So I was watching a documentary on the Duggars and their 19th child that was in the NICU for 3 months. As I was watching it, your Dad came in and saw tears streaming down my face. He asked me what was wrong, and I told him I was just reliving our experiences with you.
When you were born, I saw you for a split second, was told you were a girl and ok, and then watched you be whisked away from me, and your dad too. I was taken to a recovery room where I was told that I could only see you after I could feel my feet (which took about 5 hours). I have never tried so hard at something as I did at trying to move my feet. Your dad kept bringing video of you and the first thing I noticed was that your arms were flailing around, so I worried about that and demanded to know what it was caused by. We later learned that one of my medications gave you that reaction, but it was going to go away. We figured out if we swaddled you tightly it got better and within a few days it went away completely.
When I was finally able to be wheeled into the NICU to see you, I was still in my bed so they rolled me in there, and they put you on my chest. This was the first time I got to feel you, and it is a moment I will never forget. You immediatly started breast feeding. Most parents that have a regular delivery have that immediate connection with the baby that I missed out on. Sometimes I wonder if that is why you are so close to your Daddy since you got that connection with him, he held you first, bathed you first, changed you first, fed you first, he did everything first while I was on the recovery floor. I am thankful he was there and that you were fine, but I do feel like I missed out on that portion of pregnancy...it felt like I did all these things to keep you safe for 9 months and then you were ripped away from me. A few months after you were born I had to have a hystarectamy because my uterus was fused onto my c-section scar and my left ovary was fused onto my pelvic bone causing me alot of pain, so we aren't able to have another child. This was ok, because that was the plan, to have you and spoil you rotten, and there is no way that I would go through what I went through with you again because I would never put you in the position where I was sick and not able to care for you. Both you and I had a 15% chance of death and that is something I would never risk now, you growing up without a Mom. You are our miracle and all we could ever dream of in life is in your eyes. You are my heart now, walking outside of my body. One of my rules was that No One other than Jeramy was allowed to see you in the NICU before me. Hopefully that was upheld. Your dad was so funny, everytime he had to run up the breast milk, he would literally sprint to get the vile up to you. The nurses said it was amazing how much colostrum I was able to produce since it was liquid gold and would help you out alot, so Daddy sprinted to make sure you got every last drop. After I got discharged it was the hardest thing I have ever had to do to leave you in the hospital. I do not know what I would have done if my parents hadn't gotten a condo near the hospital for the last couple of weeks. Without them, I can't even think how hard it would have been since we were more than an hour away from home. Since I went on unsuspected hospital bedrest I hadn't been home in over a month. When I got discharged from the hospital at 2 o'clock in the morning, I had 3 suitcases and a Christmas tree and gifts to unload since that hospital was my home for almost 2 months. Ma and Pa supported me and you so much and there is no real way to ever repay them for what they did for us. Ma even made me eat Seaweed soup which is a Korean tradition after giving birth. They love us both so much and would do anything for us. But just the fact that I had to leave you there and not take you home with me, ripped my heart out. I would pump and take you your milk every couple of hours. We were very lucky with you because you did not need any oxygen or feeding tubes or anything. They just had you hooked up to an IV to administer anything they needed to administer. It is SO hard as a parent not to watch the monitors that watch your oxygen level, heartrate, and BP because every little beep or hicup or if your number was below where it was suppose to be we would freak out. It was hard to learn not to watch those monitors, and after a while, for our own sanity we tried to tune them out. Every parent was allowed to do rounds with the doctors on each patient, but we chose not to, because we would have freaked out over something we didn't really know what the medical reason was...we figured that if there was something important enough to tell us the doctor would, there was no sense worrying ourselves over nothing. We really lucked out...the only thing that happened was that your belly was distended at one point so they called me to the hospital. I have never been more scared in my life I cried so hard and felt so guilty for not being there when it happened...I almost fainted...when we got to the hospital they told me that it was just gas. Once I new you were ok, I broke down in a screaming cry because I was so scared for you. While we were lucky, there were several parents that we got to know and some that we didn't that weren't as lucky. While Mom was on bedrest I made really good friends with a girl named Ashley and her soon to be daughter Colbie and also Lydia and her soon to be daughter Hailey. Statistically, something bad would happen to one of the 3 of us, and it did. Colbie passed away shortly after her birth. Ashley was devistated and so were we, we had become so close while we stayed in the hospital and went through everything together, that it broke my heart as well. Hailey was born one day after you. While she did ok, she was in the NICU for over a month, where as you were there for less than 10 days because nothing was wrong. Your circumstance could have been alot worse, but it wasn't and we thank the Lord everyday for that. Like all premies in order to leave you had to pass a few tests. 1. You had to consistently gain and hold weight 2. You had to hold your temperature 3. your O2 stats couldn't drop, and you had to pass your carseat test showing that you were able to successfully manage the trip home. You passed all with flying colors, and that is why you were in the NICU for a few days to make sure you could pass these tests. You were one of the smallest premies they ever sent home (3pounds 12 oz) but there was nothing wrong with you and they couldn't justify keeping you. The reason I was crying while watching that show was because I was remembering all of the monitors, all the questions, uncertainty, the fear, and the joy when you were given a clean bill of health. It was quite an emotional process, but since you were our first baby, it was the only experience we have ever known. Even if you were a 10 pound newborn I would probably still be a neurotic mother, at least now I can play the premie card when I am acting overly protective! When we first brought you home only a select group of people were allowed into the house. There was hand sanitizer EVERYWHERE, and they had to have a lesson on how to hold you because you were so small and if your neck dropped you might have a hard time breathing...to us it was second nature to hold you, but to most people it was scarey because you were so small. Pa didn't hold you for a while because you were too small. You didn't weigh 9 pounds until you were almost 4 months old. Most babies are born around 9 pounds. Even now as a 2 year old, you just barely weigh 20 pounds. Other people who came by to see you only got to look through the window of the screen door and were not allowed in. The entire house was steralized and everything you ate or drank was organic or of the highest quality. After you couldn't breast feed anymore (around 3 months) because of Mommy's blood pressure you drank the liquid (not the inexpensive powder) Similac formula (until you were a year old), which would cost us $8 a day! So just for 1 month it would cost us $240 just on formula or $2,160 for the 9 months you were on that formula. You wore Premie diapers that were $20 for 2 days worth for about 2 months (about $600 for 2 months worth), and then you were in newborn diapers until you were almost 5 months old, the newborn diapers didn't come in bulk sizes because most babies only wear them for about a week, so these were very expensive too and didn't last long since there weren't that many in the package. But you were worth every penny! Auntie Ashley was actually the first person to watch you without one of us there because Mom had to run to the Doctor's office and that was no place for you. If Mom or Dad were sick, we had to wear a mask and we were quarintined in the spare bedroom so we didn't expose you to any germs. Daddy was so obsessed with you choking on your spit up (which you often did) that we had about 50 bulbs around the house, 3 in your carseat, 10 by the bed and in the rocking chair or couch, 5 in the car, 5 in the diaperbag, and a couple in our pockets just to be safe. You did not leave the house (except for Dr visits, where they would immediately take you back to a room to keep you away from kids) for 2 months after you came home because of all the germs you could get exposed to. It was flu season and this year a new flu called Swine Flu had already killed a few people, so it was a nationwide crisis to get vaccinated. Anyone who would be around you alot (Mom and Dad and Ma and Pa also got additional vaccinations just to be around you such as the flu shot, swine flu (H1N1) shot, and whopping cough shot) just to be safe. In fact you didn't get your first cold/fever until you were 2 years old. Your first trip was to Cabelas with your Daddy. I look at you now playing with your Dad, and I see him in your NICU cubby feeding you and changing your little diaper through all of your wires, totally unphased by any of it. And now you are kicking the ball around the back yard and gardening and riding on his shoulders at a parade. You have come so far, and so have we! Everyday I look into your eyes and remember the journey we went through together. It may be totally different than most journey's that term baby's families go through...but it is our journey and we made it!