The day had finally come for BJ and I to “Room In” with Scarlett and I was anxious to see how it would go. This was it. The final test before going HOME. I remember talking with Perlita a few days before (the last time I would talk to her in NICU) and she offered me many words of advice and encouragement, along with our official “eviction notice” lol. Unfortunately, she wouldn’t be around for Scarlett’s final days in the unit. But we at least had the opportunity to say our goodbyes and I was grateful for that. So many of the UMC NICU Staff had become apart of our extended family and I had grown very close to them. It was hard to have to say goodbye, even though it meant we would finally be taking Scarlett HOME.
Before making our way to the hospital, we stopped to grab dinner for ourselves. (It was Steak Express 🙂 & it was delicious!) I vividly remember making the drive to the hospital. It felt unreal to know that we were taking that road to the East Tower parking lot – one last time. That road had become an everyday route for me over the last five months. Knowing that I would no longer be traveling through there anymore brought feelings of both comfort and sadness. I would no longer wake up to the busy sounds of the Ronald McDonald House, which had become my temporary home. I would no longer have to call the UMC shuttle to pick me up and give daily updates to the friendly driver I had gotten to know. What had become my “normal routine” was now changing – for the better – and it all felt so bittersweet.
Upon our arrival, we spoke with Scarlett’s night nurse, Reagan, gave us a quick rundown of how the night would go. Scarlett would be using the home equipment she was provided, being that this was a “test run” and the hospital staff wanted to give us a chance to get comfortable using it. They would step in to help if we needed it. Otherwise, Reagan would be monitoring Scarlett’s vitals on his computer and leave us to ourselves for most of the night. He would only come in during touch times to check on Scarlett himself and that was all. We would be responsible for her feeding/diapering and all of the normal parenting duties. YAY US! 🙂
After moving Scarlett and all of the things she had accumulated during her hospital stay, into the family room, BJ and I finally began settling in ourselves. We were both very quiet. This was the first time the three of us were in a room together as a family. The first time we were alone with our daughter without the prying eyes of nurses, doctors or anyone else. It was both exciting and nerve-wracking all at once. It took us a minute to get used to the newness of it all.
The night went much smoother than I anticipated. BJ & I awoke together during feedings and took turns with diaper duty. It was astonishing to see BJ in his new role of fatherhood. He and I have been together for almost 6 years now and we have seen each other through many seasons of life (both good and bad). Over the years I have watched him change and grow as a person, but to see him in his fatherhood role *sigh*, it’s probably my favorite season yet. (Ladies, can we all agree that seeing our men become fathers is probably one of the BEST things in life. 😉 ) He does so well with her.
Aside from Scarlett kicking her pulse-ox loose and causing the alarm to go off, she had a really good night. (She wouldn’t be Scarlett if she hadn’t tested us!) Thankfully, I’d known exactly what the problem was and fixed it before it caused too much commotion. Her nurse had come in to make sure we were okay and after checking that everything was connected like it should be, he went back to his pod. She took all of her feedings without any problems and her oxygen level stayed within normal range the entire night. It was smooth sailing and our first night with Scarlett was a success!!
In the morning, her nurses came in during shift change and went over all of the “going home” procedures with us.
I couldn’t believe it.
One overnight stay with Scarlett and we were taking her home! After a total of 157 days spent at the hospital (13 of which I was on total bed rest & 144 of them being Scarlett’s NICU stay), we were going HOME.
As we waited to sign Scarlett’s discharge papers we began packing all of her belongings into our cars. Nana, Grandpa, and Grandma were there to lend a helping hand and to of course see this journey of ours come to an end. After all, we started this journey as a family and it was only right we end it together. ❤
While we were waiting, nurses, respiratory therapists and other members of our extended NICU family came in to say goodbye to Scarlett and send us off with love.
I don’t think I can or ever will be able to express my love and gratitude for all of the amazing, beautiful and strong people. They not only took great care of my daughter but our entire family as well. They helped us through some of the HARDEST days of our lives and were there to celebrate all of the GREAT ones! Every milestone, every setback, every surgery, every x-ray, every eye exam, every blood draw, every tear, and every smile – they were with us through it ALL. I know I will never be able to say Thank You enough for all of it. When I was tired, they offered me pillows & blankets to help make me comfortable. When I was lonely they took time out of their busy days to sit and chat with me about life, or what was happening on “The Bachelor”. When I needed comfort they were there with open arms and open hearts. When I was afraid for Scarlett they talked me through every step they would take to ensure that she was taken care of.
They are the guardian angels of the NICU and they give every ounce of love they have to our tiny warriors. I am forever grateful for our NICU family and I will always love them.
When the time finally came for us to stroll out of the NICU doors, my heart fluttered with excitement and I had butterflies in my stomach. Sitting in the wheelchair (because you are NOT allowed to WALK out of the hospital, even when you’re almost 5 months post-partum), Scarlett tucked safely away in her car seat and resting in my lap, our family of three was finally whole & complete. We were going home.
Even saying it out loud didn’t make it real for me. I was in a daze of overwhelming happiness (and nervousness). Could it really be true?
We prayed EVERY single DAY, for THIS day to come and now that it was here – it was unbelievable. I knew in my heart that whatever Scarlett’s outcome would be, it would be what God intended. Throughout our entire journey, I did my best to prepare myself for whatever would come. But to finally receive the answer to my unnumbered prayers, to be on the receiving end of God’s Grace…my heart was so full of joy and love and happiness.
As we made our way to my mom’s house (where Scarlett & I would call home – temporarily) we listened to the radio – KLOVE to be exact. And although I was already filled with so many emotions, what made our ride home that much more special was this; “Trust in You” by Lauren Daigle, the song that had become my anthem, the song of my soul, that helped me stay strong and persevere through it all, was playing. From beginning to end, from the hospital to my mother’s house I sang my heart out and praised God for all of his goodness. Because I knew that God played that song just for US.
Without him – NOTHING would be possible.
*Photos by the always beautiful Shannon Cruddas