Picking up on January 5th, 2021.
The next days were hard. Mentally, emotionally, physically. All three of us were healing in some sort of way. Tuesday, January 5th, we just sat with Brooks all day. We would leave for lunch or have lunch delivered. Pick it up at the ER front desk, eat in the room, and go back for more baby watching. As we sat in the NICU we reminded ourselves so many times, “It could be so much worse.” So many little babies, so many babies fighting alone, so many babies that never once had a visitor, so many babies…but oh so much love from everyone around them. Our 8 pound 2 ounce newborn looked gigantic compared to others in the pod. Thankful for that, but I was still mourning. I was mourning the way I thought things should’ve been after having a baby. The “plan” I had made. See, navigating the lines between the planned and the unplanned. Not to mention there are still times to this day a friend will mention something about their post-birth stay at the hospital and I think, “Hmmm..I never had that?” or “Wait…that was supposed to happen?!” because our post-birth story was just a bit unconventional, I guess you could say.
What we didn’t even think of, until it was the elephant in the room, was the fact that we had to leave that afternoon or the next morning. Once again, without our baby. We knew he was in good hands. We had already spent enough time in the NICU to see that these nurses were literal angels walking the earth, but again, the “plan” failed. This…this is when the, “But, why?” began. I hate to even say it. As a Christian, I know I’m not supposed to question God. I knew there was a reason this happened, all apart of God’s Divine Plan, and honestly, I’m not even sure it was a question to God, but more of a in shock in the moment thing. Still… “but, why?” But, why me? But, why MY kid? But, why US?! Ohhhhh, what a bitter pill to swallow. What a moment to literally have to turn it all over to the Lord. I could not, it was and still is humanly impossible, to understand the why.
We ended up getting to stay until Wednesday and left that afternoon with a plan. We would go home, get settled, love on the pups for a bit, eat and rest, then back to the NICU until time to come home for bed. Most of our NICU days looked like the movie Groundhog Day…repeat after repeat after repeat. Wake up after barely sleeping, head to the NICU, grab breakfast on the way, sit and hold/stare at Brooks until we couldn’t handle the hunger for lunch anymore, have lunch at the hospital, go back to the NICU, have dinner at the hospital, go back to the NICU, stay until we either couldn’t hold our eyes open or realize we HAD to rest (even though it didn’t come easy), head home, sleep, do it all over again the next day. This was the life for six days. Granted, I know we got the easy end of the deal, the better deal of the NICU bargain. There were babies in there that had been in for months and still had months to go. To this day, Bryson and I both say, those are the strongest parents and babies. We don’t know how they do it!
On Wednesday, January 6th, Brooks was a little over 36 hours old when he had his belly fixed. We were able to see him before surgery, which was actually during the closed morning hour of the NICU and we are forever grateful we were allowed in. We were able to meet all of his staff and cuddle him before we handed him over. We were told there could be a lot of different ways this would go, but there being a “Top 2” of what the surgeon expected. 1. They go in, put everything where it belongs, close him up, cut any excess skin, done. 2. They go in, fix what they can, try to close him up, but might be unsuccessful due to swelling and would have to leave him open resulting in another surgery. Any other option…that’d be discussed when/if we had to cross that bridge. Then we went to wait. And wait. And wait. And wait some more. We watched the clock, we napped, we tried to rest. When the door opened and it was the surgeon we were both on pins and needles and slightly groggy because we snapped out of a nap real fast. Perfect…that’s how the surgeon described it. Absolutely perfect. The surgery and our boy, both perfect. When he left the room, I looked at Bryson, laid my head back on the pillow and started sobbing. The moment we had been waiting for… our perfect boy.
Now came our next waiting period, the ventilator. We were told going into surgery there should be no reason why he would come back up to the NICU on a ventilator. They would remove it and wean him off by the time he was back from recovery and we could see him. However, that wasn’t the case. We needed him off the ventilator. The longer he was on, the more nervous we got that something was wrong. Of course for everyone involved it was a waiting and guessing game. They’d try to wean and have to turn it back up. It was so back and forth. Being the person that I am, it’s a flaw…I don’t handle back and forth well. I’m a very “grey” person, that wants to live in a very “black and white” kind of world. It’s something I’m working on personally. Anyway, we weren’t allowed to hold him during this time and so all we could do was sit and stare. It really began weighing on us at this point of what we were experiencing. First-time parent anxiety mixed with the unknown mixed with adrenaline rush we had experienced over the past few days and we were fading fast. We realized, along with the comfort of the nurses and doctors, we had to get out of that pod and just be us for a few hours. We were promised phone calls and updates if we needed to come back before morning. That drive home felt like it took forever and hormonal me, cried the majority of the way home and continued to question, “But, why?!” When we pulled into the driveway, Bryson got out of the truck, and I sat for a moment and the song “Lord, I Need You” came on. Cue the waterworks. Another slap in the face I needed… we weren’t in this alone and I needed to stop acting like we were. There was a purpose for this. Was it to get me to understand the lines of the planned vs the unplanned? Was it to help me grow in my faith in an extremely uncomfortable way…the way we best grow? Was it to bring us closer together as a family? Was it to help someone else? We will never know, but knowing that it was for something made it all a lot easier to handle.
We woke up hopeful that when we walked in the NICU we wouldn’t see the ventilator by his bed. Bryson and I were both in a rush to get down to the hospital after stopping to see my parents first. We hadn’t seen family since Brooks was born. In the times of COVID, only Bryson was allowed in for birth and only two people were allowed in for the NICU. The same two. There was no switching out. So as hard as it was for us, we had family and friends this entire situation was weighing on as well. We finally get to the NICU, round the corner……. there it is. That big breathing machine. Still hooked up to our baby. We both sank. But, God knew. We get there and Brooks is alert. The nurse was happy to see us and said they were just waiting on the orders to remove it and the right people to come do so. PRAISE.THE.LORD. Later at lunch we both admitted that we were crushed when we saw the ventilator sitting there with him hooked up. There were a lot of times in those early days that we relied on each other heavily, but also, kept to ourselves quite a bit because we weren’t sure what to say or how to say it. We knew this was weighing on us each differently, we just weren’t sure how differently, but also how alike our feelings were in those days.
Fast forward, we experienced the ups and downs of NICU life for the next several days. The talks of, “If all goes well you should go home by (insert day)!” Followed with our excitement, and usually a let down when someone new came by and had other plans. “But, why is it taking so long?!” By Friday of that week we were saying, “We will stay as long as we have to. We know you all know what you are doing and trust you. We just want Brooks safe. If that is here, so be it!” It’s almost like when we had that peace from God, things started moving forward! *Okay, God…we get it now. You’re in control. Not us.*
Sunday, January 10th, rolled around and we got to BUST OUT of the NICU! It was one of the greatest feelings. We got to go home WITH our baby this time! Party of 3 coming through!! MOOOOOVE OVER…WE’RE GOING HOME!
Oh, but wait…there’s more!
Leave a Reply