Today is Monday the 22nd. Last year, the 22nd was on a Sunday. And no one will remember this except for me and Anthony, but I refused to talk to ANYONE that day. I wasn’t taking calls. I was only answering my own Mother’s texts. I was far too busy praying.
On the 18th of August, 2010 I wrote this post about how the NICU was a roller coaster. I was in a terrible place, emotionally, about this journey and was having a very hard time coping with the strain. My NICU Friend, Janelle, and I had “just kidding, but not really” conversations about how we were going to unplug our baby girls and run for the hills!
But the next day (when I actually posted that blog) I was singing a different tune. It was the first time that Dr. Mah said to me, “I think we can send you all home soon.” Angels sang. No joke, I heard heavenly music coming from somewhere and I’m pretty sure the whole freaking world could hear it with me. I asked how soon was “soon”. He said, “Maye Monday. Maybe Tuesday. We’ll see.”
I gagged on the air I was breathing. Monday? Tuesday? Dr. Mah – are you sure? That is LESS THAN A WEEK FROM NOW! I actually asked him if he was messing with me. He assured me he was not. He even said that while they have no problems telling insurance companies to hold their horses, this time he was not surprised when they got the phone call from our company asking why Abigail was still admitted. She was doing THAT well.
I still didn’t hold my breath. I knew, all to well, how quickly good news turned to bad in that place. I knew that at a moment’s notice Dr. Mah could change his mind. But 2 more days passed and he still kept saying “Monday or Tuesday.”
We didn’t tell ANYONE. We didn’t even tell our parents until a couple of days before. We didn’t want to jinx it. We knew we were getting final word from Dr. Mah when we went in on Sunday, and we spent most of that morning in silence. We didn’t want to get our hopes up. We didn’t want to experience yet another crash and burn. As always, we braced ourselves for the worst. But we went in and Dr. Mah was smiling. He told me to “Get Ready” because we were going to start preparing for discharge on Monday and actually discharging on Tuesday. I honestly think he held it out a day longer than needed just so he could be there to see us out. He wasn’t going to be in on Monday. 😉
Monday we did all the prep work. We submitted the prescriptions we need to bring home with us, we started to take blankets and clothes and belongings home, and we made sure we had a picture of Abby with every last one of her Nurses and RTs.
When I woke up on Tuesday morning, it was too early. We were scheduled to go through Portable Monitor Training at 10 and there was no sense in getting there any earlier. It would just be torture. But it was torture anyway. Minutes were going backwards on my clock! Or at least it felt that way. I shut my eyes tight, willing myself to go back to sleep, cursing the existence of 6am. No use. We both got up, dressed, ate, and sat there… staring into space. 9:00am finally rolled around and we couldn’t take it anymore. We went in early. Bernie, one of her Primaries, was on duty that day, and she got to discharge us. That was wonderful. But walking into the NICU, I felt like I was going to vomit. I just knew that Bernie was going to look at me and say she had an episode during the night and we had to wait another 5 days…
But she didn’t say that. She was smiling. I knew it then – we were home free.
Discharge took hours. It started with training and then collecting the prescriptions and having several doctors check them to make sure they were correct. It was packing the remainder of her belongings, and dressing her, disconnected from the hospital wall for the first time. It was hugs and tears and more pictures, and then finally waving good-bye. 83 days of a crazy roller coaster ride was finally over.
Anthony took pictures of us in the wheel chair in the elevator. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. It was like I was meeting her for the very first time. We got her into the car, and felt like real parents for the first time… fumbling with the buckle and worrying about whether or not we did it right. Questioning each other about if she was comfortable. Anthony drove and I sat in the back with her. She slept the whole way home. I remember texting my Mom, saying something to the effect of, “We’ve got her! She’s ours! They can’t take her back now! We are going HOME!”
We got home and starting the second part of this journey. The part that has encompassed the last year with just as many ups and downs as the NICU presented, including illnesses, another hospital visit, her first vacations, weekly therapy sessions, her amazing milestones, her first birthday, all of her first holidays, her set backs, her amazing personality, and so much more.
On Wednesday, August 24th, Abigail will have been home for 1 full year. At 1:30pm, no less. A year ago, she weighed 4 pounds, 7 ounces. Today she weighs over 21 pounds. A year ago, she slept 18-22 hours out of every 24 hour period. Today, I’m lucky to get her to take ONE 2-hour nap per day. A year ago, she was nothing but a baby blob. And today she is an almost walking, almost talking, almost toddler miracle child.
I’m so blessed. It’s really crazy how fortunate I am! I didn’t think that much fortune should ever belong to one family, but I’m never going to question it, that’s for sure! We aren’t doing anything special for this milestone, other than recognizing it. Because if we threw a party for every milestone she hit, she’d think parties were an every day thing. But as I remember this week last year, and how low I was, I can’t help but smile at the year we have and how the past 365 days have utterly stomped out those 83. They are gone. I can finally say they are nothing but a memory. A memory I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.
Happy 1 year Home, Abby! And cheers to decades more. I love you!