34 days spent in the hospital and 34 days of being home.
To think that we've been home with Adeline the exact number of days that she spent in the hospital is incredible. Her hospital stay seemed to last forever yet it feels like it was a long time ago. And then when thinking about our time at home, thankfully at times I feel like she's always been home with us. If you can't tell, it's hard to wrap my head around this.
The hospital stay as a whole seems like a distant memory. I feel like I was pregnant and in labor years ago. I am incredibly thankful that I don't fixate too much on her time in the hospital or worry that something is going to go wrong now that she is doing so well. I know this is God protecting my heart. Now specific hospital events seem very vivid...
My labor and delivery nurse sitting by my bed for over an hour watching Adeline's heart rate telling me that everything was going to be ok after they lost her heart rate for a few minutes
Hearing the nurse say that Adeline weighed 5 lbs 9 oz and thinking "that's all??"
Getting the first page while Adeline was in surgery saying that all was going well and she was very stable
Walking back into PCICU and Andrew waving at me to hurry up because Adeline was awake and looking around after surgery - quite drugged I might add!
Obviously holding Adeline for the very first time and watching all of her monitors stay at very steady numbers - all the while "hiding" in her little corner of PCICU with her nurse and my mom because they were bringing a new case in and we weren't supposed to be there
Being so proud of Adeline for taking her first full bottle and not knowing I could have that much pride in someone else
Praying throughout the night after Adeline had continued to constantly throw up that nasty formula that something would change
Frances walking in on Day 34 and saying "guess what, you're going home today"
Andrew and I walking out of 8D with Adeline, saying goodbye to Ms. Mary (who had tears in her eyes), and feeling like we should almost walk around MUSC some more because our days there were thankfully over
I don't hear the constant beeps of monitors like I did for the first few weeks while she was in the hospital. Although, if I watch a video of her in the hospital, the beeps of her monitors are almost a comfort because her numbers always stayed pretty steady, and we relied on those beeps so much. Now the beeping of a fetal heart rate monitor is another story. If I'm flipping through the channels and catch an episode of "A Baby Story" (yes I still watch it some), I can't listen to those beeps because Andrew and I spent the night while I was in labor listening to her heart rate and it's too constant dips.
Is it odd that when I'm up in the middle of the night feeding Adeline I wonder what the nurses on 8D are doing? They were who I talked to when I was up with her in the hospital, and it was such a comfort to know they were right there. When we got discharged, I was sad that we didn't get to say good-bye to some of our favorite nurses because they weren't working that day. After spending so many hours and days with the amazing nurses, I wanted to say good-bye and thank them for everything. They cheered each day as Adeline got stronger and stronger and showed their excitement because they wanted her to go home almost as much as I did. I'm incredibly thankful we aren't seeing them everyday anymore, but it's strange for them to have played such an important role in her life during the first month, and now we don't see them anymore. But that's hospital life and how it's supposed to be. Let me just say, those nurses and doctors have amazing hearts and are definitely answering a call to service.
At some times I ask myself and God "why us?" Not why us in the sense of why did this happen to us though. This isn't the story that I would have chosen for us, but it's the story that God wrote for us. When talking to a friend who spent months in the NICU, she told me that she wouldn't change a thing. At this point, I can now say that I wouldn't change a thing either. Andrew and I have a miracle child with a very special heart. I think that God has big things in store for her. We treasure each moment with her. We are stronger and our marriage is stronger. We know that Adeline is one strong little girl as well. We view life differently as things have been put into perspective for us, and the trivial things don't matter anymore (well at least most days).
I ask myself "why us" in the sense of why are we home and other babies are still in the hospital. When you watch other babies have ups and downs and get to know their stories, you want them to go home almost as much as you want to take your own baby home. Thankfully, Adeline's heart was strong at birth, through surgery, while she recovered, and today as I'm watching her sleep peacefully on her tummy with her legs tucked up underneath her. Andrew and I still can't believe that the majority of her stay turned out best-case scenario (despite feeding issues). I don't know if it's normal or not for me to ask God why she's done so well and other babies have not. I try not to let the fear creep in that something will go wrong. All I can do is trust God and have faith that Adeline will continue to thrive and live a long life. We cannot live our days in fear but rather rejoice that she is home, and when looking at her sweet face, I see the face of Christ.
People have commented throughout this journey that I was strong. I knew I had to be strong for Adeline because she was having to endure so much and was stronger than any of us. Whatever strength I had was not my own, it came from God. He held us in the palm of His hand the entire time and gave us comfort and peace. It was harder than anything I've ever done and definitely scarier, but I'd do it all again in a heart beat to have Adeline home with us.
I hope that one day Adeline will be able to meet everyone who prayed for her throughout this journey. People all over the country have prayed for her, and we have witnessed so many prayers answered. Thank you will never be enough, but I do ask that you continue to pray for all babies and families living in a hospital.
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:18
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.