“Plan on him coming home around his due date” was the original message from the Doctors when our journey started. We of course were hoping he’d come home sooner, at the time my due date was almost 14 weeks away! 96 days to be exact. When March 19th came and went the new message was “the earlier they are born the longer their hospital stay becomes” to encourage us. The end was difficult, and I hope to find a way to share more to help encourage other micropreemie parents that happen upon this blog ,because that’s the one thing I couldn’t find, “how to survive the last few weeks of a NICU stay.”
When a baby requires intensive or special care they have a list of criteria that they must meet before they can come home – I think we discussed that before, but the basic concept is that they have to maintain their temperature, take all feeds by mouth, and be spell free for five days. The spell free being the most difficult one to check off the list. August has been gaining weight perfectly, so maintaining his body temperature was never an issue. And it took time, but he is a champion eater, taking the munchkin latch bottles easily, and breastfeeding like he was born to do it (which he totally wasn’t.) It was those pesky spells keeping him in the hospital. Our discharge date would be a day or two away, and then another spell putting us back to the beginning of the five-day count. I also think it was so difficult because besides a tiny dip here and there he was a perfect little baby, quickly outgrowing all his newborn clothes before he’d ever breathe outside air! We stayed as positive as possible being, thankful for the fact that he was not on oxygen and has not had any serious health concerns (except for the prematurity of his lungs) which burden many micropreemie parents.
But then, March 30th happened. Matt and I were still anticipating a spell count now taking us to Thursday, April 2nd because of two tiny blips early Saturday morning. But the neonatologist back on for the week took a good look at August’s tiny spells and made the call to let him come home because they were not significant enough to keep him hospitalized. Matt had already gone to work and I had slept in a bit Monday morning, thinking it would be another long week in the hospital. I got the call around 8:30 am – “August is going home today.” “Really?! he hasn’t even had the car seat test yet! We’re so excited!” then the tears came. The tears I always imagined having the moment the baby I birthed was put on my chest after delivery. Those tears finally came flooding down, and honestly haven’t stopped since that phone call, but that’s ok, because they are the best tears ever.
So, August came home with us around 1pm on Monday, March 30th. All 7 pounds 7 ounces, and 20 inches of him! He had his car seat test in the morning and passed with flying colors, and he’s been the perfect little baby we’ve been hanging out with in the hospital since he’s been home. We’re going to take some time for the three of us to hibernate together for a while – and we have LOTS of follow-up doctors appointments in the coming weeks and months. Soon we’ll share him with others, but we’re probably going to wait for the snow to melt first. And if you want to meet him, you should practice your hourly/every time you touch your face hand washing/sanitizing now (insert smiley face – we’re serious.)
Our journey is not over. We’ve climbed the steepest, most treacherous part, but we still have a long way to go. But we’re hoping the rest of the journey is more like moderate hike, instead of a rocky summit scramble.