Monday, April 18, 2011

Happy Welcome Home, R Day!

Today is the anniversary of R's discharge from the NICU. She's upstairs napping right now while I sit here in front of the computer and relive the day.

I was so happy I felt like I was going to burst. I couldn't stop the joy, the relief, the excitement from bubbling up under my skin. The "d" word had only been hinted at the day before, but there we were, signing release forms and packing up. Her little jaundice shades were missing, another baby must have needed them, but tiny diapers, tubes of zinc and petroleum, a nasal aspirator and thermometer were all thrown into a hospital bag. R was wearing an adorable short-sleeved outfit we had brought for her, but over top of that was also a warmer NICU outfit that the nurse convinced us she would need, and on her head was the cute little crochet hat she had been given when she was born. We buckled her snug into the car seat that had been sitting next to her bedside for weeks. We had brought it early so that it wouldn't be something to hold us back when the time came (I always pestered the nurses, "When will the car seat test be done?"). The blanket I crocheted went over the seat belts to protect her from the chill wind that was blowing that day.

When all of the paperwork was done... we walked out the NICU doors and didn't look back. The nurse pulled a plastic wagon that contained R in her car seat. We were still on hospital property, hence R was still in their care. Senpai and I walked beside the wagon feeling as joyful and proud as new parents who had only spent a day or two in the hospital instead of twenty.

The Journey from the NICU

I waited at the entrance with the nurse while Senpai pulled our vehicle up. This nurse I had hated only a few days before because she did not seem to be helping R get off the feeding tube. After expressing my concerns to her and the doctor, a new plan was put in place, and it worked. R was eating. And now I love that nurse for helping us get out of there. I hope she knows how much that means to us. She has to know.

Senpai opened the car door, the car seat clicked securely into its base, and we were off, homeward bound. Let me let that sink in for a moment: we were going home.

First time in the Sunlight
She had never been in the sunlight before this moment. The NICU is kept dim, womb-like, with the shades drawn over the windows. Here, for the first time in her life, she could feel the radiance of the sun.

We came home, and I put her in a baby sling. In the NICU, you aren't allowed to walk around while holding your baby. If you are holding her, you are seated. You may only hold her for so long before they gently remind you to put her back in her plastic bed. Having the option, the opportunity to strap her in close to me and go.. anywhere, for as long as.. anytime, was such a momentous change from the previous four weeks. I held her, and held her, and held her. I haven't let her go since.



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