my nursery would always look pristine, my dogs would suddenly become well behaved, and I’d lose the baby weight immediately. Life would be perfect. While I was at it, I should have ordered a side of world peace! But of course, none of it happened that way. Not by a long shot. But here it is now, a year since my girls did come home, and I honestly would not change a thing. It’s amazing how our plans are so narrow minded, but the reality is, God’s plan was to grow me, to teach me, and in His perfect will allow me to have joy like I could have never imagined. You’d have thought after all we’d been through that I would have learned that by now.
Nicole spent 54 days in the hospital and little Emily came home 10 days later on February 18, 2012. If my girls had come home immediately, I would have missed out on so many things. Again, writing about this experience a year later makes it hard to remember all of the details, but I’d like to highlight some of the beauty of the hospital.
I had the experience of watching my babies become newborn babies! Most moms have ultrasounds from weeks 30-40, I got to watch my daughters learn how to breathe, how to get used to being touched, and I got to see those hiccups I had heard during the numerous non stress tests.
I met so many amazing people. I met J & C and their precious baby girl. C went full term, but their baby wasn’t breathing and had to be air lifted to our pod in the NICU. What an amazing and strong couple. They often came over to check on us and our babies even in the midst of caring for their own little one.
There was a mom I “met” in the NICU. I don’t know her name, and I never found out her situation. She had a baby boy who was next to Nicole when I finally was allowed to visit the day after the girls were born. This mom had family gathered around their little baby and there were lots of tears.
The day I was finally released from the hospital was the day a dark reality hit; I was going home empty handed. There is something horrible about going into the hospital to have your children, and leaving without them! The afternoon of my release, Mike went to get the car, and I went to say goodbye. Oh the heartache! I sobbed! I was not nearly as strong as I’d once thought. And then, a stranger came up and hugged me so tightly. The anonymous mom held me, and cried with me as I said my goodbyes. That was the last time I ever saw her. I don’t know what happened to her baby, but the next morning, the bed was empty. I asked as many people as I could. A volunteer finally gave me hope when she said, that baby had probably been moved up to the next level NICU and that no babies had passed in quite some time. I wish I could thank that mom for who she was to me that day. I believe that God works in many different ways, and on that Wednesday evening, he used a heartbroken mom to literally hug me and tell me I would be ok!
I was able to get to know Charlene. She and I met on the High Risk Pregnancy floor where we were both on bedrest. I got to meet her beautiful twin daughters. And Charlene got me in touch with Megan who was also on the HRP floor with us. Thanks to technology, all 3 of us have kept in touched and watched as our 5 daughters grow.
I got to bond with a friend of mine from church. Stephanie moved into my room on HRP when I moved out. Near the end of our extended stay at the hospital, Stephanie’s little girl was born and she was in the same upstairs pod as Emily and Nicole. She is someone I now love and am so glad God gave us so many parallels in our lives at the same time!
I met some of the most wonderful nurses, doctors, and nurse practitioners. Elisha & Elisheba were twin nurses. They became two of our favorites while we were on the 2nd floor NICU. They always dressed alike and they seemed to have a genuine love our daughters. I would imagine that the nurses would get tired of the daily hearing, “how soon do you think my baby can come home?” Or even asking”what’s wrong? Why are these alarms going off? Is my baby going to be ok?” We asked hundreds of questions, and these very patient nurses answered every one of them, as though it were the first time they’d heard them! I am sitting here writing this, tears streaming down my cheeks so thankful that those nurses always always made my babies seem like the most important babies on the planet. After all, to my husband and me, they are! Elisha and Elisheba, thank you for doing your job, which to us made all the difference!
We moved up to the 7 floor NICU which we were told was 7th heaven! It’s the last step before the girls get to go home. Little did I realize that moving upstairs was the halfway point of the girls’ hospital time. But upstairs, so many wonderful things happened.
On January 13th, my babies finally got to share a room! I didn’t have to move from one location to another to see both of my babies. It took everything within me not to run down the hall when I saw my babies near each other for the first time! Then, when I didn’t think my day could get any better, the nurse, Vicky, asked if I had ever held both of my babies at the same time!! So Friday the 13th was one of the most joyful days, I finally was able to hold both my daughters, 28 days after they were born!
Whispering “Tis So Sweeet to Trust in Jesus” in my babies’ ears, Jim Brickman constantly playing on the iPod, walking into the girls’ room to find a nurse, not ours, sitting in our chair because she said it was so calm in there with our music, catching a volunteer rocking Emily because she just wanted to, Constance not only checking in on my girls, but also on me! Amazingly, my thoughts and memories of the NICU are mostly calm and positive! There are so many stories, so many names, so many memories. But there is one person who truly topped them all.
Every now and again, you make a connection with someone. Someone touches your life just by being herself. For me, that was Scarlett.