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Monday, April 11, 2011

March for Babies Monday: Going home

Going home.

Those are the words every NICU parent longs to hear.

I had casually asked the nurse how long she thought before he could go home (that was Day 30) and she said if we could move him into the open air crib and he maintains his body temperature and passes his 30 minute car seat test probably 48 hours.

48 hours!!!  I was so unprepared to hear those numbers.  Really!  We would be able to take our sweet 4lb baby home???  I think I literally ran out of there and called Jason as fast as I could.  We would finally be able to have our baby at home and enjoy him like "normal" parents.  We began planning to bring our son home!

His first test would be to move out of his isolette and into the open crib.  His isolette had been his home for the first month of his life and to not have to close him up in a box was a dream.

   It was amazing to be able to pick him up and then just lay him back down without trying to open the isolette with one hand and Brendan with the other.  He started out with all of these layers and throughout the day we would take one away to make sure he was able to maintain his body temperature.  He also lost all of his wires that were hooked up to the monitor during the move.

One step closer to those magical words...discharge!

The next day our favorite nurses were not there and as the residents and doctors walked their rounds in the morning I received the second shock.  The doctor and resident (who was in charge of Brendan) said,

"Well how would you like to take your baby home today?"

Me in utter disbelief says this,

"Today?  I thought it was tomorrow.  I'm not ready.  I don't even have his car seat here."

The resident replies with a comment no doctor should EVER say to a parent who has a child in the hospital,

"We don't keep babies in the hospital just because parents are not ready to take them home."

This is when the look on my face showed horror that this is what she thought and the doctor took me aside as they moved to the next crib.  He explained that there was no medical reason to keep in him in the NICU any longer and I had plenty of time to go home and get his seat for the car seat test and it is very overwhelming to think about taking your baby home.  We planned his circumcision for later that afternoon and if he passed the car seat test and he would be discharged.

I called Jason to share the surprising news and rushed home to get the car seat (we lived 30 minutes from hospital) and was back before I knew it.

For the car seat test, he had to be able to maintain his breathing for 30 minutes in his seat.  We had to tighten up all the belts because he was so small and I was worried he wouldn't fit.

He passed with flying colors and we were one step closer to heading home!  Next he had his hearing test and he did well with that and then the photographers came to take his "newborn" pictures. 

Last on the list was his circumcision and the recovery time after to monitor the bleeding.  It went smoothly and before we knew it we were packing up his home for the last month and getting ready to take him home!   We also had a stack of papers for his new pediatrician, appointment to see an opthamologist, and appointment to continue synagis shots for rsv.

We were so sad because our favorite nurse was off that day and I knew she was expecting to send him home the following day.  She used to walk him around the NICU and say they were "cruising for chicks" and she was always there when I would start feeling upset or stressed.  5 years later I still wonder how she felt and I wished I would have contacted her to let her know that Brendan was okay.

The nurse that was on duty that night was very sweet and loaded up some goodies for us to take home with Brendan.  The last step was getting his going home outfit on and then we were running as fast as we could home!

I was so nervous during the 30 minute car ride home.  I think I continually checked to make sure he was breathing (and he never had any issues in the NICU) and we talked about how we could not believe this day was finally here.  My mom was back at our apartment waiting for us to welcome home Brendan. 

Brendan is home!!!

Even to this day I get teary-eyed imagining our lives in the hospital.  It was so stressful to have to leave our baby each and every night and wondering why my body went into labor so early.  We just knew that we were blessed with this amazingly healthy preemie and were so lucky to be able to bring him home from a NICU stay with zero complications.  Zero!  The rule of the NICU is one step forward, two steps back.  How did we manage to be the exception of every preemie rule?  He is our little miracle, our superbaby.

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