One year ago today, we got to leave the NICU with our baby.
We packed up his little outfits, collected his souvenirs, learned how to work his monitor and oxygen, fed him there one last time for Auld Lang Syne and walked through the double doors. With our Ollie.
For months, we came and went at least twice a day without him. Knowing that he needed to be there was little consolation to leaving the hospital, day after day, without a baby.
But we got through it. Prayers said were answered and our little buddy made it through his rough start.
Now we were going at it alone. No nurses to feed him in the middle of the night. No doctors to read his charts and tell us he’s doing great.
It was just us.
Our little family.
It was terrifying and freeing in the same breath.
Terrifying because although we’d met him months before, we didn’t really know him. Up until that point, his nurses had the insider information on how to soothe him. They had the confidence of feeding hundreds of preemie babies to do it with an expert hand.
How do we soothe him? How much will he sleep? How do we cut his fingernails? Will BobCat sit on him out of jealousy? On top of that, he would still sometimes freak out while eating and maybe-kinda-sorta forget to breathe and set off his apnea monitor. Aaaaand, maybe sometimes his oxygen tubing would get stuck on things on the journey from the bedroom to the living room.
Things regular parents go through, right?
But finally! Finally! We didn’t have to get dressed to see him! He was in the very same room! Every squeak, grunt, moan, growl he made, we were there to witness it. We didn’t have to hear about the cute thing he did when he was awake before…we were there to see it ourselves.
It. was. awesome.
That first night home, I remember waking up in the middle of the night to his little squall of a cry. I was excited. I felt like I’d been a benchwarmer in a big game, and the coach finally tapped my shoulder to go in to win it. Armed with all my skills I’d learned but never used, assessing the situation, we asked: Is he hungry? A bottle was unwelcome. Wet? Fixing that option didn’t settle him down, either.
Thinking it was too quiet for him (the NICU environment is somewhat noisy) we played for him a soundtrack of Little Einstein’s classical music. I held him while he calmed down and fell asleep staring at me. He had fallen asleep while I was holding him before in the NICU, but never in the middle of the night. Never when he just needed to be held. It was finally at that moment, that I actually felt like a mommy, 84 days into the experience. It was a giant leap as we became the resident Ollie-Professionals.
It’s been a year now, since he came home. This day feels more special than his actual birthday in a way. Because this day was filled with anticipation, excitement, preparations and happiness. We couldn’t wait for this day for months, and it was finally here.
This is the day our family was finally complete in the most honest form of the word.
Happy Homecoming Day, Ollie!
You are my most favorite boy in the whole world.
I can’t do a post about how awesome it was to have Ollie home without giving a huge thanks to the staff at West Allis Memorial Hospital, to our friends and family who prayed for and cheered him on from Day One and most importantly, a Thank You, Lord, for keeping him healthy and in our lives.