Today was a bittersweet day. Today Anamaria was transferred to a Level II NICU at a hospital that is less than 10 minutes from our home. We are still in a little bit of shock about it. We didn’t get very much time to prepare, since all of this was decided last night and since the new hospital had a bed we decided to take it right away.
No more timing our visits to beat the Boston traffic; no more parking stickers or parking attendants; no more hour-long talks with friends as I drive to the hospital; no more seeing the people daily who saved our daughter’s life.
How do you do that? How do you say goodbye and thank you to the people who literally kept your child alive when you couldn’t? How do you express to the nurses that cared for your baby in the middle of the night that you will be forever grateful? How do you make them see that you are so thankful for the time they spent asking how you were, talking about their families, the weather, or anything that made your life seem at least a little bit normal for a moment. There doesn’t seem to be any way to say any of those things sufficiently. Every way I put it seems like a sorry effort in comparison to the enormous, incomparable gift that they have given us.
Last night, as I drove home from the hospital in Boston for the last time, I cried tears of joy and sadness all mixed together. You see, when you have a baby at 23 weeks, chances are your baby won’t ever see the outside of the NICU. Chances are you won’t get to thank your doctors and nurses for saving your babies life. Because chances, and scientific facts, say that the vast majority of babies born at this young gestational age don’t survive. Maybe that’s why I cried as I realized that our baby girl was leaving her first NICU. She was strong enough and well enough to go to a hospital that isn’t able to take care of babies who are as sick as Ana was when she was born. It was probably the first time that I truly realized that we had a baby girl who would come home someday. Don’t get me wrong, I knew in my head that Ana would come home–at least that is what I kept telling myself. But my heart was guarded. When everyone is telling you to “take it one day at a time” and “don’t trust a preemie” it is so, so hard to make your heart know that your baby will be okay. When the facts say that your baby has only a 10% chance of surviving this journey without significant impairment, it’s almost impossible to let your heart believe that she is actually thriving. When Ana’s primary nurse told me last night that she was ready to go, first of all I nearly fell out of my seat. Then I looked at her and asked her what she thought I should do. She said, “I think you should go. I don’t want you to, but she’s ready to go. And it’s the best thing for both of you.” What?? My 23 week, 1 pound baby girl, who wasn’t supposed to survive? She is ready to go? There are not words to describe what this feels like. Part of me would like to keep her wrapped up in an incubator forever, hooked up to monitors so that I can be sure she is breathing, just so that she is safe. But the bigger part of me wants to see her grow, reach milestones, and turn into the beautiful, smiley, babbling baby girl we had been dreaming about before this all happened.
Let me tell you, these NICU hormones are tough stuff–that’s a thing, isn’t it? Whether it is or not, I’m blaming these emotions on that. 🙂
So after taking a picture with each of her primary nurses (except one!) and trying to say goodbye to some of the other families we had gotten to know in the NICU, we left Boston for the last time. And this morning, Ana’s sweet primary nurse got her all ready and rode with her during her crazy adventure–her first day out of the NICU! She got to take a long ambulance ride, which apparently was pretty bumpy. She even spit up for the first time for the occasion.
And after the craziest ride of Ana’s life (literally) she arrived at the sweet Special Care Nursery, where she will remain until she is ready to come home! Everyone at this hospital is wonderful and caring, and while we will miss our nurses, friends and doctors in Boston terribly, we feel good about being where we are. Here is Ana getting used to her new home.
For the record, I think she was totally overwhelmed by that mobile. It’s literally twice the size of her! She wouldn’t close her eyes until it stopped moving!
Precious Ana, you are one step closer to coming home!!! We can hardly believe it! Next step, feeding!