From the moment a NICU journey starts, the first question on everyone’s mind is ‘when does the baby get to go home?’ And that is 100% valid, that was our first question as well. When you enter the NICU, the general rule is that they will be home by their due date. For us that meant 10 weeks in the NICU. That seemed FOREVER away. Here we were mid September and his due date was late November. I’ll be honest, it took a while for us to wrap our heads around that idea. The caveat is always that it could be sooner but only time will tell.
Of course, we wanted Grant in the NICU as long as it was necessary, but we also wanted our baby home. Throughout the journey we were continually pleased and proud of Grant for doing better and better every day. We were so thankful that he was a ‘grower and a feeder’ and really didn’t have any issues that we had to contend with. We just needed him to keep growing and getting bigger and stronger. There are days when I look back and that time seemed like it was MONTHS upon MONTHS long and days when it seems like it went by SO quickly.
After about 4.5 weeks I started to get really antsy. While we were in a good grove with our routine at the NICU, but I was anxious to start our life at home. Again, we wanted him getting the absolute best care he needed for as long as he needed but we couldn’t deny our yearning to have him home. There was about a week leading up to when we were finally able to go home that it seemed like everyone around us was discharging. And while I was ecstatic for them, we could barely contain our overwhelming desire for it to be our chance to carry our car seat inside. I cannot tell you the number of days I left the parking garage and cried ugly tears to Blake on the phone and said ‘I just want to take my baby home!’ Leaving the hospital 2 days after Grant was born without him was excruciating and unfortunately I remember it very vividly. But leaving every single day after that for 41 days without him was just as rough.
The Sunday before we were able to go home, we were visiting with Gman and they started talking to us about going home. We were in utter shock. You have to watch a set of videos over before you’re discharged and when we came back from lunch that day they had the tv in our pod. We started watching right away! At this point we did not say anything to anyone, we did not want to jinx anything and we were not 100% (by any means) sure that we would actually get to go home in the next few days. However, more and more discharge checklist items kept happening.
Grant was meeting all of his milestones and the last one was to be doing all of his feeds either by breastfeeding or the bottle for 48 straight. We were nervous about this because he tended to fall asleep while eating and would have to finish with his NG tube in his nose. We prayed and prayed that he would meet these steps. Around Tuesday he didn’t do so well and we had to start the clock over again. However by Wednesday he was doing better and they said that we could ‘room in’ with him the next night. At this point we told our parents that the possibility of him going home in a few days seemed like a reality.
‘Rooming in’ meant that we would stay in a hospital room down the hall from the NICU with Grant, free of machines and wires and all on our own (the nurses were a call away and checked on us). To say we were excited was an understatement. As well as nervous as all get out. We kept saying ‘you mean it just gets to be the 3 of us?! By ourselves?!’
Between pumping and feeding G every 3 hours and getting used to his little noises, I don’t think any of us slept all that much BUT it was also one of the best nights of my life.
The next morning we took G back to the NICU and went on to work. I called the NICU mid morning to check on him and they said ‘so he is doing great and YOU CAN TAKE HIM HOME TODAY!’ I am pretty sure you could have knocked me over with a feather. I called Mister and we both headed home to get ready.
We headed to the NICU for one last time and walked up to the check in desk. I will never forget that Mister walked up to the counter and said ‘I’m Blake and I’m here to pick up my son Grant and take him home’. I was a puddle.
A fellow preemie mom told me in the midst of our journey that their graduation day is almost more special than their birthday and I have to agree. We plan to always celebrate Grant’s graduation anniversary in a special way.