Saturday, November 1, 2008

One Year Ago Today

Today, All Saints Day, marks the anniversary of Emily's homecoming from her 3 month NICU stay. Last halloween was spent for the first time as a family without supervision by the nurses and doctors. The hospital allowed us to "room-in"--sleep in a special room in the NICU with Emily not connected to all of her monitors. Essentially it served as a practice run with her new take-home heart monitor and also the first time I was able to nurse Emily in the night. The nurses still came in every 4 hours to take her temperature, blood pressure, check the heart monitor, and weigh her diapers, but to Eli and I it didn't matter.

It marked a whole new set of freedoms which we hadn't ever experienced before in the past 82 days of her life:

-I decided when to nurse her, rather than following her rigorous feeding schedule which entailed nursing every 4 hours for 20 minutes max and then following it with a bottle of fortifier from the nurse.

-We decided when her heart monitor alarmed, whether she actually stopped breathing and her heart rate dropped, or if it was just a false read.
-We bathed her, we dressed her in the most snuggly pj's, and we tucked her into bed with a prayer and a song.

-We held her, kissed her, loved her when it was not her touch time (45 minutes every 4 hours we were allowed to hold her)

When we came home I knew that our lives were about to be flipped upside-down, but I had no idea how great things would be, nor how hard things would be. Emily, to say the least, flourished unbelievably. The first few days she slept all the time, and I remember waking her up to feed her. Shortly thereafter, she started nursing every 30 minutes, around the clock. We had one great day as a family at home, and the next day Eli started his new job, and we barely skipped a beat.

God gave me so much grace those first few weeks because I was terrified like every new mom with her baby, but times 100. Emily was on all sorts of meds, her heart monitor was confusing with false alarms, and she still needed a certain number of bottles of 34-calorie fortifier. To top it off, like all newborns, she barely slept! I got to a point that I was so sleep deprived that I was literally a zombie, and I didn't know if it was day or night. I had to write down what time I gave her her medicine, if I fed her, and if she slept. In my off time, I argued with insurance companies about coverage for her RSV shots ($2000 each month that was finally covered after hours of negotiations).

By thanksgiving I was an absolute disaster. But somehow things got easier, and we all adjusted, and were always so thankful for our little miracle. I think God was working though me to help me understand how precious life is, and how much we take for granted. Emily has grown into a unique, creative, funny and caring little girl, and it all happened in a blink of an eye. Since that day she came home, one year ago today, I haven't spent more than 10 awake hours apart from her, and she still amazes me. So in today's crazy world, take some time to love one another and be amazed in God's creation!

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